Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Three Voices You Need to Hear

It can be frustrating living with a progressive mindset in a state where Republicans and Tea Party activists seem to hold sway. It is even more frustrating when I realize that most of the Republicans in my state are former “Dixiecrat” sympathizers. I’d much rather be contending with the old genuine-article Republicans like we saw in Gerald Ford, Everett Dirkson, Howard Baker, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and, yes even Richard Nixon.

When I see so many of my hard-working peers consistently voting against their own self interest because all they want is “no taxes and less government,” and when I hear of the Tea Party movement in Oklahoma wanting to form their own militia to “protect them from the government,” my frustration level increases. Yet as frustrating as it can get, I can say that it is not dark yet. When I see one of those bumper stickers that proclaims “Another bright blue dot in a really red state” I know there is hope.

There are other reasons for me to be assured that it is not dark yet. This week I read three voices of hope that I want to share with you – two from right here in Alabama. The first is Philip Watts, whose letter to the editor in The Birmingham News appeared Tuesday. My state legislatue recently rejected a proposal that would remove state sales tax from groceries. Alabama’s tax structure places an inordinate burden on the poor and the working poor. Mr. Watts’ letter states very effectively how faith should be at work in the market place, and how a state full of church goers can’t seem to hear the words of Jesus. (To see Mr. Watts’ letter, click on the link, then scroll down to the second letter.)

The second voice is that of public school teacher, Lynne Wilbanks. Ms. Wilbanks’ editorial, “Why I Don’t Hate My Government,” appeared in the Sunday edition of The Birmingham News. She enumerates all the benefits she receives by paying taxes. These benefits include food safety, water and air quality, air travel safety, and a social safety net. Click here to read her article. It is a wonderful, sane voice.

Jim Burklo, in his blog, Musings, made an entry last week, “The Blessings of Taxes.” He, much like Ms. Wilbanks, celebrates his privilege as an American citizen to pay taxes and to receive such benefits in return. Take a quick visit to his blog and read his entry. When will more people understand that we have a great gift in our democracy, even when our particular candidate is not elected? When will we realize that it is patriotic to support our country by paying taxes? Admittedly, there must always be give and take and debate, but when will we recognize that to have a country that works, we must all work together?


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