I was having my coffee at my bench out on Reservoir Hill this morning, when I became aware of the distant but unmistakable sound of migrating geese. Craning my neck to peer up into a brilliant, autumn sky, I spotted something creating vast, sweeping circles in the sky directly overhead. It had an impressive wingspan and was easily distinguishable by its dark wings and stunning white head and tail. It was an eagle.
I don’t get to see free flying eagles very often, and I rarely spot an eagle, that the sighting doesn’t bring to mind a poem that I wrote many years ago: “Freedom is a wild river rushing to the sea. Freedom is a monarch butterfly. Freedom is an eagle at its perch high in a tree, and its never-ending circles in the sky.”
During my lifetime I’ve seen eagles brought to the brink of extinction, and I’ve seen our national bird saved. Do you know what saved this country’s most recognizable symbol? Our Government. What do you think of when you hear the word, government? There is a movement today, a very loud, provocative, misinformed, increasingly popular movement, which seems determined to cast the current government of The United States of America, as some demonic, self-serving enterprise to be hated and overcome. They’re wrong! Those of you who’ve received some degree of education are familiar with the words “We, the people”. Those words are from the Preamble of The Constitution of The United States of America
“We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, 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, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Whether we choose to participate or not, we, the people, are responsible for our government. In a very real sense, we are the government. Those of you with an education will also be familiar with the phrase, “And that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth” from President Lincoln's Gettysburg address. For me, those words,along with many other inspirational phrases found in this country’s historical documents, sum up why our country is the greatest country on earth. It’s because of our government, or more accurately, it’s because of all those who are willing to vote, serve, contribute, or participate in, the governing of our great Nation. Do you do any of those things?
During the early days of America’s experiment in “Liberty and Justice for all”, there occurred an event known as the Boston Tea Party. That event occurred when people of this country rose up in rebellion against what they considered to be the unfair tax practices imposed on them by a foreign entity. No one enjoys paying taxes, and our current system of taxation could undoubtedly benefit from some tweaking, but our taxes today are not imposed by a foreign entity. The United States of America exists today because of our Nation's Founding Fathers, our Historical Documents, and all those who subscribe to the American dream, dedicating themselves to the cause of freedom and investing in the dream. We, the people determine the course of our government today, when we vote. Taxes paid today in the United States of America represent our investment in the country that we love.
Some of you will complain that taxes represent class warfare and the redistribution of wealth. We no longer wage class warfare in our society today. The war is all but over. The Bernie Madoffs have won. Our financial problems today are not the result of taxes and the redistribution of wealth. This country’s wealth has been stolen, exported, exploited, unwisely invested in warmongering, and relentlessly drained away, by powerful, deregulated corporations and self-serving, greedy individuals, who invest our money overseas, avoiding their fare share of taxes, and manipulating public opinion through fear, deception, a horrendous manipulation of religious and social values, and ungodly amounts of cash.
We've been told for the last fifty years that if we'll continue giving tax breaks to huge corporations and billionaires, eventually that money will trickle down. Well it trickled down all right! It trickled down in India and China, where all the jobs have gone. While we've waited for trickle down, the rich have gotten richer, while this country's middle class and most of our economy have been allowed to shrivel and dry up.
Taxes in America today support infrastructure, our freeways, healthcare, education, National defense, and all the invaluable services that freedom and American ingenuity provide. Taxes and all the worthwhile things they support are why we still enjoy a degree of freedom, justice, prosperity, and uncorrupted media in this country. Taxes are why we still enjoy National Forests, pristine waterways, incomparable parks, unsurpassed cities, and free flying eagles. We have a choice to make. We can continue supporting policies that make the rich richer at the expense of our country, or we can support policies that invest in America, restore our economy, and bring jobs home.
Shannon Thomas Casebeer