I was alarmed to see a rather elderly man standing in 100-degree heat yesterday outside of my local Walmart. He was holding a sign that said, "Lower Taxes!" The Cons and Neo-cons are at it again, following up on their pointless tea party of April 15.
Nobody's going to stand out in the sun holding a sign that advocates for higher taxes. But let's face it--it takes money to run a government. And our governments--state, local, and federal--are what give us the American lifestyle we all so enjoy (and are rapidly exporting to the rest of the world). It seems to me that on the day we celebrate the founding of our nation, a little gratitude might be in order.
Events of the past few weeks have brought news of chaos in Iran following a sham election, suppression of free speech in China, and brutal persecution of gay people in several African nations. Wouldn't it be appropriate, just for today, to celebrate the fact that we have a right to protest? (And it requires money to, among other things, protect those rights.)
I'd be willing to bet that if we asked one of these addle-pated protesters exactly where they would economize without sacrificing benefits, they'd be hard pressed to give a specific example. Like the Republican Party to which many of them undoubtedly swear allegiance, they seem to be just generally against.
It's a shame that we acknowledge respectful rules of etiquette in casual conversations but discard them completely in our national discourse. A good rule of business communication is not to complain unless you can offer specific, constructive alternatives. Just once, I'd like to see anti-tax protesters try to wave signs that say what they really mean. "Lower Police Salaries" would go over well on a local level, for example. Or how about, at the national level, "Stop Funding Medical Research." Those might not be good ideas, but at least they are ideas--specific positions that can be proposed, discussed, attacked, defended.