Taxes, taxes, taxes! Can there be anything worse than taxes? Death? Well, death is probably worse than taxes. But if you look at the results of the last election, many people fear taxes almost as much as death. Almost every state advisory vote on taxes was defeated and an initiative that reduced the vehicle registration fee was passed. Why is this?

In this country there is an increasingly dominant belief that taxes to support government programs are always a bad idea. It doesn’t matter what the taxes pay for or who pays them. It doesn’t matter that we have a deteriorating school system, a deteriorating infrastructure, an overly expensive and often ineffective health care system, and a grossly unfair tax system that favors the wealthy over the rest of us.

Of course we all know that “socialism” is the worst possible system of government. I mean who wants to live in a country with free health care, excellent public schools, low-cost higher education, a decent standard of living for all citizens, a social safety net that doesn’t marginalize those who cannot hold a regular job. Yes, the tax rate is 40-50%, but look what you get and look at the lifestyles of average citizens.

We have been duped into believing that less taxes mean more jobs, more wealth, and more freedom. This is the big lie the rich keep telling us, so we won’t take any of their money. But the reality is the jobs that are being created are low-wage jobs with no benefits, while billionaires and millionaires can afford the best health care, the best schools, can buy literally anything they want. The wealthy believe they are separate from the rest of society and it is not their problem if so much of the country’s wealth and resources go to a handful of the lucky few.

One of the cruelest lies is about government-sponsored health care. Medicare is one of the cheapest and most effective systems in the world. Until my wife turned 65 a few months ago, her coverage cost $1,200 a month for health insurance, which only started to pay bills after we spent $7,000 in a year. So it wasn’t very good coverage but we had something. Medicare costs a few hundred dollars a month and covers almost everything. And Medicare doesn’t pay the outrageous hospital and doctor fees that you are hit with if you have no insurance.

Yes, there is waste in government, but not any more than the waste that private companies charge to perform contracted government services by adding in “profit” and sizeable salaries for management. Between cutting back on necessary government programs and farming out others to private corporations with no incentive to serve the public, we are becoming a second-rate superpower.

MICHAEL GOLDBERG

Ocean Park

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