“The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing.”
– Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Louis XIV’s finance minister
IT CAN’T FLY ON JUST ONE
By Irwin FordI keep getting attracted into these discussion pages, (Clowncar Politics as one example from Facebook, great name incidentally!) And everyone there is quite intelligent and up to date with their own version of current events. But there’s something I keep noticing pretty frequently in all the political debates I see: Each side presupposes and takes for granted that they are dealing with accountable and uncorruptable systems. Their theories are built upon foundations or lexicons that have been largely misrepresented, propagandized or have lost all of their integrity to begin with. Let me see if I can explain this quandary in an intelligible way…working with the Left/Right Dialectic.
We’ll call the left for the sake of argument Socialists (Marxist if you prefer) and the right we’ll call Capitalists. This seems to be were most of the tension lies in our bluntly two dimensional political system. The general public sees no variations on either theme apparently, so right off the bat we have a discrepancy: Any mention of Socialism in America is automatically and with a vengeance assumed to be of the (communist) Chinese, Soviet, Cuban, whatever, variety and all Capitalists (American Libertarians per se?) will tell you that free and unregulated markets are always the way to go. As if there has ever been anything remotely like a free-market system on Earth since the very first LLC was formed back with the British East India Co. and the Dutch. Both were military industrial complexes, which incidentally traded in the world’s largest commodities at the time: slaves, spice (*Nutmeg Wars) and opium.
Interesting how China became intolerant of the opium trade, confiscated a British ship hauling opium into China and then Britain invaded and occupied Hong Kong for how many years? Another shining example of supply, demand and “free and open” markets in action.
So – am I being politically passive aggressive and cynical enough and for you all today?
I argue that with any system involving money and wealth generation there needs to be a system of checks and balances. I would also agree equally, that with any government, there needs to be a system of checks and balances as well. But seeing how nobody’s been balancing the books; ethically or morally, in either government or the private sector, this essay has already validated itself. Which goes to my ever present argument against raising or lowering any taxes until somebody audits the DOD and the Federal Government.
When I hear talk about free-markets, I keep asking for someone to show me one. Ironically, you know were I’ve seen evidence of an attempt at a free market system? In Venezuela! Those socialists (who knows? Maybe they’re really anarcho-capitalists?) were moving into the abandoned factories because “free-market” capitalism put them all out of work and left abandoned factories all over the countryside. They got tired of starving to death, or waiting for their government, (owned and operated by “free-market” [paramilitary] capitalists) to do something to get the ball rolling again. You know, just like the “free-market” capitalists do over here? Ahem…
This is why as most of us who believe in the separation of church and state should also welcome the separation of business and state. This is how we keep our government in check.
My view of Socialism is nothing more than the state handling its own commerce, or operating expenses. The State should operate very much like a non-profit. Efficiently enough to cover its overhead. The “philanthropy” it gets comes in the form of taxes.
It should not subsidize, privatize or provide tax breaks and preferential treatment to anyone or anything beyond the needs of the common citizen. Defense, Healthcare, Education, and that dirty little word: Welfare. When the private sector receives 150 billion or more a year in subsidies and perks for mature business and trillions in bailouts, who are you kidding when you start complaining about welfare for the poor and all the immigrants who pull trillions from our budgets as well?
– Income taxes paid by individuals: $1.48 trillion, or 47% of all tax revenues.
– Payroll taxes paid jointly by workers and employers: $1.07 trillion, 34% of all tax revenues.
– Corporate income taxes paid by businesses: $341.7 billion, or 11% of all tax revenues.
At one time it was the wealthy and large corporations who were paying the “lion’s share” of all the taxes. As unfair and unconstitutional as some might think that was, it’s shifted drastically to the other extreme according to the graph (above) from Pew Research Center. You can see who’s paying the lion’s share of the taxes now, right? It ain’t the top 3%. Because the top 3% own all the corporations who don’t pay their share in taxes anymore. (That part always seems to get left out of the conservative’s, ‘but who pays the lion’s share of the taxes’ argument) It’s the workers and small business owners who take the lion’s share of that blunt force. There was a time when corporations contributed about 30% of all tax revenues. And guess what? Much less unemployment and a much stronger economy, as I remember. Up until the end of the 70s and into the 80s that is. What happened?
Less restrictions on campaign finance. State sanctioned terrorism in Central America and abroad. Deregulation of everything and recessions every other term from Reagan, Bush and so on. NAFTA, CAFTA, and of course, a war every ten years doesn’t help either.
It’s been open season on my government. From all the immigration, (but let’s be clear – wars cause immigration and refugees, unfettered free-trade causes immigration and refugees) – and from Big Business; the entities who write all the legislation for my Big Government waste to begin with. Am I making my point? This is the reality.
I’ve always thought that we can change the paradigm of two dimensional thought. This or that, us or them. Make it more three dimensional per se. I believe we can have our cake and eat it too. I believe we can have public options right along side of free and open markets. Why is this so hard to accept? See, that’s the problem with us Artists. We’re always tryin’ to get along and make stuff work! Why does it have to be only one way or the other? This is a result of complete and utter fascism coming from both the left and the right; liberals and conservatives.
Is there anyone out there who actually BELIEVES that the goodness of man will police itself to the point of never capitulating to excessive concentration of money or power? Hence the yin and yang of government to business, public to private; left to right, etc. etc. With “equality through opportunity” comes less of a need for “equality of condition”. And over the past forty years or so, automation, technology and heavy corporate influence peddling has shifted labor and opportunity for unskilled American workers (who can no longer afford the time or expense for self improvement) into oblivion. Is that a fair statement?
“Libertarian socialism (sometimes dubbed socialist Libertarianism, or left-libertarianism) is a group of anti-authoritarian political philosophies inside the socialist movement that rejects socialism as centralized state ownership and control of the economy, as well as the state itself.”
Republicans and Democrats? You are like “so two weeks ago”! Thank you for your consideration.