Weighs in on taxes

To the editor:

The April 24th Messenger asks what do you think about taxes?

Taxes are what we pay to have a safe environment in which to live, work and play. We pay for protection by local, state and federal law officers; all services of local, state and federal judicial system; fire and emergency services, including Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection; and military forces.

We pay for enforcement of regulations that will protect our limited land, water and air resources. I wonder if anyone thinks dumping toxic heavy metals from coal mining into streams and waterways is a good idea? We pay to build and maintain infrastructure. According to the latest Infrastructure Report Card we are not doing well. Our overall score for 2017 is D+. According to the report we need to invest another $2.0 trillion. Iowa’s latest score in 2015 was a C-.

And so the list goes on — education, arts, health, research, all quality of life issues.

Maybe we should be asking what kind of world we want to live in, rather than asking if we pay too many taxes.

I suspect that a lot of people don’t like the way some of their tax money is spent. For instance, spending several billion dollars to build more fencing on our border with Mexico. And, I object to spending billions of dollars for a war on drugs which has accomplished little other than spending more billions of dollars to build and operate jails to lock up nonviolent people convicted of nothing more than possession of a small amount of some illicit drug.

Current proposals to change the federal tax laws, based on Reaganomics, will do nothing to improve attitudes toward a system that seems to mostly benefit the wealthy. Trickle-down economics says that Reagan’s lower tax rates should have helped all income levels. In fact, the exact opposite occurred. Income inequality worsened. Between 1979 and 2005, after-tax household income rose 6 percent for the bottom fifth. That sounds great until you see what happened for the top fifth — an 80 percent increase in income. The top 1 percent saw their income triple.

Our representatives need to think carefully about what is needed and how best to pay for it. If the system to pay seems fair to all, I don’t think most people will object.

I had more, but I’m limited to 400 words.

Larry J. Franks

Fort Dodge