TIME HAS COME TO SUPPORT TAXES FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
October 9, 2011
have no problem proclaiming their position on taxes. Though I am not running
for public office, I too want to proclaim my position. Public schools,
roads, libraries, police, and firefighters all benefit society at large.
They also have another feature in common: they are supported by a combination
of city, county, state, and federal taxes. Most politicians have no problem
supporting these programs from the public coffers.
contribute to the public good from an ecological perspective, and each
needs to be targeted for the proper distribution of tax revenues. Some
should even be considered for higher funding levels because they are critical
to the environmental health of the nation.
at the city and county levels. Any region with an average density of people
will have problems with animals, both domestic and wild. Heavily populated
counties always need an animal control program of some sort. Someone must
be available to take care of abused or dangerous domestic animals: unhappy
cats living in severely overcrowded conditions; free-ranging, ownerless
dogs with bad attitudes roaming a neighborhood. A fact some people might
find disturbing is that in certain states it is not illegal to keep potentially
dangerous animals, including African lions, as house pets. Always good
to have dedicated animal control officers on call when a lion owner accidentally
leaves the door open and a big, hungry cat is on the loose.
chances are that your county animal control unit is severely understaffed.
These people are among the least appreciated public service officials
because much of what they do is behind the scenes. Most of them really
care about animals and are committed to their jobs. Strengthening animal
control programs helps build better communities. Let's allocate more tax
money for that purpose.
At the state
level, environmental programs that pertain to nongame species are often
given a low priority. The environmental welfare of nongame species is
usually under the State Department of Natural Resources or its equivalent.
Yet a woefully small proportion of a state's budget is spent on programs
to determine the population status of nongame species, a barometer of
the ecological health of a region. Who is checking to see whether populations
of gopher frogs, box turtles, or green pitcher plants are stable or declining?
These and many other nongame species are indicators of ecosystem stability
and environmental vigor. Keeping ecological records on such species requires
dedicated DNR biologists. Keeping a state's natural habitats healthy should
be the responsibility of the people of the state. This is accomplished
with an evenhanded distribution of tax revenues.
the need for federal taxes for the country's national park system cannot
be overstated. The gradual erosion of funding to support some of the finest
environmentally protected areas in the world is deplorable. Anyone in
this country should be able to visit any national park and find first-rate
facilities and services upon arrival. The same can be said for the many
superb state parks where natural habitats are protected and outdoor recreational
opportunities abound. Spending tax money to help keep such programs from
declining is in the best interest of the general public. We definitely
get our tax money's worth from the personnel who oversee and manage state
and national parks. Park rangers are some of the best buys for the money
that can be found at the state or federal level. Our tax monies are going
for a good cause when they support parks. Cutting funding levels for parks
should not even be on the table for consideration.
who say they want to reduce the taxpayer's burden abound. I would like
to hear a politician with the courage to say that maintaining a safe and
healthy environment is worth paying for--and that accomplishing that goal
without taxes is impossible. Someone willing to run on a platform supporting
environmental protection and adequate funding for public parks would be
welcome. And I am not alone in wishing for such a person to enter the
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