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Jack Rabbit

Jack Rabbit's Journal
Jack Rabbit's Journal
April 20, 2014

I partly agree with Scalia on a tax revolt, but he won't like why

Many on the right like to make the American Revolution out to be a tax revolt. British taxes on the colonies weren't the only grievance the colonists had against Britain, but it was no small part of the colonies' irritation the King and parliament.

Today's right goes on to complain about "taxes, taxes, taxes" as if taxation is in and of itself a form of tyranny. The worst way to characterize the levying of taxes in general is that it is a necessary evil. Turn everything over to the free market and people won't benefit from public services if they live in unprofitable areas. No one should expect mail delivery, garbage collection or to be able to send his children to school if one lives in some remote backwater area. Don't expect police protection if you live in a neighborhood without the funds to support it, which sounds like the kind of neighborhood that has a high crime rate in the first place. A neighborhood like that is likely to get a cop on the beat like George Zimmerman. Of course, libertarians who think this is a bright vision of the American of tomorrow will answer the critique that such a vision is flawed with "well, nothing's perfect." I agree, so I would rather keep the imperfect system we already have where everyone gets mail delivery, everyone gets his trash collected, everyone gets fire and police protection (and the expectation that the local cop is better trained than George Zimmerman) and all children go to school. The proper question is whether taxpayers are getting enough bang for their buck, not whether taxes are an unnecessary government intrusion into our lives.

Let's not let the Koch brothers and their allies rewrite history. The colonists weren't complaining about British taxes per se. They said, "taxation without representation is tyranny." American colonists had no representation in parliament, yet parliament used the colonies as an ATM machine. The colonists didn't seem to complain about it, but that's because there was no MP from Virginia or Pennsylvania to raise a stink in London and suggest to their fellow MPs that they get the money by taxing the the landed aristocracy.

Since eighteenth century transportation made it impractical for the colonists to send representatives to parliament, the colonists demanded independence and, having achieved that, set up their own governments with their own system of taxation and let voters choose their own representatives. At first, voters were wealthy white males, but soon the franchise was extended to all white males, then to males who weren't necessarily white and in 1919 to women.

America is a democracy, perhaps not always in the political sense but always in a cultural sense. Democracy is what Walt Whitman praised in free verse and what Woody Guthrie and later Bob Dylan celebrated in song. Democracy is what Martin Luther King marched for and willing went to jail many times. Democracy was in the blood of the labor movement, fighting for a decent wage and safe working conditions. Those who claim America is not a democracy but a mere republic are just wrong, and we are not going to let them take it away from us.

Today, the Koch brothers, through their organization, ALEC, have crafted model legislation and sent it to the states to deny poor people the right to voting by requiring they show ID before voting. The ID required by this legislation is usually not a drivers' license but something more expensive and tailored to be biased to Republican voters. For example, in Texas it is valid to show one's firearms permit for voting, covering gun owners, which studies show to be a predominantly Republican voters; on the other hand, a college student body card is not valid for the same purpose. College students are a predominantly Democratic demographic. In this way, the state of Texas is deliberately barring Democrats from the polling place in greater numbers than Republicans.

During the past decade there have been proposals from the right to continue and expend tax cuts for the wealthy and pay for it with higher taxes on the poor and middle class. If the poor, who are more likely to vote for Democats, are barred from the polls in greater number than others, and then have their taxes raised to benefit the rich, then how is this not taxation without representation?

It's bad enough to claim that the rich are "job creators" when after 30-plus years of Reaganomics there is only one job being offered for every three unemployed Americans. The rich certainly haven't earned a tax cut from the government nor, for that matter, a pay raise or a bonus from the board of directors. But even if the economy were in better shape than it is, barring the poor from participation in the process of choosing elected representatives and raising their taxes to cover the shortfall from revenue lost by cutting the taxes of the wealthiest Americans is simply outrageous.

Taxation without representation is still tyranny. We, the people, should revolt against it, just as the colonists did 240 years ago.

April 5, 2014

Let me see . . .

You are basing you assertion that Nacchio is crooked by citing a conviction engineered by the Bush Administration Justice Department that happened after he refused to allow the NSA to get information about his customers for nefarious purposes.

Remember, please, that the Bushies played hardball, didn't play fair and, for them, the Constitution was just a piece of paper -- as in toilet paper. This was a Justice Department that fired US Attorneys who did not pursue trumped up charges against Democrats and kept on those that did. It was that Justice Department that engineered the railroading of Don Siegelman. That's only the most high profile case of many.

I resent your characterization of "Firebaggers" hating CEOs indiscriminately "unless those CEOs are crooks." I suppose you think Pretty Boy Lloyd and Legs Dimon are upright, outstanding citizens. I suppose you think Dave and Charlie Koch are positive influences on American politics. When I talk about CEOs, I'm usually taking about the Wall Street Bankers who crashed the world economy, were bailed out by the taxpayers and haven't changed the way they do business or right wing billionaires who want to destroy American democracy. That covers a quite a few more people than the aforementioned, but they are giving all business people, even honest ones, a bad name. If we can bring capitalism back to a state where it is regulated to prevent capitalists from abusing to their employees, polluting the environment, defrauding their customers or buying the people's representatives in state or federal governments, then I'll be very happy. Our problem is simply that we do not have a functioning economic system of any kind. If you want to know what an unregulated free market looks like, ask the kid on the corner dealing dope or his customers about it.

Perhaps Nacchio really belongs in the slammer, but I wouldn't take the result of a case of a man who crossed the Bushies and was prosecuted by a Bush-appointed US Attorney who survived the Frat Boy's mid-term purge at face value. Anyone who would has no claim to being a member of any reality based community.

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