David Brin: From Job Creators to Let Them Eat Cake
By David Brin
Amid the furor over Mitt Romney’s inelegant remarks about the 47% of Americans who are freeloaders – who pay no net federal income tax (FIT) – many rebuttals have shown that he slagged mostly retirees, lower middle class workers (who still pay payroll and other taxes), and even our fighting men and women who get their combat pay untaxed. (Along with a darned big slab of millionaires and corporations whose accountants and lawyers get them off scot free.)
Note also that the fraction who pay no FIT had its biggest increase under George W. Bush.
What’s astonishing is the fact that many let him get away with a conflation of two entirely separate statistics. The 55% of the public who support President Obama and the 47% who pay no FIT are supposed (by Romney) to completely overlap.
They do not. Yes, democrats still stand up for the very poor, and hence a third of the 47% do pretty much plop onto the democratic side. On the other hand it has long been the plain fact that Red America suckles in far more net tax dollars than it pays, while Blue America — the wealth and productivity and innovation-generating areas – pay more more in taxes than they get back… yet blue states whine about taxes much less. See the very starkly informative graphic below:
Of course it’s more complicated than that. In fact, the conservative in me feels that all Americans should be asked to pay at least a small, token tax just to feel vested in how the money gets spent. It’s one of many Goldwater style suggestions that could go on the table for negotiation… if today’s conservatism still bore any resemblance at all to that of Goldwater and Buckley. (Barry, how we miss you.)
As perfect evidence of that drift, take this nonsense that Buckley and Goldwater would never have stood for: “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers,” said Neil Newhouse, a Romney pollster. Of course Robert Reich is no conservative. But his point in this article is clear. Lacking any facts at all to support their side, and knowing full well that they dare never mention (at all) their record at governance, the Murdochians have completed their migration. They now say whatever they damn well please and let assertions stand in for truth. That is now the Red-Blue divide.
(When only 6% of U.S. scientists call themselves Republican, and every other clade of knowledge is under attack by Fox, this final shift can come as no surprise.)
Some of the heirs of Barry Goldwater have taken notice. Mike Lofgren, in The American Conservative (One of the few journals of the right that today would be considered sane by Goldwater and Buckley) has penned a scathing denunciation of how today’s worldwide caste of uber-wealthy appear to be seceding from the nations and peoples they increasingly control. In “Revolt of the Rich,” Lofgren shows how this process – bringing us toward wealth disparities like those of 1789 France – threatens the very fabric of our western/american social contract.
“It is no coincidence that as the Supreme Court has been removing the last constraints on the legalized corruption of politicians, the American standard of living has been falling at the fastest rate in decades. According to the Federal Reserve Board’s report of June 2012, the median net worth of families plummeted almost 40 percent between 2007 and 2010.”
Here is another snippet:
“If a morally acceptable American conservatism is ever to extricate itself from a pseudo-scientific inverted Marxist economic theory, it must grasp that order, tradition, and stability are not coterminous with an uncritical worship of the Almighty Dollar, nor with obeisance to the demands of the super wealthy. Conservatives need to think about the world they want: do they really desire a social Darwinist dystopia?“The objective of the predatory super-rich and their political handmaidens is to discredit and destroy the traditional nation state and auction its resources to themselves. Those super-rich, in turn, aim to create a “tollbooth” economy, whereby more and more of our highways, bridges, libraries, parks, and beaches are possessed by private oligarchs who will extract a toll from the rest of us. Was this the vision of the Founders? Was this why they believed governments were instituted among men—that the very sinews of the state should be possessed by the wealthy in the same manner that kingdoms of the Old World were the personal property of the monarch?”
If I might add, it would not end there. Read about Paris, 1789, and the Estates Generale. How the artistocratic First Estate demanded everything, conceded no obligations to the people, the state, or society, and justified their exemption from taxes almost literally by calling themselves the job-creators.
In retrospect, and on a purely pragmatic basis, that was a very big mistake for those lords, an obstinacy that wound up costing them everything. It makes you wonder about the intelligence of the self-flattering aristocracy of our time.
Lofgren’s whole article makes compelling reading and I suggest you recite it aloud to some conservative “ostrich” who seems sane enough to listen… and possibly even to stand up to reclaim the sadly hijacked movement of Barry Goldwater.
(Originally appeared at Contrary Brin. Reprinted by permission. Political cartoon by Tom Toles via GoComics.)