President Roosevelt: “In 1776 the fight was for Democracy in Taxation. In 1936 there is still the fight. Mister Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said ‘taxes are the prices we pay for civilized society’. One sure way to determine the social conscience of a government is to examine the way taxes are collected and how they are spent. And one sure way to determine the social conscience of an individual is to get his tax reaction. Taxes, after all are the dues we pay for the privilege of membership in an organized society. And as society becomes more civilized government, national and state and local, is called on to assume more obligations to its citizens. The privileges of membership in a civilized society are vastly increased in modern times. But I am afraid we still have many who still do not recognize their advantages and want to avoid paying their dues....”
... “To divide fairly among the people the obligation to pay for these benefits has been a major part of our struggle to maintain Democracy in America. Ever since 1776, that struggle has been between two forces; on the one hand there has been a vast majority of citizens who believe the benefits of democracy should be extended and who are willing to pay their fair share to extend them. And on the other hand, there has been a small but powerful group which has fought the extension of these benefits because they did not want to pay a fair share of their cost. That was the lineup in seventeen hundred and seventy-six and it’s the lineup today. And I am confident that once more, in nineteen thirty-six democracy in taxation will win. Here is my principle, and I think it’s yours too; Taxes shall be levied according to ability to pay. That is the only American principle.”[Source.]
It's a simple, if stark, choice: will we choose long-term greatness or short-term selfishness? There's no question what the argument is about; the only question is how it'll be answered. Because in our time, that small but powerful group may be proportionately smaller, but it's far more powerful, with a concerted twenty-four hour propaganda network at its disposal, limitless billions to spend on its deceptions, and a substrate of carefully fashioned gullible and willingly misinformed voters in its thrall.
They say FDR was an optimist. I think if he -- or any of our past greats -- could view the political landscape today, they'd not believe their eyes. Considering the obstacles we've overcome in the past as a nation when called upon to do so, and how inept and unwilling we've become, who really could?