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.