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Memes We Should Promote: Taxation is Good

chicago dyke's picture

SoBe is at it again, with another powerhouse common sense post. Be sure to check out the graph, although I suspect most of you have seen its like before. And this is not exactly unexpected, and I bet we'll see more of it:

Even more alarmingly, Putnam County, TN, is in such dire straights it has considered doing away with county primary elections:

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Putnam County is looking at the prospect of eliminating primary elections in hopes of saving $60,000.

On Monday night, the county commission voted 14 to 9 to ask the county parties to forgo primary elections and select candidates through private caucuses.

Primary elections are historically low-turnout, but nonetheless canceling an election for fiscal reasons sends off alarm bells with me. You tea party folks yammering about your loss of freedoms might want to consider what it means to cancel an election because the county doesn’t have the funds to stage it.

Who needs safe school buses, elections, or health care for the elderly, right? Those things are not as important as making sure large corporations don't pay any taxes and the wealthy pay even fewer.

Civilization costs money, and we *can* afford it. That's my contribution in this particular meme war. Do you have a better way to frame it? Please contribute if so. The bottom line is that most of our legislators are stuck in perpetual 1994-land, isolated from reality by a bubble of lobbyist money and their own internal insider power games. Which is usually true of politicians, but it's finally reached the point where this truth is killing the rest of us, and not so slowly at that.

I really believe that if I could commission a poll, a large majority of people would favor an increase of corporate taxation and that upon the wealthy. Especially if they see that graph at SoBe's place, and others which demonstrate that effectively, large corporations and the most wealthy not only don't pay taxes, but are in fact subsidized by money the rest of us have to pay the government, no matter how little we can afford it.

We've done damn fine work with making single payer a meme that won't die, and I think now is a good time to dovetail that with, "and we can pay for it by making the wealthiest in this country return to paying their fair share."

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BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

There is no empirical evidence that higher taxes hurt economic growth, which is the bill of goods we've been sold for the last forty years.

And did you say you wanted a poll? Slightly more than half of Americans favor taxing the rich at 50%. This is consistent with other polls that have found support for taxing the wealthy more. Of course, what Americans want isn't really the issue on taxes or anything else.

I couldn't find a link, but awhile ago one of the econ blogs showed a chart of taxes funding the federal government over time. What was stunning was how corporations used to fund several dollars for every one in individual taxes. That ratio is now about 1:1. That's the real problem with our tax structure. Corporations are not paying their fair share (not that I would object to taxing the wealthy, especially some sort of surcharge tax on outrageous compensation packages - nobody is worth $200 million a year).

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

At both the individual and the corporate level. Banks wreck the economy with their financial instruments? Time for punitive taxes on derivatives trading. Greenhouse gases causing climate change? Create a carbon tax to dissuade the use of fossil fuels. I could go on.

The tax code is more than a source of revenue, it's a weapon- a cudgel that can be used to smash in the teeth of the powerful who have long grown fat off the common man's largesse.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

I definitely agree with that point of corporations not paying their fair share.

I always think back to the fact that approx. 2/3rd of American corporations pay no income tax, and it still astonishes me.

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. companies and 68% of foreign corporations do not pay federal income taxes, according to a congressional report released Tuesday.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) examined samples of corporate tax returns filed between 1998 and 2005. In that time period, an annual average of 1.3 million U.S. companies and 39,000 foreign companies doing business in the United States paid no income taxes - despite having a combined $2.5 trillion in revenue.

Submitted by jawbone on

The Danger Threatening Representative Government

by Bob LaFollette

On every list, considered one of the greatest speeches of all time

The basic principal of this government is the will of the people. A system was devised by its founders which seemed to insure the means of ascertaining that will and of enacting it into legislation and supporting it through the administration of the law. This was to be accomplished by electing men to make, and men to execute the laws, who would represent in the laws so made and executed the will
of the people. This was the establishment of a representative government, where every man had equal voice, equal rights, and equal responsibilities.

Have we such a government today? Or is this country fast coming to be dominated by forces that threaten the true principle of representative government?
I have no desire to stir your passions or invoke an unfair judgement. But we owe it to the living as well as the dead to make honest answers to these questions.
Every thinking man must have been impressed with the unsettled restless condition of the public mind so marked for the last few years . . . What is it that is swelling the ranks of the dissatisfied? Is it a growing conviction in state after state, that we are fast being dominated by forces that thwart the will of the people and menace representative government?

Since the birth of the Republic, indeed almost within the last generation, a new and powerful factor has taken its place in our business, financial and political world and is there exercising a tremendous influence.

The existence of the corporation, as we have it with us today, was never dreamed of by the fathers . . . The corporation of today has invaded every department of business, and it's powerful but invisible hand is felt in almost all activities of life . . . The effect of this change upon the American people is radical and rapid.

The individual is fast disappearing as a business factor and in his stead is this new device, the modern corporation . . . The influence of this change upon character cannot be overestimated. The business man at one time gave his individuality, stamped his mental and moral characteristics upon the business he conducted . . .

Today the business once transacted by individuals in every community is in the control of corporations, and many of the men who once conducted an independent business are gathered into the organization, and all personal identity, and all individualities lost . . .

I am well aware that the combining of capital admits of operations upon a vast scale, and may cheapen production in the long run, but we pay too dearly even for cheap things, and we cannot afford to exchange our independence for anything on earth . . . Corporations exacting large sums from the people of this state in profits, upon business transacted within its limits, either wholly escape taxation, or pay insignificantly in comparison with the average
citizen in Wisconsin... Owning two thirds of the personal property of the country, evading payment of taxes wherever possible, the corporations throw almost the whole burden up on the land, upon the little homes, and the personal property of the farms. This is a most serious matter, especially in the pinching times the
people have suffered for the last few years . . .

God, how patient are Thy poor! These corporations and masters of manipulation in finance heaping up great fortunes by a system of legalized extortion, and then exacting from the contributors, -- to whom a little means so much, -- a double share to guard the treasure!

. . . So multifarious have become corporate affairs, so many concessions and privileges have been accorded them by legislation, -- so many more are sought by further legislation, -- that their specially retained representatives are either elected to office, directly in their interests, or maintained in a perpetual lobby to serve them. Hence it is that the corporation does not limit its operations to the
legitimate conduct of its business. Human nature everywhere is selfish, and with the vast power which consolidated capital can wield, with the impossibility of fixing any personal or moral responsibility for corporate acts, its commands are heard and obeyed in the capitals of the state and nation.

But in a government where the people are sovereign why are these things tolerated? Why are there no remedies promptly applied and the evils eradicated?

It is because today there is a force operating in this country more powerful than the sovereign in matters pertaining to the official conduct.

The official obeys whom he serves. Nominated independently of the people, elected because there is no choice between candidates so nominated, the official feels responsibility to his master alone, and his master is the political machine of his party. The people whom he serves in theory, he may safely disobey; having the support of his political organization, he is sure of his renomination and knows he will be carried through the election, because his opponent will offer nothing better to the long suffering voter. . . .

Fellow citizens, I could have chosen a topic that would have given me much greater pleasure to discuss with you here today. But as we love our state and our country we cannot ignore the events that mark these days.

Recall if you can a session of a legislature in any state in the Union last winter which wholly escaped charges of scandalous corruption. It will not do to say that such charges have always been made, because it would not be true. Such charges twenty-five years ago accompanied by legislative investigation retired the man to private life . . . Not so today. So greatly has the standard of official morality deteriorated that such charges have ceased to impress the public mind. Between the people and the representatives there has been built up a political machine which is master of both. It is the outgrowth of the caucus and convention system. . .

In the years of business prosperity which the country experienced with the development of the great Upper Mississippi Valley, men in every pursuit of life were engrossed with their individual affairs and left caucuses and conventions wholly to the politician. When finally the pressure of hard times and the
multiplying abuses in official life turned their thoughts toward needed reforms in legislation, they awoke to find themselves the mere subjects of this new master, the political machine, which had come to be enthroned in American politics. They found it running their caucuses, naming their delegates, conducting their conventions, nominating party candidates, making the party platform, controlling
legislatures and state administration, and fooling a majority of the people year after year with plausible explanations through the columns of its own press.
Experience has proved it almost an idle folly to attend a caucus with the hope of defeating the machine until today; -- after a century of statesmanship and struggle and sacrifice, after all the triumphs achieved under the stars and stripes, -- thousands upon thousands of good citizens in every state, stand aloof from the caucus and convention with the settled belief that representative government is an
unqualified failure.

Think of it! The citizen recognized the supremacy of the machine and abandoning the contest, the official recognizing the supremacy of the machine obeying its orders. What then have we left? It is the very life of a republic that the laws shall be made and administered by those constitutionally chosen to represent the majority. Government by the political machine is without exception the rule of
the minority. . . When legislatures will boldly repudiate their constituents and violate the pledges of their platforms, then indeed have the servants become the masters, and the people ceased to be sovereign; -- gone the government of equal rights and equal responsibilities, lost the jewel of constitutional liberty.

Do not look to such lawmakers to restrain corporations within proper limits. Do not look to such lawmakers to equalize the burden of taxation. Do not look to such lawmakers to lift politics out of the ways of darkness.
No, begin at the foundation, make one supreme effort, --even under the present bad system, --to secure a better set of lawmakers. Rally to the caucuses and conventions, each with the party in which he believes, Secure one victory, if possible, over the machine, elect men who will pass a primary election
law which will enable the voter to sell the candidate of his choice without the intervention of caucuses or convention of the domination of the machine. Do this and your officers will respond to public opinion. Do this and the reforms you seek will be within easy reach . . .

Oh, men! Think of the heroes who died to make this country free; think of their sons who died to keep it undivided upon the map of the world' Shall we, their children, basely surrender our birthright and say: "Representative government is a failure? No, never, until Bunker Hill and Little Round Top, sink into the very earth."

Let us here, today, under this flag we all love, hallowed by the memory of all that has been sacrificed for it and for us, dedicate ourselves to winning back the independence of this country, to emancipating this generation and throwing off from the neck of the freemen of America, the yoke of the political machine.
-Robert M. Lafollette

Gotta run--upshot is good government is never cheap.