Boy, am I stupid. I finally got around to "doing the taxes" this time around and discovered we owed a lot of money. We were thankful we had the money in the checking account to take care of it.
Were we happy about owing a lot? No. Did we resent it? No. We assumed paying taxes is part of the privilege of being an American citizen. Is every dime spent as it should be? No. Do Congressional representatives have our best interests at heart? Not all. Does the president? Not always.
But there's a price to pay for all the good we have as Americans. We are DINKS -- dual income, no kids -- and we have paid property taxes to help thousands of children get a decent education and a shot at economic stability. Some say it makes us socialists, but we see every child we've helped through taxes as being a child for whom we bore at least a little responsibility.
A very good friend will leave soon for a war in Afghanistan that should have been over long ago. Had the previous administration not allowed itself to get sidetracked into Iraq, our problem with the Taliban may well have been over by now.
The previous administration spent money we didn't have to go after a regime that had nothing to do with 9/11, but no one had a tea party in protest. No Woodward or Bernstein stood up to tell us who in Washington knew the truth about Iraq having no "weapons of mass destruction."
For the average American, Iraq has cost us only money. With no draft, it has cost only a precious and willing few the risk of military service -- and, sad to say, some of them their lives.
It wasn't health care or corporate bailouts but military outlays that accounted for more than half of federal spending. I don't begrudge our men and women in uniform a single dime of that. I just trusted Washington would have a solid reason to put them in harm's way. Boy, am I stupid.
Philip A. Gardner