Shirley Bianchi has been a member of the NETWORK community since 1991.
She served in local government as the San Luis Obispo County, CA Supervisor, District Two from 1999-2007. She shared her thoughts with us about the importance of paying taxes, and we wanted to share them with you.
This is California, and we don’t usually get quite so cold as it was here in December. It was nothing like what was happening in the northern climes of this world, but we do not have the clothes, nor all of the other stuff we need to keep warm. As a result, I shivered for at least four days.
So it was with a great deal of relief one night that, even though I was having trouble getting to sleep, I was warm, so I snuggled in and let my mind wander. Eventually it wandered to the news of the day, which included some dim-wit Congressman stating he wasn’t going to vote for the extension of federal unemployment insurance because of some obscure Bible verse that suggested that if one doesn’t work, one doesn’t get to eat. That swirled around for a while in my brain until I thought about the parable of The Good Samaritan.
But he, wiling to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor? And Jesus answering said, “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, take care of him; and whatsoever though spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves?” And he said, he that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, “Go and do thou likewise.”
Usually when this parable is preached or spoken about, it is that someone from a different culture, or tribe, acted with more compassion than the members of the beaten man’s own tribe, and that we must be compassionate toward everyone. Which in and of itself is certainly true. But the thought that came to me was that after the initial compassionate acts of binding up the beaten man’s wounds and taking him to an inn and caring for him for one night, the Samaritan, having obligations he needed to attend to in the next days, paid the inn keeper to care for the man, with the promise that he would come back and see to it that the inn keeper was reimbursed for any further costs. What the Samaritan didn’t do was berate the beaten man for having been so negligent as to not having learned the ancient equivalent of taekwondo in order to defend himself and not be beaten in the first place, and then behave toward him with contempt for being a “loser”, and for deserving everything that happened to him.
With that being said, we don’t have inns or inn keepers like that anymore. But we do have government agencies that are substitutes for them. We have the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, we have unemployment insurance, we have emergency rooms in hospitals, and we have Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid. We pay the “inn keepers” of our time with our taxes. There is no way I can be everywhere, nor can anyone else, but we can see to it, as the Samaritan did, that people who have been beaten down by life are cared for by the appropriate government agency, if there is no other means possible.
Shame on those who do not want to fund these programs through closing tax loopholes, readjusting an outrageous tax system back to a progressive tax rather than the regressive one we have now. How have we as a country, sunk so low that we would deprive people of any age food, but particularly children and seniors! Now, in my book, this is viciousness personified!