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There is a lot of talk about equal rights today. In fact, the argument that every American should have equal rights has expanded to some previously taboo area such as same sex marriage, the right to smoke weed and to have free or subsidized health care regardless of financial ability to pay. There are even many who are pushing for laws that would guarantee equal outcomes in life regardless of the resources that were available (or not available) to the individual while growing up.

Such a trend riles the hell out of many conservatives, as they call it modern day communism, European socialism,  liberal progressive ideas gone amok, etc. But the world is changing. In America the past election saw 60% of white Americans vote Republican, while 95% of black Americans voted Democrat and 70% of other ethnic groups (Hispanic being the main one) voted Democrat also. Inside these numbers was a preponderance of younger white women who also voted for the more liberal party.

I believe this trend is here to stay. To major challenge to the trend seems to be: “Can we afford it?” This battle is being fought out as I write this blog. But the trend begs the question of obligation. Of course we all harken back to the word uttered by JFK, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.” I read today that there is some serious consideration being given to expanding the military draft to women between the ages of 18 and 26. http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/national_world&id... I understand that a bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives.  This goes along with the lifting of the restriction on women to be assigned combat roles in the military.  Why not?

But this small token of obligation to one's country is just a piece to the whole area of obligation. This is a great nation and I have benefited by it. I served six years in the United States Air Force. Over the years I also participated in numerous community service activities. But the one duty I fulfilled every year of my adult life is upon me today. I am going to prepare my taxes for the 57th time in my life. I will dutifully calculate them, using the latest software, and pay any residual bill that I have on time.  It makes me sick to learn that 15% of all taxes due don't get paid.  I am also perturbed that facebook will pay no taxes this year! As an equal opportunity complainer, I wasn't too happy that GE payed no taxes last year. 

I understand that approximately 47% of Americans don't pay federal income taxes. I am very sorry for those people who don't pay anything to the federal government that their finances have come to this in their lives  -- that their income is so low as to be below the tax schedule. I hope their lives improve. But even for the less fortunate, I think there needs to be a way that they can participate in the system and feel a sense of pride that they fulfilled an obligation. I believe we need to find a way to make everyone in America inclusive in both rights and obligations.

What is wrong with serving your country in some way? 

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Comment by Mandy Muffin on February 26, 2013 at 3:46pm

In answer to one critic:  I don't disrespect the 47% that don't pay taxes.  I didn't attribute the quote to Kennedy but only said he uttered the words.   The concept of equal outcome has been prevalent in liberal circles for some time.  Van Jones, once a prominent member of the Obama administration, has given numerous speeches on the subject.  http://stevenbirnspeaks.com/2011/01/28/van-jones-proves-social-just... There are many liberals in the country who espouse the same goal for America. 

Comment by Mandy Muffin on February 26, 2013 at 9:58am

When I studied comparative political systems in college I was struck that equality is an ideal our system doesn't promote except that in the process of creation.  But after the first heartbeat we subdivide into societal strata.  Obviously greater minds than mine thought deeply on this subject and a wave of socialism swept the world.  I have visited those countries that embraced it -- China, Russia, etc -- and the conclusion was always the same: collectivism generally means everybody starves equally.  

But one of the things that did impress me while visiting the former communist showcases, the sense of obligation/responsibility is instilled in these people.  This is especially true in China, where every citizen works for a common good.  Crime in extremely low and everybody has a job.  The people are out in the street exercising each morning with their fellow countrymen, while human life is respected with the "one child" policy that prevents irresponsible production of children with no future.  (Some would disagree with me on this reproductive rights/responsibility issue but what kind of a right is it for a woman to produce children she can't afford to raise with the knowledge that the father would soon disappear from their lives?) 

Comment by exedir on February 26, 2013 at 9:15am

We also have the blending of what are rights and what are responsibilities.  

If the equation is equality in all things, then, there are no differences and in fact, all differences have to be eradicated and kept in check, so that disparity is never allowed.

So, Citizen!  Arise and strike down the tyranny of difference, to the barricades and wave the bloody shirt!  And remember, of course, some are more equal than others.  

We can be just like Cuba!  If we only dream.

Comment by MGDJ on February 26, 2013 at 7:44am

A fair tax is the only sure way to avoid any class warfare when it comes to taxation.  As long as a progressive tax system is in place, there will always be inequality.  It is built into the system.

There are two visions of equality in America being endorsed by the two parties.  The left believes in the concept of distributive bargaining.  They believe that wealth is finite and taking wealth away from one party and giving it to the other is the only equitable solution.  The right believes that it is not a zero-sum game.  Growing the economy and producing wealth is what will ultimately work-everybody will all not be equal-but better off collectively/supply side economics.  

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