To the Editor:
I really don’t want to comment on our governor and the Gestapo, but unfortunately I fear something very important may get lost amidst all the cacophony of the 24-hour circus of punditry.
Governor LePage’s words may have been poorly chosen, but they were deliberately chosen. These were not off-the-cuff press conference remarks: this was his prepared weekly address to the state, and it represents our state to the nation and the world, when our state should be representing delightful summer vacations.
Though he may apologize for using specific words that have caused offense, LePage firmly believes the sentiment he spoke. Unfortunately, it is not an uncommon one.
Even as LePage blocks voter-approved investments for research and development for Maine businesses and forces through a partisan budget, cutting basic services like early childhood education, he equates those who collect taxes with mass murderers and those of us who pay taxes as being accomplices to genocide.
He is not the first of those who govern (or wish to govern) to promote fear and hatred of government, and he won’t be the last. This kind of hypocrisy has become fashionable. And though it is now becoming commonplace, it is no less irrational and no less irresponsible.
It is all too easy to complain and blame taxes for anything and everything. But—dare I say it—taxes are good. It may not be the most popular thing to say, but it does have the benefit of being true.
Taxes are used for building schools, hospitals, fire and police departments. Our taxes go to protecting our air and water and our civil liberties. Taxes fund scientific discoveries that inspire us, expand our knowledge of the universe and improve the human condition. Taxes invented the Internet and put a man on the moon. Taxes fund our justice system and our democracy.
In a very real way, the price of liberty is the taxes we pay.
I will say it again: taxes are good. Yes, money is spent on things you don’t like; that’s the way it is sometimes in a democracy. Yes, our tax code should be made more fair. Yes, we all like to complain and joke about how much we hate paying them.
But we aren’t going to get anywhere if we can’t admit that taxes are more than a necessary evil, they are a necessary good.
Breen is a member of Hour Exchange Portland, a community service exchange of neighbors helping neighbors in which everyone and their time is valued equally, no matter their age.