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Brad's Question

By Ken Poland
Opinion | May 21, 2010

economy.gifCOLBY, Kan. - A few days ago, Brad asked a question in his comment on Marty Keenan's post, addressing taxes and education. "So while I like the idea of people pressing their legislatures for more funding, how can one be sure the tax increase will be targeted to the programs we want?"

Well, Brad, in a perfect world you wouldn't need to worry about it, would you? However, we don't live in a perfect world. - too many of us imperfect human beings -

When the majority of us 'adults' have progressed beyond our infantile stage, when we were aware of only our immediate needs - dry diapers - warm milk - cozy covers - etc. - and learn that we can't always be the center of attention and that by screaming louder, we can't get what we want - then maybe we can expect society to understand equity and fair treatment for everyone.

We don't all start out with the same opportunities and personalities. I had a couple nieces, they're dangerously close to retirement age now, and oh what a difference there was in their priorities and values. The older little girl was willing to share everything in her treasure of toys, until she learned that her little sister could destroy in minutes everything she got her hands on. Gradually big sister began being more and more selfish and unwilling to share anything.

Fortunately, those little girls had parents who were able to demonstrate how to share responsibilities and resources and instill values. The younger one learned to respect others property and the older one learned to forgive. Where did those traits come from. My brother was the oldest of seven little chicks. He learned early on that he wasn't the only chick in the nest. He couldn't have fun if the rest of us couldn't. He had to contribute to the general welfare of all the family.

education.gifWhat was his was ours and what was ours was his. (No, we weren't citizens of a communist country!) He had parents who disciplined not only himself but also themselves and his siblings, fairly and equitably. I don't know much about their mother's childhood, but apparently she, too, had the benefit of learning responsibility, not only for herself, but, for others around her. Those two little girls grew up to be fine young women and mothers. They have been assets to their families, community, and society in general. I've never heard either of them gritch about the free loaders or complain that they haven't gotten their share, in life.

All of us haven't been fortunate enough to be born and raised in families that share not only with themselves but also with those in their communities. Instead, many have grown up with a narcissistic culture that demands immediate gratification and usually at someone else's expense. We want a dollar and a quarter return for every dollar we put out, whether it be business or charity. I will keep what's mine and I'll take yours if you don't guard it carefully. Paying fees or taxes isn't very self gratifying. Those attitudes are not reserved, only, for the poor or the rich.

I've served on boards of organizations that had the responsibility of assessing taxes and fees. It is always a little hard to make rules and regulations that restrict yourself. It's hard to set fees or taxes that hit yourself harder than some others. It's hard to say no to your friends and then say yes to someone who may not be a close friend or even someone who has slighted you sometime in the past.

Brad, perhaps instead of wondering how we can be sure our taxes go to 'our' programs; we should be asking, how can I be sure my program will benefit all of society and not just a select few, either at the top or the bottom.

Ask yourself, "Am I willing to share half my candy bar with the kid across the street, or better yet, am I willing to help him pull the weeds in his back yard so we can go down to the creek and catch bull frogs, together?" "Am I willing to share my bowl of watered down stew with the neighbor, who has no stew to water down?" "Am I willing to share my fortune with the neighbor who lost their fortune or never had two dimes to rub together?"

If my religion or whatever it is that motivates my ability to relate to the world around me doesn't help reconcile instead of further separate, maybe I need to re-evaluate and make personal changes within.



1 Comment

Ken, society has changed so much, even just this past decade. Everyone wants something for nothing and they feel that they deserve it.

It seems that as a society we have gone a long way from connecting with each other. Even families aren't as connected as they once were. As a society we are falling apart. The government has to step in because families, and community members no longer take care of one another like we use to.


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