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A Tax Day Dilemma
Submitted by Justin Krebs on Wed, 04/16/2008 - 12:00am.
Drinking Liberally Shot of Truth
To eat a free donut or not eat a free donut? That is the question.
When I was 13 years old, I overheard a friend's father say he wanted a bumper sticker that said, "Stop Whining and Pay Your Taxes." What I didn't get at the time was how likely it would have been that he'd be rear-ended with a message like that. Nor did I get just how important that message was.
Now, I get it. As our framing experts have helped us to understand, language of "tax burden" sure helps the right-wing demonize the notion that we should all invest in our nation together. We more often hear quoted Ben Franklin's quote, "In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes," than the message of shared responsibility from another American giant, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: "Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society." So it's no surprise that anti-tax crusaders win elections, and anti-tax messaging becomes common rhetoric on both sides of the aisle.
Living Liberally doesn't agree. Back in April, 2005, we threw "Rock Your Refund." Dubbed "A Tax Day Celebration" (and, in our somewhat less-catchy attempt to re-frame, "An Invest-in-America Day Celebration"), we hosted a dance party, and encouraged donations at the door that were directed to services which had been underfunded due to Bush's reckless war-time tax cuts for the rich. In a celebratory spirit, we encouraged people to think about what their "invest-in-America" money went to...and to feel proud for paying their share.
The party didn't become an annual event...but it could. You could throw events that celebrate all that your taxes pay for: drinking tap water instead of bottled water, dancing on well-paved roads, honoring schools and scientific research and the post office.
Which leads me to the dilemma of the donut. Dunkin' Donuts offered a Tax Day Special yesterday - get a free donut if you buy any-sized cup of coffee. Regardless of the Carlyle Group involvement in Dunkin', I haven't been able to kick the habit. Their ads get into my head, and their donuts into my heart (or at least my arteries), ever since it was the only 24-hour establishment high schoolers could escape to late night in the small town of Highland Park, NJ. So, in short, I love their donuts.
Do I take advantage of this magical moment to get a Boston Creme at no cost? Or would that just be buying into the right-wing frame that taxes are a burden from which I need the "relief" of a free treat? Would satisfying my tastebuds soil my soul?
Well...I wasn't able to resist. Consider it me eating away Carlyle's profits by taking their donut for free. And if anyone wants to throw a Rock Your Refund Invest-in-America-Day Celebration, count me in...I need to clean the taste of right-wing frame off my palette.
And one last question: if you were throwing a party with themes of all the public works and common good taxes support, what images, party favors, and festive games would you include? How would you Rock YOUR Refund?
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