It seems intelligent talk about taxes begins. Now, if we can only pull the pit bull - barracuda away from lies about Obama and the press that stir up the ignorant and uneducated. I thought it was illegal to yell fire in a crowded theater. How and why is she getting away with what she is doing? We know the GOP has no platform and nothing to stand on. Do they really want to burn the country and tolerance down?
Jon Carroll -
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
During the much-anticipated (and, I'm guessing, soon forgotten) debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin last week, there was a small kerfuffle after Palin accused Biden of saying that raising taxes is patriotic. Turned out that what Biden really said was that paying taxes is patriotic, a view so heavily endorsed by all parties that it's actually illegal not to pay them - unless you maintain a post-office box in the Cayman Islands or find write-offs that offset what you owe.
That's probably not you, though, so it would be a good idea for you to keep paying your taxes unless you want to pay lawyers later. I understand that's something of a bummer, but then so is an irregularly shaped mole on your neck.
But the thing is, see, if Biden had said what Palin said he said (which he didn't), he would have been right. Raising taxes is patriotic. Raising taxes is what we can do to make our country, our patria, stronger.
It is amazing to watch the political discourse. Here we are about $10 trillion in debt, not counting whatever this latest bailout is going to cost; social services are being cut all over the place; entitlements are rising with no plan about how to cap them or pay for them; veterans services, national parks, NASA, the EPA, pick your own favorite - underfunded, decaying, not doing whatever it is we want them to do.
Oh, and where are we going to get the money? Oh, we will cut wasteful spending, that's what we'll do. Even better, we'll give people a tax break, so that will stimulate spending and we will grow the economy and then finally people will owe taxes and the government will get more money. Like that worked.
There is a different way that doesn't depend on some elaborate and discredited triple flip off the high board of economic theory - raise taxes. The American people have a whole lot of wealth. Is it excess wealth? That depends. When the fire truck that is paid for by the government comes and puts out a fire in your house, were the higher municipal taxes you paid extra wealth? Or were they a sound investment?
Oh, but suppose it's your neighbor's house that is burning down. You don't get anything from a rapid response, do you? No, but see, we are social creatures and we live in a society, and that means we help each other. I help you for selfish reasons, because I believe you will help me when the tables are turned. That's why, say, we help out the indigent, because one day we (or, say, our mothers) might be indigent; we help sick people because one day we might be sick, and so forth. It's almost like a contract, a social contract.
So of course the contract doesn't work perfectly. It's a human institution. It can and should be reformed. But it's the basis of how we live together. So you might say that paying taxes is almost as patriotic as a gosh-darned flag pin. We believe that no man is an island; that we are each a piece of continent, a part of the whole. And since we're all in this together, and at the moment we're in trouble, why don't we agree to put a little more money into the kitty? Because, if we don't, we all suffer. Wanna see those Dust Bowl photos again?
Oh, but you say, the rich do not pay their fair share; heck, they often don't pay anything at all. That's because the rich paid for the politicians who wrote the rules who let them keep their money. Now, everyone agrees that talking about "class warfare" is a terrible thing, but when the upper class is staying fat and happy (well, now, mostly slim and happy, so they can live forever) at the expense of the struggling middle class and the wretched lower class, I'd say one side was winning and the other side was losing and whaddya want to call it: a skirmish?
I wish once, just once, a politician would say, "You know, given how messed up everything is, probably we should raise taxes." Of course, all the other politicians would make little o's with their mouths, because the unspeakable had been spoken, but maybe a few people who've actually been paying attention would say, yeah, OK, I could kick in an extra $5 a month if my brother is suffering, if my sister is jobless, if my water is dirty and my son is dying on a desert far from home - yes, I could do that.
Then that politician would get demagogued to death by the power-drunk plutocrats, but it would be a nice effort.
So here's my plan: Instead of cutting taxes for the rich or for the middle class, how about we raise them for everybody? Why? Because we need the money!