In a Daily Beast op-ed, author Stephen King blasts the anti-tax crowd that controls the Republican party. King believes it is the patriotic duty of the rich to contribute more and if inequality is not addressed the rich, and their bought politicians, may ultimately face an unpleasant backlash.
King says many rich people are charitable, including “right-wing creepazoids,” the Koch brothers. However, charity will not address all the problems this nation faces.
What charitable 1 percenters can’t do is assume responsibility—America’s national responsibilities: the care of its sick and its poor, the education of its young, the repair of its failing infrastructure, the repayment of its staggering war debts. Charity from the rich can’t fix global warming or lower the price of gasoline by one single red penny. That kind of salvation does not come from Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Ballmer saying, “OK, I’ll write a $2 million bonus check to the IRS.” That annoying responsibility stuff comes from three words that are anathema to the Tea Partiers: United American citizenry.
And hey, why don’t we get real about this? Most rich folks paying 28 percent taxes do not give out another 28 percent of their income to charity. Most rich folks like to keep their dough. They don’t strip their bank accounts and investment portfolios. They keep them and then pass them on to their children, their children’s children. And what they do give away is—like the monies my wife and I donate—totally at their own discretion. That’s the rich-guy philosophy in a nutshell: don’t tell us how to use our money; we’ll tell you.
That’s the problem with the ideology of the anti-tax crowd. They don’t want to be told what to do with their money. Well, I have news for them. Nobody wants to be told what to do with their money, but some of us feel it’s our responsibility as adults to give back when we are successful. Giving to charities at our discretion is not enough. Personally, I’d rather my tax money didn’t pay for wars that I didn’t condone but you know what, that doesn’t mean that I want my taxes cut when I know we have huge problems to solve in this country along with a huge deficit and debt. It is irresponsible, greedy and childish to take the stance that Republicans have taken on taxation. People like Bill O’Reilly say they would be willing to pay more if they knew it was going to be used properly. Well sorry Bill, it doesn’t work that way. Like I said, I don’t want my tax dollars funding war but I didn’t have a choice. In this country, our taxation should be based on ability to pay. It’s not unfair to tax the rich at a higher rate. It’s simply common sense.
King blasts the idea that the rich are job creators. He says, “At the risk of repeating myself, here’s what rich folks do when they get richer: they invest. A lot of those investments are overseas, thanks to the anti-American business policies of the last four administrations.” The more tax breaks we give to the rich, the less money that is available for the general economy. Rich people already have enough money to buy the things they need or want to buy. Giving them tax breaks does not stimulate the economy, it simply sits in a bank account, possibly outside the country. It also will not lead to job creation. If the economy is not being stimulated, there is no need for new jobs to be created in the first place. This is why supply-side economics is bullshit. You don’t make more widgets than you need. It’s only when demand for widgets increases that the widget manufacturing jobs are created.
Republican leaders in congress get their deserved condemnation. King says,
The U.S. senators and representatives who refuse even to consider raising taxes on the rich—they squall like scalded babies (usually on Fox News) every time the subject comes up—are not, by and large, superrich themselves, although many are millionaires and all have had the equivalent of Obamacare for years. They simply idolize the rich. Don’t ask me why; I don’t get it either, since most rich people are as boring as old, dead dog shit. The Mitch McConnells and John Boehners and Eric Cantors just can’t seem to help themselves. These guys and their right-wing supporters regard deep pockets like Christy Walton and Sheldon Adelson the way little girls regard Justin Bieber.
This is why I say our government is looking more like a representative oligarchy instead of a representative democracy. The money in politics in this presidential election, partly due to the Citizens United ruling, only speeds up this transformation.
Will people rise up to put an end to it? King says,
In America, we all should have to pay our fair share. That our civics classes never taught us that being American means that—sorry, kiddies—you’re on your own. That those who have received much must be obligated to pay—not to give, not to “cut a check and shut up,” in Governor Christie’s words, but to pay—in the same proportion. That’s called stepping up and not whining about it. That’s called patriotism, a word the Tea Partiers love to throw around as long as it doesn’t cost their beloved rich folks any money.
This has to happen if America is to remain strong and true to its ideals. It’s a practical necessity and a moral imperative. Last year during the Occupy movement, the conservatives who oppose tax equality saw the first real ripples of discontent. Their response was either Marie Antoinette (“Let them eat cake”) or Ebenezer Scrooge (“Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?”). Short-sighted, gentlemen. Very short-sighted. If this situation isn’t fairly addressed, last year’s protests will just be the beginning. Scrooge changed his tune after the ghosts visited him. Marie Antoinette, on the other hand, lost her head.
The Occupy movement is far from dead. The true “change we can believe in” will only happen from the bottom up.
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