On September 11th I committed an act of radical patriotism. What, you may ask, was my act of radical patriotism?
Well, it was not criticizing the Football players who take a knee. I consider them true heroes and patriots for engaging in their 1st Amendment rights to protest the injustice and inequality that the see and experience on a daily basis in their own communities. It is not for me to question their experience, it is for me to inquire of it, ask of its validity, learn from it and then change my own behaviors.
My act of radical patriotism was also not hugging a flag, or standing with my hand over my heart, as pretty of a photo-op as that may be.
No, what I did that I consider to be radically patriotic these days was I paid my taxes. Quarterly Taxes to Federal and State Revenue departments were due on the 15th, and so on September 11th my wife and I dutifully completed our checks, put an American Flag Postage Stamp on them, and mailed them off.
I paid my taxes with a full heart and a without a lick of resentment, because I love my country and I am proud of what it does, despite not always agreeing with everything it does.
I did this because I believe that the Federal and State Government are the best vehicles for protecting the rights of citizens and are also the best institutional way to respond to disaster and provide for the common good. I paid my taxes because I enjoy the benefits of good roads, relatively stable government, social systems and safety nets that help me care for my neighbor.
I paid my taxes to show my support for those in uniform, both servicemen and law enforcement.
I paid my taxes to honor my garbage collector, my DMV employee, my Federal worker and all the State employees who in a myriad of ways make my life more manageable.
I do all of this even when I don’t agree with everything a particular administration puts forth as its agenda. I paid them because I know that the institution of good government tends to endure and to self-correct when it is adequately supported.
According to a CNN/Money Magazine article in 2016, Oxfam estimated that in 2014 the top 50 U.S. companies held 1.4 Trillion dollars in cash offshore. They did so to hold profitability for themselves, their shareholders, their executives, and to some degree for their employees. But make no mistake, they did so to avoid paying U.S. taxes, and therefore to avoid doing their patriotic duty as U.S. Companies.
As the conversation about the tax rate takes place what I find missing in the debate is the call to all of those U.S. Companies to do their patriotic duty. Work for reform laws, by all means. (It’s not like they don’t have influence on policy anyway.) Adjust things to make the tax codes better reflect global realities, but let us not neglect to hold them accountable to what belief in America calls us all to do.
Talking about reforming tax code only on the basis of “what’s in it for me” is not a good way to run a democratic government. It is, however, an excellent thing to do if you want to run a mafia or an oligarchy.
So, here’s my invitation to you. Whether you are Tech 30 or Trump, join me in doing something radically patriotic this year.
Pay your taxes, thankfully.