Sunday, February 28, 2016

I Think I May Have Actually Found Something I Like About Donald Trump

And I can't say it was easy.  The man is a blowhard, a buffoon, a bigot, a bankrupt, several other things that begin with the letter B, and many things (none of them good) that begin with the other 25 letters of the English alphabet.  His virtues, such as they may be, do not exactly announce themselves. But I came across this item the other day, and, for a few moments at least, I took a few moments to give the Donald a little moment of private respect. Then, of course, I remembered all the bad stuff, and I put him back at the top of my S-list.

Still, it's worth dwelling on the point that Trump made about how raising income taxes gives the rich an incentive to invest and create jobs.  I've been making the exact same point for years, here in this blog and elsewhere.  And, while it seems like an obvious one to me, it apparently isn't so obvious to anyone else except Trump and me.  After all, he's the only person besides me that I've ever heard making it.

As for Dean Baker, co-director of the progressive Center for Economic and Policy Research, who is quoted in the same article as being skeptical about Trump's/my point, shame on him.  If it is not obvious to Mr. Baker as to why higher income taxes on the wealthy would stimulate investment, well, let me explain (as I have before, and suspect I will have to do again).

You may recall so-called "welfare reform" from the Bill Clinton years.  Its essence was to impose lifetime limits on benefit amounts, along with work/job training requirements to get those benefits. The theory behind this inhumane approach to society's most defenseless people is that no one is poor unless it's their own fault.  No one.  If a person is poor, that is merely an outward manifestation of some deep moral weakness.  It's therefore only fair that helping them take the form of punishment.

This perspective, to use an excessively dignified word for it, is sadly rooted in our country's Puritan heritage.  Puritan theology linked holiness with wealth, the latter being viewed as a consequential reward for spiritual purity.  Poor people couldn't be trusted with anything, including money, because of the fact that they were poor, thereby ensuring that they would continue to be poor ... and that the rich, by virtue of their theoretical goodness, would continue to be rich whether or not the were in fact actually good.

We've seen what 30-plus years of this kind of thinking, translated into public policy by Republicans with the indirect and direct help of Democrats, has done for this country.  The vast majority of us, whether virtuous or not, are sinking further and further into poverty, while the investing class that almost brought this country to its knees with its casino-style "goodness" rolls along merrily, without a worry in the world.  Why should they have any?  They haven't just raided the hen house, they've bought the farm, and made the rest of us pay the mortgage.

Tax cuts for the rich haven't trickled down into prosperity for the rest of us.  They've trickled overseas into tax shelters and sweatshops.  They've expatriated our money, our businesses and our dreams for a better future.  Are these the actions of the virtuous?

This is America.  All of us are supposed to be equal in the eyes of the law and each other.  If poor people can be forced to justify the money they receive, the rich should be subject to the same compulsion.  Don't just give them money.  Force them to put it to work.  So that America can work again for all of us.

No comments: