Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What Is So Enraging About Paying Our Bills?

I can't help it. I am just furious about all the rage that is out there.

All my Republican friends are pissing me off with their anger over how Obama's a socialist and how he wants to take away their freedoms. But what really gets me worked up is all this rage over taxes. Now they're going to teabagging parties and holding rallies on Fox News because they are fit to be tied over how they're being taxed to death.

Maybe you can help me with this. I mean what is it about the whole notion of taxes anyway?

I always thought that taxes were the way we paid our bills. In a democracy we have elected representatives who spend money on our behalf on things like defense, security, wars, bridges, roads, health care benefits--all kinds of stuff. If we don't like the way they're spending it or we think they are spending too much, then we have a chance to replace them at very frequent intervals. But in a democracy, we own the results of our elections and the decisions our elected officials make are our decisions.

Taxes are the bills we have to pay for the stuff our government buys us.

Now the fact of the matter is that for the last eight years, we have been running huge deficits because Mr. Bush and the Republicans who controlled Congress for six of those years decided not to make us pay for all the stuff they were buying for us. Because they didn't tax us enough to pay our bills, they've run up a multi-trillion dollar tab that will be paid either by our kids or by no one some time after we're gone.

If Republicans and other angry people wanted to hold protests over how unfair it is that we are not being made to act like grown-ups and pay our bills, that I could understand.

But that's not what the rage and teabagging are about. At a time when we are being taxed at the lowest rate in our lifetimes and running the biggest deficits in history, these clowns are getting apoplectic because they think taxes are too high! That would actually be funny if it wasn't so outrageous.

But it gets better--or worse.

Most of them are also outraged because there are so many people who are out of work or so poor or underemployed that they pay little or no tax at all. They think these people are "freeloaders" who have it made. Of course I've never heard anyone volunteer to trade places with any of these poor folks. They're too full of rage to even respond to the question.

So all the rage is being directed at poor people and immigrants who really don't have any money to pay the government anyway. At the same time, in addition to paying the lowest tax rates ever, those of us who DO pay taxes have apparently forgotten or refused to cough up an estimated $500 billion that we legally owe our government but simply choose not to pay.

In addition, I see and hear TV and radio ads every day that describe the Internal Revenue Service as the agents of the devil and offer to help good hardworking Americans settle their debts to the government at 5 and 10 cents on the dollar. One ad brags that they were able to get a client who had not even filed a tax return for six years and swindled the government out of hundreds of thousands of dollars off the hook for pennies on the dollar.

Where are the rage and the teabagging parties to protest those criminals? Instead of being vilified (treatment that is apparently reserved for the most unfortunate among us), the Right Wing crazies seem to feel that swindling the government and committing crimes that actually cost us a fortune are perfectly admirable behavior since we are all being taxed to death in the first place and Obama only wants to make it worse.

I have voted for and donated money to many fine Republicans over the years. I believe we desperately need a viable fiscally responsible alternative to the Democrats and the liberals. But Arlen Specter, New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, and I have joined millions of thinking Americans in concluding that the Republican Party and the Right Wing have allowed themselves to become a very bad sick joke.

What was a party of responsibility and conservatism has evolved into a mob of religious fundamentalists, bigots, liars, and angry people who seem to have a need to blame everyone but themselves and the elected officials that they supported over the last eight years for the many huge problems that now confront our nation and its leaders--problems that didn't exist eight years ago but which have brought is to our knees over the last year.

Instead of taking a look in the mirror, these self-centered blowhards have blamed everyone but themselves for the colossal mistakes, lies, and fiscal irresponsibility that characterized the period they were in complete control of all federal branches of government.

Instead of figuring out where they went wrong and what to do to fix things, they have just become filled with rage. They have morphed from a responsible political party to a cult of scary and angry people. I'm not talking about all Republicans. I'm just talking about the people who have taken over leadership of the party and seem to be calling all the shots. If they continue on this path, they'll be the only ones left.

If I weren't so furious, I might help them figure out how to deal with their rage. Thankfully, none of them have asked. I might just rip their stupid heads off.


Anonymous said...

Many of us believe that: 1) the government doesn't spend our tax money wisely and they will spend all they get (and more) 2) taxing those who grow businesses (like small business owners, the biggest GDP creators in the US) will decrease tax revenues and limit job growth 3) There's an inherent feeling that no one should get money just for existing in the world 4) sure a bunch of crooked financial people trashed the country for personal gain - go after them and don't punish the 99% who are trying to do things right 5) The problem is that we are going to limit the generation of high quality people and this will worsen the cycle - once great incentive is limited (you'll see when the top tax rate goes above 70% again, and of course it will) people slack and we get low productivity 6) in every case of world-wide examples, subsidies and high tax have limited economic growth and productivity (good example- when Australian farmer subsidies ended, per acre crop yields increased 600%)
7) punish the crooks and grow winning people, don't destroy the needy by giving them too much without teaching "them to fish"

Larry Gellman said...

Dear Anonymous--

You have become the poster boy for why most Americans want nothing to do with the Republican Party. You respond to none of the points I raise in this post but simply parrot the same old hateful judgmental Right Wing talking points.

Most relevant is your reference to taxes as some sort of punishment as opposed to the way that honest people pay the bills for merchandise and services that has been purchased on their behalf.

If we lived in a kingdom or dictatorship, we would have a legitimate gripe. But, as I said, when you live in a democracy you own the decisions made by your elected and replaceable representatives. So who are you angry at?

I would love to see you explain in person to a poor person or one of the millions who have lost their jobs in the last year, seen their hours cut back, lost their retirement how you are really doing them a favor by denying them the resources necessary to live. That would be a good conversation to observe.

Your talk about "the high quality people" imply that the others just can't hack it. It is very typical of the elitist anger of the Right.

The irony, of course, is that the vast, vast majority of tax cheating is done by middle class and wealthy people who routines break the law by under-delcaring income, taking bogus deductions, or, in many cases just not filing a tax return at all on the theory that the IRS budget has been so decimated in recent years that it is likely that no one will come after them.

A lot of those folks are probably the ones passing the condoms around at the teabagging parties.

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