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Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

taxes, rural students, and my grandma

via google

via google

In Oklahoma (like most red states) we believe taxes are an unnecessary evil. That we can — and should — get rid of them. Especially on corporate interests.

I understand not liking to pay taxes. Too large a portion of my meagre teaching income has gone to the government over the years.

But here’s what I try hard to remember when I file away receipts over the months leading up to April: rural students I’ve taught. My grandmothers and other old ladies. The homeless guy who died one freezing night, just blocks from my house.

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Because that’s who my taxes are for, America. Yours too. And you know what? I would sooo much rather pay for those real people than for bombs. Rather every child in America be fed free breakfast and lunch at school than pay for a single drone. Rather every homeless man/ woman/ and child (and there are MANY homeless children) have a home, than every again pay for invasion of a sovereign nation for no good reason.

Despite lip service, education of our young is not a priority in Oklahoma. You only have to look at our track record: heaviest cuts to education funding in the country (22.8% since 2008). We weren’t doing very well before that, either: we were fourth-lowest in the country in the 2007-08 school year. (figures from the Rural School & Community Trust)

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As an educator, I KNOW that education changes lives. I’ve seen it every semester. But classes of 45+ in high school, classes of 30 in elementary, don’t provide the time for a teacher to do anything other than keep order and lecture. All the things that make education so important — collaborative learning, individual encouragement, project-based learning — take time. Something that money CAN buy, at least in education.

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As for my our elderly… My grandmother would have starved w/out her Social Security. It was little enough. And yet we continue to talk about cutting Medicare, privatising it (that’s worked so well for other projects), cutting Social Security.

My taxes are as high as most middle class Americans. But you know what? So is my commitment to the things that taxes pay for. Well, except for the military industrial complex. Unfortunately, I’m not able choose to pay my taxes only to support veterans’ benefits and not kill power. However, I’m also not going to throw out the entire system, even though I believe devoutly in peace before conflict.

So here’s a thought for you: the next time someone wants to cut taxes, ask what services they’re willing to do without. What the education of our young, support for our elderly, and benefits for those who gave life and limb to our wars is worth. Ask them why corporations are worth more than my students. My elderly. My veterans. People I KNOW. With names, and lives. Who benefit in concrete, life-changing ways from taxes.

Because I want answers. And right now, Oklahoma — along with other anti-taxation states and organisations — doesn’t have any that make sense.

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