All about ideas…

Trains, taxes, health care and other thoughts

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Yesterday NPR aired a brief report on high-speed rail travel. The report explained that most of Europe, Japan and China have high speed rail which they chose to spend the money to build.

A couple living in Brussels commute daily to France to work. The commute each way on high speed rail from Brussels to Paris is 1 hour and 20 minutes. The drive time is close to a day. The point was that Europeans and other countries chose to spend the money from their taxes to build these rail lines.

As I was listening, I kept thinking, “Why is the U.S. so far behind? Why are we not leading the way as President Kennedy challenged us to do in the Space race?”

Then, the answer came to me. Oh, yeah, we spend all of our spare tax dollars – 58% of the federal budget – to support a huge military-industrial complex which these other countries don’t. Except perhaps for China, these other countries don’t spend the greatest amount of tax dollars on military expenditures.

Then, I started fuming. I do not want the U.S. to be second-class in any area. I want the U.S. to be the leader in every technology. I want advances to begin here. But being the technology leader, and building an infrastructure that leads the world, takes tax dollars. Those same tax dollars that some say should never be collected. They say no taxes are good taxes.

But would we have the national highway system or NASA without those tax dollars? However, they have no problem with the 58% that goes to the military-industrial complex rather than to domestic expenditures. Apparently, domestic expenditures are a waste of money in their minds.

As Americans, we have to decide what is in the best interests of our nation long-term. That’s why when I hear the far-right fringe spouting off with such obvious fear tactics and lies I can’t help but fear for our nation. I’m not afraid for myself or my children. I fear for the nation my grandchildren will inherit. Not just a nation badly in debt, but a nation that has lost its pride in its uniqueness. A nation that is no longer on the leading edge of invention, productivity, and competitiveness, but a nation that has fallen behind the rest of the world. A nation that has become second-class.

That’s why, too, health care reform that really does reduce costs for both families and businesses is vital. Without fiscally healthy businesses, free of the huge health care costs they currently pay, employment will not grow at the pace that is required. Without healthy employment, tax revenues will continue to be depressed. Without tax revenues, the nation cannot implement innovative, technological changes that will escalate the U.S. into the lead again. And without a change in our policy towards the military-industrial policy, the country will never see the innovative, technological changes that will catapult American competitiveness to number one in every area.


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