Americans hate taxes – especially, I hear, without the required representation – but we’re about to accept one more, perhaps with little or no objection.
Taxes paid in human life, not just dollars, are of course the worst. Every day, we pay one of America’s most lethal, deaths by gunfire, extracted in Chicago, New York, other big cities, and basically everywhere around this well-armed country. The tax total: at least 100 every day, about one-tenth of these, children.
This tax is extracted via our fanatical dedication to the 2nd Amendment and at the behest of the NRA, the lack of significant regulation, and for the profits of those making the guns. We have interpreted the amendment as near-sacred, a matter of faith. Every American should be allowed to purchase a gun, of just about any caliber or destructive power, with little or no look-see at the buyer.
As a result, our civilian population is the best-armed in the world and the most likely to use this armament in a whole variety of death-dealing ways: legally, illegally, accidentally – most frequently on themselves, about two-thirds by suicide.
The next death tax – this one even more lethal – is already being levied. Its source: a virus that is taking the lives of hundreds every day and continuing to increase wherever we are “opening,” or “reopening” the country. And with each attempt to open – in a huge way next month, in our schools – Americans will be asked to accept some yet undetermined number of deaths as “normal.”
What number will this new death tax collect? What number of daily deaths from the virus will we be asked to accept in return for leaving our homes, getting together with each other at cook-outs, at the beach, in bars, with or without masks, with or without social distancing?
Around 100-200 a day?
One thousand a week?
Five thousand a month?
Fifty thousand or more a year?
This new tax of course will be paid by the most vulnerable among us: the elderly (who are going to die anyway, right?); the imprisoned (criminals deserving whatever punishment they get); Black and Latino populations (providing the bulk of lower paid services, frequently unprotected); and an increasing number of younger people (since told they are less likely to die of the infection so feeling “invulnerable” and blind to the suffering caused by their ignorance).
Imposing this new death tax, of course, is the administration, with its implicit advice to just put up with the virus and “learn to live [ha-ha] with it.” Translation: just accept without complaint some daily number of deaths which pays for our liberty to do whatever we want to do.
Of course, this is the bare-faced acknowledgement (pun intended and unapologized for) that the president and his White House viral task force have thrown in the towel, raised the white flag, acknowledged that they have no plan, no real reply to the virus, and that the number of deaths is just that: a number, a statistic.
Meanwhile, this death tax will continue to wreck our already disjointed health care system and demoralize our first responders, nurses, doctors, and thousands of other care givers who will pay their own price: if not themselves succumbing to the virus, having to comfort those dying alone, then contacting relatives with the news, and waking up every morning seeing no end in sight.
Of course, many American will object to paying this tax, but this means getting new leadership with some backbone, following the science rather than the politics and offering the necessary economic support to get through a godawful lengthy siege.
And that leadership will have to look beyond COVID-19. This virus is simply a symptom, a signal, that the planet is speaking, letting us know that there are many more viruses out there waiting to infect us, some perhaps even more lethal and requiring an even heavier tax in unnecessary deaths.
Meanwhile, the only possible way to repeal the COVID-19 death tax is a vaccine, effective and widely deployed. But even that may not be enough because once it is announced that such a vaccine has been discovered and begins to be used around the world, we’ll be getting – and are already getting — the following kinds of headlines:
“Anti-vaxxers launch campaign against new COVID-19 vaccine”
“’Nope, no virus vaccine for my kids,’ anti-vaxxers say”
And so it will go. Just another death tax.
Don Long has had a hybrid career with words: first as a college instructor (English/Journalism) then on to full-time journalism, writing for newspapers (weekly, daily), a brief foray into magazines, then on to medical newsletters, and most recently editor of the newsletter for a Florida HOA (OK, just a puff piece for the association’s board but, still, some writing).
Just recently moved to Escondido, Don and wife Betsy are using every weekend to explore (with masks) our great new “Left Coast” experience, and Don is especially excited about returning to his roots, writing for a weekly community newspaper.
While major national newspapers are struggling, he believes community newspapering will always thrive: “We need to know what’s happening with our neighbors, our local businesses, our schools and government. Community news is living history, a record of what a community has been and what it wants to be.”