Dark Cloud logo

 

Home

Columns

Commentary

Dark Endeavors

Unto Me a Break Giveth; Perchance, a Tax Break

Republicans seek to reunite virtue and wealth. Good luck with that, guys.....

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, November 17, 2010.

FDR was credited, when social security was conceived, with destroying the cultural link in this nation between virtue and wealth. It wasn't an American invention. Along with so many others, institutional Christianity's earliest hypocrisy was in saying 'yes, yes, the meek will inherit the earth and it's tough for the wealthy to enter heaven' but churches and stocks and housing for pastors cost money and, eventually, so did cathedrals and palaces and the armies to defend them and cigarette boats and Raphael doesn't work for free. Like just about everywhere, people who had lots of money whose crimes were in the past and who made a pretense of concern for the lesser or little people - charming phrases - were looked upon as wealthy by the blessing of the gods. Or, God, rather. Sorry.

So when Franklin Roosevelt's administration, noting God's failure to provide, claimed that citizens had the obligation not to let any of their own die without care or minimal housing or a dime to apply to either, and then had the temerity to get it passed in Congress and taxed everyone to pay for it, it upset every conservative neuron among both the wealthy, who feared not being as wealthy, and somehow less virtuous. Some in the middle class, who hoped to be wealthy and whose advance was predicated upon publicly holding the same views as their boss, supported them. Dying poor, you see, perhaps in the streets, was a mark of God's or Fate's or someone important's disfavor. This is true in many nations, and religion, bowing to necessity, often warps its own basis to conform.

This is all highlighted by the Republican bid to keep the Bush tax cuts for the extremely wealthy. They do this by melding it to the middle class tax cuts which were both lesser but more important to the recipients. So long as the Republicans can keep the public focused upon tax cuts in blanket image, rather than upon the two distinct categories of uber-rich and merely comfy, the American public won't support getting rid of them.

I don't know why it's difficult for the Democrats to say it's wrong for unearned income or hugely inflated salaries and bonuses need to taxed appropriately while we need to keep the middle classes in better shape. The Republicans have managed to equate wealth with hard working entrepreneurs whose success allows them to create jobs and benefit the nation. But in reality, the majority of people who would be taxed at the higher rate as they were before Bush are the widowed trophy wives and Steve Forbes of the nation: people who married and/or inherited immense wealth they didn't create or earn or, arguably, deserve. Even at the rate taxed, it's not enough to affect their life style. If it is, they're spending too much and headed for a fall anyway.

John Boehner and crew proudly boast that they'll mandate all legislation about taxes include all the current tax cuts rather than allow a vote on the uber-wealthy separately. It would take a classless individual, a petty one, a vicious un-American like myself to point out that the majority of Republican fat cats are among those in the upper brackets, like fewer Democrats, and would be negatively affected, as would the often very wealthy Republican Senators and Congressmen themselves.

There are wealthy Democrats as well, but from Obama on down the vast majority have no difficulty proposing legislation and voting on it that hurts themselves for the common good. Republicans? Not so much, no. Bill Gates and his father have openly supported the higher taxes. Of course, they're so up there in wealth the two alone created that there's no way any tax would affect their lives. But they cheerfully point out that that's true of anyone affected by this relatively minor resumption of a tax.

Of course, it's worse than that. Not only do Republicans want to protect the wealth of their supporters, they want to defeat Obama. This national debt was created by the Bush administration, supported by Democrats who believed the lies about WMD's and the threat of Iraq. The United States went to war, twice, without any declared means for paying for them. Atop that, the financial crises, and the reality that as technology improves, less human labor is needed for same or improved production in all areas of the economy, swung into place. Here we are.

I claim we need to vector in on the wealth and virtue issues, and make the conservatives defend it. It's unsupportable, an absolute threat to national security and well being. We need to deal with it.