Thursday, December 9, 2010

Armageddon Again

I think that this is a long and winding process. But I think at the end of the day, members are not going to want to be in their districts, senators are not going to want to be in their districts when their constituents find out on the 1st of January that their taxes have gone up by several thousand dollars. - Robert Gibbs/Press Secretary

Can someone help me out here; why is it that every time the wealthy in this country are facing any type of loss of income through taxes or corporate malfeasance the situation becomes the onset of Armageddon for the rest of us? Remember the beginning of this “recession” at the end of the Bush Administration that was brought on by the investment community and bankers gambling with our economy? We were on the brink of Armageddon and had to pony up 800 billion dollars to rescue our economy which was being held hostage by the same people who were handing out multi-million dollar bonuses right up until the day of the bail-out.

Now two years later we are faced with another Armageddon this time over tax-cuts for the wealthy. If we don’t extend all the tax-cuts we will have another “great recession”, the stock market will tank, and we will suffer double-digit unemployment. Really. That’s funny when Bill Clinton enacted them not only did our economy not go into free fall, but it actually laid the foundation for one our biggest economic expansions. I agree with Mr. Tom Buffenbarger, President of the Machinist Union when he said that when the Bush tax-cuts were enacted his members who make a decent living barely felt any change and so having them expire will have little effect. He went on to state that for his members it is about sacrifice for the good of the country and if paying a few hundred dollars a year to insure the long-term health of America they would consider it an honor. It would be an honor because they still have jobs.

The problem today is that no one wants to sacrifice especially the wealthiest and most fortunate amongst us. Some people say that letting all of the tax-cuts expire would be just a symbolic ploy to stick it to the wealthy and would hurt working folks more. I could not disagree more. This isn’t about sending a message to the wealthy; this is about the very nature and future of this country. At some point the middle-class and poor have to take a stand and say enough is enough before there won’t be any middle-class left. If I hear Lawrence O’Donnell scream at one more guest concerning the 50% increase in the tax rate for the lowest brackets I am going to scream. Yes on paper and how Mr. O’Donnell is framing the question does appear ominous but the truth is that those lower brackets would not see a substantial increase in taxes just as they did not see any substantial relief when they were enacted.

I understand that the President promoted himself during the campaign as a pragmatist and not an ideologue. I get that. What I don’t get because I pride myself on being a pragmatist is how the President and his advisers cannot see how once you open the door to negotiating with terrorists that they continue to take hostages. Does he or anyone in the White House believe in two years it will be any easier to decouple the tax-cuts? It kills me how even the President’s own advisers talk about the tax-cuts as if there is no evidence about their effectiveness. The President’s chief economic adviser speaks about the tax-cuts as if they haven’t been in effect for the past 10 years. He stated, “I don’t believe that tax-cuts will work.” Really. How about all the evidence compiled the last 10 years are we suppose to discount it?

I was watching the news today and saw how the student demonstrators in England were willing to take to the streets of London and lay siege to Parliament over an issue that impacted their future. I was thinking the only way we could get that many people out to protest an issue it would have to be a Viagra recall or an Xbox 360 recall. How have we become so indifferent and apathetic? Is it any surprise that the wing-nuts and the rich have been able to transfer so much wealth from the middle-class to themselves? Unfortunately, in America it appears that by the time the middle-class decides to take a stand America will have already become a two-class society. The wealthy and the poor. This is the real message that the politicians and the talking heads don’t seem to get. There has to be a line in the sand if we are to salvage the future of the middle-class in this country and what is left of the American Dream.

My question is how have we connected help for those people who through no fault of their own are unemployed with giving tax-cuts to people who for the last 10 years have done very well and don’t need them. How are we even having this conversation? How can the wing-nuts make this case and get away with holding 98% of the country hostage and not pay for it? What we are seeing is the disintegration of our historical safety net and an unprecedented indifference towards those who are less fortunate. We are seeing it in our insensitivity towards the homeless and our refusal to spend the money necessary to attack what has now become the permanent underclass in our urban areas. I’ve never understood how we see folks struggling as just the way of the world, but when it comes to the wealthy it is the end of the world.

The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment. - Robert M. Hutchins

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