Friday, September 17, 2010

I Tell You... We Don't Get No Respect

Greed has not always been king.

Many Native American cultures found greater status in what they gave away than in what they had.

As an example: my Newe ancestors always shared what they hunted. And consequently, the man who brought the most meat home for the group had the highest status. People paid attention to, respected, and even honored him because sometimes, when they needed it the most, he fed them.

...Imagine that. Living in a society that respected the philanthropist more than it did the capitalist. Hey wait a minute – that's true now too.

Yes... Most of us admire Bill Gates now far more than we did when he was a cut-throat capitalist.

Which means maybe we've overlooked a critical characteristic of our culture. It is an honorable act to help others and the community. So, it should be an honor to pay taxes. I know this may sound hokey, but think about it. Our tax money goes to keep our communities healthy, safe, and functional. We should be proud of that. We should be proud of our contribution.

So why does it seem like there is no pride in paying your taxes in America? I suspect because there is no recognition. Consequently, there is no honor. Taxes are just a bill we pay.

We should at least get a certificate of recognition.

And the biggest taxpayers should get public recognition.

We honor our Veterans for their contributions. It only makes sense that we should also thank those taxpayers who have done their duty for their community and country – even if it is just by paying for it.

This should be a no-brainer. I couldn't possibly be the first person to think of this:

We could publish a public list of the top 100 taxpayers in our community, and the top 1000 taxpayers in our country. And we could even have another set of lists of people who pay the most proportional to their income. Now that could be something worth bragging about. Or at least; that should be something worth thanking them for.

We should publicly bestow some honor to those paying the most taxes. By doing that, we would provide an incentive to give more. Right now, the only incentive is to reduce one's taxes. This is dysfunctional. We have essentially rigged the tax game such that the only way to win is not to pay taxes. Which has led us to where we are at – with the most powerful “Americans” manipulating our government into setting up the tax laws such that they pay the least taxes.

This idea of mine could be a simple change – that doesn't require any significant expenditure. People can recognize or ignore it. Taxpayers can play along or continue what they are doing. There would be no requirements or new laws. Participation could even be voluntary.

Imagine this: What if America were to learn from Native Americans, rather than consider EVERYTHING about our cultures quaint and simplistic. As far as I know, there were no taxes levied in pre-European America. And yet, people helped each other. They did so because it was the right thing to do, and because they got recognition.

Nowadays, our tax money goes to projects we don't believe in and our only thanks is another bill next year.

It doesn't have to be that way.


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