Sunday, November 21, 2010

Why we must Raise Taxes on the Wealthy

The great lie fed to us is that tax cuts are necessary during this recession. Some argue that if we raise taxes, then job losses will multiply and things will get worse. But we've had big tax cuts for a long time now. The Bush Tax cuts are nearly a decade old and they have failed to create jobs and improve the economy. In fact, these tax cuts have added to the deficit by costing the treasury hundreds of billions of dollars. By what logic then, should we extend these tax cuts? If they have failed to do anything positive in a decade, why do we think that they will now magically fix things?

Trickle-down economics has been forced down our throats for decades now. But tax cuts for the wealthy never trickle down. Giving rich people big tax breaks does not, in the long run, help the rest of us. Such cuts increase the deficit, do not create jobs, and simply widen the gulf between rich and poor, fermenting social unrest and populist rage.

Simply listen to Warren Buffett in this video

Buffett knows what he is saying. He's been a key insider in the world of finance for a very long time now. This should, however, be obvious in all of us. The most prosperous time period for the middle class, for poor and working people, even for the nation as a whole, was when taxes on the wealthiest were at their highest.


Just look at the tax rates tax rates from previous decades, during the prosperity of the 1950s and 60s. Income tax rate on the wealthiest Americans during that period were never lower then 70% and often much higher. They still lived privileged lives and the nation as a whole has never been more financially healthy.

Since we began to undo all this, slashing tax rates for wealthy people (most of whom make their money by underpaying middle class employees, ripping people off by advertising and selling overpriced products, slashing benefits, and taking handouts from tax payers) we have had recession after recession and the plight of working people has become steadily worse.

No one in their right mind can honestly suggest continuing the Bush era tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans.

No doubt some will rant and rave about "punishing the successful," or "socialism," or it being "unfair to take someone's hard earned money, to that logic I respond with a previous blog post of mine, part of which I quote here:

In order for society to function we need public services and only a progressive income tax can provide the government with the money to properly create and maintain such services. Let us put ideology aside here and just look at these facts.

The most common objection to the progressive income tax is that it is unfair to take a rich man's "hard-earned money" and give it to somebody else. There are numerous problems with this objection.

First, that someone makes 300,000 dollars a year and someone else makes 45,000 seldom has anything to do with how hard they work. The hardest workers in our country are blue-collar working people, who sometimes work 60-70 hours a week and will never see a pay check over 40,000. So the hard work argument is absurdly false. Indeed, wages don't even depend very much on education. I will have my Ph. D. in May and will never make more than 60 or 70 thousand. There are people with Bachelors' degrees who make twice or three times that much. And this is not always - not even all that often - because of the importance of my and their respective occupations' importance for society

Second, the person making 300,000 a year did not create that money all by themselves. People who defend this "don't raise taxes on the wealthy" line of argument often talk as if such wealthy people accomplished this entirely through their own power. This is absurd. Take a person making six figures. Someone built the roads he drives on, the car he drives in, and the clothes he is wearing. Someone built his home, set up the plumbing and wiring in it, his cable, and so on. Someone slaughtered his food, processed it, packaged it, and sold it to him in the grocery store. Even more telling, he had teachers who gave him the tools for success.

None of us are self-made men, none of us operate in a void. We are not atomistic souls pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps. We are all part of a network of relationships, we are interdependent, interconnected, and interlinked with those who are in our community. Unless you live in the woods, built your own house from trees you chopped down, hunt and cook all your own food, and wear only the fur from your kills - you are radically dependent on other people. Without the hard work of millions of others, we could not survive and certainly could not flourish or earn high salaries. We owe a great deal to a large number of hard working people - many of whom live on meagre incomes and are often in need of public services and government aid.

If you earn six figures most of these people earn far less than you. The teachers who taught you the basic skills needed to function in society made a scant salary; many who provide you your food and clothing made far less than that. Is it really too much to ask that Uncle Sam take a few percent more of your income and then redistribute it so these people who teach our kids, build our roads, feed and clothe us might have health care? Or food stamps? Can you honestly look these hard working people in the face and say that the government cannot provide needed social service because it is wrong to raise taxes on the wealthy by 1 or 2 percent?!

Finally, the whole logic of this argument misses the point. It is NOT the case the a progressive income tax takes money from party x to give it to party y. The government takes income from party x in order to provide necessary social services available to everybody - including party x should he fall upon harder times. So we are not taxed to support "other people." Rather, we are taxed according to our means so that all people - and that includes us and our loved ones should we need it - may have access to necessary public services and government aid.

I remain convinced by these arguments. To be honest, I cannot see how anyone looking at the issue of income tax rationally and with an open-mind could honestly conclude any differently.

If we fail to end the Bush era tax cuts on the wealthy, we will be adding to our deficit, failing to do anything to create jobs, widening the gap between rich and poor even further, and harming ourselves and our futures.

It is immoral to extend these tax cuts.

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Bill Maher rightly chastises Jon Stewart

I'm no fan of Bill Maher, but he's right about this. Please Watch:

Let us please keep in mind here (as I don't think Maher does), that there is a difference - often a large difference - between a conservative and a right-winger. The one should not be confused with the other. Nor does being Republican mean that one is on "the right" either.

The right-wing, as I understand the term, applies to militia groups, people who think that Obama was born in Kenya, Fred Phelps, the late Jerry Falwell, people who think Climate Change is a liberal conspiracy, and other such radical loonies.

The right-wing has become absurdly extreme and very dangerous. There are, however, a great many thoughtful conservatives and moderates, many of whom are Republicans, I want to stress that, at least for me, the right-wing is the danger, not all Republicans are all conservatives.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Why we must Vote Democrat

There is much to criticize Obama and the Democrats for, Just read Glenn Greenwald and Paul Krugman for some of the best of such criticism. Despite this, however, it is very clear that we must vote for Obama's Democrats.

Think they have done nothing for us? Think again .... Rachel Maddow explains the legislative victories of this president in the video I embed below. I'm more critical than she is, but I agree on fundamentals.

No rational and informed person can listen to John Boehner, Mitch Mcconell, Newt, Palin, or the Tea-party loons; no intelligent voter can read the GOP's "Pledge to America," or the "Tea-Party Manifesto" and not decide that the Democrats, despite great flaws, must get our vote.

To bring the point home, please watch Ms. Maddow's articulation of what the Democrats have done ...AND PLEASE VOTE TODAY!!!!

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