Passport, Please

passportIt was on my first trip to a foreign country that I really began to understand why taxes are not a bad thing. This is why travel is so important. I was only 23 when I went to the Caribbean nation of Trinidad with my Trinidadian roommate and got a firsthand lesson on the difference between a third world country and the first world, from whence I had come. We drove by a Port of Spain police car on the side of the road which was siting on cinderblocks, completely stripped of its tires. I asked my roommate how a police car could be stripped and left on the roadside and she explained to me that the government was corrupt and that the money to deal with things like that had been looted. But why don’t they at least tow it away?, I asked. There’s no money or government entity to do that, she explained. Later we attended the wedding of her friend and I noticed that while people drank and chatted casually, a wildfire burned out of control on the mountain ridge nearby. We weren’t in danger as it was a few miles away, but still close enough to hear the crackling of the fire. There were no water-dropping helicopters or fire engines tending to it. In fact, nobody was tending to it at all. Shouldn’t we call the fire department?, I asked naively. There was nobody to call, they all explained to the American. There was no money to fight wildfires like we do in the U.S. so they just let fires burn themselves out and hope for the best. That’s how things go in the third world. That’s how things go without tax money in the coffers.

Anybody who has ever traveled to a third world country has examples like these of what happens with limited government infrastructure. It is not hard to see. And it’s not pretty. If more conservatives had passports, they’d know this. The problem is that fewer conservatives travel abroad than do liberals, so fewer conservatives learn this lesson. That’s what’s keeping Republicans stupid. This is not theory, IT IS A FACT that more passport holders in the U.S. are Democrats than Republicans. This is one of the very real problems with conservatives. Its one big reason why conservatives’ world-view is so limited and often so misinformed. It’s why conservatives believe in “American exceptionalism” and why they hate the U.N. and why they fear immigrants. And it’s also helping Republicans get their awful tax bill through. While Republicans don’t even know what’s in it, they generally agree that when it comes to taxes, the best thing to do is to “starve the beast of government”, taking “entitlements” away. This has been the Republican mantra forever. More liberals have traveled to poor countries where there is no hope for health care, and have seen the ramifications. Liberals have also been to countries like Denmark, where taxes are high but they don’t ever have to worry about health care. And the Danes are the happiest people on Earth. Fewer conservatives ever get this firsthand point-of-view though, because they don’t have a passport.

Rather than pass this ridiculous tax bill for the rich, why don’t we just give all Republicans free passports? That wouldn’t cost 1.5 trillion dollars and explode our deficit. If more Conservatives had passports, they’d understand the world better. And if they understood the world better, Republicans wouldn’t be giving tax cuts to corporations and the rich. They’d understand that taxes are quite necessary for a civilized society. They’d know why limiting government, just for the sake of principle, is the wrong way to go for a first world country. If they understood El Salvador or Mexico they’d also understand why we need taxes. If they knew third world countries they’d be happy that we have a strong Environment Protection Agency to protect our water and air, and a strong Center for Disease Control (with unlimited access to words) so that we can handle an Ebola outbreak, and an educated Department of Education, and Medicare for our seniors, and Social Security, and F.E.M.A. and food stamps for the poor. These are the things that make us a first world country. And they are paid for by taxes. We shouldn’t cut the funding for these things, we should increase it. My vote is to smack down this irresponsible tax bill and send Republicans packing. Send them to a third world country for a dose of reality. Maybe they’ll make some friends and learn how the rest of the world works.

 

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