I've written several op eds and letters to our local paper trying to sway people who I believe might be sitting on the fence politically. I live in Idaho which is very conservative. I try and walk a line that doesn't turn them off to my progressive message but use examples that show just how unfair and just bat shit crazy our current political system is. It is easier now that almost everyone on each side hates the big banks and, to some extent, Wall Street. Reality is harder and harder to ignore.
Every time I hear that we must cut funds for public school but cannot ask the richest Americans to at least pay the same rate of income tax as the average plumber I get angry. It is as though we have returned the country to a time when there was an economic nobility which was treated differently than the average citizen. If one is rich enough then one is exempt from the same sacrifice that is being demanded of the average American. Income for hedge fund managers and for capital gains is taxed lower and is somehow more valuable than that earned by swinging a hammer or driving an eighteen wheeler. Is this two tier system really the best way to build a strong nation with a strong economy?
I also get angry when I hear about how great our system of free enterprise is and how everyone gets a level playing field. Here in Idaho there is a law that allows a mortgage holder to not only foreclose on a property but also to sue the borrower for any money lost by the lender on a resale. I heard on NPR about a couple in Idaho whose house was foreclosed on when his hours were cut at his engineering firm when the economic downturn hit. Years after the foreclosure they have been notified that they are being sued for $140,000 dollars by Bank of America for the loss it suffered when it sold the property.
So, one of the major financial institutions who helped tank the economy and had to be bailed out is allowed to go after a struggling young couple with two kids who lost their house because of the economic crisis--the same crisis caused by these big banks and Wall Street financial wizards. The couple had no idea that they were liable for anything more than the loss of their house, down payment, and equity; neither do thousands of others who've been foreclosed on. Forty states have the same law as Idaho. Banks are bundling mortgages like these together and selling them to private investors at a big discount. These investors will wait until the time is right and file on those already foreclosed on. Those people who are struggling to put their lives back together and to see a little light will be hit again. And the really disgusting thing is that the money these vultures will make will be taxed at a lower rate as capital gains. The playing field is not level and the irony is thick. Double indemnity is only for the lower class.
Now we are told that the country can't afford a jobs bill that is aimed at rebuilding the nation's infrastructure because to fund it the economic elite, those who make over a million dollars a year, would have their taxes increased by 0.7%. That is three quarters of a cent per dollar. It seems a lot less than in the thirties when the question was “brother, can you spare a dime?” The argument given by those who voted against the bill was that it would hurt the job creators, small businesses. The truth is that only 2-3% of small businesses earn two hundred fifty thousand dollars of taxable income per year, much less a million. Small businesses would have remained virtually untouched by the tax increase. In fact, small businesses have been harmed by not passing this bill as it would have pumped more money into the economy and increased spending. That is what small business needs. It angers me, as a small business owner, to have some political beltway hack who is totally out of touch with “Main Street” economics use my business' well being as a reason not to slightly tax millionaires more and improve the economy. More reasoning like that will simply shutter small businesses across the country and guarantee more bridges falling into rivers.
We are all Americans. If austerity is needed then it has to be shared by all and not just some. The 99% have already given. That's why you see their real representatives protesting in the streets all over the country.