I filled out my first tax return when I was 17 years old and still in high school. My Dad was ready to do it for me, but I wanted to be a grown-up and do it myself. The entire form was on a cardboard third-sheet and it couldn't have taken more than five minutes to fill out, but when I dropped it into the mailbox I felt like I was no longer a child but was now part of the citizenry. (It didn't hurt that I was getting a refund, of course, and when that check came, straight from the government, I almost didn't want to cash it. It was wonderful to behold.)
Every year since that first mid-20th century tax day (then March 15, the Ides of March), I've had occasion to file my income taxes. For the past 53 years my husband and I have filed jointly. So yesterday we filled out our 1040, gave the government a whole lot of personal information, signed our real names with the promise that all of the above is true to the best of our knowledge, enclosed a three-figure check and mailed it in. Then we went back to doing what we were doing before we did it. No protests planned, no signs made, no bullhorns, no teabags hanging off of silly hats. We paid our taxes. That's what we do when we're Americans and we have incomes. (Which--I don't have to tell you--is getting harder and harder to say in this country.)
It's what we did even during the odious Bush years, when the thought of where our hard-earned money was going was entirely too painful to even contemplate. We endured a royal screwing during those eight years--those of us who didn't wear a corporate crown--and still we understood that our nation couldn't survive without our taxes paid. We paid our taxes even when we knew without a shadow of a doubt that those who could most afford to pay theirs weren't doing it. We paid, knowing they would never choose to pay, would never have to pay, and would never have to pay for not paying.
(We sent in our census yesterday, too. It took all of three minutes, 27 seconds to fill it out, and it felt pretty good. Now we're counted.)
So now that I've done my duty, what do I want for my taxes? I want BIG, smart, honest, conscientious government.
I want a government that saves jobs, protects jobs, creates jobs, and thinks rampant unemployment in the Land of Plenty is a mortal sin.
I want a government that takes public education seriously and stays awake nights thinking up ways to educate every American child without having to put them at the mercy of the private sector.
I want a government that thinks safety is pretty damned important, and allows no quarter when it comes to pollution or hazards or human neglect.
I want a government that minds its own business and stays out of wars and remembers who they're here to serve.
I want a government that stands up for the people who voted them into office, and gives their big donors nothing more than the hearty "Thank you" they so heartily deserve.
What I don't
want is no government at all. That's just stupid.
So when I wasn't filling out forms I was snickering at those faux-Yahoos
mugging their faces off for the TV cameras, pretending that they're mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore. Who are they trying to kid? They're mad as hell that Obama is president and then the other thing is that they're mad as hell that Obama is president.
There isn't a person in this country who isn't angry about something the government does. They're the government, for chrissake. They do some of the dumbest damn things.
But come on, Baggers, don't pretend you're angry at rising taxes when, in fact, your taxes are LOWER this year
Don't pretend your concerns are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. The only thing that would make you happy would be Obama in exile and the liberals traveling behind him in cattle cars.
Don't pretend that things are worse today than they were under George W. Bush. Even on the darkest night under the deepest of covers you can't say that without crossing your fingers.
Don't pretend you're Everyman or Everywoman--just folks. Your heroes are Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and Mitch McConnell. They HATE just folks. So how about you ask them what they've done for their country, not what their country has done for them? And then ask yourselves: Where am I? How did I get here? Who ARE these people? Why am I dressed this way? What is this sign I'm holding? Am I on Candid Camera?
(Cross-posted at Talking Points Memo here
and at Alternet here