Ever play let’s you and him fight? Or have it played on you? Trouble-maker incites people to battle while he enjoys the barbarity. That’s what it feels like in America. Major CEOs and corporations are doing fabulously well while watching the rest of us fight over scraps. And the more we fight, the more we bring down what they will have to pay us poor peons who do the work. It’s let’s you and him fight over the ability to feed your family. And all of us, except the instigators, lose.
When the issue is taxes, the Tea Party insistence on treating everyone what they call “the same” means giving big tax breaks to the people who need them least. They need tax breaks least partly because they already have so much, and because those same people are able to exclude much of their income from the taxes you and I pay.
When the issue is public benefits, the Tea Party tells us treating everyone the same means cutting programs for the people who need them most.
When the issue is workers, the Tea Party tells us treating everyone the same means cutting unions off at the knees.
Somehow there is a message here that has nothing to do with treating people the same or equally. It’s all tilted to the top. Ye who need nothing get everything. Ye who need what you have, from you everything is taken. Most Biblical. Sounds like Isaiah calling for justice or Jesus on the Mount.
Actually even those earning as much as $200,000 are likely to pay no more than 16% on their income, more if you calculate it on what the government calls your taxable income, but that means some of the things you pay for don’t count. Add in state and local taxes and that same individual may pay 25%. Sounds good to me – I wouldn’t give away the chance to earn that much just because I have to share 25%. But people who are a lot wealthier buy tax advice that goes way beyond TurboTax. And they pay much smaller shares of their income, let alone their property. So if you are annoyed about the unfairness between us, I’m with you. But if you’re bellyaching about how large a share of income the wealthy have to pay, just chill out. They don’t.
What all this sound and fury are about is the wealthiest financing candidates and tea parties and spreading the false gospel of the poverty of the rich. We should be laughing. But while the rest of us are fighting over the scraps they leave on the table, they pay the rest of us less and less for fewer and fewer jobs, gradually reducing us to the poverty of third world workers. So the financiers are laughing about how they have organized the rest of us to take our venom out on each other and leave them alone. Lions and gladiators anyone?
— This commentary was broadcast on WAMC Northeast Report, April 5, 2011.