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Your Tax Dollars

Your Tax Dollars

One of the crux differences between the left and the right is how our taxes are spent. The left believes taxes should not only be used for the needs of government – defense, statecraft, infrastructure and so on but also for social programs as well. The right believes that taxes should be as small as possible and pay for the bare minimum to keep the United States strong and prosperous. Social programs should be left to charities.

Often when I get into discussions with my friends on the right about things like Obamacare, food stamps and welfare, eventually they will inevitably say something along the lines of “not with my tax dollars.” All right, then. That leaves the question; what should we spend our tax dollars on?

Of course, there are those who say we should not pay taxes at all but that simply isn’t realistic. It takes money to pay for necessities, such as embassies and ambassadors, for the military and their equipment, and simply for making sure things run properly, or at least relatively properly. So let’s assume for the moment that we all want a military protecting us, diplomats negotiating trade agreements for us, roads to drive on from place to place and air and rail traffic transporting people and goods across the country.

For my part, I’d like to see my tax dollars spent on free healthcare for all. I’d like a European-style health care system that treats everyone regardless of their economic status. I’d love to cut out the insurance middlemen who serve no function at all except to make money for themselves. I’d like to see a healthier population, one who visit doctors instead of Emergency Rooms for basic care. I don’t want to see people dying because they couldn’t afford treatment. There is something so basically, disturbingly wrong with that last that it can’t even be expressed.

I’d like to see my tax dollars spent on eradicating hunger, particularly among children. No child should have to go to bed hungry. No parent should have to hear their children cry themselves to sleep because they haven’t eaten anything all day. No retiree should have to face a choice between paying for their medication and their food. This is a land of plenty; why shouldn’t everyone benefit from it?

I’d like to see my tax dollars spent on educating the young. Our future depends on having our next generations prepared to compete globally. Our children should be learning to think innovatively, to be inspired to learn particularly in science and mathematics. Our children should aspire to create things that will make the world a better place. We need to improve our schools and their facilities. Our teachers shouldn’t have to be paying for school supplies out of their own pockets. They should be compensated for the additional time they put in. They should also be held accountable for their performances as our students should be held accountable for theirs. We need to market education as a means out of poverty, a means to elevate not just individuals but entire communities. We need to involve parents directly in the education process but not just parents; the entire community. Businesses should be made to understand that they’ll only benefit from having a superior education system in their communities as it will turn out superior employees for them further on down the line.

I’d like to see my tax dollars spent on space exploration. As Robert A. Heinlein once said, the Earth is far too fragile a basket to put all our eggs into, especially when you consider what we’re doing to despoil it. We should be exploring the local solar system and sending probes into the furthest reaches of space as we’re doing but we should be doing more of it. The technologies that have developed from the space program have fueled our economy for the past half a century; imagine what we come up with in the next fifty years.

I’d like to see my tax dollars spent on rebuilding the infrastructure. I want to see good-paying jobs created to repair bridges and highways as well as constructing new ones. I want to see AMTRAK converted to a high-speed rail system that links the entire continent. And while we’re talking about jobs, I want to put some of my tax dollars in re-training the work force so that they are more computer savvy and able to do the jobs that are in demand. Those who have the abilities and the desire to change their lives should be given those opportunities, even the education to go into much-needed fields like engineering and medicine. I’d also like to see my tax dollars spent on helping students get college loans at reasonable rates that won’t put them into enormous debt before they’ve graduated that will take them decades to repay.

My tax dollars should go to a more sane military spending program. We are spending money on tanks and battleships we don’t need. I’d rather see that tax money go to the Veterans Administration that takes care of our soldiers, sailors and airmen after they’ve defended this country. I want our veterans to have the best medical facilities administrating the best care possible; I want them to have college programs to help them re-start their lives and give them a chance to prosper after their time in the military has ended. I want my tax dollars to go to the actual people putting their lives on the line for our country, not to the makers of helicopters and tanks who have oversold their products to our military and now want to keep their factories running even though their products aren’t needed anymore. The dynamics of the marketplace should apply to them too.

In short, I don’t mind paying for things that benefit people that actually need them. I have an issue with paying taxes that support people who are already rich by making them richer, by giving corporations making record profits tax incentives and loopholes to the point where they’re getting refunds while the deficit continues to be an issue. I want my tax dollars to mean something besides a dollar sign. How about you? How do you want to spend your tax dollars?

Eritrea Pavilion

Eritrea Pavilion

THEME: The Philosophy and Development of Urbanization in Eritrea

PAVILION: The Pavilion utilizes traditional Eritrean dwellings along with the bright colors that are endemic to African artwork to create a Pavilion that joins the modern to the traditional in an organic way.

Eritrea Pavilion

EXHIBIT: The Pavilion is divided into two exhibit areas. The first is Better Life in the Asmara Region, which will showcase life in the capital city of Eritrea and its satellite urban areas. Infrastructure and social services will be highlighted as well as the rich cultural heritage going back to Byzantine and Islamic periods. The second gallery, Harmony of Nature and Humanity, will display the lush natural landscapes of Eritrea, concentrating on the large coastline area but also on its rich highland interior. This display will also highlight the imperatives for ecological reform and cultural preservation, with the restoration of an internal railroad line and recent archaeological findings chief among ongoing projects. Both areas utilize slide shows, video displays, physical displays and posters in their exhibits.

Eritrea Pavilion

CUISINE: There is no dining area listed for the Pavilion.

SHOPPING: A bazaar outside the Pavilion entrance sells handicrafts such as wooden carvings, headdresses and bracelets for reasonable prices. Also, you can have your hair braided in traditional Eritrean style in the bazaar.

Note: This Pavilion is located in the Africa Joint Pavilion.

Equatorial Guinea Pavilion

Equatorial Guinea Pavilion

THEME: Sustainable Beauty of the City

PAVILION: The design is meant to express the distinctive character of Equatorial Guinea, utilizing the elements of soil and water to make a visually striking Pavilion.

Equatorial Guinea Pavilion

EXHIBIT: Throughout the Pavilion, visitors will be treated to the smell of coffee, a reminder of the importance of the bean as an agricultural export to the developing economy of Equatorial Guinea. Visitors enter past a reception desk and are carried along the waves through the island of Bioko, along the Benito River and through to Basile Peak where the iconic statue of the Virgin Mary was the scene of Equatorial Guinea’s independence. A video plays on a central display screen highlighting the natural landscapes and resources of Equatorial Guinea. In the second exhibition area, the abundance of petroleum contributes to the development of the country’s infrastructure, creating one of the most dynamic economies in Africa. In the future of urbanization, Equatorial Guinea’s investments into education, tourism and agriculture from her energy profits give a glimpse into the exciting future of this modern-thinking nation.

CUISINE: There is no dining area listed for the Pavilion.

SHOPPING: There is no specific shopping facility listed for the Pavilion.

Note: This Pavilion is located in the Africa Joint Pavilion.

Brunei Darussalam Pavilion

Brunei Darussalam Pavilion

THEME: Now for the Future.

PAVILION: Visitors can enter the Pavilion through tropical rainforests, unique natural landscapes in Brunei. Special revolving patterns can be seen everywhere in the Pavilion. The upward trend and vertical pattern of this design, called “ayer muleh,” symbolizes the gradual improvement of the Bruneian people’s lives and their ambition for developing a better economy.

Brunei Darussalam Pavilion interior

EXHIBIT: Touch screens give visitors an overview of Brunei’s development since its establishment to the year 2035. 4D cinemas display colorful sceneries of Brunei via videos, sounds, wind and rainwater. The Pavilion is divided into five exhibition halls; visitors will meet the royal family of Brunei, see how the discovery of oil had a major affect on the lives and lifestyles of the Bruneian people and take their pictures of Brunei’s national mosque. Visitors enter the Pavilion at the reception desk, where helpful volunteers can answer questions about Brunei, the exhibit or pass out brochures about tourism and investment opportunities. A video playing at the reception desk will provide an introduction to Brunei to the casual visitor. Large portraits introduce you to the royal family, while a video on the perimeter wall depicts His Majesty’s speech regarding the future of Brunei, the outlook for a robust future and trade potential with China. The second area focuses on oil and its importance to the Bruneian economy as well as to the future of the world’s energy needs. The third area focuses on the culture of Brunei and her capital Darussalam; video stations in this area will exhibit Brunei’s place as the heart of Borneo. There is also a modest 15-seat 4D cinema that shows video clips of Brunei with sound effects, wind effects and even soft rain. The fourth area concentrates on Brunei’s investments into its own infrastructure, illustrating how Brunei is leading the way in social health care, education, economic diversification and ecological activism. In Area Five, there are presentations on Bruneian cuisine and lifestyle. A photographic representation of the national mosque is in this area, inviting visitors to take photographs for a timeless memory of their visit to Pavilion Brunei 2010.

Brunei Darussalam Pavilion

CUISINE: In the café Visitors can feast on Bruneian coffee, biscuits and cakes as well as certified Halal foods. There are also such Bruneian delicacies as spicy Nasi Lamak, Teh Tarikh, Murtabak and Bruneian fried noodles.

SHOPPING: For sale in the shop are traditional handicrafts such as silverware, baskets made entirely of dried leaves, traditional hats and other items that show off the talents of local artisans. Also to be sold is “Kain Tenunan Brunei” which is a rare and highly sought-after cloth that has gold thread woven through it and requires highly skilled weavers.