America’s Fiscal Potentate

To listen to Americans and to read their history, one would believe that they live in a utopian democracy, where the voice of the people prevents autocrats and despots from attaining power. This version of history is highly fantasized and not in accordance with the facts.

Conservatives love to claim that Democrats are beholden to special interest groups. These groups include, and this is only a small sample; African-Americans, Hispanics, single women, students, LGBT, college graduates, the poor, lawyers, and union members. Women in particular are more likely to vote for a Democrat than a Republican.

Taken as a group, these are not special interests, this represents a solid majority of the American population. When people are questioned about specifics, lets say, taxes, they tend to favor Democratic over Republican solutions to the countries problems. A majority of Americans, by a large margin, favor raising taxes on the very wealthiest Americans.

This reality is largely ignored by the Republican power machine. For decades they have had a single solution to all the nations ills, and those of any other nation. The solution is to cut taxes. Not to cut taxes for all people, but just for those at the very top, the very wealthiest. The very idea of a progressive tax is anathema to the conservative mindset.

The wealthy live in a delusional world where they should not have to support the country that made it possible for them to attain great wealth. They are incapable of acknowledging that the poor and middle class created that wealth. No single person, living in a wealthy nation creates great wealth on their own.

They do it with the help of an army of people, from the construction workers that build their corporate headquarters, the roads that allow their goods to get to market, the teachers that educate their current and future employees. The electric grid built is by workers to bring power to their enterprise, workers lay pipelines to bring water to their plants, tilers lay the floors in their outlets, glaziers put in panes of glass in retail stores, and carpenters build cabinets and counters.

For companies like Microsoft, thousands of programmers, designers, engineers, analysts design and build their systems. Tens of thousand of workers in dozens of nations build circuit boards, design integrated circuits, come up with creative ways to present the products, from touch screens to wireless devices. Bill Gates may have captained the ship, as did Larry Ellison from Oracle, or Steve Jobs from Apple, but it was the workers and innovators that brought those products to market.

Bringing a product to market is worthless without the outlets and store workers, but most of all, that work is worthless without consumers, people who buy the products, and demand more innovation. Without the consumer, corporations would be left with piles of inventory rotting on factory floors.

The wealthy believe that their contribution to society is so much more important to society than all their employees, which justifies the remuneration of someone like Larry Ellison, who rakes in 1000 times what the average worker earns. No-one ought to control that much wealth, regardless of their talents, and I challenge anyone to say otherwise.

The point of all this is to say that the wealthy believe that their contribution to society is to create jobs, which comes as a result of their enormous wealth. Wealth on its own does not create jobs for people. If I owned a hundred gold bars and left them in my closet, the net job creation of all that wealth would be zero. If I leave my wealth sitting in a bank account somewhere, no net jobs are created.

If the wealthy sit on their wealth, and do not spend it, jobs do not magically appear. People, consumers, employees create jobs. There has to be demand in the economy before new jobs can be created. Corporations are not going to hire people to sit around waiting for customers. Those customers must exist, with the wherewithal to afford the goods on offer.

The point of all this is to say that tax cuts for the wealthy do nothing to stimulate the economy. It is far more efficient to put money in the hands of people who are more likely to spend it, and to educate people who will take those jobs requiring an education. It is a far better option to make life better for the poor and middle class, since millions of people spending on goods and services are far better than a few well-to-do people spending, even at high prices.

Higher taxes on wealth do far more to redistribute wealth than allowing it to accumulate at the top. Few people would suggest that taxes become so onerous that people no longer want to take risks. It is the quantity of wealth concentrated at the top that is far more important.

People should be rewarded for taking risks, but we should also remember that for the poorer classes, every day is a risk, whether they have work or not. They have the risk of losing their job, being fired, laid off, outsourced or downsized. Their risk in many ways is far greater than for those that are already wealthy, or on their way.

This brings me to Grover Norquist. He has essentially blackmailed conservatives into signing pledges that do not allow them to raise taxes under any circumstances. Any tax increase, no matter how innocuous is automatically vetoed by those that signed his pledge.

When voters go to the polls, we expect that our representatives will represent our interests. It appears that with the Norquist pledge, representatives represent the wishes of Norquist and his irrational stance on taxes. The wealthy will never have their taxes raised regardless of the threat to the nation.

Conservatives haul out the deficit and wave it around, and yet they will do nothing to cut that deficit. What they want is for the poorest Americans, those who cannot afford it, to finance the debt and allow the wealthy to continue their lavish lifestyles.

By this measure, it is clear that it is Grover Norquist that runs this country, or at the very least, obstructs every reasonable piece of legislation that runs through the Congress. This man is single-handedly destroying the Middle Class, the very poorest Americans, those that cannot fight back. It is easy to pick on the most vulnerable because they have nothing to fight with.

There are legions of lobbyists and legislators in Washington willing to support the wealthy, but very few that have the courage to stand up to the wealthy in support of the poorer classes. It is time that Norquist and his pledge was put to bed. He should not be the person running this Congress. That is up to the people, the voters of this country.

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