Yesterday I filed my quarterly taxes. It’s not my favorite part of working for myself, but taxes are part of living in common cause with 705,000 Washingtonians and 328 million Americans. Everybody chips in a penny or two, and we get things like bus service and food safety standards and national parks.
As I wrote that last sentence, I struggled to find uncontroversial things to string together (uncontroversial to the hypothetical undecided voter who I imagine persuading through a 100-part election anxiety memoir). I wanted to say that we get clean air and water, workplace safety, reliable mail delivery, reliable data about threats to public health, tireless career public servants dedicated to serving their knowledge area regardless of who is the White House. But somehow these have become controversial. Even the three I mentioned are not universally loved. “Food safety standards” might be. But try proposing a new one and see if it isn’t tagged as a “burdensome regulation” by the opposition, by whoever is currently producing the conjectured unsafe food.
As September 15 approached, I was thinking about all the things our taxes aren’t paying for right now. In the past few weeks I’ve opened Facebook again and again to see teachers and parents sharing GoFundMe pages to raise funds for school supplies in this strange time of uncertain in-school and remote learning plans. I’ve seen too many people sharing GoFundMe pages for medical expenses that a citizen of any other developed country wouldn’t have to worry about. And fundraising pages for funerals and scholarship funds in memory of those we might not have lost if the response to Coronavirus had been timely and well coordinated.
I’m also seeing fundraising pages for musicians and bartenders and bar-backs. Supplemental pandemic unemployment insurance ran out long ago for those who had service industry jobs. Full-time musicians are largely in the same boat as me — independent workers ineligible for traditional unemployment aid. Many musicians who counted on live tours as their main income this year are instead playing for meager tips online instead. Republicans in the Senate haven’t been able to come up with an extension to continue covering those out of work due to the pandemic.
These should be paid for with our taxes. Survival, education, staying in your home shouldn’t be contingent on how effective you are at social media fundraising. These are human rights.
Here are a few GoFundMe pages popping up in my social feeds today. Support if you are able. But vote in November to move our country to a more equitable one where we aren’t relying on GoFundMe for our basic needs.
- A pastor raising money for the funeral of Deon Kay, recently shot by the D.C. Metropolitan Police.
- Fundraising pages for the out of work bartenders and bar-backs of Bossa Bistro, Black Cat, and Union Stage and Jammin’ Java
- A fundraiser to buy bikes for socially distanced physical education at Dunbar High School