By Mark Cloutier, San Franciso Foundation
On Tax Day, Mark Cloutier blogged about interdependence, our common destiny, the meaning of citizenship and turning down our big government vs. small government rhetoric so we can have a reasonable conversation about taxes.
Cloutier’s blog posting is a great example of how to move the tax conversation beyond the common perception that taxes are money taken out of our pockets to an understanding of what they support. He explains the value of taxes saying, “One taxpayer’s tax burden is another taxpayer’s chance at a job training program, a decent public education system, or treatment for a deadly disease.” He gave context to how much Americans pay in taxes, citing how our taxes compare to other countries and the benefits of those countries who raise more (life expectancy, education, and an outcomes-oriented social safety net). And, most importantly he encouraged readers to turn down the rhetoric and turn up the transparency and accountability so that we can “strengthen our contract with each other.” Here’s an excerpt:
Let’s remind ourselves that we are all in this together and that when we all get better (financially, medically, socially), we all get better. Let’s take a look at how much we pay as a country and what we get as a country, in terms of the health, education, economic opportunities and environmental outcomes from our taxes. Let’s understand why we get so little compared to our competitors and allies in the global economy and commit ourselves to overhauling and simplifying our tax code, improving progressivity, and getting value for our expenditures. Let’s turn the rhetoric down and increase the transparency and accountability we have to strengthen our contract with each other and to promote justice and the well being of us all, including those who have the least.