Saturday, June 12, 2010
Soak the Rich — All States, Simultaneously. States and municipalities all across the Nation are so severely strapped for cash that they are closing down government programs to benefit some of the most vulnerable groups in society. Children are losing music programs, art classes, after-school activities. Libraries are shortening hours, even closing down entire days, even entire branches. Funding for local arts and museums is being cut sharply, as tho it is the purpose of state governments to make this a crasser and stupider society, in which only the rich are entitled to have any access at all to the finer things in life. Programs to benefit the elderly, disabled, and impoverished are being squeezed and reduced. That is contemptible, in a country whose jingoists love to brag that the United States is "the richest country on Earth", even "in the history of the world".
The problem is that the Plutocratic Revolution carried off during the Reagan Years (the "Tax Reform Act of 1986") has produced a massive redistribution of wealth from the poor and middle class to the rich, such that the bulk of the Nation's wealth is in the hands of the few. While wealth and income are not the same thing (wealth comprises, in addition to income, things like real estate, yachts, luxury cars, jewels, and gold in private hands), the quickest fix to the economic problems of the states is to increase income taxes on the wealthy. Surcharges on property taxes for mansions and their associated palatial estates are another approach that could be employed. The PROBLEM is that the wealthy warn any state that even THINKS of increasing taxes on the wealthy, that they will MOVE to another state.
Fortunately, there is a very quick fix to that problem: ALL the states should raise their income taxes AT THE SAME TIME and to THE SAME LEVEL, so there is nowhere in the United States that the irresponsible rich can flee to avoid income and wealth taxes.
What needs to happen is for the various states to stop trying to undercut each other by creating willful differentials in taxation levels for the express purpose of inducing the rich to move out of adjoining states, but to see that it is ultimately in nobody's interest to race to the bottom. The states must see each OTHER'S interests as THEIR OWN interest, and work TOGETHER to soak the rich, reduce income and wealth disparities across society, within states and between states, and fund all proper governmental services fully, without producing hardships for the vulnerable or the pressed working people — by soaking the rich. The rich are SO rich that having to pay taxes at the rates of 1978 (something like 78% as the rate on people in the top income bracket) would not hurt them. Oh, maybe they could then afford only 11 mansions or duplex apartments, 1 yacht, and 13 cars instead of 13 mansions or duplex apartments, 2 yachts, and 16 cars, but I wouldn't call that belt-titening, and I wouldn't take up a collection for the 'poor' obscenely rich.
The states' present beggar-thy-neighbor tax policies have contributed to the budgetary nitemares they are now facing. The fix is for the states to stop seeing each other as enemies, but to work together to sock it to the rich who have been sticking it to the states. In the immortal words from the Revolutionary War era (tho the exact coiner is disputed), in warning the separate colonies that disunion means defeat, "We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately." ALL the states should tell the rich who threaten to leave a state that raises their taxes, "The only place you're going is to go f*k yourself. We are ALL raising taxes on the rich. You can't run. You can't hide. The taxman cometh."
(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 4,405 — for Israel.)
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