Everyone contributes, everyone benefits (Guest post: Howard Koerth)

potluck11Howard Koerth is an artist and Professor of Art at Rose State College in Midwest City. An earlier version of this post appeared as a letter in the Oklahoma Gazette.

Taxes in our society operate like a pot luck dinner; everyone gives a little and we all get to share of the feast.  Those who call for tax cuts, while at the same time wanting and expecting the state and social services they have grown accustomed to, are like people who would go to a pot luck dinner wanting to eat ham, potatoes, and homemade rolls while only taking a pack of Oreos or a couple packets of Koolaide.

Taxes are an investment in our society, state, and nation. Taxes are an investment in our future, our children’s future, and our old age. Taxes are an investment in our potential as a nation, a state, and as individual communities. I teach at Rose State College, and I constantly hear the lament about higher tuition costs. When our state appropriations go down, our tuition goes up. It is that simple. Education, at any level, needs to include certain base levels of experiences, information sources, and guidance if the educational experience will have any future value. Labs and equipment cost money. Computers and research centers cost money. Professional teachers and faculty cost money. If the state isn’t helping to cover those costs, the only other source of funding schools have is tuition.

The Oreo-Takers will say that they shouldn’t have to pay for something they don’t use. If they don’t go to school, if they don’t have school-age children, why should they pay taxes that go toward education? Because, almost every job you will ever have or want to have will come from someone who got an education or training. Because every object you use, road you drive on, bridge you cross and service you depend on is designed or built by someone who got an education or training. The person bringing you back to life, whether an EMT, RN or heart surgeon, is there because they have an education or training. Those taxes that go toward education are an investment in your future, your livelihood, your life.

In a 21st century, modern, technological civilization, taxes are how we pay for the present and prepare for the future. In our democratic society taxes are how we make our world a better place for everyone, not just the few who can pay by the service.

The opinions stated above are not necessarily those of OK Policy, its staff, or its board. This blog is a venue to help promote the discussion of ideas from various points of view and we invite your comments and contributions. To see our guidelines for blog submissions, click here.


The opinions stated in guest articles are not necessarily those of OK Policy, its staff, or its board. To see our guidelines for blog submissions, click here.

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