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Tax Cuts for the Rich at the Expense of Everyone Else

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Is it Naivete or Stupidity?

You can tell that a person has entirely too much time on their hands when they can read extracts from Census Bureau reports. I found myself doing just that after reading an article in the New York Times the other day. 

The article in the Times was about President Bush's undiminished popularity in spite of the lack of finding any WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction - in case you were part of the Wintering Over party in Antarctica for the past several months) evidence in Iraq. Or the continuing climb in numbers of casualties among U.S. military personnel now that 'major combat' has been concluded in that same, aforementioned country. More soldiers have now died in Iraq than did during the first Gulf War.

Also, in that same newspaper, was an opinion piece about what the most recent Bush tax cut was going to mean to the taxpayers. Basically, the top 5% were going to make out very well indeed. The middle 50% didn't do too badly - maybe as much as $2 or $3 a day over the course of a year in Federal income savings. The lower 20%: well, they don't pay any taxes anyway, so they didn't realize any savings at all. These bits of information led me to the Census Bureau reports. 

Did you know the median income (half the population makes more - half makes less) in 2001 was $42,228? That figure is 2.2% lower than in 2000. The top 20% received - I refuse to say 'earned' - $83,500 or more in that same year. The lowest 20% earned $17,970 or less. Overall, 75% of all households in this country made less than $75,000 in 2001. If you accept these numbers - and I, for one, can't find cause to dispute them - it means that of a total population of about 285,000,000 (plus or minus), approximately 214,000,000 managed to survive on $75,000 or less (remember half the population made LESS than $42,228 in 2001). These figures led me to another thought - stream of consciousness.

During the Election Campaign of 2000 candidate Bush courted very ardently the various veteran organizations, promising it was way past time to recognize the value of these veterans' contributions to America. He vowed that his administration would right all the wrongs of the past. The 'Compassionate Conservative' valued the sacrifices and dedication of these gallant men and women and would ensure they would become a priority. Then, after the election, we ran into 9/11, Afghanistan and Iraq. All the promises for past veterans were forgotten and currently serving members of the armed forces were told that they would become a priority.

Pay scales would be updated to better reflect the level of skills needed for the modern military. These men and women were promised greater tax breaks while serving either in combat areas, or in potentially dangerous assignments. They were told their families would be taken care of. Reservists who were called to active duty were told their jobs would still be there when they got back. Well, guess what? The tax-break for combat duty was deleted because it would cost too much and adversely effect the tax cuts. Tax breaks for the military would reduce the tax breaks available for the wealthiest 1%.

Monies proposed to increase pay were recently dropped because of a reduction in 'spending guidelines' of 3 billion dollars. The first fiscal casualties in this 'War on Terrorism' are apparently the ones being called upon to give the most. All those jobs that were being held for all those Reservists called to active duty? Many of them have vanished into the 2.3 million jobs that have been lost in the past two years. Thirty thousand jobs gone in the past month alone! Many junior enlisted people supplement their incomes with Food Stamps and Aid to Families with Dependent Families.

Congress has found plenty of time to pass 'Tax Reform' measures that obscenely benefit the wealthiest Americans while giving short shrift to the majority of Americans trying to make ends meet. The 'Compassionate Conservatives' in Washington, D.C. and in several state capitols, are so intent on 'cutting waste' they have relegated vast segments of our population to subsistence living with no avenue of escape. These 'Representatives of the People' seem to have lost sight of the principles that made this Nation great. I remember a quote from President Kennedy: "And my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you, ask what can you do for your country." Those currently in power, at every level, seem intent on only two things: staying in power and getting richer.

What we need is for our elected representatives to, once again, truly represent us! We need people in office, at every level, who will tell us the truth - that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Sometimes truths are unpleasant. You get what you pay for. If we want good roads, good schools, safe buildings, laws that don't discriminate, a secure old-age and medical benefits for those of limited means, et cetera, we need to pay for them!

In the Navy the Seabees had a saying, "We have done so much, with so little, for so long, that we now can do anything with nothing." That is meant to be a little cynical, and probably with tongue firmly stuck in cheek, but it is true of every state and local agency. They are under-funded, under-staffed, over-worked and under-appreciated. Un-funded and under funded mandates come from Washington, D.C., stressing state budgets. Conservatives cut taxes for the wealthiest and increase sales and 'sin' taxes (regressive taxes that impact the lowest economic levels much more than any others - but that's another subject). The results are more and more federal, state, county and local employees are asked to do more with less and for the same, or less money (when pay scales are frozen it is, effectively, a pay cut when inflation is added to the equation). The 'Compassionate Conservatives' have consistently demonstrated they only have compassion for those who fund their election bids. There are no safety nets for anyone - only golden parachutes for those who can afford them.

Whatever happened to being in public service to serve the public? When did doing one's best for the greatest number become a dirty joke? I didn't have a great deal of love for President Kennedy - listening to the cries for help coming from the 'liberators' who landed in a swamp near the Bay of Pigs while we (U. S. Navy ships just over the horizon) did nothing cured that - but I respected his ideals. The questions I will close with are these: In view of the stand taken on a woman's right of choice, how can any woman, with an ounce of self respect, vote Republican? In view of the betrayal of all those promises to veterans from all eras - including the current one - can any of those vets vote Republican? In view of their attacks on our privacy rights under the Constitution can any thinking individual vote Republican? As for minorities, do you really think that you are better off with Republicans in control? Are the American people that naïve, or are we as dumb as the politicians seem to think we are? Or, worse yet, are we that apathetic?

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Author info

Gil  Beyer Gil Beyer A 21 year Navy veteran, lived in Bonner County for over 30 years, Past Commander of the Priest River DAV Chapter and admitted news junkie.

Tagged as:

veterans, taxes, income, Iraq War, Sunnyside Wanderings, Census, WMD

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