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The last line of “America the Beautiful” ends with the words, ”and crown thyself with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.” I thought about this as a good friend, originally from India, pointed out that the United States government is, hands down, the most successful organization the world has ever known.

A naturalized citizen might see this more clearly than those of us who take it for granted. We often can’t see the forest for the trees, and to make matters worse, we all too often start throwing stones from inside this amazing glass house — made of mostly bulletproof glass, as it turns out.

In the same conversation, we talked about someone who may be headed for jail after allegedly refusing to pay income taxes for many years. He had bought into the claptrap of radio talk show hosts and internet sites that claim taxes to be “unconstitutional.” This is an otherwise successful guy who, in addition to prison, likely will have to sell off a yacht, a plane and other toys purchased with money he has effectively stolen from the rest of us — that is, from those of us who have been supporting the fundamental underpinnings of his prosperous business.

What are those underpinnings, all provided by our U.S. government? We can start with the national defense system, on which we have the wherewithal to spend more than any other nation. The results are not always perfect, but we’ll never know how much worse off we would be if we didn’t have what Teddy Roosevelt used to call “the big stick.” Then there’s the internet, originally funded by the government — not to mention the GPS system. The value of the interstate highway system and other transportation facilities goes without saying.

Social Security and Medicare offer yet more examples. I have always paid the maximum for myself, but what I was paying helped support my parents through more than 50 years of retired life. The system will need more support, and we will just have to step up. It’s not cheap, but it beats having to support three generations under one roof. Think about that alternative.

Wait. There’s more. This month’s issue of AARP magazine warns against the growing threat of germs that resist antibiotics. The pharmaceutical companies have largely given up on their efforts to combat this problem because R&D is expensive and cuts into the billions they make on drugs for illnesses such as arthritis. This, by the way, is an industry whose stocks for the past 10 years have gained at annual rates more than twice those of the S&P 500.

So who will end the nightmare of a fatal disease that resists all drugs? Since only 5 of 50 major drug companies are still doing any antibiotic research, the government just allocated $1.1 billion to fight resistant bacteria, and the U.S. entered a joint venture with Great Britain to fund an additional $350 million.

This effort replaces basic research that the major pharmaceutical companies have abandoned. The next time you or a loved one are lying in a hospital bed with a chance of being saved from something that otherwise had been resistant to common antibiotics, you’ll have our government to thank.

Who we won’t have to thank will be all those doctors and other professionals, plus business owners, who wound up in federal prisons because they thought they could get away with paying less than their full share. According to Medical Economics magazine, most of the doctors took cash from patients — cash they never reported.

Meanwhile, there are a lot of legitimate ways to reduce taxes and make even more money. Business owners growing their companies by hiring more people get to deduct every dime they spend on expansion. They just don’t get to deduct yachts and third homes.

The list just goes on and on in the face of those who can’t stand to pay taxes and who want to shrink the government down to a size where we can drown it in the bathtub. Some of my best friends complain about their tax bills, and I patiently have to point out that this is a great country and we get what we pay for. The more we make or have, the more we benefit.

I know I speak for many when I say that we appreciate the brotherhood this country represents, and we’re willing to contribute whatever it costs.

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