Paying taxes our civic duty, among others

What is patriotism?

I believe one of the purposes of government (we the people) is to make the laws and carry them out to benefit all of our citizens. In the past few years, that doesn’t seem to be the case. The middle class has practically disappeared as wages have stagnated, the minimum wage is worth less and less, and the tax laws are crafted to favor the wealthy and corporations. Not only do the “well off” pay less in taxes but they put their money in off-shore accounts, and corporations likewise establish off-shore affiliations to further reduce tax obligations to this country. Our democracy was also weakened when the Supreme Court ruled that corporations should have “freedom of speech” so they can now give money to political campaigns.

At the same time, there is a “war” on those government agencies that protect us from “over-zealous” companies and corporations. This newspaper wages an endless tirade against the EPA, the only organization we have to enforce the laws that protect our water and air. How quickly we forget the recent pollution of the Elk River in West Virginia where thousands of people could not drink the water and are still afraid of it. Thanks to the Ohio EPA, the people of Toledo know that their water is being monitored and tested. Instead of trying to weaken the EPA, our efforts should be to work with and strengthen the EPA so that we can all continue to enjoy clean water and clean air.

Our Republican friends seem to think the only way to govern is to keep cutting taxes – especially for the wealthy. And when extra revenue was needed in Ohio, a sales tax was added that increased the burden on the average person. Something is terribly wrong when people like Bill Gates have so much wealth that they can then decide what organizations they will “bless” with that wealth. I will admit that a lot of these people like Carnegie (establishing libraries) do a lot of good. But wouldn’t it be a lot better if they paid their fair share of taxes and that money would go to fix our roads and bridges that have been neglected in recent years; that the money would go to our public school system to educate all of our children; that the money would go to educate and get people off drugs rather than paying a lot more to lock them up, etc., etc.? If government is working properly, it is the only institution that can work to benefit all the people instead of the powerful few.

Paying taxes should be an obligation we embrace rather than one that we avoid. Our taxes pay for our highways and bridges, our police and fire protection, our public school system, Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid and even for Obamacare. What kind of people are we to deny affordable health care for all of our people? Instead of “thanking” our servicemen for their service to this country, all young people should be serving our country in one capacity or another. Instead of avoiding taxes, we should all pay our fair share. Now that is what I call patriotism.

Carol Lazear Mitchell