Organized Hypocrisy

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The U.S. tax system is an organized hypocrisy. In 1980, the marginal tax rate for top earners was lowered from 70% to less than 34%. In the last eighteen years alone, the corporate tax rate has been reduced from 28% to a permanent rate of 12%. We’ve spent almost a trillion dollars annually on the military. Another six-trillion on Middle East wars. An additional two-trillion dollars for the Bush tax cuts and just last year, another 1.5 trillion dollars on the Trump tax cuts. This astounding sum equates to over $2.5 trillion dollars of public wealth redistributed from the bottom-up every single year for the last thirty-five years. Sadly, this didn’t just happen by accident. It isn’t because of inexorable forces such as globalization, technology or the invisible hand of the market. It happened because our priorities are upside down.

Reprioritizing just a percentage of this squander would adequately fund: Medicare for all, tuition-free college, a livable minimum wage, universal day care, universal pre-K, extended maternity leave, comprehensive mental health treatment, elderly care, K-12 public education, public sector pensions, infrastructure, environmental and climate initiatives, food safety and consumer protections, mass transit, affordable housing and so on. The reality is, we have been complicit in a subversive strategy to dismantle our own democracy. We’ve allowed the evisceration of labor unions and in the process, eliminated the countervailing power to the free market zealots and the globe-trotting corporations who are rigging the rules of the economy in order to privatize their profits and socialize their losses. We don’t have a problem of economic scarcity; what we have is a problem of unequal power.

Discussion2 Comments

  1. David Mann

    How do you educate the public to realize that spending priorities do not have to favor the rich, the military industrial complex, or corporations whose main concern is their stockholders over their employees and the people who buy their stuff? Why is it “unpatriotic” to support a healthy, educated and engaged populace? I suppose Louis XIV would disagree. But this is America! Founded on a more direct relationship between the its citizens and the government.

    Why are we so vulnerable to the fear mongering that promotes military spending out of scale with threats perceived? If firepower is the need, we can destroy the earth many times over with our existing weapon stockpile. Fear is what’s preventing us from meeting the needs of the We the People clause and unless we change our choices soon, climate destruction, migrations, pandemics, and who knows what else may be in our future. Seems like our country began with such a choice, paying taxes without public input or benefit to the public.

    It clearly seems that we have lost our way. Soon, the government will move to change our most precious electoral traditions by eliminating the idea of “one man – one vote” – oh wait, they already did that with the court decision on gerrymandering. So maybe the time has come for another tax revolt. How can we continue to pay for a do nothing Congress that fails to deal with the major issues and is beholden to special interests; not the voters? Theirs is the best paying job on earth for simply talking.

    • Jstevenmedia

      These are excellent points that starts with the one central question……”How do you educate the public to realize that spending priorities do not have to favor the rich, the military industrial complex, or corporations”
      I suspect we all know how we got here over the last thirty-five years….. tribalism, partisan news, internet echo chambers, the evisceration of labor unions, the gutting of civic classes in public schools and so on. This is further evidence of an intentional, slow moving coup; eliminate the countervailing powers, commandeer the media and keep the public uninformed.

      I know this sounds radical and maniacal to many, but that’s only because this is such a slow-moving and maniacal plot that John Q Public doesn’t see it. The public has been convinced they don’t have the power to change things. Worse, they have abdicated their power to the corporations and the politicians who carry their water.

      The ultimate test on whether Americans realize what’s happening to their democracy AND if they can find the will to wrestle back their power and defend their rights-before it’s too late will come in November 2020.

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