Saturday, April 14, 2007

A Thank-you to the American Taxpayer

This time of year, many Americans are struggling to finish their tax returns on time, cursing the IRS in particular and the US government in general.

I would like to write a thank-you note to the American taxpayer. I am a beneficiary of your (and my own) largess.

I read a while back that it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to train a PhD level scientist; most of that cost is borne by a combination of federal and state funding. Mark and I are no exception; we both received subsidies, scholarships and stipends from state and federal entities in addition to private money. In contrast, taxpayers pay several times more to train a military pilot. Tellingly, during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, the two types of officers not allowed to separate from the AF at the end of their enlistment terms were pilots and meteorologists.

Not only were we trained on taxpayer dollars, but we are still on the dole today, working in a federally funded laboratory. In the past two years, I have been paid by a variety of federal sources including DOD (USAF), NASA, DOC (NOAA) and DOT (FAA).

It gets worse. I had the audacity to give birth and take maternity leave, paid for by your tax dollars. Moreover, I had the cheek to become severely ill, consume large quantities of health care and go out on medical disability leave for several months. That medical care and time off was paid for by a combination of our savings and your taxpayer dollars.

I try to give you good value for your tax-dollars. But I have competing priorities as I need to also focus on my recovery and raising my daughter. I can not maximize the training that you paid for by working around the clock. Although, if I die prematurely, that wouldn't maximize your training dollars, either.

I work ‘only part-time’ for a scientist, 36 hours a week. I really can’t run any faster. I am sorry. But thanks for the health care. It was, literally, a lifesaver. Now let’s do the important work of building a nation that is worth funding and defending.

PS. I am not arguing that our current tax system is optimal or even fair. I am just saying thanks.

1 comment:

  1. Your welcome Grace :)

    The system benefits you and all of us. And my husband too, who ironically is a libertarian. We argue about it all the time. I tell him -and he knows it- that if libertarians had the power to change things, people like me would be dead -literally-, never having had the opportunity to get far enough to contribute. You can't pull yourself up by the bootstraps if you don't have boots. Our system is problematic but it still provides some means for those at the bottom of the barrel to overcome tremendous adversity and become something worthwhile to benefit others.