I know I’ve posted the Ted Talk on How to Start a Movement at least twice already on this blog, but since I can’t find either one, I’ll be posting it again.
The reason is because I have realized that at the moment – I am The Lone Nut. But I’d like to be a movement. So, I need some followers – and I’m asking you.
It’s a matter that’s of absolutely vital importance – it’s coming up every single day in one way or another in my life, and probably yours too, right now.
Most recently it came up when I was talking with my dad, about what it would take to spark a revolution, an overhaul, an awakening…
“Dad, if Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Oprah and all the people rich enough to attend Ted Talks would stand up and say, out loud, in front of cameras – or better yet – in front of congress – ‘I am rich beyond belief, and I will pay my taxes.’ That would be enough. That would make people realize that these über wealthy people are not going to be broken by a 20% income tax. They’ll still be able to fly their private jets, drive their fancy cars (on roads with less potholes…), keep their maids and cooks and extra houses and…”
One of the things I admire the very most about J.K. Rowling isn’t that she managed to go from a poor, single, welfare mom to being the richest woman in England, it’s that when she was advised to stash her billions off shore so she could avoid taxes, she said “No. I was on the dole when I wrote my first book, I wouldn’t have made it without that help, and now that I have money, I will not turn my back on my country and hide my money. I will pay my dues.” OK – Maybe that shouldn’t be in quotes because it’s not exactly what she said, but it’s damn close. The sentiment is right.
She’s the richest woman in England, and she’s paying her fucking taxes.
It’s great that Bill Gates is curing Malaria in Africa. And educating children in India. I think what he does with his money is amazing, Warren Buffet and Oprah too – they do a lot of good. But what it, just what if… They said, “Ya know, we live in a great country. It’s filled with great people. We went to public schools, we drive on public roads, we sell our stuff to Americans, even if we did outsource all the labor and pay other people to build it… Maybe it’s time we gave a little back to the country that raised us, to the people who made us rich, maybe we should just, ya know, pay our 20% taxes, because, we can.”
And what if they said it every time the tax issue, or the debt ceiling, or redistribution of wealth came up?
My dad pointed out that Warren Buffet did say that his Administrative Assistant pays more in taxes than he does. (She makes $150,000 a year, he makes billions) and that that was wrong.
BUT he didn’t say, “So I’m going to step up and pay my share.” did he? I rebutted.
So – here I am, a lone nut, and not a very powerful one, not a very rich one, not one that anyone should probably even listen to. (That’s what makes me a nut.)
But I’m going to do it – I’m going to stand up here, on my cyber soap-box, and I’m going to say;
“I will pay my taxes.
Because I like schools, because I think teachers in this country should get paid a living wage, because I love libraries, and firemen, and even police.
Because we have tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, of our nation’s children overseas fighting in wars and even though I disagree with the reasons they are there, and even though I think they should all come home RIGHT NOW, they are there, and they should have proper gear to keep them safe, and proper care to keep them sane.
Because I drive on public roads, because I have had to go to public health clinics, because I have used the resources of this great nation, and because by living here and voting here, I have agreed to be a participant in this democracy.
I will not accept services from my state, or my nation, without accepting responsibility for putting money back in the pot to pay for those services.
And if my neighbor comes on hard times, I will not resent the state or nation for taking care of them and helping them to get back on their feet while I continue to pay taxes, and my fridge continues to be full, and the roof over my head continues not to collapse on me. No, I will rejoice, and thank my lucky stars that I live in a place where we care for each other, and look out for each other, because I too may come on hard times. I too might need help one day.
And even if I don’t, even if I never do need help, I will still pay my taxes – because I like schools, and I like libraries, and I like roads and parks and mail service and healthy neighbors and because… I love my country. And I want it to be healthy too.
And if the government should decide that I am too poor to pay my taxes, as they did this year, then I will turn around, and I will give it back.”
So, here I stand, a lone nut, fighting for the rights and responsibilites that come with living in a participatory government.
“I pay taxes, and I vote.”
Will you join me? Together, we can be a movement!
(For the record, it is entirely possible that Oprah, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and every American who attends the Ted Talks pays their taxes – I’m not saying that they don’t. I’m just saying they need to stand up and tell us, and tell congress, that they do, that they will, that they can.)