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Phil's Liberal Rant of the Month - Conservatives, Taxation and the Constitution

Jan. 29, 2011 2:39 PM ET2 Comments
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One of our Members,  Tradinv1 said to Phil (as part of an ongoing debate in Member Chat last night):

Phil, Your argument about taxes being an appropriate method of wealth distribution makes sense.  Using Tax policy to give people and corporations reason to invest in things and people is a valid approach to government.  The problem in this country and probably others is that the people don’t trust the politicians to be good stewards of our money.  Look no farther than the last two years of poorly conceived stimulus.  Without recounting all the place discussed on this site where money could have been spent, the options for powerful economic change were ignored and the pandering to special interests continued.  I am not sure that this frustration can be labeled conservative or liberal.  I just cringe at the thought of giving more of my money to the government to administer.  
Phil's reply was very interesting so I (Greg) thought we'd share:

Trust/Trad – Ah but the lack of trust in Government is yet another washing of the common brain by the rich in order to weaken the Government (aka the Democratically Elected Will of the People who’s purpose is to balance out the inequities and represent the common good) so they are NOT able to tax and regulate efficiently.  They lobby to get pork projects approved and then they take out ads in the paper to stop pork projects – it’s a joke!  

The Koch brothers are having their big conservative gathering in Palm Springs this weekend and, of course, they are still looking to raise cash to stop climate legislation since the Koch’s make their money off polluting the air.  They are major funders of the Cato Institute.  One of their previous guest lists is here:

In 2006, Koch Industries owner Charles Koch revealed to the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore that he coordinates the funding of the conservative infrastructure of front groups, political campaigns, think tanks, media outlets and other anti-government efforts through a twice annual meeting of wealthy right-wing donors. He also confided to Moore, who is funded through several of Koch’s ventures, that his true goal is to strengthen the “culture of prosperity” by eliminating “90%” of all laws and government regulations. Although it is difficult to quantify the exact amount Koch alone has funneled to right-wing fronts, some studies have pointed toward $50 million he has given alone to anti-environmental groups. Recently, fronts funded by Charles and his brother David have received scrutiny because they have played a pivotal role in theorganizing of the anti-Obama Tea Parties and the promotion of virulent far right lawmakers like Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). (David Koch praised DeMint and gave him a “Washington Award” shortly after the senator promised to “break” Obama by making health reform his “Waterloo.”)

While the Koch brothers — each worth over $21.5 billion — have certainly underwritten much of the right, their hidden coordination with other big business money has gone largely unnoticed. 

The invitation to this gathering is as follows:

So, when you or other people tell me "Well, you know, Government is the problem" – I get a little riled up because, first of all, that’s like telling me 4 out of 5 dentists recommend Trident gum.  Do they?  Or have we just heard it so many times thanks to a Corporate-sponsored ad campaign that we kind of believe it?  The Conservative movement’s spending on lobbying and advertising dwarfs Trident’s ad budget by miles!  I love people who talk about freedom but tell you what to think…

Somebody once said:  "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."  That’s the Declaration of Independence and they are not talking about abolishing Government – just replacing the one that was essentially robbing from the poor to give to the rich.  There’s a reason Robin Hood is such an old tale – it’s been happening for thousands of years!  

So, a government should be instituted among Men – that’s a "self-evident" truth that you would think even the wildest Tea Partier wouldn’t deny.  The Declaration is a short document – we can assume they chose their words carefully.  The purpose was not to have no Government, not to have no taxes, but to "institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."  Not wealth and prosperity for the few but SAFETY and HAPPINESS and, dare I say, LIBERTY and JUSTICE for all.

How about the constitution?  The next time these crazy rebels got together to write a manifesto, what was the first paragraph they wrote in the first official document of the new nation they had fought for for a decade?  

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The general Welfare.  Not the General’s welfare!  Perhaps this is what mixes people up?  Now, what does it say in Article 1, section 2, paragraph 3?  

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.  

The intent is to tax based on population.  That population including 3/5 of your slaves.  Since slaves were property and clearly had no money – what does that mean?  It means that wealthy slave-owners would pay a tax equal to 60% of a citizen’s full tax burden for each slave he "employed." 

Section 8 is all about Taxes, Import Duties etc to pay Debts (we had them then too!).  The founding fathers thought it was a good idea to have tariffs.  They also thought we should have a Post Office and maintain roads.  They were in favor of promoting "the Progress of Science and useful Arts" but they wanted a 2-year limit on appropriations of money for war.  The intent there was that Congress would have to re-pass war funding every two years which would make it impossible for us to get into long-expensive and pointless wars.  I wonder what ever happened to that rule?  

So if you actually read the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (it’s only about 20 pages total!) – it’s pretty clear what principals this country was founded on and they weren’t "no Government."   The former colonists had just labored under a terrible Government for decades but that didn’t make them stupid enough to think Government, in and of itself, was a bad thing – that’s a new concept, that is being sold to you by rich people, who have no desire for anything that resembles "the general Welfare."

That’s because they are better at math than you are and they know that if they have 85% of the wealth already.  Anything that is actually voted on by an informed majority of the electorate is probably not going to go in their favor…

Great article on "Inequality in America" on the main page, by the way.  

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