Flood waters: a taxing problem

Added September 2nd, 2014 by Gilda Z. Jacobs | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Gilda Z. Jacobs
From the League’s First Tuesday newsletter
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My family and I were unfortunate enough to experience the recent flooding in Southeast Michigan. Despite the fact that we lost appliances, some precious photos and an assortment of stuff we had accumulated over the past 37 years, we will be OK. We had insurance and were able to get a company to clean and sanitize our basement very quickly. And we will not need to go into our retirement funds to make our losses whole.

But the 100-year flood event reminded me about Hurricane Sandy almost two years ago in New York and the devastation and damage it wrought. For those of you who read my First Tuesdays religiously, you may remember I wrote about my experience in New York, helping my daughter and her husband with their newborn son, Jacob, who was a Hurricane Sandy baby.

I was struck then, as I am now, about the importance of our public infrastructures, as well as our first responders, and government services such as garbage collection and public transportation. I am also struck and concerned about the devastating losses and public health issues that might arise from this flooding catastrophe, which has been dubbed “Latrina” — losses and health issues that impact those that have no insurance, are underinsured or who don’t have the means or information to adequately clean up their living spaces so that mold or the fallout from contaminated water don’t affect them and their family in the future.

I am also reminded how important taxes are to making sure we have the resources to build a strong infrastructure, and how cutting taxes and/or not increasing revenues has greatly reduced the ability to have updated or state-of-the-art systems to handle such catastrophes. Our taxes pay for Michigan State Police divers who free people from their underwater cars, adequate roads that aren’t crumbling and a public health system that provides information and care. Our taxes pay for police officers who patrol our streets after catastrophic events. Our taxes pay the salaries of garbage collectors who are literally handling tons of contaminated household goods.

The private sector can’t address these needs, but a strong public sector can. Next time you see a police officer, a garbage collector or a woman filling potholes, say thank you. And next time a conversation comes up about taxes, think about what you would do without those folks who are working around the clock to make sure we are safe, sound and healthy.

I am thankful every day that I pay taxes.

— Gilda Z. Jacobs

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