29 March 2010

Taxes will Save Us!

Are you incredulous, mouth agape, at this proposition? More TAXATION and MORE REPRESENTATION.

Okay, some background on this. Recently I got into a little back and forth on Facebook about Health Reform and capitalism and that devolved into the usual this and that about money and taxes and freedom and individual ruggedness...you know the standard rhetoric we seem stuck in as a "loop" of intentional divisive propaganda. Keep up the rhetoric and we keep up the division and we keep up the ignorance. Anyway, digressing per usual--my "antagonist" on FB makes a pointed reference to the creation of the Federal Reserve Bank in 1913 and the creation of "constant" income tax as revenue generation. (There had been other income tax assessments enacted but these had been temporary and primarily used as war funding as far as I can tell.) Now, this was a conspiracy point--wink wink--international banking community and the Fed keeps all our money and rules over us in this way...

Now, to be honest, I'm often a sucker for these theories and I tend to believe they have some plausibility simply because they often make surface sense but also because I believe money and power make a BFF relationship that seems sui generis (of course I don't know what that means but it sounds good when Sam Waterston says it). In other words, sure, people with money like their money and want to make more of it ad infinitum. So why not create a way to do this that is "untouchable" and "unknowable" by the folks who are paying for it?

Anyway--I don't need to credit that idea--I'm just not that interested in it--If it's true it's no shock--it's just another example that the books are always cooked.

And really, that's what I wanted to talk about (I think)...cooked books and perhaps the best way to throw some light on our economy and our government.


The US Treasury has a fact sheet on the history of taxation. Likely there are some omissions, likely there is bias, but here's what caught my eye:

Prior to the enactment of the income tax, most citizens were able to pursue their private economic affairs without the direct knowledge of the government. Individuals earned their wages, businesses earned their profits, and wealth was accumulated and dispensed with little or no interaction with government entities. The income tax fundamentally changed this relationship, giving the government the right and the need to know about all manner of an individual or business' economic life. Congress recognized the inherent invasiveness of the income tax into the taxpayer's personal affairs and so in 1916 it provided citizens with some degree of protection by requiring that information from tax returns be kept confidential.

Notice that--people did their business "without the direct knowledge of the government." Okay, you might say, if you're a staunch anti-tax, free marketer, those were surely the halcyon days! And maybe they were, but I doubt it. I mean, let's be sure to go back and find out what we can about life span and "general welfare" during this time before we conclude that capitalism and profit-making made this land the best of all lands for all citizens.

Interestingly, the paragraph prior to the one I quoted talks about how creating tax laws became the way to catch those operating illegal businesses (Capone!)--ALL income is subject to taxation, and that includes income got illegally (that is frickin' fascinating if you ask me).

Anyway, more digressing. So, ultimately, what I'm getting at is that I think we should have more draconian tax measures against BUSINESS--against CORPORATIONS. Primarily so that we can see what they're doing. I'm very tired of loopholes--I'm very tired of off-shore accounts. I'm very tired of money earned on the backs of labor being moved outside of our public tax reach. In this way--if we can create a government that is truly interested in its people--then we can make use of taxes on business.

Because, if it's done right--don't we the people get to direct inquiries into these kinds of things via our representatives? (Yes, we need this to be restructured--no gerrymandering, etc.)

Now one argument that will shoot out of your mouth is that business, not wanting to be taxed, will move entirely off-shore thus hurting our economy. This sure seems possible and likely. Go figure. I guess they don't care about this nation and its citizens...only their money. Next argument: that's MY money you're "redistributing". There is no such thing as "my money" in a system that requires so many folks to be involved in the making of it. You are a pig if you think that way.

So, more taxes and no loopholes equal more sunshine on the dirty dealings of capital. Maybe not "more" taxation--but no sneaking out of it!

Okay, hit me with your derision. But do it with something factual if you can.


  1. This isn't a derision, but my recent example of AT&T. Because of the new healthcare bill they can no longer receive $1 billion free from the government towards their retirement plan. (http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/fastcompany/headlines/~3/o9fYr1-Eyqs/healthcare-bill-will-cost-att-1-billion-may-lead-to-cut-in-retiree-drug-coverage-whos-to-bla) So now they've cut prescription meds for all retirees. I think this proves your point. The loophole closed and it was the bottom line that mattered more than retirees. This sucks.

  2. Hey, a comment! I'm going to have to review that move by AT&T. I'm not sure what the consequence will be--does the reform bill have a way to manage that very move from the likes of corporate "citizens"?

  3. will give it some thought, and possibly post later, but what jumps out first is the logical fallacy ad hominem third paragraph from the bottom.

  4. Ultimately, who really pays for a corporate tax increase (or the closure of loopholes)? Is it not logical that the corporation simply passes any new cost, including increased taxes, in doing business on to the consumer? Or, withdraws benefits from current and past employees, like AT&T is doing, to improve the bottom line? Maybe I am pig to point that out, (seems a premature use of an Argumentum ad hominem), or a stereotypical capitalist pig at that. http://www.propagandacritic.com/articles/ct.wg.name.html The unintended consequence of cost of "see(ing) what they are doing" may be less employee benefits and more expensive products and services - and may not raise any additional tax revenue, to boot. If there is less tax revenue, then there is less to suckle by corporations and individuals. "Chappy" beat me to the punch.

  5. stepping right into my evil trap...pigs!

    Let me simply admit my fallacy and my ad hominem and ask that we move into--what is there to do?

    A bit tongue in cheek, this was intended to be.

    My assertion is that we need more public awareness of the machinery and motivations. Talking about the ways a change in taxation will simply create another way for corporations to pass on costs to consumers keeps us trapped in this kind of logic.

    I'm struggling to come to grips with inequalities. I'm struggling with people believing "they earn" things and have an "earned" value in a system of economics and that that value is one necessarily comparative to others' value.

    I guess I'm a little tired of argument for argument's sake. I'd like to hear some responses that attempt to keep people in mind--and more importantly "the least well-off" among us.

    So, thank you for saying "taxes" aren't the answer; but what else?

  6. leg bit off from trap and will not return.

  7. sorry to offend. I'm simply asking for more investigation of current practices and perceptions. How do we examine the world that has given many of us the very mode of thinking we need to escape.

    What do you suggest to pull us out of of the world of Mike McConnells?


  8. okay, i'll bite. i paid about $25K in taxes last year. ouch. and i generally like my gov't, with a few exceptions. what ticks me off is abuses inside and outside the system. it abuses us (too much defense spending, not enough education spending) and we abuse it (medicare fraud, etc.). it's symbiotic. is there any absolute perfect combination of taxes and services, i'm not sure there is.

  9. these are very hard issues. Primarily because we either 1) trust that it's the best idea for government or 2) we just don't think about it anymore. I'm sure there are other reasons. I know that the city we lived in previously made very clear where our property taxes went--school district, water, parks, etc. Like a receipt for services. Our Federal taxes don't. So, why not an itemized receipt of where that 25k went?

    This is all tied tightly together. For instance, mentioning defense. Why am I required by law to support unjust wars via income tax? If money is speech (which apparently it is) then I'd prefer to say something else.

    So if taxes aren't the answer, and our system is prone to abuse, what can we do?

    We are too big in all respects to feel invested in our self-management. Too much government; too much business. We are all disenfranchised and feel "used"--we are simply a la the Matrix batteries to supply the state and the corporation with power. (cogs if we want to got to Marx)