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Monday, February 14, 2011

Taxes, Medicine and Public Ownership

Several thoughts on spending tax dollars wisely:
  • Why do we waste money on taxpayer-funded stadiums with no factual claim to improving the economy of the city or state?
  • Why do we have an entire political party with a mantra of "no new taxes" (or "Eat the Future") when it's exactly the opposite of what most Americans want of government (more services and a willingness to pay more)?  Here's how.
  • And here's where taxes meet the people - property taxes.
  • Speaking of government budgets, here's your chance to balance the Minnesota state budget.  I simply raised taxes: done.  Now I don't have to cut poor people off from health coverage, kids from education, or programs for protecting the environment for future generations.
It makes a lot more sense to talk honestly about how government services work, how much they cost, and how we pay for them.  

Speaking of a lack of honesty, how about modern medicine?
Okay, big tangent.  The Packers – the only publicly owned major sports team – just won the Super Bowl.  Even when they stunk, no one could threaten to move the team, they're sold out for a generation, and they have a huge fan base.  So why can no other pro sports team be publicly owned?  After all, the NFL is already socialistCould it work for the Mets?

And ownership matters.  Here's a great insight from Thomas Friedman, speaking of the newfound ownership Egyptians feel for their country as they try to tear it from the hands of dictators:

I spent part of the morning in the square watching and photographing a group of young Egyptian students wearing plastic gloves taking garbage in both hands and neatly scooping it into black plastic bags to keep the area clean. This touched me in particular because more than once in this column I have quoted the aphorism that “in the history of the world no one has ever washed a rented car.” I used it to make the point that no one has ever washed a rented country either — and for the last century Arabs have just been renting their countries from kings, dictators and colonial powers. So, they had no desire to wash them. 

Well, Egyptians have stopped renting, at least in Tahrir Square, where a sign hung Thursday said: “Tahrir — the only free place in Egypt.” So I went up to one of these young kids on garbage duty — Karim Turki, 23, who worked in a skin-care shop — and asked him: “Why did you volunteer for this?” He couldn’t get the words out in broken English fast enough: “This is my earth. This is my country. This is my home. I will clean all Egypt when Mubarak will go out.” Ownership is a beautiful thing.

One more uplifting story to end with: a woman fighting terrorism with microloans.

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