Of Taxes And Street Sweepers January 18, 2011March 21, 2017 4TH QUARTERLY ESTIMATED TAX Don’t forget to mail in your fourth quarterly 2010 estimated income tax today if you have appreciable income on which tax was not withheld. You’re excused from doing this if you file your full 2010 tax return by January 31, 2011. And speaking of taxes … TAX QUESTION: How is it patriotic to be oppose paying taxes required to keep our nation healthy and strong? TAX QUESTION – PART 2 Yes, of course, we’re all against the straw men – like $600 hammers and bridges to nowhere – that account for a negligible part of the budget. But nonmilitary foreign aid? On both ethical grounds and as a way of winning hearts and minds (and, ultimately, markets), that line item, if you ask me, is significantly underfunded at less than 1% of our budget. And would make no appreciable difference even if we eliminated it. Likewise, earmarks. If you assume they are entirely wasted – that they provide nothing of value for what they cost (which is a ridiculous assumption) – they, too, amount to less than 1% of our budget. Not where we should be focusing our attention. The real places to get the budget in balance include our enormous military spending (don’t miss “The Tyranny of Defense Inc.” in the current Atlantic) . . . our health care system (on which at least we’ve made a start toward reform) . . . and our aversion to taxes. I ask again: How is it patriotic to be oppose paying taxes required to keep our nation healthy and strong? TAX QUESTION – PART 3 I was reading the 1941 budget the other day (more particularly, FDR’s transmittal message, submitted January 3, 1940) and came across this paragraph, headed National Defense Taxes: I am convinced that specific tax legislation should be enacted to finance the emergency national defense expenditures. Although these expenditures appear unavoidable, they will not increase the permanent wealth-producing capacity of our citizens. I believe it is the general sense of the country that this type of emergency expenditure be met by a special tax or taxes. Moreover, this course will make for greater assurance that such expenditures will cease when the emergency has passed. He continues: . . . I hope that the Congress will follow the accepted principle of good taxation of taxing according to ability to pay and will avoid taxes which decrease consumer buying power. He concludes with the thought that the national debt he had racked up over the prior eight years was not a cause for alarm, because it had been used to build the nation’s infrastructure and its productive capacity (along with its morale). He did not go on to say – but one can hardly read this today without thinking – that, obviously, you would never suffer an increase in the national debt for the purpose of lowering taxes for the rich. (If this sounds familiar, it’s because I’ve lifted it from a column posted some years back. Thank you for noticing.) MY FAVORITE DR. KING QUOTE “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” Not one of his most famous passages, but it speaks to the dignity of the individual, and the respect we should have for ourselves and each other.