You can’t have it both ways

Either we cut spending more or increase revenue

The author is a writer and social activist working to create a holistic and sustainable world and community. She returned to her hometown of Chico in 2007 after living in Milwaukee, Wis., for 11 years.

When the government—whether state, federal or local—has less income than needed to cover expenses (in other words, a deficit), there are only two ways to fix this: cut spending or increase revenue.

Taxing isn’t the only way to increase revenue. Governments can also charge use fees. We do this with our national parks, and locally we do this with things like parking meters. This could be expanded. We could make it so that police patrolled only neighborhoods where people paid a use fee. Or we could have fire respond only to houses that are paid up on their monthly fire protection dues.

By today’s standards this sounds absurd, but this is actually how it used to be in our very own history. What we learned from that experience was that it is better to pool our resources together to provide services to everyone. That’s what taxes do.

When we all chip in as we are able and share our resources, we all then share in the benefits: public safety, education, usable roads, drinkable water, etc. The problem right now is that not everyone is chipping in as they are able. The richest 400 people in the nation continue to make record profits while many of us right here in Chico are losing our homes, our jobs, our health care. This is not fair.

Currently the middle class and working poor pay a higher tax rate than the mega-rich because the mega-rich do not work for a living and so do not pay an income tax. Instead, they make money by trading stocks, which are taxed at a lower rate.

The middle class and working poor have shouldered enough of the burdens that mega-rich stock-market trading caused. I do not think it is unreasonable to ask them to step up and start paying their fair share. It would be the responsible thing to do.

It seems to me that the people who scream the loudest when spending cuts affect them personally are the same people who vote for politicians who refuse to increase revenue by raising taxes. This is ironic because that leaves only spending cuts as an option to fix the very large deficits all governments are currently experiencing due to the national recession, and if you have to do that much cutting everyone is going to be affected personally. You can’t have it both ways: Either we need to cut spending or we need to increase revenue.