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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tax Responsibility

Looking back at yesterday’s blog, I believe that the graph I posted warrants a little bit more attention. What the graph displays is the difference in the percentage of tax to the upper-most and bottom-most brackets of our tax system over the last century, and as you can see, we have had a raucous relationship with the taxation of the rich, while at the same time, have found the taxation of the poor to be relatively consistent. The importance of this differentiation becomes readily apparent when you explore the deep canyons of the red “rich” line, and realize what events happen to fall within them. Namely, the Great Depression and then later, the Reagan/Bush tax cuts (and consequent 2008 Depression). For your convenience, I’ve now plotted both depressions on the graph:


Now, it would be silly and inaccurate to put the blame completely on the taxation patterns of the rich for our economic recessions, but the graph illustrates an undeniable trend. After periods of deregulation and “free market” expansion, in which the rich see their personal investments increase and responsibility to the greater good decrease, we have been left, as a nation, in dire straits. In response to the Great Depression (which barely made a dent in the pocketbooks of those supremely rich) Franklin Delano Roosevelt enacted the New Deal and increased the tax responsibility of the rich to bring the rest of our country back from the brink of extinction. That is what we need now.

“Tax responsibilty” would be a good phrase to use in the Occupation protests. Because that is what we are talking about when we talk about increasing tax rates. It’s not about wanting to tax the rich just because we don’t think they deserve the money—it’s about making them accountable to the country they live in. What the upper eschelons of society do now is take, take and take. We work for almost free, well under a living wage, for companies that have stifled our unions, cancelled our health care and cut back our benefits. We have come full circle to the days of Andrew Mellon and Henry Clay Frick, where workers are a mere commodity, easily replaced if they dissent.

And all the while, our masters have gotten richer and stronger, pulling more and more money out of the government whose strings they somehow still inexplicably pull. They put money into trusts, reinvest into tax shelters or simply keep money overseas, avoiding taxation on their wealth. They skirt the rules and avoid their civic duties and then have the gall to call us unpatriotic in our protests. We need to demand tax responsibility for all. If you make more, your responsibility to this nation should be greater. It is, after all, the freedoms of this country that allow you to make that money in the first place. The 99% pays more than our fair share--it’s about time we demand that the 1% do the same.

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