Thursday, September 23, 2010


Gather round, my friends. I'm gonna lay a story on you. A mea culpa.  I've slammed the Tea Party folks for their sudden interest in deficit spending and "taking our country back" now that a black man happens to be President. No one gave a shit when Bush was borrowing like mad to fund two wars, huge tax cuts for millionaires, and shameless handouts to the health insurance industry in the guise of Medicare expansion. Let's not forget that the biggest growth in government expenditure was the creation of the largely useless Department of Homeland Security, who still managed to send visas to the dead 9/11 terrorists 6 months after they were formed. So come on, this is not about deficit spending.
But I can understand this lashing out at the Other that drives people to go to town hall meetings and clamor for policies that don't benefit them at all, but benefit people making $500,000 or more a year. They're not stupid, they're misguided and angry. And I've been there. I have a confession to make. I've always questioned authority and believed what my grandfather said, that the Republican party is for the rich, and the Democratic party is for the working man. But I apologize. I voted for Ralph Nader in 2001, which helped user in George W. Bush as President. That's not so bad, but I voted for him against Kerry, and fell for those Swiftboat ads. That's how Madison Avenue got us to put a draft dodging rich boy in over a guy who actually fought in a war even though he was against it.
I also purchased not one, but two books by Anne Coulter. Until she tried to rewrite history and make a drunken Senator McCarthy look like he saved us from the Communist menace, she had me going. I had fallen in with the wrong crowd. Negative people, who despite doing quite well, blamed poor people and minorities for that big chunk of money that went to the government every paycheck. Their BMWs, garages full of British sports cars, houses in the suburbs were not enough, you see. "It is not enough that I succeed; others must fail." Gore Vidal said that, and I think that is part of what twists the guts of privileged folks and makes them blame "the government." Because is having a BMW and a McMansion enough, when some low-class minority can still move in next door with a Lexus? How am I supposed to feel good about myself?
And eventually, I made enough money to fall for it. The devil's greatest trick isn't convincing the world he doesn't exist, it's convincing the middle class they should worry about taxes on people making over $500,000 a year. Some day, you might inherit more than $3.5 million dollars, and the estate tax will burn you! See, poor folks fall for the "all you need is a dollar and a dream" lottery bullshit; middle class people fall for the carrot on a stick of someday, like Horatio Alger, a cigar-chomping billionaire will recognize our hard work and promote us to VP, and then we'll have to pay luxury tax on that yacht. And damn it, why did we have to vote Democratic when we were younger? I could've saved $5,000 in taxes on that boat!

Look in the mirror. Chances are, you will never be a millionaire. Get over it. Even if you save a million dollars, you'll never be in the same club as the aristocrats trying to do away with estate taxes so they can have generation after generation of wealth without having to contribute to the society that allowed them to thrive. Civilization costs money. If you can walk down the street without being mugged, it may not be because there's a cop on the corner, but because people aren't desperate enough to risk robbing you.  That is what we call the Social Contract, and it is not socialism. It is what we get in return for accepting the yoke of government. Now sometimes that yoke can feel heavy. When it does, I like to watch an old Western to see what can happen when that yoke is removed. I fell for Libertarianism for a while, too. But when my gun is all that keeps you from stealing my lunch money, all you need is a bigger gun to take it. Sure, we like to think our hearty, pioneer neighbors would rush to our defense, but in real life, John Wayne gets shot by the rich rancher's violent thugs and we all get to live in little fiefdoms. In modern times, you get Somalia. So thanks, I'll gladly deposit 28% of my income to ensure the Humongous from The Road Warrior isn't outside my door with a loudspeaker.
A tax on people who are bad at math.
Sure, some is wasted. Some gets spent on wars I don't want, some gets spent helping McDonald's set up in Pakistan, some gets given to people who are disabled, but could probably hold down a job, some gets to unemployed workers who make more than they would taking a job at minimum wage. Most of it keeps the roads safe, the water clean, and the lights on. But in the end, we take it all for granted. After all, we're entitled to it, aren't we?

© 2010 Tommy Salami


Peter said...

But when my gun is all that keeps you from stealing my lunch money, all you need is a bigger gun to take it.

That's a good line, right there.

I need a bigger gun! ;)

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