aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, March 19, 2005
Raise taxes!Raise taxes!
Although it is politically taboo today, there was a time when government didn’t flinch from raising taxes, just so long as there was a legitimate need to finance new spending. This would seem to be just such an occasion, thanks to three increasingly urgent claims on federal money: protecting Americans from terrorists, providing the aging population with retirement benefits, and patching up (or replacing) the employer-based health insurance system. These are all vital public needs that only the government is in a position to meet, either because they require collective, coordinated action (like maintaining an army) or because they provide a service that the free market won’t (like giving the elderly health insurance)…The relative U.S. tax burden--measured, again, as a percentage of the overall economy--is the lowest in the developed world. And, while high taxes in Europe have sometimes choked economies there, there is an enormous middle ground between the United States, where taxes are 25 percent of gross domestic product, and Sweden, where taxes are 50 percent of gross domestic product. (Besides, Sweden’s economy has actually been performing pretty well lately.)
Wal-Mart and WarThis morning, in the parking lot of our town's Super Wal-Mart, the "War is Not the Answer" bumper sticker on my car was vastly outnumbered by "Support Our Troops" and "God Bless America" (even combinations of the two)magnetic "ribbons".
GUEST: JEN email: jen AT atypicaljoe DOT com
They are the largest employer in 21 states. This morning, in the parking lot of our town’s Super Wal-Mart, the “War is Not the AnswerÃ¢â‚¬Â� bumper sticker on my car was vastly outnumbered by “Support Our Troops” and “God Bless America” (even combinations of the two) magnetic “ribbons”. I wondered if the magnets’ owners heard yesterday’s news about the store they patronized. According to the Washington Post,
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the nation’s largest retailer, agreed to pay $11 million to settle a federal investigation that found it used hundreds of illegal immigrants to clean its stores, government and company officials said today. U.S. officials described the settlement’s dollar figure as the largest of its kind.
Today, two years after the Coalition of the Willing began its democracy-building mission in Iraq, I hope all yellow ribboners take time to reflect on the conflict between their economic habits (shopping at Super Wal-Mart) and their self-proclaimed support for troops (which NPR’s Bob Sommers says signals implicit support for the Iraq war). Perhaps pro-troops Wal-Mart shoppers heard about the settlement but were reassured by Wal-Mart’s soothing press release:
“The government can now use the funds for training and other initiatives that lead to better detection and prosecution of individuals and companies that prey on undocumented individuals,” said Tom Mars, Wal-Mart’s general counsel. He went on to emphasize that all businesses have a responsibility to remain vigilant.
“This is a milestone for corporate responsibility,” said Michael J. Garcia, assistant secretary for immigration and customs enforcement at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
It was entertaining to see Dobson look foolish and become the butt of jokes because many of us more or less assumed their complaints were too absurd to be taken seriously. But while we were laughing, Dobson’s supporters were keeping the pressure on - and they got everything they wanted. As a result, the tolerance video makes literally no effort to extend those lessons to kids of gay families or gay kids themselves.
From Focus on the Family:
A public school curriculum tied to the much-publicized “We Are Family” video featuring SpongeBob SquarePants and other children’s characters contains no overt references to homosexuality - quite a change from what was reported to be in earlier versions of the document.
It appears the teachers guide produced in partnership with the maker of the video, the We Are Family Foundation, was cleaned up after the media reports earlier this year about the group’s ties to homosexual advocacy groups.
What’s actually cause for concern is that Dobson and his group are still kvetching after winning a fight many of us thought they lost weeks ago.
We’ve got to learn how to fight!
A friend who lives in the neighborhood has been singing the praises of Babu since it opened. He neglected, however, to mention this:
The menu came without prices...guests were invited to eat, enjoy, and then, at the end of the meal, pay what they thought it was worth. “I’d rather work out the kinks in the kitchen first,” Payal Saha, the restaurant’s owner, explained the other day, sitting at a corner table of Babu, which was about a quarter full of couples quietly eating and mentally calculating the value of their experience.
She’s since worked out the kinks so now guests pay, but what a wonderful way to start out. That kind of thing just wouldn’t work here.