Saturday, February 12, 2005

Video, Taxes and Social Security

I finally saw "The Winter's Tale" last night and this morning. Video made it possible for me to watch this late Shakespeare play, in a well-acted production filmed for the BBC.
Video has provided many pleasures for me in middle age. I've been able to see great plays and films that I have waited 30 years or more to watch -- Ray's Apu trilogy, fine mid-career Ingmar Bergman films such as Shame and The Passion of Anna, Fellini works such as The White Sheik and La Dolce Vita.
The release of these works on DVD, coupled with the ability to purchase virtually anthing online, has made it possible for me to "catch up" on art -- both great and popular -- that I've missed. That's something to be greatful for.
Watching The Winter's Tale reminds me of the great wonder of Shakespeare -- how playable it is, despite language that on paper may seem difficult to decipher. It's eminently actable and totally absorbing for the viewer. As I finish up with my weeks-long viewing of Ken Burns' epic TV series Jazz, the possibility of seeing all 37 Shakespeare plays looms large for me. Definitely weekend viewing to look forward to.
I am fortunate that my local public library is noted for carrying the best video selection west of the Mississippi. I can rent these DVDs and tapes for a week for 50 cents. A great bargain, and one of the best arguments I know for paying taxes.
I read recently that the public library in Salinas, California had closed. The birthplace of John Steinbeck has no public library, thanks to the irrational hue and cry of those who oppose paying taxes for any reason.
It's a situation both silly and tragic.
And it is one that should give pause to those who support George W. Bush's insidious call for Social Security "reform." Bush and his henchmen now have acknowledged that their private account scheme will do nothing to stabilize the Social Security system for those who choose not to pull money out of this secure harbor and put it into risky hands. And yet there seem to still be many people who are willing to give up the greatest social program this nation has ever devised -- one that has kept countless hard-working citizens from ending their days in abject poverty -- in the name of "ownership." What good is ownership, when the view from your castle is one of poverty and despair.
The Bushes of the world may be able to close their eyes to this, but I for one cannot.
As a society, we are only as strong as our weakest member, and Social Security is a system that has made each and every one of us stronger. I for one would be willing to pay more into the system -- either through a higher tax rate or through taxation of a larger portion of my income (I am one of those fortunate enough to make more in a year than the system is currently taxing -- and, feeling blessed in this, am willing to share).
I urge everyone who stumbles across this post to join me in fighting this small-minded and nasty "reform" effort. Let the progressives be the conservatives in this case -- the ones fighting to hold onto the good that we've got.
And while we're at it, let's make plain our willingness to pay taxes for other fine social benefits, such as public library systems that allow all of us to enjoy books and the arts at a low price.