Monday, August 1, 2011


To answer the question I posed yesterday: NO, taxation is NOT theft. The original Tea Party was a legitimate protest against taxation without representation, which IS a form of theft, yes. Ever since the American Revolution we've had taxation WITH representation, which is NOT a form of theft, but part of a social contract whereby a fraction of national wealth is pooled for the common good. In the past, the affluent recognized that they owed a large part of their success to opportunities made possible ONLY through policies instituted by the US government, a government strong enough to both encourage and protect individual initiatives, innovations and investment. (Compare, for example, with Mexico.) Today, many of our wealthiest citizens and corporations prefer to believe they did it all on their own, and owe nothing to anyone. Today's "Tea Party" is a self-serving attempt by such wealthy and powerful private interests to manipulate certain naive segments of the public, with the goal of weakening the only force strong enough to stand up to them: the federal government.

The real problem in this country is NOT government spending -- anemic in literally every area except defense -- but inequality. And not simply inequality, which has always been a given of life in the USA, but drastic inequality, not only of wealth but of political clout, which seriously threatens our democratic system. Too many in this country worry about money in the wrong way. Instead of worrying about government expenditures on "entitlements" and other beneficial projects, they should be worried about the kind of potentially destructive power that can be wielded by someone with a billion dollars to spend supporting his or her own selfish interests. It is not enough to force such individuals to pay their fair share in taxes. What is of greatest importance at this moment in history is to do everything possible to save democracy itself from their potentially destructive influence.

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