Saw this on SillyReverie’s site
The OWS objectors may want to rethink attempts to minimize or dismiss the protests and their gripes.
Tell me what you think. . .
If the Constitution Were Written Today . . .
The death tax disproportionately taxes working class families, so why do Democrats refuse to reform or abolish it. Don’t believe me? Read on. . .
The Democratic Party in the United States has forsaken the base they so loudly claim to represent. Working men and women, the working class, as they are referred to are not represented by the Democratic Party. Certain segments of that demographic, particularly Black Americans, are particularly not represented. In fact, I would venture to say that the interests of Black Americans, in particular, but the working class in general, are harmed by the policies and positions of the Democratic Party. Three examples of this negative representation are illustrated in three party platform issues: The death tax, social security reform, and welfare reform. Each of these examples represents area where working class people could really benefit from dramatic reforms, but the Democratic Party has classically resisted.
One of the most ironic issues affecting working class Americans is the death tax. This is a tax, which ostensibly is supposed to even the playing field in the transfer of wealth between generations. One of the strongest proponents of the death tax is Warren Buffet. He argues that a major barrier to meritocracy, versus a defacto aristocracy is the issue of wealth being tranferred from the generation that earned it, to following generations did not earn it, but due to no particular merit of their own, can now wield that wealth. This is a true issue, however, the mechanism of the death tax only serves to exacerbate this disparity.
The generationally educated and wealthy are not deeply affected by the death tax. They have the financial sophistication to establish estate transfer mechanisms which greatly side step the deliterious effects of a 50% tax on one’s entire estate. There are many technical and legal mechanisms and entities that allow the wealth to be preserved and passed along, largely unaffected by the 50% tax. However, one must have the advisors and the advance planning in place to take advantage of these. The entrenched wealthy do, and the working class stiff generally does not.
On the face of it this may seem like a non starter because the death tax is only effective on estates valued at 3.5 million dollars or higher, and which low educated working class family would fall into that categroy? The answer, as it turns out is many would. Take my grandfather for example, a child of the Jim Crow era, his father was an ex-slave. My grandfather served in WWII, and after that as a young man, came out to a world that did not offer many breaks. He made his own breaks. He was a carpenter, a general contractor, a junk man, and a landlord. He worked every day of his life until alzheimer’s got the upper hand. He honored his word. He paid his way in cash. When he died, he had amassed a small fortune, primarily by the sweat of his brow, and the strength of his character. What he did not do was finish high school, let alone learn anything about estate planning.
My grandfather’s story is not unique. There are millions of plumbers, truck drivers, teachers–working class people who will die with sizeable estates, and be victims of the death tax.
Our United States Senators, Congressman, and Presidents are not stupid people. They know that the wealthy may pay some tax, but it does not approach the percentage that the death tax will cut from a the small roofing company owner. As I said, they are not stupid, and they have heard the argument I’m making before. There are smaller caucuses in the Democratic party that argue against the death tax, for the very reasons I lay out here. So it is not that the Democratic National Committee, or the Democrats in Congress or the White House, do not know what the death tax actually does. What I can’t seem to get my head around, is why, when the death tax so disporportionately taxes the people it is supposed to create equanimity for, do Democrats oppose its reform, or ablolishment? Why when it so unfairly taxes their loyal constituency,
do Democrats insist on it continued existance?
Well this rant has gone on long enough. The other two issues, I will need to address in a future posting.
The most recent coal mining tragedy in West Virginia is a metaphor for the real power divisions in America. The underclass, and the distracted middle class in America, spend so much time and energy being angry and fighting over different issues and power divisions. Unfortunately, very few of these distinctions represent the true division of power in the United States. Issues of race, political party, religion, economic philosophy are phantasms and fabrications which obscure the only real power distinction in America. That distinction is the difference between those who own stuff, and those who don’t. But even that distinction, as simple as it sounds, can be ephemeral if one doesn’t come to terms with the difference between owning stuff and membership in the ruling class.
The John Sayles movie “Matewan”, set in early 1900s Matewan, West Virginia coal mining town, illustrates how different underclass groups are pitted against each other in the United States, while the real oppressors press down on them all. When these groups come together, the Coal Field Wars breakout, which ultimately results in extreme loss of life, but considerably improved working conditions for miners. The rub, historically outside of the timeframe of the movie, is that the coal mines remain a dangerous place to work, that only those without other viable options opt for. The annual loss of life from accidents is down, however the chronic health issues resulting from a career of going down in the pits remains a killer.
The saying goes that men go down in the hole white, black, or brown, but they all come out black.
Early in the history of coal mining in the United States, the first miners were the white Appalachian mountain folk, who lived in the coal rich hollers of the Eastern Appalachian Mountain range. As social change occurred, and new immigrants found moved around the country, Blacks, Italian, Germans, a host of new ethnic groups found their way to the mines. The mining companies used racial divides to pit these ethnic groups against one another. This served to distract from the extreme abusive practices used by the mining companies against their workers, and the workers families. As long as the ethnic groups were pitted against each other, identified each other as the source and cause of their woes, they would not realize, or be able to organize against the true oppressor, the mining companies.
For those who may question the validity of calling the mining companies abusive or oppressors, I’d be glad to write a post dedicated to that issue. Just let me know. Suffice it to say, the “market” did not, was not, and would not take care of these problems.
At any rate, the movie “Matewan” chronicles the beginning of the Coal Field Wars, and how union organizers got the various ethnic groups to focus, not on the phantasmic differences of race and ethnicity, but on the oppression of the mining companies. When the mining companies met resistance from the miners, The Pinkerton Detective Agency was called in, at that point in time, basically a mercenary unit, armed with guns. The Pinkertons brought their guns and the miners and mountain folk met them. The Coal Field Wars began.
The end result was that President Roosevelt called in the National Guard to suppress the miners and put an end to the armed conflict. However, after much loss of life, attention was brought to the issue. Miners were unionized in many mines, and working conditions improved greatly. However, as we can see from recent mining accidents, and the persistant high mortality rate among miners, conditions are still very bad for that Class of Americans.
What are the take aways? First, conflicts and divisions between race and ethnicity in America are illusions and lies used by the ruling class to keep the people from disrupting power. Second, the only true division in America is between the ruling class and the people. Third, the only chance The United States has going forward, is for the people to rise above the current, and worsening state of racial, religious, ethnic, divide and directly address the abuses of the ruling class.
The question then becomes, who comprise the ruling class? This is a topic for another post, but suffice it to say being white and/or wealthy are not defining conditions. Plenty of white people are in the underclass, whom the ruling class would, and has, gladly sacrifice. Additionally, wealthy is neither a defining term, as plenty of wealthy individuals are utterly dependent on the good will of the Federal government and the corporations for whom they slave.
I think the GOP overplayed its hand. Forcing a filibuster proof vote on every issue forced the Dems to take a page from the George W. playbook, using reconciliation to push through major legislation. Tit-for-tat, and the dance goes on. There is no essential difference between the Dems and GOP because in the end, nobody wants to upset the applecart. Wildcard in the mix is Barack Obama. Neither Dems nor GOP quite know what to do with him. (same way they were equally mystified when Baye bowed out). Debate the merits, but Obama seems like he actually wants to get things done.
When will we realize politicians, and Washington, DC politicians especially, are all on the same team. We operate under the illusion that there is some great distinction between Democrats and Republicans. We have the sense that Democrats are liberal, and Republicans are conservative. These politicians certainly talk the language of liberals and conservatives respectively, but they vote the language of bigger and more expensive government collectively. Budgets, budget deficits, federal spending, and federal programs grow regardless of who controls the Executive office, or either Congressional house. For example, George W. Bush vastly expanded the powers of the Executive office as well as federal spending, and I haven’t seen Barack Obama give back any of it. In fact, we can expect to see Executive powers continue to expand annually, regardless of who sits in the Oval Office.
The spark to this particular rant is a Cato Institute post, outlining a series of articles from the Washington Post, and the Cato Institute, discussing how there has been a seeming continuous boom of government jobs in Washington DC. This jobs boom began under the Bush administration, and has continued under the Obama administration.
Perhaps, I’m a little jaded. But it is food for thought. OK, end of rant.