The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Taxed

One of the great literary stories is the relationship—sometimes strained, often competitive—between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. Arguably America’s two greatest novelists when that sort of stature meant something.

Fitzgerald—literary posterity judges him to be the better writer in terms of after-life reputation—was a man fascinated by the lifestyles of the rich and famous and wrote the best book ever written about the American dream of money and success, “The Great Gatsby.”

According to the oft-told tale, Fitzgerald one day breathlessly announced to Hemingway his great discovery. “Ernie,” he was supposed to have said “the rich are different from you and me.” “Yes,” Hemingway was supposed to have replied, “they have more money.”

But oh, how much more money. Even Hemingway might have been baffled and not a little awed by the chasm between the very rich and those with considerably less. Hemingway would no doubt retain his irreverent and realistic attitude about such matters. F. Scott, after downing a drink, might have sat down and written “The Great Gatsby.” Or “The Great Ecclestone.”

One of the great contemporary mysteries, it seems to me, is the absolute worship of the super-rich and the great, rolling-in-profit corporations on the part of the lock-step GOP. The great negotiations or roll overs on raising the debt ceiling will result in a temporary lift of the ceiling, so as to avert an unimagined disaster, or a comprehensive settlement that President Obama and House Speaker John “Weeping Willow” Boehner, the golfing partners, are said to be working toward (probably not), or a default whose consequences people are starting to have nightmares about.

But all this is happening in a flattened economy that isn’t quite a depression but is depressing to average folks trying to pay their mortgage, find a job, or put gas in their tanks and food in their mouths. And yet, all the GOPs, the rank and filers, the leaders, most especially Mr. No-Way-But-My-Way-And-No-Taxes Eric “The Whip” Cantor, and even more especially, the lemmings of the tea party running toward the cliff with moral certitude insist, scream, shout it from the highest hills, that there will be no tax raises, especially on the rich or on corporations. And closing a loophole is: a tax increase. A tax break on private jets is: a tax increase.

But wait. There’s more. Mitch McConnell in the Senate calls such increases “job killers.” Silly us. We thought jobs were being killed in GE’s overseas banks, which allows that company to pay fewer taxes than I do. We thought outsourcing is a job killer practice. We thought targeting public employees for firing and layoffs was job killing. Nope. Regulating corporations with silly stuff like conforming to environmental rules or safe rules or foods safety, those are job killers.

Where do GOP rank and file members-some of them born in bosom of the American People without a silver spoon or any other utensil in their mouths are trying to sell us their belief that corporations and the very, very rich have the best interests of the American people in mind. Reagan thought so: he gave us trickle-down economics which conjured up a picture of millions of Americans waiting (in vain) for the financial leftovers from Wall Street to trickle down to Main Street.

As former President Bill Clinton noted recently, those days are long gone. American corporations are multi-nationals, beholden not to country, community or the American people, but only to profit and shareholders.

Sure, there are anomalies like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, American citizens and world citizens. But many are a lot like Petra Ecclestone, who, thanks to her billionaire dad bought Candy Spellings’ Hollywood mansion for$150 million after already owning a $90 million home in London. She got her money the old fashioned way—she asked Daddy for it and he gave it to her. I believe she is selling her own brand of bags to keep her hand in.

Think of those sums. They could keep Minnesota running for a few days, to say the least, save the lives of thousands starving in Somalia. You get the drift. No trickle down here. Where is Madame Defarge when you need her?

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Thu, 28 Aug 2014 11:07:33 -0400

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