Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Taxing the worst of the One Percenters

The far right’s brain eventually produced the idea that America’s biggest problem is a Kenyan-born Hawaiian racist. That message was eventually replaced by a more subtle notion: the Hawaiian is destroying job creators.  
The political divide now may be less personal and more about the idea of having ideas. However, the suggestions in circulation are not much better than the crudest slogans of the Occupy Movement and the Tea Partiers.
Conservatives now are not only political optimists—an historical perversion—they believe you can bake into the US constitution a no-tax increase amendment and still finance the greatest country, with the biggest government, with the biggest military in the world, for decades into a tumultuous future.
Social democrats, who lead in the polls in France, hold the balance of power in Ontario and are pushing Obama in the Democrat Party and are convinced the ticket to power is to raise new taxes on millionaires.
They reminisce about the tax rates of the 1950s. Social democrats and liberals—the champions of the mandatory social safety net and the students on the Freedom Buses who knew that fellow white Americans were itching to beat them up at the next stop—now see America’s problems in the vaults of the worst of the One Percent.
A 75% levy on millionaires in France and a 2% surcharge on those making incomes over half a million in Ontario will not violate Charter rights on either continent, immediately enrich real estate markets in London and New York, or kill human ingenuity.
However, along with risking economic growth, these proposals also trivialize the message of social democracy in society as a whole. Relations below the one percent—between public and private workers, pensioners and young people, the poor and the middle classes, union workers and service workers, interns and permanent employees, for instance—are not perfect. The just society isn’t waiting just one further grand bargain with the rich.
Of course, the more affluent can pay a little more, including those affluent who benefit most from public services. That perspective is central to Obama’s proposals thus far and will be articulated in any deal he reaches with the Republicans after the November elections.
However, it’s escapist pandering to suggest that tax reform is only about the rich or that the vast lobby industry of the 20th century didn’t carve out privileges for groups across society that society as a whole not now afford.
You’d have thought the slogan “We’re the 99Percenters” was too smug to be taken seriously. Yet, it seems to be excusing equally smug policy.
Nevertheless, it is a slogan nice people could have waved in the 1930s, people with leaders selling the idea that others—in some other sinful city—were the source of their misfortune and salvation.

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