Nov 2, 2006

While the rich cavort, regular Americans suffer

Only a few more days until the elections. If you have already voted, Great! I did the early voting myself. If you still haven't- make sure you vote for the candidates that have America's interests at heart, and not their own party's. There are many looming problems in the United States today, but what I feel is the largest is the way the country is being splintered into the haves and have-nots. This is especially disturbing in a time when we have 140,000 troops occupying a foreign, hostile country.

Middle and Lower class Americans have done their part to fight terrorism. They have offered up themselves and their children to the military to protect our country. While the rich and superrich have benefited by stock shopping the military industrial complex and milking the Republican party's penchant for supporting corporations over small and independent American businesses, regular Americans and their children are dying and being wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our health care is slashed, our 401ks are dashed against the rocks of a CEOs multimillion dollar bonuses, and our cities' crime rates soar as our police forces are depleted by the National Guard's increasing tours in Iraq.

In the industry I work in, 90% of the people I speak to on a daily basis are in the top 5% of affluent West Texans. They are the superrich of Lubbock. They may not compare to the bigwigs in Dallas, New York, etc= but they have more money, much more money than they know what to do with. Their investments make money hand over fist, and they only lose money in the riskiest of ventures. By and large, these people take every tax advantage possible, they have shelters and advisors like me and others, who they pay exorbitant amounts just to avoid paying taxes. And their greed only makes them hungry for more, in most cases.

They speak of the Republican party with an almost reverential tone. They understand exactly what the Bush administration has done for them - even as they dismiss claims of what the Bush administration has done to everyone else in America as liberal poppycock and socialist drivel. As long as they are making money, to hell with the Republic, and everyone else who was too stupid to have been born a millionaire.


Ben Stein writes a great piece about this entitled You're Rich. Terrific. Now Pay up

He addresses the facts that while taxes for the rich and superrich are lower than they have been in 60 years, our military dies for pennies while our middle class struggles to merely stay afloat. The men who run the country are cavorting in carefree fashion while our country rots from within. It is time, for the rich to ask themselves- what they can do to help our country in a time of war. He writes of a "vision" he had while surrounded by the superrich, enjoying their excess, and ignoring the rest of the country's maladies...


EXCERPT
Suddenly, as the men happily walked away from me, I had a vision. Here we all are under the gorgeous crystal dome of prosperity, drinking, making money, eating swordfish, changing money at the temple, showing off ourselves to others, bragging — and all of it, every bit of it, is made possible by the men and women who wear the uniform.

Every bit of it is done under the protection of the Marines, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the Coast Guard, serving and offering up their lives for pennies. And we're also under the protection of the police and the firefighters and the
F.B.I., who offer up their lives for nothing compared with what others make trading money on computer screens.

Something flashed into my mind — something that my late father used to say, quoting loosely from the economist Henry C. Simons, a founder of the Chicago School of economics: that it is "unlovely" to see the extremes of wealth and nonwealth that are evident in contemporary America.

We may be able to live with it. Some of us may even be able to prosper amid it. But it's not pretty. The rich should simply not be that much richer than everyone else — especially those whose lives protect them from terrorism.


(...)

The real problem is the difference between the rich — (...) and the poor. It is up to the government to redress this extraordinary difference in incomes of the rich and the nonrich, even at the margins.

What Congress can do, and should do, is address the stunning underpayment of military men and women and the staggering budget deficits that will be a burden on our posterity for decades, by raising the taxes on the rich. It's fine that there are rich people. It's even fine that there are superrich people.

But if they are superrich, they derive special benefits from life in the United States that the nonrich don't. For one thing, they can make the money in a safe environment, which is not true for the rich in many countries. It is just common decency that they should pay much higher income taxes than they do. Taxes for the rich are lower than they have been since at least World War II — that is to say, in 60 years.

This makes no sense in a world at war, in a nation with so many unmet social needs, in a nation with so many people without health care, in a nation running immense and endless deficits.

America is becoming a nation of many rich people. I recently read that there were close to 10 million millionaire households. I read that there were hundreds of thousands who made more than $1 million a year. Good for them.

But it's unlovely for them to pay as little tax as they now pay. The real problem in this country is only temporarily about oil. That will right itself, or we'll get used to it and adjust.
The real problem is saving a nation that is beset by terrorism, and we cannot do that unless we feel that we are all in the same boat, pulling at the oars together. That includes the rich.
Whatever rationale there may have been in 2001 for lowering their taxes is long gone. It's time for them — us, because it includes me — to pay their (our) share.
It's not about oil. It's about fairness.

9 comments:

FastMovingCloud said...

Just wow. Ben Stein's column is very well written but it just floors me that he is only now starting to see the stunning inequities. Oh, well, better late than never.

BC said...

"The real problem is saving a nation that is beset by terrorism, and we cannot do that unless we feel that we are all in the same boat,..."

Ehm, no. The real problem is a nation beset by terror. If you live to be 80, you are more likely to be killed by a meteor than a terrorist. Stein speaks as if the "islamofascists" are piling on to our shores from carriers, frigates and prachuting from large transports. Of course the wealty feel comfortable and safe! They also know the odds and have a clear head about it! Let the sucker poor be afraid and shovel their civil rights and wealth (and in the case of first respoders and military, their bodies) my way. They don't have the resources or the time to check out what's really going on, but, in the 15 minutes between job, crying baby and second job, they can see on FOX the swarthy guy with a knife in his teeth crawling up the drainpipe into their 2 room appartment.

Sorry Stein. I call BS on you for perpetuating the idea that one is at continual risk of being a terrorist victim. Terrorism could have been fought wisely and effectively but the powers that be chose not to. For what? No bid contracts that boost their portfolio. A real leader would tell the masses "There is nothing to fear but fear itself." Then, as history dictates, the depression will dwindle and wealth and responsibility would become fairly shared.

And the war would be won.

Disillusioned said...

Great post! It's a shame that the vast majority of the upper class would be unfazed by your argument. They live in a completely different world than the rest of us - a world where they have made their own money and see no need to contribute to society because they are above that society.

Did you read about Hovind's conviction? Check it out:

"Nobody likes to pay taxes," Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Heldmyer said in her closing argument. "But we do because it's the law, and he is not above the law."

Not because we owe it to society for roads, infrastructure, disaster response, or (God forbid!) health care...but simply because it is the law.

That is really scary.

Shall we exchange links?

Cheers,

Disillusioned
Whose Country Is This Anyway?

Frederick said...

My man Fade on Crooks and Liars! Great post man.

Anonymous said...

FORTUNATE SON Lyrics

Some folks are born made to wave the flag,
ooh, they're red, white and blue.
And when the band plays "Hail To The Chief",
oh, they point the cannon at you, Lord,

It ain't me, it ain't me,
I ain't no senator's son,
It ain't me, it ain't me,
I ain't no fortunate one, no,

Some folks are born silver spoon in hand,
Lord, don't they help themselves? oh.
But when the taxman come to the door,
Lord, the house look a like a rummage sale, yes,

It ain't me, it ain't me,
I ain't no millionaire's son, no, no.
It ain't me, it ain't me,
I ain't no fortunate one, no.

Yeh, some folks inherit star spangled eyes,
ooh, they send you down to war, Lord,
And when you ask them, how much should we give,
oh, they only answer, more, more, more, yoh,

It ain't me, it ain't me,
I ain't no military son, SON, NO
It ain't me, it ain't me,
I ain't no fortunate one, NO NO

It ain't me, it ain't me,
I ain't no fortunate one, no no no,
It ain't me, it ain't me,
I ain't no fortunate son, son son son

Anonymous said...

FORTUNATE SON Lyrics

Some folks are born made to wave the flag,
ooh, they're red, white and blue.
And when the band plays "Hail To The Chief",
oh, they point the cannon at you, Lord,

It ain't me, it ain't me,
I ain't no senator's son,
It ain't me, it ain't me,
I ain't no fortunate one, no,

Some folks are born silver spoon in hand,
Lord, don't they help themselves? oh.
But when the taxman come to the door,
Lord, the house look a like a rummage sale, yes,

It ain't me, it ain't me,
I ain't no millionaire's son, no, no.
It ain't me, it ain't me,
I ain't no fortunate one, no.

Yeh, some folks inherit star spangled eyes,
ooh, they send you down to war, Lord,
And when you ask them, how much should we give,
oh, they only answer, more, more, more, yoh,

It ain't me, it ain't me,
I ain't no military son, SON, NO
It ain't me, it ain't me,
I ain't no fortunate one, NO NO

It ain't me, it ain't me,
I ain't no fortunate one, no no no,
It ain't me, it ain't me,
I ain't no fortunate son, son son son

HammClov said...

His vision, which to me is something I see every day in this crystal palace city--reminds me of the Poe story, "The Mask of the Red Death." If you don't remember, it takes the story of a wealthy lord, who shelters his nobles within his castle during a terrible plague. He takes all of the food, he takes all of the clean water, holes himself and his court up for years. Outside people are dying and dying. Inside, everyday is a party, wine, riches, and sex flow from the profilgate to the perverse and back again. Then one day, the lord decides to throw a masked ball. On this day, a man with a red mask is seen going from room to room not talking to anyone, never taking off his mask. By morning, everyone has died of the plague. I'm sure I've forgotten chunks of the story, but I can't help but watch this farce and think, the red death is coming.

Anonymous said...

making money, eating swordfish
The ocean actually has very few swordfish left in it. They will be extinct soon, and humans will surely follow...

Anonymous said...
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