Cutting Through The Crap

Monday, October 31, 2011

Income Inequality


It's not a good term, because it's too easy for RWS™ and teabaggRs to take the real significance and distort it. Same with "redistribution." Scary. Communiss. Or maybe it's not that it's not a good term; it's that in the US, thanks to purposefully polarizing propaganda, it's become impossible to have a real conversation about important stuff.

The problem with income inequality is not income inequality; and the people who are trying to begin a discussion about it are not (well, maybe one or three are, but not generally) saying it's wrong, per se, that some are more successful than others. Few are arguing that capitalism is inherently wrong. At its most basic, the question is what is a society? What, in the US, does it mean to be part of a community? Are we? Should we be? Can you say "interconnected" and not be ridiculed as a new-age communohippantiamericanchardonnayliberal? Is the party of evolution-denial advocating a purely Darwinian society?

Talk about changing taxation so that the wealthy pay more than they are now, and there's a reflexive response from the right that you're "punishing success." "Taxing the job-creators." A pot-smoking lazy unemployed ingrate, demanding something for nothing.

But it's not about that. It's about a really basic issue, one that has become, like so much else in our politics, a parody of itself: the party of patriotism, of loving America so much it wants you to leave it, cannot think of America as a society; the family-values people don't think of America as a family. They don't, in short, think of America as America.

It's not that some people (many, many people, as it turns out) have to get along with less. I, and most people, I'd say, accept that it's impossible for everyone to be equally successful in a capitalist society. But the corollary of that is that not all people who are barely making it are in that situation because of failure of effort; it's how the system works. Or has come to work. And the question is to what extent those who are making it bigtime have an obligation -- or, to put in another way, have, in order to maintain their status, an empirical need if no moral reason -- to put more money back into the system than they currently are, in order for it to continue to exist and keep their larders larded. It's not morality. It's not ideology.

It's math.

The RWS™ and foxophiles of the world can pretend that it's about income redistribution for its own sake; they can snicker sneeringly and rage righteously and figure you'll buy it. They can simplify and distort, can claim that by definition even raising the issue is a bad thing, while ignoring the biggest income redistribution of all, occurring over the last few decades, ever since Saint Ronnie cut taxes on the wealthy. Their huffing, effective as it is on teabaggers and the rest of the willing self-destroyers, begs the question: what do we need, as a society, to survive? Where will the money come from to pay for it? By now, all parties have agreed that cuts are needed: the Dems on the committee of doom (for, because of R intransigence and cynicism, it is doomed to fail) have come up with trillions in spending reduction. Way more, in my opinion, than is consistent with securing our future, to the extent that that future depends on health care and roads and bridges and dams and colleges and high schools and teachers and cops and consumer safety and environmental protection and research and alternative energy consumption and carbon reduction and gods know what else I'm not thinking of at the moment.

If we choose economic policy that's only about cutting spending (except in defense, of course), and if that means, mathematically, that we'll have to give up on all those things I listed above (because that's where the proposed cuts are), is that a recipe for viability or is it long-term suicide? Can questions be asked without dismissing them as class warfare? Can we talk about it with the best long-term interests of the country, and not political power, in mind?

Rs refuse to increase any taxes at all on the very wealthy, while proposing preposterous tax reform that, without exception, raises taxes on the middle and lower classes, while, because of their huge additional cuts for the wealthy, netting enormously less than the present revenue. Singing the tune of the corporate wealth that pays for their elections, they've never quite answered the question: if cutting taxes on the wealthy creates jobs, where the f*ck are the jobs, in this, the lowest tax climate in decades?

This issue is not, despite what Foxobeckians want you to believe (and have convinced their sheep, like giving candy to a baby), about taking money from the rich and handing it out to the poor, neither as a matter of fact nor of some Beck-dreamt Marxism. (In fact, for Republicans -- unbelievable as it may be, it's quite the opposite.) It's about addressing reality: the country is crumbling. It's losing its edge. We're failing to educate, to innovate, to build. To provide health care. Because, to preserve the imbalance in taxation, services of all sorts are being cut back, painfully, state by state and nationally. Meanwhile the money that might pay to reverse the trend is sequestered among relatively few and, if Rs get their way, will remain there. Because, they believe, that government governs best which governs least. It's gospel, like, well, you know... And, like all R claims and fairy tales, it fits on a bumper sticker.

To the questions what does it mean to live in a society, to depend on and benefit from the work of others; what are the financial responsibilities that derive; what obligations have we to secure the future; can you fix what's wrong without increasing spending in some areas; is our current path of cutting critical spending and not seeking more revenue sustainable (forget about moral) they change the subject. Because they're fine, thanks, and don't need to think about it. It's communism, they say, handing the cue card to Fox "news" and heading for the door.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bla Bla Bla Bla, Bla Bla Bla Bla...

The Bush-Error Tax Cuts expired at Midnight, Dec 31, 2010.
There the OBAMA-Error Tax Cuts now, Bee-Otch.

and how much FICA do you pay anyway?
OK, I havent payed any since April, and whats up with that??
How Come Rich Bas-turds like me and you pay ZERO, while my teenage daugher pays the whole %15.3 on her minimum wage job that I only made her take so she'll inherit the same Hate the Poor/Government/IRS attitude that I got from MY Old man, who didn't take any Government handouts, except that military pension hes gotten for the last 25 years...

Frank