Mr. Raley is a free-lance author, speaker, philosopher from Gadsden,
According to the latest tabulation, I am not quite the average
To begin with, I’m several months too old, and my contribution to the total population is well above average. My income is above and so are my obligations. The car is too new, but the house is too old. (Thank goodness, they don’t build them like that any more.) Just how far from average those things would place a man is anybody’s guess.
Even though I am not quite average myself, I know this mythical man well. He is not a bad fellow, really; just unrealistic and inconsistent at times. In baseball terminology Mr. Average Citizen has a lot on the ball himself, but is a sucker for a low, outside pitch. This is the man whose vote may determine the fate of the nation. I think it might be possible to acquaint him with the facts of life; but to get an idea of the workmanship required, let us take a good long look at the material.
Excessive taxes, lack of progress, and general injustice are the primary subjects discussed.
First of all, Mr. Average Citizen dislikes taxes: federal taxes, state taxes, county taxes, and city taxes, including all fees and licenses. Of the many federal taxes, the income tax is his favorite target. It should be lowered drastically or, better yet, abolished entirely. How did they manage to sneak that amendment through, anyway? Second, this is by no means his only complaint with the federal government. He thinks it should protect citizens better with a larger and better equipped army, navy, and air force. All elements of national defense should be stepped up along with scientific research. There should be bigger and better satellites and a space platform. No expense should be spared to insure our arrival on the moon and points "moonward," well ahead of the competition.
State taxes are excessive, oppressive, and unreasonable. The state has a sales tax, income tax, tobacco tax, and gas tax, just to name a few of the more irritating. Honestly, at the rate his state collects taxes, he wouldn’t be surprised at any time to hear that the Treasury vaults had burst and disgorged century notes all over the Capitol lawn.
Mr. Average Citizen has another, even larger, bone to pick with the state. It’s a crying shame that the people can’t have more and better schools, hospitals, roads, docks, state parks, and game and fish conservation. Teachers are underpaid, highways are inadequately patrolled, and prisons are obsolete. State old-age and disability pensions to the so-called hardship cases are too difficult to obtain and shamefully small. Needed are more spacious and better equipped mental institutions with more resident doctors and psychiatrists. The need for complete reorganization andup-dating of state orphanages is very real. The state should increase the size and personnel of industrial schools at least threefold to obtain the best results. Successful rehabilitation of juvenile delinquents should be stepped up.
The county doesn’t collect an income tax, but manages to do quite well for itself with assorted property and privilege levies. Why the county should need an ever-increasing amount of money is well beyond the understanding of a mere citizen. He is quite insistent, however, in his demands that the county build a new courthouse, raise county employees’ salaries, and double the remuneration for jury duty. If he must pay taxes, the collector’s staff should be increased substantially—standing in line adds injury to insult. The sheriff’s office is inadequately staffed and equipped. The personnel here should be increased, transportation modernized, and this office should avail itself of all the latest data concerning crime detection and prevention. Many roads and bridges within the county’s jurisdiction are obsolete. They should be repaired or rebuilt at once—especially those which Mr. Average Citizen has occasion to drive on.
The whole county school system is a mess—worse than that—it’s a disgrace. Classrooms are obsolete and crowded. Lighting, heating, and ventilation are well below par, and the school libraries are far from complete. Mr. Average Citizen contends that the county should launch a school building program at once. Old buildings should be completely demolished and larger modern plants erected in their stead.
Last, but by no means least, there are municipal taxes. The city seems to have clamped a few mills or a few cents (several dollars in some cases) on all the items embraced by the other three and added quite a few of its very own. Mr. Average Citizen is passionately opposed and pledged to fight for the repeal of the whole works, right down to the last mill.
As a public-spirited citizen, he will fight; if necessary, lead the fight for more and better equipped playgrounds, pools, and recreation centers. There must be more and better equipped fire stations, a
Average Citizen Too Busy To Be Concerned
The actual procurement and maintenance of all these improvements is of little concern to Mr. Average Citizen. The-powers-that be asked for their jobs, let them work out the details. As for himself, supporting four governments requires so much of his meager income, the proverbial wolf is forever gnawing at the portals of his dilapidated domicile. It has probably occurred to him quite often to shoot the varmint and sell its hide to relieve his financial disstress. But alas, he can’t afford to avail himself of this pleasure. To do so would require a hunting license, trapping license, fur shipper’s license, and state shipping tags, state and county privilege license, and a city permit.
Thirdly, Mr. Average Citizen is wholeheartedly opposed to anything tainted with injustice, no matter how remotely. Graft, "pull," "ins," "outs," corruption—everything with a semblance of unfairness or dishonesty is noisome to him. Kickbacks, ticket-fixing, and back scratching is a disgrace and should be stamped out. A social system wherein justice is truly blind and no man enjoys an advantage over his neighbor—that is what he is working for. Meantime—if the-powers-that-be insist on favoring a few chosen ones; if it is absolutely impossible to prohibit someone gaining an advantage; if "ins" with the top brass just can’t be eliminated, then he will battle skillfully with every weapon at his command to make certain that the person obtaining such an advantage is ye olde tax-hating, justice-loving, crusader for progress—Mr. Average Citizen.