By BRYAN GRAY
The opinions stated in this article are solely those of the author and not of The Davis County Clipper.
In little more than a month, citizens from across the state will have the opportunity to select their representation on city councils. Hundreds of candidates will soon be passing brochures and pressing the flesh while explaining their support for measures to increase the quality of life in their respective communities.
But there is another small but vocal group throwing cold water on these city enhancement ideas. The Rand Paul Libertarian wing of the Republican Party is increasingly sniping at community projects geared toward convenience and pleasure.
Recently, for instance, residents from Box Elder to Utah County have criticized city water park projects. In Layton, a woman questioned why children couldn’t swim in local ponds like she did as a child, and a Tea Party-backed candidate for the Utah House of Representatives said swimming pools and water parks should be funded by private businesses, not cities.
That man, Chris Crowder, said this: “The government should only provide necessary services.”
Their bellowing makes me cringe. I think of the impoverished families who cannot find money to pay for private swimming lessons. I think of low-income senior citizens who don’t have the funds to pay for lap swimming, tennis, or exercise workouts at a private country club.
Cities have a legitimate purpose in providing for the general welfare. Yes, that costs money. Most city recreational facilities require subsidies to pay for ongoing maintenance and construction bonding. Few public pools or recreational centers will show a profit.
But neither do schools, parks, or roads. When I hear a Libertarian type argue that he or she doesn’t use a splash pad so he or she shouldn’t have to pay taxes to support it, I want to counter like this:
“Hey, I don’t have children attending public schools anymore, so why use my taxes to pay teachers? And I seldom enter a city park and have a picnic, so why use my taxes for the trees and the streams and the ducks? My father didn’t drive his car for the last two years of his life, so why should he have to contribute for road construction? He didn’t cause or care about the potholes.”
And, while we’re getting to the nut of the issue, I didn’t support Pres. George Bush’s involvement in Iraq, so why did I have to pay taxes to arm, clothe and transport troops? Send me a check Mr. President.
As Americans, we all pay for services and missions we don’t personally use or even agree with. Collectively, communities can provide facilities and programs that enrich lives and help families prosper. These amenities wouldn’t exist if participation were based on a “user tax.” (“If I purchase bottled water, why should I pay taxes for water quality?”)
Yes, it’s sheer silliness. Taxes are the entry fee we pay for a civilized society. And, remember to vote in August if your city has a primary election.