Most of what follows started as (and was posted as) a comment. But I decided too few people might take the time to read every comment and . . . on the off chance that I might move some folks to action, I decided to put together a sort of manifesto of talking points for any who can to help launch a necessary reformation and redirection for this country. I don't write a lot of diaries (though I have been a member of the community for years) but this time, I have just had enough.
How many times have we heard Republicans and Tea Party types complain that raising taxes on the rich was some sort of "socialist, wealth redistribution?" And all too often, self-styled "moderates" have agreed. And yes, they have thrown out the "class warfare" canard as well. But now we are seeing it over and over - corporate tax cuts paid for with the jobs and benefits of working people while the "middle class" taxpayer sees cuts to their public services. And all of this to serve corporate interests and the wealthy shareholders.
The period of the greatest economic growth in this country tracks closely with the growth of unions and the growth of the middle class (two elements that are inexorably intertwined). And the time period when so many so-called "conservatives" long for seems to be the 1950s - when top individual tax rates were above 90%! (Actually in 1945 there was a 94% tax on income over $200,000 - absolutely astounding. It stayed over 90% until 1964 when it was lowered to 77%. Of course, back then we paid for our wars instead of putting them on the credit card for the next administration to deal with.)
Then they started the union busting and corporations were allowed to get away from their pension obligations by declaring "bankruptcy" and under a "reorganization" made those prior commitments null and void. But for some reason, after we bail out the banks and Wall Street there is no similar ability to curtail fat bonuses because they were "contractually obligated." And when an individual declares bankruptcy the credit card debt is no longer an obligation that goes away.
And the debt burden (being piled upon that shrinking middle class) that the GOP claims to be worried about? No "shared sacrifice" for oil companies - they still get their subsidies. No "shared sacrifice" for the defense industries - they still get their government contracts. No "shared sacrifice" for health insurance companies - their fat profits are secure. No "shared sacrifice" for the nuclear industry investors - taxpayers still guarantee their investments. No "shared sacrifice" for gross polluters like mining companies - simply walk off with your profits, declare bankruptcy and let the taxpayer clean it up with "Superfund" money. In fact, corporate tax revenue as a share of GDP is near an all time low
And on and on . . . According to the Tax Policy Center:
-Among OECD countries only Mexico, Turkey, Korea, and Japan had lower taxes than the United States as a percentage of GDP. In many European countries taxes exceeded 40 percent of GDP, but those countries generally provide much more extensive government services to their citizens than the United States does.
-U.S. employees, on average, contributed more in taxes for retirement and disability insurance - 10 percent of total tax receipts - than many of their OECD counterparts, where such taxes accounted for 9 percent of total receipts on average. U.S. employers, however, contributed less: 12 percent of the total compared with OECD employers average of 15 percent.
They are killing the middle class. There is absolutely no empirical evidence that "tax cuts create jobs." As described in the book The American Dream vs. The Gospel of Wealth: The Fight for a Productive Middle-Class Economy, Americans today confront a choice between two fundamentally different economic visions for American society--one vision based on "the America Dream," which focuses on strengthening the incomes and economic security of the middle class and ordinary wage-earners without restricting the ability of successful businessmen to gain wealth-- and another vision based on "the Gospel of Wealth," which seeks to ensure that the few most economically successful citizens reap maximum rewards through an increasingly regressive tax structure. Each vision claims to provide the basis for maximum economic growth and maximum benefit to all Americans. But the main premise of the Gospel of Wealth economic philosophy--that disproportionate economic rewards for the rich will "trickle down" to the benefit of the rest of the population--is contradicted by the historical performance of the American economy.
But the Citizens United decision has empowered corporations to have a disproportionate share of influence on the public discourse. And it is time to end the fiction that corporations are "people" (in any sense except as an entity to be sued). Unlike people, corporations don't "die" after a set number of years and are free from pesky things like estate taxes, etc. In California, for example, Proposition 13 (which limits increases in property tax, no matter how much the actual current property value) was sold as a way to keep the elderly from losing their homes to huge tax bills. But the real winners were the corporations because these limits on reassessments applied to them too! And when you never die and have vast property holdings that tax basis set at 1978 levels (with minuscule annual maximum increases) is worth billions - money that does not go to taxing authorities that provide schools, police, parks, libraries, etc. to PEOPLE.
We need our own movement, one that is truly grass roots and that dwarfs the "Tea Party" with real people who are sick of all this. And we need to get this going BEFORE the next elections in order to let it build. Events in Wisconsin are a start. We need another "wave" election - one from every school district to every governor's mansion to every statehouse to the House and Senate. Loud and clear: We the PEOPLE, want OUR COUNTRY back from the corporatists.