Tag Archives: Transportation

The Thing About Taxes

I will preface this by saying I am not well-researched in the areas of politics, national financing, or whatever actually goes into this mess, in the United States or elsewhere.

But I think it might be worth mentioning my thoughts on a few things, based on personal experiences, and some things I’ve heard that just… don’t make a lot of sense.

Taxes aren’t inherently bad.

The word “tax” in itself has come to have largely negative connotations–if you’re being “taxed” by something, you’re being weighed down or put upon. We have classic examples of people, like the Sheriff of Nottingham from the Robin Hood stories, who abuse taxes.

In a truly ironic state of affairs, my dad is adamantly against any kind of raise in taxes, but he also works for the state of Minnesota, and part of our taxes are what pay his own wages.

But if taxes are being abused, for things like… oh, say, a giant wall, or a football stadium… then, yeah, I wholeheartedly understand the aversion.

I don’t think anyone is ever entirely sure what taxes are used for, but there’s obviously some mismanagement going on somewhere, and that’s the bad thing. Taxes themselves? They have some truly positive possibilities.

Let’s just, for the sake of imagination, pretend that a perfect world is possible. What should taxes, in a perfect world (and my opinion) be used for?

  • Protecting/conserving the environment
  • Researching and developing important new innovations in energy, transportation, and health (cure for cancer, anyone?)
  • Providing/maintaining a basic standard of health and well-being for everyone
  • Paying first responders, health professionals, and peace-keepers
  • Educating people well
  • Preserving culture by investing in arts, museums, libraries, archives, and community centers
  • Community improvements, like road construction, parks & rec, etc.
  • Providing some kind of safety net and/or rehabilitation programs for those who are  out of work and/or homeless. (This would include retirement, and being out of work due to an injury, veteran benefits, and other things of that nature, in addition to being in a bad situation for other reasons.)

Some people are really put out by the thought of providing for others. Which… I get, to some extent. At the moment, it’s hard to fathom providing for myself, let alone anyone else in the country–but that’s because a lot of things in “the system” are broken. They’re not being used the way they should.

If I had the peace of mind that came with guaranteed good health, the basic ability to learn the things I need to know without being in debt for the foreseeable future, and the reassurance that life as we know it wasn’t on its way to being toasted out of the Earth like a bad virus, I would happily give away a third or more of my income for the rest of my life.

In a perfect world, what would your taxes be used for?

What would you be willing to provide, to make your own life and the lives of others easier?

Bridge Safety

With the recent collapse of the pedestrian bridge Miami near Florida International University this brings to the spotlight once again bridge and road safety.

With recent reports stating that an engineer observed, “some cracking that’s been observed on the north end of the span.” How safe was the bridge to begin with and why were workers allowed to work on the bridge when there was cracking in the bridge. The cracking in the bridge should have been enough to halt any other work beside the repairing of that crack.

This brings to mind the 35W bridge collapse that happened here in 2007. There bridge was deemed “structurally deficient.” That meant that there was work that needed to be done, more importantly it was deemed, “fracture critical,” and that means that “the failure of just one vital component could cause the whole bridge to collapse.” And that vital component did fail. Again, once there were obvious signs of failure for 35W the work that was going on at the time of the collapse should have stopped. They should have closed at least one part of the bridge to start the repairs.

With the Miami collapse this just shows that there is still so much work to do with the infrastructure in this country. Last year, 172 bridges in Minnesota are structurally deficient or fracture critical. With such a high number bridge safety in Minnesota and this country should be a top priority. We use pedestrian and vehicle bridges every day and we trust that they are safe. But with those numbers, just in Minnesota alone, shows we have a long way to go.