This past Monday we celebrated our tradition of Labor Day. This holiday is intended to reflect upon and honor the hard work and honest wages of Americans who serve their employers in the caverns of huge and impersonal bureaucracies, toil with their sweat and back-breaking energy to plant and harvest the food we eat, assemble the precision equipment and machines used to make the products we consume, inspire and encourage our youth, care for our needy and provide the fuel that allows big businesses to flourish. All these efforts comprise the backbone of America and the engine of our economy.
Reviewing the numbers provided by credible researchers from all political perspectives, the one thing that is clear is that the Bush Administration and Republican policies in general care little, if anything, for the working people who make this country great. From the middle class that has experienced a decrease in its net spendable income, to the poor who see no hope at all, the failure of the Republicans to try to lift the lot of the overwhelming majority of Americans is stunning in its neglect and indifference. While the top 1% or “earners” have seen their incomes increase an average of 22%, the median household income fell 2.7% from 2000 to 2005.
Rather than let the Republican spin-machine manipulate these numbers in their misleading boasts about economic prosperity, what we see today in America is the massive expansion of the income divide, fueled by policies than encourage big corporations to renege on their pension commitment to their workers, push people into part-time work so they don’t have to pay overtime, reduce or cancel health insurance for their employees and otherwise scoop up profits that should be shared with their workers. They have successfully shifted their policies to give bigger paychecks and fatter retirements to their uppper eschelon management and CEO’s.This intentional shift to serve multi-national corporations and their greed have generated policies that have made the road so tough for working families to keep up, let alone move forward.
The Republican policies simply shift who the tax-collector is: It’s EXXON/MOBIL and SHELLwho tax us now in the form of unconscionable profits, BLUE CROSS and SECURE HORIZONS for health care. The new taxes are the uncontrolled increase in insurance premiums. Unlike our traditional taxes, however, where the money goes to provide services and and critical functions like fixing our roads, educating our children and providing public safety and firefighting protection, the Republican taxes go into the pockets of fat-cat CEO’s who have seen their incomes increase hundred-fold while the poor working stiff has seen his or her income stagnate and buying power diminish.
Today we pay less into our public coffers so services are diminished while we pay more into corporate coffers because Republicans like George Bush and Arnold Schwarzeneggerare more concerned with their corporate contributors than the citizens of our country.
Let’s call it like it is: The Republican tax. Where your hard earned money goes out the door to pay the ever-increasing prices at the gas pump; the increase in health care insurance; the increases in fees and tuition at our colleges and universities and what do we get in return?
Should there be any doubt about that, just take a look at the Governor’s veto of the very important SB 840 by Senator Sheila Kuehl which would have made health insurance more available to all Californians by cutting out the horrendous profits of the health insurance industry today. But Governor Schwarzenegger depends on those very insurance giants to fund his campaigns-whether for his ill-conceived Special Election in 2005 or his shameless pandering effort to win re-election this coming November. He’s not going to abandon them for the public good and demonstrated it so clearly with his misleading and sophomoric excuse for a veto of this important health care for all plan proposed by progressive champion Sheila Kuehl. (More on this issue in a later blog entry)
When the average American family has trouble keeping up it is no wonder that people react so harshly to the notion of “more taxes”. The Republican policies of supporting and encouraging corporate greed and lack of social responsibility have simply changed who the tax-collector is: In corporate controlled Republican leadership, we’re now paying taxes to the likes of BIg Oil, Big Insurance and the Halliburtons of the world. But unlike taxes to the government, which is reponsible for the GENERAL WELFARE and the PUBLIC, these taxes go into the pockets of the CEO’s and Republican FAT CATS who then pay over a small tithe to the Republican Party to keep these policies and profits possible.
When we pay taxes to the government, we receive services in exchange, services like public education, public safety, our roads and freeways, our health-care safety net, services to our seniors and disabled who are unable to independently care for themselves, for research into disease and technology-often partnered with the private sector, job-training and opportunities for our young so that they can strive to live the American dream; environmental protection and enforcement of our laws to keep our air and water quality healthy for our families, to preserve open space and be responsible stewards of the land, to enforce our laws through an honest and efficient judicial system among many, many other desired and critical services to maintain our democracy and way of life.
So let’s stop talking about more taxes; let’s talk about who is taxing us: The Republican policies of encouraging and supporting ever higher prices and profits for the already well-paid industries that know no bounds. Make no mistake, profit is not the enemy, it’s the greed, the unrelenting push to make more to feed the insatiable corporate mentality that says more for the rich and less for the working people who make and buy these necessities.
At the very least, let’s make the biggest and richest among us-from Corporate America to the top 1% who hold the personal wealth in this country pay their fair share so the services and programs that provide the hope and opportunity for the other 99% of us are available—a quality public education, affordable and accessible health care for all, a healthy and sustainable environment and an economy that allows all who work hard and play by the rules have a chance to reach for that brass ring we call the American Dream.