Season of Taking

December 2005


In this holiday season, some people think more about their own rewards than of their obligation to their fellow men. Interestingly, many of these are the same people who make the biggest hoopla about Christian charity.

Our present Federal legislature is an interesting animal. On the one hand they seem bound and determined to reduce federal spending and at the same time, they seem intent on increasing the federal deficit. There is a very simple and direct means of understanding this seeming contradiction: where there is profit, spending is profligate, and where there is no profit, spending is curtailed.

This has a very pronounced effect upon the character and operation of government at every level. The programs that are consistently cut are those that benefit ordinary people. Those that are consistently added to benefit the wealthiest ten percent of the people.

Some legislators, those in favor of these practices, would accuse me of falling into the old error of evaluating their actions as class warfare. What is class warfare? It is a term used to describe the way in which groups of people operate in their own best interests. It is certainly not a new idea. Why is it called an error? Because some people do not wish to recognize the validity of any system of analysis that paints them in a bad light.

In fact, there is nothing erroneous about it. It is as plain and clear as gravity. Practically all legislators are extremely wealthy individuals -- it's hard to get elected to high office if you are not. When they vote for "tax cuts" they are giving themselves a raise. Recently, our federal legislators cut 100 billion dollars from programs that primarily benefit poor working people and then voted in 200 billion dollars in tax cuts, which overwhelmingly benefit the rich and super-rich.

When this is pointed out to them, they respond by saying that a majority of the American people have some investments, so giving investors tax breaks doesn't just benefit the wealthy few. However, if we talk about the vast majority of so-called investors, we see that most of them have a few thousand dollars invested, usually through some kind of retirement plan. For them, this tax cut amounts to the price of a nice lunch. For the super-rich investors, who represent 10% of the population, but 95% of the investment, these tax cuts amount to much more than the total household income of the average working person.

Then, of course, these legislators who just gave themselves a big, fat raise, will explain that this extra money they now have will benefit everybody because they will re-invest it and grow the economy. This is what Reagan called "trickle-down economics." While you have little or no health care, deteriorating public schools, less able fire and police services, disintegrating roads and other public services, they have excellent health care, private schools, better fire and police (if you think that these services are doled out equally to rich and poor, you haven't looked), excellent roads, and they don't care about most other public services (because they can afford to pay their own way). The "benefit" of economic growth means essentially that you will be able to get a second low-paying job more easily, to help make ends meet.

People who are living pay check to pay check are the last to benefit from any kind of economic boom. In the best of times, they get to put a little by for when times turn sour again. And when the boom goes bust, they get hit first and hardest. If you're in doubt about this, go ask a farmer, if you can find one.

In this season of giving, our legislators have replaced the simple idea of Christian charity, i.e. sharing, with a season of taking. They're taking from those that have little, often less than enough, and giving to themselves, who have more than they could ever need. The worst offenders are those that rant and rave the loudest about moral issues and family values. By their lack of integrity or any personal conviction, other than enlightened self-interest, they are enacting a morally bankrupt set of policies which will leave our government economically bankrupt by and by.

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