The Coastal Post - September 1999

Sex, Death and Taxes

By Frank Scott

The basic underpinnings of our economic system involves the transfer of money from the working majority to an investor minority, and the tax system plays a major role in that transfer. The proposed Republican tax cut amounts to even more of the same transfer of wealth to that minority, with almost nothing for the vast majority.

Polls show that taxpayers seem to understand, and would rather use an alleged surplus of dollars for social spending. Unlike their leaders, they believe that serving society is better than praying that the rich will invest their new money in ways that benefit the common folk.

The Democrats wisely oppose this Republican hustle, but both wings of the corporate party protect a tax structure that is a foundation for much that is wrong with society.

Political support for this foundation means protecting the private right to create massive amounts of profitable garbage, while leaving the public to absorb the loss in garbage disposal. The tax system ensures the preservation and expansion of great wealth and the creation of waste at the expense of ordinary workers, who are indoctrinated to feel as one with the rich in antagonism towards the IRS.

Opposition to taxes is nearly universal, with almost all believing the government is robbing them, no matter how small or large an amount it takes from their earnings. For some, taxes are only justified to finance a military that kills foreigners and thereby protects market forces and strengthens the global dictatorship of the investor class.

Hatred of taxes is put to good use by politicians who scream about any public spending that might thin the fat wallets of their supporters. This bias is usually echoed by the great mass of citizens. Few of us, right wing, left wing or no wing, want to pay taxes, and we do anything, inside or outside the law, to beat the tax system.

It is especially sad to see this contradiction acted out by the people who understand that government should mean social responsibility. Still, they look for ways to make deductions and play with money the way the big guys do, in order to lower their tax payments. Anti-government types do it with even more vigor, but the motivation is the same: We hate giving government our money, because few of us feel that government really represents us. And most of us are correct.

The tax system will remain out of control as long as government is a handmaiden of wealth, and people are alienated from it for that reason. On national election days, citizens are usually left choosing between the political party of rich pimps, or the political party of very rich pimps. There is no love lost between the two wings of the investor party, especially when it comes to the tax system.

What is to be done? There are numerous proposals to make the system fairer by taxing the small minority who have been reaping the profits of the current boom, at the expense of the great majority who have, at best, only the illusion of progress.

Taxing global and real estate transactions, vast inheritance, unearned income and wealth itself, could help bring about economic justice. These are important ideas discussed in narrow circles of tax reformers, social critics and intellectuals. But they need to be presented to a general public that too often has its mind occupied by a media obsessed with celebrity death, personal aberrations, or meaningless political campaigns.

As long as our corrupt tax structure is maintained, corporate and individual wealth will grow at the expense of the majority .

Ordinary citizens are bombarded with propaganda about the evils of social service and the need for personal responsibility. This helps create a hatred of government and taxes, and a worship of individual endeavor that excludes any notion of social responsibility or sense of community. Except, of course, when we are bombing and killing foreigners.

The Republican tax plan makes an already criminal system worse, honoring wealth, inheritance and investor power even more than is already the case. Democratic opposition is welcome, but what we really need is a restructured tax system that places the greatest responsibility at the top of the financial pyramid. The Democratic party is not likely to bring that about, since it, like the Republicans, is bought and paid for by those at the top of that pyramid.

We need fairness and justice in tax payments if we want to achieve real democracy. A focused struggle on changing the tax system could help bring a majority together, instead of continuing to separate it into ever smaller segments that make it easy for the divide and conquer tactics of corporate capital .

Most Americans want a morally decent and fair society, contrary to the one in which they live. They understand that ours is a nation of wider disparities in wealth than ever before, with a minority living in gated communities and enjoying affluence only dreamed of by the majority. Most of that second group maintains a level of creature comforts only by sustaining massive debt and living beyond its means, suffering all manner of psycho-spiritual problems in the process.

The alienation, depression and ethnic hatreds running rampant in our society are not simply due to taxation, but attention to the issue of tax control could bring us closer to achieving peace and harmony, and is worth at least the attention given gun control.

The inequitable tax system offers an underpinning for the social degradation that threatens all of our futures. It also offers a great opportunity for a majority movement to bring about desperately needed democratic change.

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