Paying our taxes!

These are remarks I made at the Tax Day Rally organized by Good Jobs Better Baltimore with Occupy Baltimore and other community leaders.

Two hundred years ago, the people who founded the congregation I serve gave it a unique name—the First Independent Church of Baltimore. They prized independence as a central feature of our national character—we were not a subject people ruled from afar by a mighty empire, but an independent people freely building with one another a new kind of nation, a nation that valued initiative and creativity and abundance, and a nation that believed in advancing the common good. Virginia and Pennsylvania and Massachusetts all named themselves commonwealths, understanding that our free states had the cause and the capacity of caring for one another.

Today we stand against another empire, the empire of corporations whose position in our country has deposed our democracy. Corporations are people in our time, but many of these “people” are free from paying taxes. Indeed, many of our corporations have become “people” turning to our commonwealth for public assistance. Making a mere $69 billion in profits in the last four years, that poor “person” Wells Fargo needed $21.6 billion in corporate welfare to be able to make ends meet. Poor Wells Fargo!

On Tax Day, it is appropriate for us to remember that we can again declare our independence from the tyranny of empire; that we can declare our unwillingness to be ruled by tax-free corporations and, instead, can require that Wells Fargo and all the “dirty thirty” large American corporations that paid no federal income tax at all be held accountable to the common good. Congress must require these corporate “persons” to pay taxes so that our children may be educated, our seniors may be supported and their wisdom recognized, our able-bodied women and men may know the dignity of labor by having good joba, and our communities may be supported and stabilized that our common life as independent people may be happy, and secure, and that we might know lives that are truly free.

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