The last week of 2014, I had the benefit to spend time in Washington DC with my family. Although I have the economic advantage of enjoying the hotels and the restaurants of the nation’s capital, as we looked at the national monuments and the museums, I soon realized that someone with limited resources could enjoy Washington as well. As a matter of fact, some of the most enjoyable moments we had were completely free.
The Smithsonian museums, for the most part, were not only educational but took most of the day for us to enjoy the exhibits. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum especially brought home for me the benefits of taxes. Not only was there no charge to enter the museum but some of the exhibits themselves demonstrated the benefits of taxes.
The first obvious tax benefit is the museum itself and, of course, the exhibits. The opportunity to look at historical items up close and personal is not only educational but an opportunity to better understand the context of a historical event. For example, we may know the dimensions of the Mercury capsule, the first US spacecraft, but to see it personally left me in awe of the courage it must have taken to strap oneself into the capsule to be shot into space. There is a huge difference between looking at pictures and reading detailed specifications and actually looking at the capsule that made history. Even television does not come close to giving me the full context.
The spacecraft and the other exhibits themselves also demonstrate the benefits of taxes. Many argue that launching men into space may be a waste of money and they may be right. However, the advances made by humanity, as a result of exploration of space, is immense itself. However, you look at it, landing on the moon would not have been possible were it not for taxes.
Likewise, the exhibits on the Russian, Soviet and US space programs as well as aviation in general show that taxes can be beneficial not only in the programs themselves but in the ability to look at historical items personally.
We constantly discuss the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and all other historical documents that are the basis of the United States. We make fun of John Hancock’s signature, but to see it first-hand truly makes understanding the context that much better. We may understand the content of the historical documents and we may even be well educated on all aspects of them but to actually see the real documents just brings everything together for me. I have a much better comprehension of them just by looking at the actual documents.
My only disappointment was the prohibition of taking pictures of the founding documents. I understand that this is needed in order to help preserve the original documents for future generations to enjoy. However, it was disappointing for me nonetheless.
Except for food, lodging, transportation and a few trinkets the fact is that entertainment for us in Washington DC was basically free, yet enjoyable. Although I will continue to decry an abusive tax system and grudgingly make my tax payments I am not ignorant to the benefits some of my tax payments give my family and me.