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If you haven't read this Los Angeles Times article about hypocrisy in South Carolina when it comes to federal spending, it's a real eye-opener. In it, a Rick Santorum supporter by the name of Nancy Garvin delivers the typical tea party rant about government. The 54-year-old complains, to paraphrase, that she's tired of the federal government frittering away money on useless programs:

"Washington is throwing money away through a lot of wasteful spending," she said, sitting at a picnic table beneath trees draped in graying Spanish moss.

But Garvin, whose husband, a carpenter, has been out of work for four years, depends on the very government she wants to see cut back. She collects disability insurance — it is what she and her husband have survived on as he's looked for work. Her mother is on Social Security. Garvin herself used to work as a nurse at a hospital where many patients paid for services through Medicaid, another program using federal money.

So typical. Just like the iconic tea party protester with the "Get Your Government Hands Off My Medicare!" sign. Blue collar right wingers hate government programs - except the ones they use. Which brings me to the reason why the very wealthy, the 1-percenters, should pay more in taxes than you and me and the Nancy Garvins of the world. More below the orange nebula galaxy.

One of my favorite local public radio hosts regularly speaks about American economic issues on his show. When the issue of that uniquely visceral American aversion to taxes comes up, he sometimes rhetorically asks his guests, "Why don't Americans get the connection that when you pay your taxes, you get your government services?" I am just as befuddled by this conundrum as he is. Yeah, many Americans don't seem to get it that we have to pay taxes for the public services we rely on to maintain a civilized society. Public workers aren't slaves, and they shouldn't be expected to work for minimum wage either. They should be respected. If you want good services, you've got to pay for them.

On the other hand, the super rich, like Mitt "Mr. 13.9% Tax Rate" Romney, who want to see their taxes reduced even further, conveniently forget that they use up a disproportionate amount of our collective resources than the average American. Therefore, they ought to pay more in taxes. As a presidential candidate, a businessman, and, well, a rich guy who can afford to travel, Mittens probably has a lot of flying under his belt. So, he's gone into and out of many airports. The air traffic controllers in those airports get paid by our taxes. Taxes maintain the water, sewage, electrical and other infrastructure that these airports need. As for me, I haven't flown on an airplane in several years. The average American probably flies at most once or twice a year for major holidays.

What about roads? I'm sure Mittens hires a nice vehicle to ferry him to and from campaign stops. That's a lot of road usage. If you're a gazillionaire and have a whole fleet of expensive cars at your disposal - particularly heavy, gas-guzzling SUVs - you're tearing up the roads at a faster rate than someone who just drives one small, economy car, and goes to work and the grocery store. Taking this even further, corporations have fleets of commercial cars and trucks that are grinding down our crumbling roads every single day. FedEx, for example, has been accused of tax-dodging, and yet this company happily uses up our road infrastructure, something essential to its business.

How about housing? Mittens and his fellow gazillionaires tend to own multiple homes on prime real estate. And the superwealthy also like their homes to be far away from the rabble, sometimes behind gated communities, other times tucked away in remote areas only accessible by winding narrow roads. Here where I live in southern California, some of the rich live in wilderness areas, vulnerable to wildfires, or right on the beach, in areas vulnerable to mudslides. Of course, when you're rolling in dough, a small dwelling just won't do. No, when you're superrich, you've got to have a multiple-thousand-square-foot compound. All of that real estate lying in remote areas is going to take a lot of public infrastructure to maintain, for example, water and sewage. Larger homes use up a lot more energy, so the country's electrical grid gets strained. And when an emergency occurs - from a burglary on up to a natural disaster - it takes police and fire more effort and money to protect the homes of the superrich. Owning multiple homes adds up to the public expense. A corporation's "home" is its headquarters and satellite offices. All of those buildings are maintained with services from public infrastructure.

The point is, the amount one pays to help preserve our public infrastructure should be proportional to the amount one uses. The wealthy and corporations use our transportation system more, they have bigger homes, they burden our electrical grid, and they suck up most of the available water (see agri-business). The rich use up much of the court system to enforce contracts, or to sue each other (or the government). They use up much of our public safety budgets to protect their vast property holdings. Companies benefit from having workers educated in our public schools. They benefit from research and development paid for by taxpayers at government institutions. And rich individuals are still "entitled" to Social Security and Medicare. Like the rest of us, they can still use parks, libraries and beaches. The wealthy wouldn't be wealthy if there was no public infrastructure - no civil society - to help get them there.

So, I would like to ask Romney and all these other rich folks who insist on paying next to nothing in taxes, why should they get a discount on the price for civilization? Why do they think the rest of us - who barely have enough money to survive - should subsidize their businesses and their lifestyles? Is it less important for the rest of us to eat, and more important for us to kick in more of our meager incomes to finance yet another sports stadium most of us will never see the inside of? Why is that not welfare, but programs like food stamps and unemployment insurance are? Why are Social Security and Medicare considered "entitlements," but agricultural subsidies aren't?

All of these benefits - whether they go to average Americans or to corporations - are paid for with public money. What then, Mr. Romney, is the difference? Why do you wish to slam average Americans with higher income taxes, payroll taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, excise taxes and fees, and then cheat them out of the benefits those taxes are supposed to provide? Why do you and your rich buddies think the rest of us should have to pay more and more and then expect nothing in return? We are not your servants. We have to live here too, and we deserve a decent standard of living in a country with a government that provides good public services and a robust safety net for everyone. That takes a lot of money, something Mrs. Garvin doesn't seem to understand. Our public infrastructure is falling apart, and the majority of Americans don't have the funds to repair all of it. The greedy superrich and corporations, on the other hand, do. They took most of our country's wealth - wealth that we all worked to create - for themselves. They are largely responsible for the country's neglect, so they gotta pay up.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Because... (5+ / 0-)

    we (average Americans) are not people to them, we don't have the same rights, or the same needs, or the same wants and are not entitled to the same privledge that they are.

    They are gracing this country with their very presence. If we tax them above 15%, why they'll just stop making money here and probably stop trying altogether because we're so anti-business and we hate the rich and we hate success.

    Grrr...that hurt my fingers just to type that nonsense. Please, by all means, Mr. Millionaire, stop making money, throw a fucking pity party, we all feel terrible for you.

  •  Exactly. An extra tax on homes in iffy areas. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    714day

    A usage fee for companies with fleets--needn't be a lot-just enough to help pay for the extra wear.

    Most of all, a tariff on goods made overseas because it is cheaper to make them there. A tariff would help pay for the unemployment that results from the outsourcing. It would also make it more attractive to put money into factories here. It might just make China and other countries that underpay and abuse workers in unhealthy conditions rethink their policies.

    Occupy has made and is making a seachange in attitudes toward the rich and they way their money is made. We need laws to follow.

    Good diary, thanks!

    Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by maybeeso in michigan on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 02:03:05 PM PST

  •  Mitt has never worked a day in his life (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The grouch

    He's never built anything anyone could use, never contributed one iota to the pool of goods and services that is our economy.

    His "wealth" comes from shuffling paper ownership in clever ways to siphon paper spending power from the people who DO work. Who have to work more and more to build Mitt's gold-plated gated-community entitlement before they can build anything for themselves. OR for their own communities.

    The fact that the corporate media will portray parasites like Romney as contributors, while treating schoolteachers and janitors working full time like lazy freeloaders, because they're barely compensated enough to pay taxes makes me see red.

    Who are the real freeloaders indeed? This country needs a good smack upside the head to remind it who's working and who's coasting here.

  •  moorem - you are using bad examples (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    erush1345, valion

    Nearly all your examples, maybe with the exception of highways, relate to state and local services and taxes. Rich people already pay higher property taxes and gasoline taxes which if they are structured properly should cover the costs of local services. If states have income taxes the rich pay more, particularly in states like California where the top rate is 10.3% and capital gains are taxed at ordinary rates. If you are trying to make the case for higher marginal federal income tax rates for top earners (which I favor) you need to use different examples or a different template for your argument.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 02:14:26 PM PST

    •  What examples would you cite, then? (0+ / 0-)

      It's not just federal taxes that the rich are getting a break on, it's also state and local taxes. And our infrastructure in California is suffering for it. Because of Prop. 13, corporations are getting away with murder on property taxes. Disney, for example, is sitting on property valued at many millions of dollars (Disneyland, the studios), but the property tax rate is based on value assessed before 1978. Therefore Disney is a getting a free ride. Because of Prop. 13, we can't raise revenue without a 2/3 majority in the legislature, so Republicans can block any tax increase. So to get more revenue, the legislature is forced to rely on more regressive taxes, like sales and excise taxes. My overall point is that the wealthy and corporations use up much of the commons, and therefore, need to pay more taxes across the board. I'm not saying anything differently from what the UK and US Uncut movement has already said.

      "Behind every great fortune is a great crime." - Honore de Balzac

      by mooremusings on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 03:48:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  moorem - the rich pay high taxes in CA (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        erush1345, valion

        We have the third highest top income tax in the entire country, only Hawaii and Oregon at 11% are higher than California. The only benefit is if rich people have owned a home for a long time they have low property taxes. As the baby boomer generation starts to retire I fear you will see many of the 1% keep their low property tax California homes, but spend seven months a year in Nevada, or one of the other no income tax states, and therefore pay no California income tax. If you have significant income on just the California income tax savings you can completely fund a new mortgage on a second home if it becomes your primary residence for tax purposes.

        Proposition 13 was self inflicted by the politicians at the time it was passed. All the legislature had to do was pass legislation that gave seniors some way to stay in their homes when property taxes shot up in one of our many real estate booms. The politicians could have easily taken the air out of the pro-Prop 13 sails with some thoughtful legislation, but decided to ignore it instead. There is no support for a broad repeal of Prop 13, but a more targeted initiative that would very gradually bring commercial and industrial property up to a more market rate property tax might pass. There are no easy answers for California where the state budget ballooned during the dot com boom that provided a tax windfall and now has to downsize its state government and services.

        California had a super majority requirement to pass a budget for more than 100 years before the recent change that allowed for a budget by a majority. I don't think a majority of Californian's favor a change in the super majority rule for raising taxes, but in the redistricting the Dems may reach the super majority necessary to pass tax legislation. We shall see.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 06:35:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  A tired argument (0+ / 0-)

      The top rate of 10.3% in California kicks in for a couple at $2 million. I make a lot less than that and I'm willing to pay more to live in California than say, Tennessee where I could buy a house with land for $100k. I think if anyone who makes $2 million per year would actually go live in Nevada for 7 months JUST to avoid state tax they're going a bit over the top. How do they make that $2 million? If it's related to a job or business in CA, they can't really flee to NV and keep their income. They could do that if they live off investments. Still, I think if a person had enough investments to earn $2 million a year on it, they'd live where they want to without the tax consideration unless they are rabid about paying taxes. We certainly have seen people like that, but it's not normal. The same idea goes for the federal income tax and citizens expatriating, etc. to avoid US tax.

      Secondly, how many millionaires would do this and what would that add up to? I don't think we'd see the state budget crash because of it.

      And this, we're talking about after they've already been able to shelter a lot of income that low income people can't afford to do - like max out a 401K, etc.

      Of course, there are federal courts as well as state and municipal courts. I would agree here too that wealthy and business use the courts much more than the little people who can't afford an attorney to sue for their rights or contract enforcement, etc.

      I would also add that the low wages that so many people earn are only possible because of the public safety net. In effect, this is a subsidy to employers - generally the corporations and wealthier individuals (small business owners) although certainly not all small biz owners are wealthy.

      In other words, the very wealthy are often that way because half the employees in this country do not make a livable wage and who makes up for it? We do. We pay the housing subsidies and food subsidies just so those underpaid workers can survive.

      The Waltons each get their $6 billion per year in dividends and last year canceled health insurance coverage for the (probably a small percentage who qualified) employees. Who will pay when the employee shows up at the hospital emergency room with injury or illness? We do... either other patients, insurers, or taxpayers.

      As mentioned in the article, oil company owners and agribusiness owners are getting straight out subsidies from tax dollars!

      It's no coincidence that the country's economy has gone south along with the decreased progressiveness of the tax policies. And it's no coincidence that the more businesses have spent on lobbying the worse things get for most of us actual living, breathing humans.

      Sorry, I got on a rant here!

  •  'Cause the rich are stingy and average (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The grouch

    Americans are generous. But, what's really irksome is that stingy people, irrespective of whether they've actually accumulated a lot of money, think people are stupid when they're generous.
    It's not enough that they cheat; they like to think they've put something over on people. That's what that smirk is about.

    People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

    by hannah on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 02:18:48 PM PST

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