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Larry Peterson - Straight Shots

Peterson - Sometimes it really is better to give than receive

I’m not sure Deb and I will come out as well as Exxon Mobile or Walmart on this new tax overhaul, but I suppose we have to lay our hopes in the trickle-down economic boost theory.

I’m a natural skeptic in this line of work, so I find it hard to believe much will change from companies going (or staying) overseas for cheap labor, bringing in foreign workers for cheap labor and using soaring profits to line the pockets of executives and board members, or to buy more lobbying with politicians.

But it did instigate a discussion on the theory of taxation in our household. I guess it’s because this time of year we’re in the giving mode, which I’ll get to in a minute.

What we sometimes forget is that there is a societal profit from (responsible) government investment of our tax dollars.

When income taxes were created in this country, they were designed to get the private sector to invest in society as a whole — in the government services through taxes, and in social good through tax-deductible contributions to non-profit organizations.

When I talk to former Creston athletes I covered when they are home on visits, for example, one topic that often comes up is the declining condition of our streets. When I tour the town on my bike, it’s like navigating a mine field so I don’t take a spill.

Government provides the infrastructure that helps individuals and businesses thrive in any locality. Roads, garbage collection, police and fire protection are all necessary consumers of these public funds. Those services need our fair contribution.

The non profits are valuable in coming up with ways to solve social problems, as a government advocate for those solutions.

So the question to ask in this new taxation formula is, are the top 1 percent of this nation’s wealthy and the corporations, who benefit the most from the reform, prepared to pick up more of the tab for these basic needs and services by truly adding to the paid workforce in their communities?

We’ll have to stay tuned on that one.


The bill does keep deductions for charitable gifts if you don’t take the standard deduction. In 2014, 36 million households deducted charitable contributions.

We’re not talking huge amounts — I work at a newspaper after all — but in the past week we’ve continued our holiday tradition of giving to some of our favorite charities. Checks were written to Southern Prairie YMCA, the FBLA Honor Flight fundraiser, Christmas Basket Fund, Gibson Memorial Library, five national disease research associations and hospitals, and a couple of reproductive health care organizations Deb still supports from her days with Planned Parenthood.

In return we usually get a few calendars, and a heartwarming feeling about giving to something we see as worthwhile, or a cause that touched the life of a family member who has passed.

To us, that’s the Christmas spirit.

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