Reading Children Just Like Me with my daughters this morning I was struck by how many children mentioned clean water, not liking the smell of dirty water, or wanting there always to be water available for everyone in the world. Our privileged, entitled, and spoiled citizenry (in particular the “taxes are bad!” “fewer taxes is the solution!” radical right wing or Tea Party versions) so easily forgets it’s our government, using the common wealth (taxes), that makes sure we have clean water available almost everywhere in our nation.
Most of us don’t think about it. Some of us who luxuriously take time for such things might look into issues about our water not being clean enough. I’ve got friends who use ceramic pots to filter their drinking water and I’ve got friends who won’t use tap water unless its boiled. Everything is relative, though. We have a government, made up of citizens (too embroiled in corporate wealth, to be sure, but still elected citizens), who raise the funds necessary to run the Environmental Protection Agency. The bits of concern some people have about our own water quality are nothing compared to the daily survival concerns around the world. When I get a glass of water from any sink anywhere in this country, the odds are I’m not going to ingest internal parasites or microbes that make me seriously ill. On this day, blog action day, when so many are writing about the crisis internationally about the need for clean water, I’m just going to stick to this point: If we didn’t pay the taxes we pay, we would likely not have dependable clean water to drink.
Just a little international flavor from wikipedia, a sampling of what we don’t have to cope with on a daily basis because the big ol’ mean ol’ greedy politicians are stealing our money:
“According to the World Health Organization, diarrheal disease accounts for an estimated 4.1% of the total DALY global burden of disease and is responsible for the deaths of 1.8 million people every year. It was estimated that 88% of that burden is attributable to unsafe water supply, sanitation and hygiene, and is mostly concentrated in children in developing countries.”
Taxes are our contribution to the common good, and the common welfare of our nation. Our nation was founded to increase freedom. We do that by fulfilling our responsibilities as citizens: investing in the systems that keep us free. We are free when we are safe. We are safe when we are protected. We are protected when we know our water is clean enough to drink and that it will not kill us if we do. Taxes increase our freedom. In fact, they are the only reason we are free at all.