Friday, November 12, 2010

Reduce the Deficit! Extend Tax Cuts for the Ultra-Rich!

If the deficit is really so bloody important, why is it even more important to extend a tax cut for the uber-rich, a tax cut that costs the country approximately 4 trillion over the next 10 years and DOESN'T create jobs? Why? Because they say "deficit" to scare people and make them think that Democrats create bigger deficits than Republicans, which isn't true, and they are fighting to give the lower and middle classes' money to the rich BECAUSE THE UBER-RICH ARE THEIR CAMPAIGN DONORS. Yes, the left has a billionaire. One. The Republicans have at least 200 of them. George W. Bush said to a room full of rich people that they were his base, "The haves and have-mores." WHY can't regular Americans see through Republican lies and slick, terrorizing marketing methods? Fox News isn't news, it's conservative propaganda, and much of it is false. Why don't my wonderful Republican friends and family members see through their slick rhetoric and realize they're being manipulated to vote against their own interests? And the liberal media (e.g. on MSNBC) disputes that Americans, the 98% of us who make less than 250K a year, neither need nor want to extend tax cuts for the rich nor do we need or want the fall-out from doing so.

I'll give you another example. Some of the liberal pundits have suggested that we should make rich people pay the same amount toward Social Security that the rest of us do - 13% I think it is. Anyone who makes more than $106,000/year only pays Social Security on the 1st $106K of their income. I don't know about you, but $106K/year is a lot of money. You can argue that it doesn't equal rich yet, but it's certainly more than most of us will ever earn in a given year. There are plenty of "good" jobs that don't pay nearly that much. It's 7 TIMES more than minimum wage, which is $7.25/hour. There are professionals with PhDs who make less than that. I'm just trying to give you a sense of perspective. It's an interesting question that means a great deal to people, whether "fair" is everyone paying 13%, even when 13% is a LOT more money for someone with more income, or "fair" is paying the same amount of money, which can easily become a huge portion of a poor person's income, such that they're not able to pay rent or buy food or something, which also doesn't seem quite right. I can understand the perspective that says, hey, it's not fair for me, a poor person, to have to pay 13% of my meager little income into Social Security while you only have to pay .1%, and you can more easily afford it. You're saying, well, I don't need Social Security, so why do I have to pay into it at all? Or, even if I do put in some, why should I subsidize everyone else by paying such a larger amount just because I happen to make more money?

The answer is that we compromise, of course, and try to find the middle ground that makes the most sense and works the best.

And one of the things that no one mentions is that those rich people STOLE THAT MONEY FROM THE POOR PEOPLE. The reason the CEO is making 1000x more than the clerk is that HIM AND HIS FRIENDS ON THE BOARD DECIDED THE SALARIES. Their work isn't generating the income. You can argue that their work is more or less necessary depending on what it is, but they're not building the widgets, selling the widgets to customers, etc. The work of everyone in the company generates the income of the company, but the current thought in salary-setting is that it's okay to pay the little people very, very little, the less the better, and pay the people at the top as much as you can.

The myth is that people think they are being paid what they are worth, and that they have "earned" whatever they bring home and have a right to keep it. Both parts of that myth are false. You are being paid what they can get away with paying you. It has nothing to do with how much money your work earned for the company. It also doesn't mean that the work you did is really worth that amount of money. When we're making what we think is good money, we'd like to think that. The fact is that if the company thought they could get you to do the work for free, they wouldn't pay you a dime. If they think it wouldn't hurt the company too much to fire you and hire someone who doesn't have nearly as much as experience as you or your credentials for half the money, they would do it. If they thought they could cut your pay in half and you wouldn't leave, they would do it. I've seen friends and co-workers take 2%, 5%, 10% and 20% pay cuts in recent years, not because the companies were losing money in all cases, just because they thought they could get away with it.

The amount that regular workers should be paid ideally is debatable. What's crystal clear is that CEOs and other executives who used to make 20 times more than the lowest-paid workers and now make 200 times more, aren't actually bringing 10 times more value to the company than they used to. What that means is they've STOLEN that money from other parts of the company, and given that average incomes have declined steadily for the middle and lower classes over the last 40 years, it's clear that they're stealing it from the regular people, the rest of the workers.

So, quite honestly, when they whine about taxes or contributing to Social Security, I have very little pity for them. When they get mad and say it's transferring their wealth to poor people, I don't feel too bad about it. It's Robin Hood returning us some of our taxes back, although in this case the government is Robin Hood and the CEOs and other executives are King John, taxing us too much by taking the fruits of our labor before it even gets to the tax man.

They don't care if we have health care, can take a vacation, can send our children to decent schools, own a home, or ever retire. They want us to work as hard and as much as they can make us for as little pay and benefits as they can get away with paying us. They don't care what the politicians or pundits tell us as long as it benefits their wealth, in the short term.

That's why I don't care if we make them pay a little more in taxes. It's my money and I'm just getting a portion of it back from the greedy bastards, and I want to do it in a way that benefits everyone and our economy as a whole, long-term, something else they don't care about, which surprises me sometimes.

Very consistently, for the last 30 years or so, conventional investing and business-management theories have favored short-term gains over any other concerns. They happily starve the economy of educated workers by attacking the erstwhile strength of our public education there's more money in the pockets of their campaign donors, who think this is therefore a good thing. They let health care costs get astronomical because the money goes to executives and stockholders of the companies in those industries, which makes them happy. They don't care if people spend more of their time sick. For some reason, they don't care about the reduction in productivity of their workers, who are sicker and disheartened because they can't do anything to improve their health, take time off to get better, or take care of their sick families. I guess it's because that reduction in productivity is harder to quantify.

The point, though, is that rich people are in it for their short-term profits over all other priorities. Because Republicans have figured out that if you have slick marketing, including being willing to use psychological warfare, terror tactics, lies, and manipulation, against your own people, and you have plenty of campaign funds from rich people because you are busy looking out for their short-term profits, you can stay in power indefinitely.

Until they get a clue. I've been trying to help with that, but dang, it sure is hard fighting all that slick publicity. People, whose educations were mostly mediocre at best, are inclined to believe the slick marketing, even when in the end it hurts us.

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