FREE FREE FREE!

Okay now that I have your attention, let's agree on a couple points before we start.

1.  Nothing is free.  It may be "no cost to you" but there is no such thing as free.  If your boss gives you free tickets to a ballgame or free entry to a golf tournament, it was NOT free - the company paid for it.  If a meal is provided to you at an event, a sponsor somewhere paid for it.  If you won free tickets on the radio, a company bought them or gave up the income from them.  If you receive any type of benefit, be it tangible or intangible, someone somewhere gave up something or paid for it.

2.  Nobody likes taxes, any kind of taxes, period.  I don't like sales tax, property tax, income tax, or even hospitality tax (taxing me is not very hospitable).  But I do understand that taxes are necessary.  Tax money is what is used to fund and operate our local, state, and federal governments.  Does there need to be more transparency, accountability, and efficiency in government?  I believe absolutely most certainly definitely so.  Just like with any money I spend, I want to get the most bang for my buck.

Taxes
So how do I feel about paying taxes?  Well, let's reverse roles for a minute.  If you walked into work tomorrow morning and your boss said they expected you to increase sales by 20%, or increase production by 15%, or to start producing 5 more reports per week than you were previously doing; would you expect to hear that you're getting a raise after those demands?  I would.  Look, I dont mind working, but I do like to be rewarded and compensated for being more effective and getting better results and I imagine you do too.

That's how it works with taxes too, if we want better government maintained parks or better government provided (free) facilities for our families to visit and have fun with little or no cost, it takes tax money to do that.  The same is true with roads.  If you want your state, county, or city to repave the roads every time one pothole shows up, be prepared for higher taxes.  Before you jump on me about government spending, scroll back up and read the line about accountability and efficiency in government.  Yes, it appears clear that there are certainly some efficiency issues at the state level with our roads systems, but I don't have enough data and information to dive much deeper into that.  Essentially, if we want more or better, we pay more - at the grocery store, the mall, on Amazon, and yes, even in taxes.

Education
As good as it sounds and regardless of what any presidential candidate says, higher education in America will never be free (I don't think).  Yes, to the best of my knowledge, Union County has a program that offers scholarships that fully cover the costs of tuition for students who attend certain schools in the county or neighboring county and meet other certain criteria with GPA and discipline records.  But guess what, it's not free.  It's funded by taxpayer dollars.  And this is relatively small scale.  If you ever think that major universities and colleges are going to start offering free education, ask yourself these questions:
-  Will utility companies in these towns give these schools free electricity, water, and gas?  IF they do, guess what, either taxpayers or other utility users are footing the bill.
-  Will really smart and highly educated people like college professors and other college staff members decide that they no longer need to be compensated for the jobs they do?  I sincerely doubt it.  IF tuition is ever considered free to students, then someone somewhere is paying those staff members I promise.

Health Insurance
I know I've talked about this one before but it keeps coming up.  First, there are some really good, really smart, and really compassionate doctors, nurses, and caregivers in the medical field.  It is my personal opinion that the issues with healthcare are rarely these people's fault.  I see many good stories of quality, friendly, and helpful care that really lets you know the issues aren't in the doctors' offices - even in rural towns like Union.  The issues often seem to be on the money or insurance side of things.

The current system that we have is extremely flawed.  This hybrid blend of government provided and privately funded healthcare just isn't working.  Don't believe me, how about this quote from an article I read on MSN today: "The company, which administers Medicaid plans in 12 states, has grown its business considerably since the Medicaid expansion took effect in 2014.  Its stock price has more than tripled in that time."  Did you read that last part?  This private company which is charged with handling federal Medicaid (taxpayer) money has had its stock price more than triple in the last 4 years?  How is that possible, especially given the fact that some private medical providers cannot afford to accept Medicaid since its reimbursement rate has been described as "next to nothing." We need healthcare, but when insurance is becoming unaffordable for some while others are raking in uncharted profits, I find that pill hard to swallow.

Final Thought
Nothing is free.  While we may view some of these topics differently, and regardless of how much we love or hate taxes and insurance, I think we can all agree that at the end of the day, we just want to get the most out of what we're paying for.

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