Taxes and Taxidermists: Your Money At Work
A Google search of the words “taxes” and “quotations” yields 2.3 million results, and a wide-ranging, scrupulously sketchy scientific survey shows that 95% of them fall into one of two categories: 1) traditional, if tired, sentiments of the garden variety kvetching and caterwauling mode; 2) traditional, if tired, cheap one-liners, some of which still retain their zip.
“Taxes grow without rain,” goes the Jewish proverb, which set the template for several centuries worth of bellyaching jokes by public wits, from Mark Twain (“What is the difference between a taxidermist and a tax collector? The taxidermist takes only your skin”) to Will Rogers (“Alexander Hamilton started the U.S. Treasury with nothing and that was the closest our country has ever been to being even”) and the late, great Arthur Godfrey (“I am proud to be paying taxes in the United States. The only thing is, I could be just as proud for half of the money”).
Digging deeper into this trove of popular wisdom, however, intrepid Calbuzz researchers also discovered a handful of famous comments that posit a contrary, and now quaint, community-minded notion:
“Taxes, after all, are dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society,” said Franklin Roosevelt, a belief concisely seconded by Oliver Wendell Holmes – “I like to pay taxes – with them I buy civilization” –and thirded much more loquaciously (quite naturally, since he was French) the 18th century economist and statesman Turgot: “The expenses of government, having for their object the interest of all, should be borne by everyone, and the more a man enjoys the advantages of society, the more he ought to hold himself honored in contributing to those expenses.”
All this comes to mind as new/old Gov. Jerry Brown has stirred up a very basic, and crucially important, statewide public policy debate, namely: exactly what kind of government do Californians want and expect, and exactly how much are they willing to pay for it?
Behind all the in-the-weeds arguments about IHSS caregiver rates, CSU per-unit fees and gas tax swap extension legislation lurks the fundamental contradiction, disclosed in countless opinion surveys, that Golden State residents demand and desire a deep level of public services, while fiercely rejecting the laws of arithmetic requiring them to dig deep to finance them.
Argumentum ad populum.
As Tom Meyer illustrates today, the good citizens of Arizona have recently endured a pragmatic and painful lesson in the consequences of having a raging psychotic walking freely in their midst, not to mention brazenly buying high-powered weapons.
As recriminations and debate about who is at fault for the horror and slaughter inflicted on innocent families by Jared Loughener – Rush Limbaugh! Karl Marx! Bad parents! – taxpayer-funded government services (the kind no doubt administered by lazy, loafing bureaucrats), which once might have responded to the clear, numerous and public warning signs that the killer was mentally melting down, are scarce and getting scarcer.
“It’s a perfect storm here in Arizona,” Matt Heinz, a Tucson physician, state legislator and friend of the gravely wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, told the WashPost. “Services are being slashed and burned. Potentially in the next few months we’ll be releasing thousands of folks from their relative stability. Our community resources are strapped beyond belief. And the state, which you’d think would be the safety net – we’ve lit the net on fire.”
You, too, can win big prizes: Issue driven and solution oriented, Calbuzz always aims to do our part. So today we’re presenting the first of what we hope is a series of innovative ideas from you, Our Loyal Readers, to help ease California’s fiscal woes.
Got an original idea for cutting state expenses or raising revenues? Email it to email@example.com and win two – count ’em, two! – free Calbuzz buttons with our famous redheaded-guy-with-his-finger-in-the-socket logo.
Our first Big Idea from Capitol employee Sarah Weaver:
I work a few floors above where former GAS had his smoking tent. Now that it’s gone, I respectfully suggest that GJB should put a Zen garden down there. The Astroturf looks weird, and I think we’d all be entertained watching him draw lines in the sand.
Entertained, hell. Let’s charge admission and rake in big bucks for the general fund!
Top honors for Sacramento scribblers: Sacbee’s Kevin Yamamura, whose daily budget coverage is a must-read, offers a good look at how some special interests are still doing well…The hypocrisy-puncturing Dan Morain calls out lawmakers who constantly bray about cutting taxes but never stop shoveling it into their pie holes with both hands while feeding at the public trough (Warning: contains large dosage of Actual Reporting)…Nice piece by Cap Weekly’s John Howard on how the Silver Fox is changing Capitol atmospherics…Timm Herdt provides all you need to know to follow the brain-numbing debate about de-funding redevelopment agencies…Last word on the importance, or lack of same, to the Arizona massacre of Palin-style face-ripping political speech goes to Frank Rich …When nothing else will do but a good reader on the history of U.S. adventurism in Africa: Adam Hochschild on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Patrice Lumumba.
No F*&%ing Way! That’s the title and the point in a sharp new ad about the GOP attack on health care by Move On. Might not be a big hit in the heartland, but then again, maybe it strikes a chord.
Dr. H. Secret Decoder Ring Memo to Flash: Some free management advice: Never contract out your wet work – always do it yourself. “Bet you won’t say that to my face!” Really? Seriously? Where do you find these guys – Miss Joslin’s Ding Dong School? Next up: “Wah! He hit me!”
Calbuzz picks: Steelers and Packers (pained as we are — Buckeyes — to pick either of these evil empires).
Ah yes! Governor Brewer is proposing to let thousands of severely mentally ill people loose on the streets of Arizona. I guess she figures that, since there’s already one in the governor’s mansion, a few thousand more won’t hurt. Or maybe she’s taking a page from Republican icon Ronald Reagan, who did the same to the state of California all those years ago and went on to be elected president. It appears that imperiling the safety of the mentally ill, and those they’re forced to share the streets with, holds no political peril in our country and evokes no moral outrage.
What Reagan did was sign the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act in 1967 (sponsored and named after one Reep and two Dems) whose legislative intent was to “stem entry into state hospitals by encouraging the community system to accept more patients, hopefully improving quality of care while allowing state expense to be alleviated by newly available federal funds.”
It was also designed to protect the rights of mental patients, a position advocated on their behalf by the ACLU.
It was considered a landmark of its time–a change in the attitude toward mental illness and its treatment.
It restricted involuntary commitment. It also allowed people to refuse treatment, unless they were clearly a danger to themselves or someone else. It facilitated the release of many patients, supposedly to go to community mental health treatment programs as provided for by the Short Doyle Act of 1957.
The problem is, it also presumed the mentally ill would voluntarily accept treatment if it were made available to them on a community basis. However, because of its restrictions on involuntary commitment, seriously mentally ill people who would not consent to treatment and who clearly needed treatment became a, “community dilemma.”
it wasn’t just reagan. before he even came into office, cadres of progressive political activists pushed loudly and strenuously to liberate the mentally ill from the state hospital system. they eventually won and the mentally ill were released to the streets, where they were expected to take their meds meticulously. whoever could have guessed that they wouldn’t, and that local governments would not set up clinics to help them?
The flashreport reponse was so unbelievably weak.
Whenever my coach used to tell me I needed to be a “team player”, I knew I was about to get benched. I guess I’ll need some more of the “loyalty” that Brown spoke of in his inaugeration speech when I pay my next tax bill.
We will save a lot of money when we move to a single-payer healthcare financing system (if it’s properly designed – Vermont is headed in the right direction but is not quite there). Health Care for All – California and the associated state strategy group will be funding a new study that will demonstrate the benefits of a well-designed universal comprehensive affordable single-payer plan for California. The last time this study was done (ca 2005) it showed first year savings of $10 billion and even greater savings as the program matured.
Oh yes, please. I would so like single-payer healthcare in California. Before I die would be really nice.
I would much rather pay more tax now, instead of the constant stupid bond measures that my grandson and his children will be paying off.