Friday, September 04, 2009

Of Football and Taxes

The big news in our little burg tonight is that the local high school football team won their first game 55-27 against their big rival that beat them last year. The local team has won five straight state championships and is hoping for a sixth this year.

You might wonder if I have suddenly begun following high school sports. No, rest assured, that is not the case. I do think it's cool they've won five years in a row, and I appreciate the difficulty of that, and I love it that many people came to town today for the game and some of them will stay all night, buy gas, eat in our restaurants, etc., but that is about all the energy I can muster for it

Frankly, I didn't even know they were on a winning streak with the state championships until they were three years in. I'm not a big sports fan, what can I say?

But, tonight they played in the newly redone Gowan's stadium, which reminded me that I played a role in tonight's game because I supported that. Recently we had the opportunity to vote to upgrade the stadium. I'd never been in it in all the years I've lived here. I haven't been in it since, although I saw some TV footage of the before and after and it looked impressive.

But, when I was in the voting booth, I voted "yes" on spending tax money to upgrade it. Yes, that's right, I willingly voted to raise my taxes in order to have money for something that I don't use. And I did it without hesitation. You might ask why a person would do such a thing.

Well, because I saw it as a valuable thing for the community as a whole and because I want people who love sports to be able to indulge their passions, just as I want to indulge mine at the arts center or the library or whatever - not that those are mutually exclusive, I'm just using them as examples. Just because I don't use something personally doesn't mean it's not a valuable resource. I don't drive on every road or read every book in the library, but those are things I support too - happily so.

This is what living in a "community" is all about to me - we pool our resources so everyone can have what they want/need. Obviously, building a football stadium is out of the financial reach of most people - even if every game is a sell out and everyone contributes a few bucks,  it's not going to build a stadium, or even upgrade one.

But, when everyone in a community chips in we can have a beautiful stadium and a well-stocked library and good roads and the water park and public golf courses. I use two of those five things. I support the others happily and willingly. I want everyone to have access to the things that thrill them. That's not football for me, although I did turn on the radio at one point to see how it was going and was happy to hear the local team was doing well.

Recently our city council had to consider ways to cut the budget 10%. I just wanted them to raise my taxes whatever amount was necessary to keep things going, and maintain the services we had. One of the things we lost was someone who taught people to play golf. I don't play golf. I don't want to learn to play golf. I don't even want to watch people play golf. But, I want people who do want to learn to be able to do so at a price they can afford.

The time spent by the city in preparing budgets and redoing things and going over them, and by organizations and agencies doing the same trying to prevent being cut, and by the community members and board members that were summoned to speak on behalf of one viewpoint or another, cost way more in lost productivity than the money we "saved."

I'm not saying we shouldn't ever question things. I firmly believe in questioning authority and everything else. My number two rule for living is "question everything." But at some point, when it's this sort of an increase, someone needs to exercise some common sense and do the most expedient thing, which was to raise taxes to address the short fall. We could have all paid an extra 27 cents and saved the weeks and weeks of fighting. I would have gladly paid the 27 cents for everyone on my block just to avoid ever hearing the phrase, "on the chopping block."

I'm not sure when we began to see all taxes as evil, instead of as a way to fund things we all benefit from. I'm not directly benefiting from the few dollars I have spent on the football stadium, but indirectly it is affecting me because it's having an impact on the community in which I live. Part of living in a community is pooling our resources so we can have the benefit of many people working together to achieve something.

It's kinda like a football team, really.
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CathyT said...

I agree with you! Taxes usually aren't increased by much - less than a dollar or so - but the results have definite benefits for the community as a whole.

Patsy Terrell said...

The whole idea of taxes being "evil" is ridiculous. Services cost money, regardless of who is buying them - including the government. I'm not saying there's never any waste. But it would be nice if we attacked that instead of the basic concept of working together through taxes.

Unknown said...

Taxes can be evil, just as Government can be, but taxes collected in the right way and expended for the right purpose, are what Government of, by and for the People is about.

I graduated from Newton High School in 1949. We played football in a stadium that was a wreck, a disgrace at that time. The City finally made a drive to rebuild it in 2002. Taxes were raised to support it but also many of us alumni contributed about $100,000 to outfit it. Today it is something the town is very proud of and the envy of many towns.

Clyde Hall
Bonney Lake, Washington