In the early evening of a summer night in New York City, or Dallas or Los Angeles, or Miami, there is a slow, quiet movement of long, dark-windowed vehicles. They move quietly to centers of activity where bright lights outline the architecture and gowned women and men in expensive suits emerge, smiling and laughing. The women shine and sparkle in the light and the men put their arms around other powerful men as they stroll towards the theaters, restaurants, or magnificent homes–modern-day palaces.
This is one America. This is ostentatious, grand, shallow America. This is powerful America, the power of money. The power to go, to do, to be where you please. This is the power to act as you please within the law, and occasionally outside the law.
Then there is another America. It has so many different faces, so many different aspects that it is difficult to quantify or identify. Families with a bedroom for every child and families where children have to double up. Families with two cars and a car for Dad to tinker with and families with a second car that never seems to work properly. Families struggling to afford college education for their brightest children, and others for whom it was sadly beyond their capacity to make it happen.
Some families have two people working and needing both incomes. Families have one income and desperately need that income. And then there are families who have been out of work, whose faces show the steady, relentless stress of daily decline in everything…wealth and health.
There is also one other group, so small that it can likely be counted on the fingers of both hands. That is the group of hugely wealthy billionaires who love their jobs the way a professional golfer or a pro quarterback cannot wait to get to the place where he competes.
They so love what they do that they fall asleep reading about it and in the morning–before coffee or eggs or even a pair of slippers–will turn on some special screen, television or computer, to see something they have been marking and register elation or disappointment at a mere set of numbers.
Yes, the scorecard is money, but if they were playing with tiddly-winks, it would be the same. It is not about the ostentatious use of money. At some point, when the biggest prizes have been won, and very large amounts of money are no longer needed to play the game, they give it away. Taxes are less important to them because, with taxes, everyone in the game will start with the same advantage or disadvantage. Taxes are both important and irrelevant.
And if, in that small Midwestern city or that townhouse in London or that view of the Pacific, they happen to pass some news report or gossip-hour notation of the ostentatious shows of wealth of those who move about as if their recorded personal activities have diplomatic meaning, they will merely laugh and move on.
Since 1980, a new philosophy, one that was considered lunacy in post WWII times, has taken over a large segment of the population. It is an economic philosophy so ill-conceived that even many of its most dedicated proponents, men of enormous intellectual brio, men often arrogant in the extreme, admit that it was wrong, indeed….foolish.
It was the Conservative movement which gave way to a less economic and more political movement called Neoconservatism. The problem with this is that the Neoconservative movement created an emotional attachment by many that resulted in an almost cult-like political party. It is an irrational dedication by an assembly of people with differing motives…all extreme in one way or another…who can accept other radical, often unwholesome, ideas to move their agenda forward.
Unfortunately, one of those groups is the very wealthy group who are dedicated to one thing: more personal wealth. While this may seem a rather thin basis on which to create a movement, when your wealth is impacted in the hundreds of thousands of dollars or occasionally millions by tax bills, then it takes on more importance…if money is everything to you.
So the Neoconservatives gathered together in one Party the former segregationists, like Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms, the Fundamental Christian propagandists, like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, the eccentrics like Ron Paul, the semi-fascist militarists, like Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and their acolytes, like Paul Wolfowitz, and the pseudo-theorists, like Bill Crystal and Newt Gingrich.
This Party was willing to do whatever was necessary to move its multiple goals…religions control of thought (creationism in schools) or action (no woman allowed an abortion for any reason.)
Other goals such as economic advantage to only the Neoconservative wing of the Republican Party by packing the courts with Neocon ideologues, putting only dedicated Neocons in as U.S. Attorneys who were willing to search out any reason to prosecute successful members of the opposition Party.
Finally, to infiltrate the officer corps of the military and the defense establishment to create discretionary wars not only to maintain U.S. world wide economic interests, but also to enrich members of the Neocon party in the military-industrial establishment, who would then reciprocate with large campaign contributions.
All the people now in the Senate who have the letter “R” after their names are members of this Party. They are dangerous and they are willing to do whatever is necessary to advance their causes, religious, economic or social—no matter how destructive they may be. Shutting down any legislation, openly supporting large polluters, apologizing to them for holding them to standards…while those same multi-billion-dollar corporations are ruining the lives of millions of American citizens.
The Republican House members are the same. They vote in a bloc, not as individuals. If they do vote the way that they believe is right, even if it offends the Party, they are challenged and kicked out.
And how does this Neocon Party gain such power against a majority of American citizens who are against them? They do it through an alliance with the owners of the major corporations and through alliances with the most powerful groups who have money and power, not the common good of all citizens, as their goal.
Those long black limousines that trek between social engagements in the evenings speed between one institution and another during the day, bringing together people like the owners of the major media corporations, the cable television operators, the newspapers, the national television networks, and the owners of Internet access corporations.
These people meet with others in large institutions which grind out daily propaganda to confuse issues and blunt the impact of any group that tries to point out the seriousness of the problems posed by the greed of these people.
When a tax bill comes up, these large institutions, associations of manufacturers and insurance and finance corporations spread misinformation, telling individual citizens how they will be advantaged by tax breaks. Of course they do not mention the huge tax breaks for the billionaires and the loss of revenue to government. And they obscure that this comes at the expense of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
As you read this, two commissions are examining ways to continue to enrich the rich…kill Medicare and Social Security, while keeping $700,000,000,000 in tax cuts…those are just the amounts that will be cut, not everything that these billionaires and multi-millionaires pay, nor even more than 25% of what they now earn!
You have to look to yourself and your family because, unfortunately, you are being led in exactly the opposite direction from what is important to your long-term interests.
Here are some of the words that must become red flags to you: austerity, freedom, choice, Socialist, Communist and Muslim. Let’s examine them quickly and explain how they are used against you.
Austerity is a key word. It is an oblique way, a deflected way of saying that a group of very powerful people are going to cut your social benefits. There is a commission right now on which there are ostensibly half Democrats and half Republicans, but the Democrats are often people who are less eager to resist those cuts in your social benefits…ones that you have worked for and paid taxes for…for a variety of reasons.
Consequently, the very wealthy sponsors of the Republicans and some of the Democrats are going to make recommendations to the government that we raise the age of receiving Social Security to 70 perhaps, that we charge more and give less in Medicare and Medicaid, and perhaps cut back on the new health care program.
The people behind all this–behind the idea of cutting government spending–are the very rich. And these people are all also very, very bright. They know how to get things done.
What they want to get done is to get the Federal government back in balance without raising their taxes.
They are all about taxes, and, in a way, you can’t blame them. While they pay only about 20% in taxes, most of them, that still amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Sounds a lot larger when you put it in dollars, doesn’t it?
Even so, at this particular juncture we should not be cutting taxes; we should be increasing them. We should raise taxes until those who make so much annually that they will have a very difficult time spending it all anyway have no option but to invest that money or “lose” it to the government.
Even if you are a tax radical and want to pay no taxes at all, if I am the government and say to you…you will pay 70% of all income over $1,000,000 per year…you may not object to the following tax idea. The proposal is that you can take up to, say, 50% of your income and invest it in job-producing businesses in the U.S. and only pay tax on that investment later, and then only pay 20% on it as capital gains. So your top rate would be lower this year and your money could triple and then only be charged at 20%.
The reason we would do this is to create more businesses and more jobs here in the U.S.
But you must say “no” to one thing categorically. Say no to “austerity.” In this case, do not be reasonable. Do not buy into the idea that our government is bankrupt. It is not. If we had the same tax rates now that worked very well to keep our government solvent until 1980, we would have surpluses. If you, as Reagan did, cut your income in half, you would be insolvent, too. We merely need to raise the government’s income again.
So, if the rich, who got enormous tax breaks ($120,000 per million of income) did one of two things: pay more taxes or invest in American jobs here in the United States, then we would all be just fine, thank you. That would balance the budget…and it will any time we can pry the media away from these rich moguls who keep telling us we need “austerity.” Even right now, when the government expenses, for wars and for unemployment and other costs are high, if pre-1980 tax levels were restored, we would have a surplus tomorrow morning.