Corporate taxes are due on March 15th and partnership tax filings are due April 15th, but both can be extended to September 15th. As a tax accountant, September 15th was a big work deadline for me, and I’m glad it’s passed! I even got to have a bit of drama to celebrate the end of “busy season” – I had to hand deliver a tax return to a client in order to meet the filing deadline. Since that meant battling area traffic, I got to jam out on the radio in my car. I lucked out and heard some really good songs – “Lean on Me” and “Here comes the Sun” (which, I’ve decided, is my favorite Beatles song). The point is, all that good music got me thinking and so I sort of composed this post in my head.
I’m grateful for government.
I’m grateful for the tax system (even if it’s complex) and the fact that the vast majority of American citizens and corporations pay taxes, thus contributing to building our society. I’m grateful to live in a relatively corruption free society, where businesses can thrive without having to pay bribes to government officials. I’m grateful for a car that’s safe because government mandates certain safety features. I’m grateful for a government that restricts monopolies from crushing ordinary people. I’m grateful for a government that allows us to protest against it, and even provides police officers to protect such rights. I’m grateful to work in a building that won’t collapse, due to building codes. I’m grateful for workplace safety regulations and government protection from discrimination. I’m grateful for all 12 years of my public school education, paid for by our government. I’m grateful to eat safe food that’s inspected by the government. I’m grateful to be able to vote for my representatives, governor, senators, and president (and grateful for the confidence that the votes will be fairly counted). I’m grateful for a government that stays out of my religion and guarantees my right to worship as I please. In fact, I’m grateful for the whole bill of rights and all constitutional amendments (especially the 19th!). I’m grateful for a government that provides a social safety net to the poor, the elderly, and the unlucky. I’m grateful for the sacrifice of brave men and women in serving in our armed forces, protecting me from horrors I will probably never fully comprehend. And yes, I’m grateful for the bureaucrats – those who work in public service jobs in government.
There are notable exceptions and limits to government’s abilities. Sometimes government doesn’t work. Government is imperfect, but I believe it reflects our own imperfections. When failures of government come to light, they should be exposed, rooted out, and reformed. After all, in America we believe in government “by the people, for the people, and of the people.”
Ronald Reagan once famously said that “Government is not the solution, government is the problem.” That simplistic statement overlooks the vast good that government can and does do in our society. Sure, it’s annoying to wait in line at the DMV, it’s frustrating to pay taxes, and we may not like our current representative, governor, senator and/or president. But on the whole, government is a good thing, and I’m grateful it protects my rights, provides so many services, and regulates things that should be regulated.