We are a retired family living on a more-or-less fixed income. We hope our taxes go up next year. In fact, we’re going to give our permission in a few days for them to go up regardless of what happens to our income.
Jefferson City needs voter permission to raise the money for a loooonnnnnng overdue second high school and the school district wants people like us and our neighbors to approve a higher tax levy. This household is unanimously in favor of the idea.
We don’t have any kids attending the schools of Jefferson City. We haven’t been to a school play or a school concert or to a school football or basketball game in years, probably decades. Haven’t been to a PTA meeting for even longer, probably. We do go into one of the public school system’s buildings three or four times a year for the city concert association events but that’s about it.
So we have no personal connection to a school system that wants to increase our property tax bill by a pretty good amount. But we want the system to do it.
We took a pile of income tax information, over which Nancy had agonized for countless hours, to our accountant a few days ago. We’ll learn the damage before long. Naturally, we wish we could keep that money but when we come down to it, we don’t mind paying taxes—because we understand what they buy. We just hope the people we elect to distribute those funds do so in a responsible manner that benefits the general public. We confess there are times when we think those people could do a better job by putting more emphasis on the word “general” but we haven’t met anyone yet who has come up with a better system than the present one for making sure all of us share the Biblical and the democratic responsibilities to each other.
Somebody has to pay for the things we expect government to do for us and we’re okay with putting our financial drop into the big bucket that finances more things for us that we can count. And education is one of the biggest benefits.
We’ve lived in Jefferson City nigh on to half a century—a statement that amazes us every time we recall the things we ‘ve seen and done—and we can’t recall a time when somebody wasn’t saying, “Jefferson City needs a second high school.” Actually, Jefferson City already has a half-dozen or so public and parochial high schools including the high school program at the Algoa prison, a high school for about fifteen severely disabled students, and a Christian academy with about five students in grades ten through twelve.
In our household we think it’s important that children have opportunities to learn. Not just classroom subjects, but the things they can learn through band, and science clubs, and school newspapers, and sports, and debate clubs, and other things that add to the creation of a thinking, active, inquisitive life that is to come. We think a better future can be incubated when all of the eggs are not jammed into one basket.
And it’s the future we’re talking about here, a more learned society in a world that increasingly demands educated people who understanding that learning and life have to go together if hopes for a free humankind are to progress. A second high school in our town will increase opportunities for our grandchildren’s generation to have a better chance to make that idealized future a materialized future.
We know that we write from the standpoint of ones who can afford to pay these higher taxes, knowing that there are many who feel they cannot. We wish we had an answer for them for some of them are our friends. We, and they, are left with leaving others who are in policy positions who have the knowledge to ease those concerns to recognize them and act on them.
Regardless of our economic standings, the thing we CANNOT afford is ignorance. Ignorance is one of the greatest enemies of a democracy. It is one of the first tools of the despot. The control of learning and the limitations placed on it and on the circulation of public learning are trademarks of the societies we identify geographically and often culturally as threats to our way of life. A visit to a nation governed by those who know ignorance equates to power and control is a sobering experience.
We’ve been there. We’ve seen it. We know that the American system of public education is one of our greatest protections. We’ll be glad to pay more taxes to make that system better in our town.
We in this household are products of public education from our first days in a classroom to our last days in graduate schools. We benefitted because our parents and grandparents paid the taxes that helped shape us as, we hope, good and responsible citizens. We’ll be glad to pay some higher taxes so other generations will have a better chance to defeat ignorance and all of the perils it presents.
It’s okay if our taxes go up next year, even if they go up by a pretty good amount. In our household we think that the Preamble to the United States Constitution is not only a statement of the virtues we want in government, but is also a commitment by We the People to work through that government to “establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,”
Promotion of the general welfare cannot be done in a climate that impedes an escape from ignorance. We will pay higher taxes because we wish to help create a climate that better serves the future general welfare of our city, our state, and our country.