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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Are We Playing The Dating Game Over Tax Cuts?

Though Donald Trump has started it, we can be sure that others will follow. What did he start? He started the normal campaign process of asking America out so he could be its President. And he started, like most men who ask women out, with false promises and flattery.

His promises include an apartheid wall separating Mexico from the United States, a first rate military, a preservation of Social Security and Medicare, and tax reform that would eliminate corporate taxes so corporations could hire more people--as if that is what corporations want to do with their tax cuts.

Of course, corporations were not the only ones who would see reduced taxes, so would lower income and middle class citizens (click here). And certainly, most other candidates will eventually follow suit to varying degrees. Why? It is because many of us have been taught to see ourselves as the land of the taxed and home of the overburdened. And thus we all scapegoat whom we see as the primary beneficiaries of our taxes for our problems. For conservatives, it is the poor who are to be blamed for us having less. For nonconservatives, it is corporations, especially those in certain sectors of the economy, like the military industrial complex, who are causing our problems.


In any case, we see taxes pursuing us like the plagues which Moses pronounced on Egypt. Instead of seeing them as at the most a necessary evil, we see them as just evil having no purpose than to suck our hard earned wealth from us to give to someone else.

And so when it comes to political candidates who promise to give everyone tax cuts, we become like a high school kid who all too eagerly promises to go out with anyone who will do their homework for them. So unless a political candidate promises to cut our taxes, we won't consider voting for them.

Such an anti-tax mindset forgets that there are many supporting pieces in society and America's economy to any success we have and taxes pay for these pieces. In addition, some taxes are used to help those in need. Then again, that is a sore-spot for conservatives who give the individual too much credit for their success or failure and thus too few reasons for helping those in need. Too many of us are too individual-oriented and we live in too much of a thing-oriented society to care enough about others than ourselves and the things we can buy. Thus, we are forever finding fault with tax-funded programs that help others besides ourselves because we want to buy more things.

Two voices that greatly contrast with many Americans here on taxes come from comedian Lewis Black and activist-scholar Noam Chomsky. In an interview with Anderson Cooper, Lewis Black talked about how he was poor for so long that he was happy to have finally made enough money to pay taxes (click here). In addition, he stated that taxes are necessary to pay for stuff such as for the protection we have in this country.  In fact, Black stated that he doesn't pay enough in taxes.

On the hand, Chomsky takes a broader view of taxes (click here). He states that our attitude toward taxes reveals our understanding of democracy. That instead of the government, which we elected, being an 'alien entity,' the government should be viewed as our representatives who have forged policies that represent us the voters. Thus we should be more happy to pay taxes than resentful because they will pay for the programs which the people have decided on together, through their representatives, to support.

In either case, both Black and Chomsky reflect a wider view of the world than the myopic view that bitterly complains how this almost foreign entity is stealing from us rather than engaging in joint projects with us. The anti-tax view, which we require all candidates to have if we are to consider dating them, is myopic. Sometimes the myopia is the result of disillusionment, but at other times it is the result of being so self-absorbed, we become small minded.

Suffice it to say that if either Black or Chomsky were campaigning to be nominated by either political party to run for the presidency, they would be a shoe-in to lose. And such reflects our shortsightedness.

Of course, cutting taxes is not free. We should note that the two presidents who are best known for their tax cuts, significantly increased the national debt. And by significantly increasing the debt, they have contributed to the current vulnerability our economic system is now facing. These two presidents, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, not only implemented tax cuts that primarily benefited the wealthy, they increased military spending through buildups or wars and interventions that furthered the effect tax cuts had on the economy. And in addition to weaken our economy by increasing the national debt, federal tax cuts eventually resulted in cuts in federal assistance and programs that filtered down through the states to the local governments. The result was increased local taxes and/or cuts in services.

Promises to cut taxes to too many Americans work like flattery and false promises to kids who start dating. They impress. They make the dates feel good. But in the long run, relationships that revolve primarily around flattery and false promises always have ways of catching up with those who fell for them. And that is why we should not be impressed when candidates, like Donald Trump, offer yet another around of promised taxes cuts and reforms oriented around appealing to us. If we are intelligent, we will see through the charade and think in terms of the long run. We could describe the desired en result adapting a saying from the movie Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, 'we chose wisely.' Certainly choosing wisely may not lead to the most fun dates, but they will lead to those kinds of dates that have the fewest regrets.



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