I 'heart' taxes

Commentator Melissa Chadburn says paying your taxes shows you value your community.

Melissa Chadburn: I love taxes. When I pay my taxes I am telling my community I value you.

Kai Ryssdal: Commentator Melissa Chadburn.

Chadburn: I'm talking about the guy who works for Department of Transportation who helped me get to and from school and thousands of job interviews.

I'm talking about my teachers: Ms. Smith who was my high school English teacher and saw something in me. Ms. Marshall, the junior high journalism instructor who saw I was abused and got me into foster care -- a long, achy road, but one that perhaps saved my life.

The nurses who tended to me when I was exposed to tuberculosis as a young child. The military that helped so many members of my family escape poverty and discover a nation they believed in so much they'd risk their lives for it.

The firefighters who do the unthinkable, who run into burning buildings for perfect strangers. Firefighters who often had to come out to emergency cold weather shelters, where I worked, in the middle of the night to tend to a homeless person who was scared they were losing their mind. Sometimes all they needed was some attention. I'll never forget one Christmas working in the shelter. A firefighter bent down in front of a homeless woman smiling and placed a band-aid on her unwounded eblow just to give her a secret joy.

If we are saying "I value you" when we pay our taxes, what are the people and corporations who don't pay all their taxes saying? Are they saying the opposite? Are they saying that all those people who do so much for us every day don't matter?

Ryssdal: Melissa Chadburn is a writer. She lives here in Los Angeles. Send us your thoughts about taxes or anything else -- write to us.

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Melissa Chadburn is a writer who lives in Los Angeles.
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The purpose of my prior comment was to encourage consideration of the amount one pays in taxes, not just the percentage. We don't charge extra sales tax or road tolls or cable subscription, etc., for those with higher income, and I for one sure am glad he made all that money and paid $3 mil in taxes.
For the record though, I strongly believe that the "carried interest" principle that allows the LT capital gains rate for such investments as Romney and hedge fund managers have, is a huge tax loophole that should be closed. If one has not invested any capital, there should be no capital gains treatment. But that is not Romney's fault. Let's realize the wisdom of the age old statement "put your money where your mouth is." So Chadburn, parte, et al, add some extra to your remittance this yr to prove your point.


I was genuinely touched by Melissa's commentary. Who of us haven't been carried along, in some capacity, by the "kindness of strangers"? And I was particularly moved by her desire to "pay it forward". But I don't think paying taxes is the best way to say "I value you" to my community. Just like I don't think just buying a $500 X-BOX is the best way to tell your kid "I value you", but rather to demonstrate it by investing yourself and spending quality time with those in need.

For every $1 spent on government-sponsored compassionate medical care another $1 is spent on government largesse and bureacratic "support" -- tax revenue is a leaky bucket.

Compassionate people don't need government programs to express their compassionate nature -- they will do so irregardless of whether society supports their efforts or not.

We'd all do better to follow Melissa's example and to all "pay it forward" somewhat. But we don't need more government middlemen, collecting paychecks and pensions, telling us to do the obvious. What we need is a radically simplified tax code -- maybe even a flat tax -- that defangs the tax lawyers at companies like GE who *always* find a way to weasel out.

BTW -- you'll *NEVER* hear Jeffrey Immelt making a commentary like Melissa's.

Thank you. This is very poignant. People seem to forget about just how much of our society runs on tax money.

I couldn't agree more. In fact, I'm one of these people who actually advocates higher taxes for myself. (the GOP doesn't believe we exist; I like to call us "Warren Buffet Socialists").

So... jack... or should I call you "facts by"? ... here's the thing. Your thesis is that because Mitt Romney doesn't benefit from public schools or other government services, he is less accountable on a percentage basis. That, and the fact that he makes more.

Let me turn that on its head. Mitt made $21 million dollars by doing nothing. How is that possible? Well, perhaps its the fact that (erstwhile) well-regulated markets, strong centralized monetary policy, and so on have enabled markets that are capable of creating such wealth. Or perhaps the legal system and its public workers enforce the contracts he creates. Not to mention the policemen and soldiers who are out there all the time defending his money, property and rights.

Or perhaps you think Mitt would be as well off in a less regulated society... say, Somalia? That his wealth is more a function of his superhuman abilities than the fact that he lived in a society that invested so much of its public capital in keeping people like him in power? The simple fact is that the wealthy benefit the most by this country, and when they turn their backs on it, they are selling us all out.

Moreover, I will conjecture that I speak for Kasey as well as myself when I say that if I made $21 million last year, I'd be very happy to pay $3.1 million in taxes. Or $5 million. Or $10 million.

A very eloquent statement, well worth airing. However, not all taxes are spent well. And listeners such as Kasey with a spastic finger that continues to resend have undoubtedly never "done the math" to consider maybe we she shouldn't bitch about Mitt's 15% tax rate since times his reported $21 mil income means he paid $3.2 mil in fed tax - and undoubtedly didn't send kids to public schools, nor did they get head start or school lunch money, nor subsidized college loans, nor did he receive any many other benefits that others receive. So I propose that Kasey keep her mouth (and fingers) shut until she has paid $3.2 mil in tax - a yr!

Well said! Proudly paying one's taxes is genuine patriotism
Among the things that I am happy to have MY tax dollars pay for include:
* environmental protection
* public education
* emergency services
* physical infrastructure that we all depend upon day-in and day-out
* public lands
I could go on and on...

It seems the only way we can make a sustainable society is to have call seven interdependent Capitals - financial, social, environmental, built, cultural, human & political adequately "capitalized." Taxes provide the infrastructure within which we can thrive and make the system work. They are the glue and oil that make societies work, the rent we MUST pay to keep civilization alive. Long live society! Civility! Our mutual protection and support of the common good!

Thank you, Melissa. I loved your commentary on taxes.

I couldn't agree more with Mellisa Chadburn's commentary regarding taxes. When corporations or wealthy individuals avoid paying their fair share of taxes they are saying that the "little people" matter less than they do. I find the sense of entitlement among them to exhibit the same "entitlement mentality" I hear them decry. I guess they feel that since they have the means and resources to exploit every nook and cranny of the tax code, they are entitled to do so. Let the little people eat cake.

Tax's paid into a free nation by are free society so all may share more evenly in the burdens and harvests, are necessary and awesome. HOWEVER, the current ultra complicated tax code enslaves Americans and robs more and more of us of the freedom to do our own tax's simply, accurately and timely. While much of the accounting industry relies on this artificially created and unnecessary convulsion we call a tax code, the general population is burdened with formulas, loopholes, exceptions, rules, calculations, modifications, changes, that even the IRS is hard pressed to fully understand. Eliminate our insane tax code and replace it with a basic flat tax system, perhaps with a limited number of economic caveats. God bless America, peace.


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