Hell No, We Won't Pay

So we’re walking the dogs this morning, heading to get coffee. A woman is jogging past and we’re doing our best to avoid her as the dogs tend to get a bit loud when people run near them. She keeps coming towards us. Apparently, there’s a protest about property taxes at 10:30 at the Governor’s Mansion and she wants to let us know. We say Okay, thank you for letting us know.

I think this is neat and as we’re running errands this morning, I’m proud of my mostly-white, wealthy, yuppie neighbors for getting fired up and yelling about something. At eleven we walk down the street a few blocks to watch the protest break up and take photos and police cars have 49th through 46th Streets blocked off because there are hundreds of protesters in front of the Governor’s mansion and cars can’t get through.

Then it starts to irritate me. I see scores of regulars from the coffeeshop that I know are conservative attorneys and doctors and CEOs and I began to think “What have these people ever protested in their lives? And now they’re angry enough to stand in the street with signs?”

I think of all the protests I’ve gone to; for animal and civil rights; against the war in Iraq; to stop gay marriage from being illegal. And then I start to think about the movie yesterday. And then I think of the bumper sticker that reads “If You’re Not Outraged You’re Not Paying Attention.” And I’m outraged because, most likely, these over-privileged Caucasian yuppie doctors are pissed off enough to paint a sign for the first time in their lives. Yeah, a handful of them could probably be called “liberal” or “progressive,” but for the most part they’re the type of people who always vote straight Republican because “I want to keep my money!” Which seems to be a common misunderstanding in Indiana: people who make a hundred grand a year think they’re in the nation’s top wealthiest one percent and voting for Republicans will keep their taxes low.

I, for one, welcome tax increases and would be willing to sacrifice a considerable percentage of my paycheck if it went to universal health care, better public school and art education programs, and free universities for everyone who wanted to go. Although I consider these things the type that affect all of us at some point or another, if only because we’re all a part of the same human race, apparently some people only get fired up when someone’s trying to take more of their money.

In this situation, I can’t help but think you chose to buy a $750,000 estate on Meridian Street. No one put a gun to your head and forced you to put a million bucks into a house where you live with your trophy housewife and 2.3 kids and purebred Labradoodle.

It isn’t fair that property taxes would keep going up, no, but as the moderator of the protest recommended, we could institute a city- or state-wide increase in sales tax instead. They raised taxes in Marion County to build a billion dollar retractable-roof stadium, but most of the people benefiting from that (the season-ticket holders and players) live outside the city, in Fishers, Carmel or Geist, where they voted against the tax increase and they don’t have to pay for the stadium.

I’d much rather pay one or two or three percent more on restaurants and clothes if it meant better jobs, housing, and education for all of the city than to cover the property taxes of a few defense attorneys. To me, it seems a fair compromise: the more money you have and the more you consume, the more comes out of your pocket to care for the rest of your neighbors. Call me a socialist.

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