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The Rich Must Have Nowhere To Hide

If I hear another word about austerity and the stupid fiscal cliff, I’m going to puke.

Let’s go off the fiscal cliff. At least it will raise taxes on the rich.

Any talk of government austerity is misplaced. The United States is the wealthiest nation on the planet. There is no logical reason that we should discuss starving our governmental institutions because of lack of money.

The lack of money and resources to fund government occurs because one or two percent of the country is not paying its fair share.

We all know that the rich have it so much better than the rest of us. We all understand that one percent of the people control more than 40 percent of the wealth in this country, a share that has been steadily rising since the Reagan “revolution.”

President Reagan’s “rising tide lifts all yachts” and its accompanying defeat of communism has brought our country to its knees. At least when the communist “menace” existed, capitalists paid their workers better to maintain the Horatio Alger/pull yourselves up by the bootstraps myth and buy out all subscriptions to equal distributions of wealth.

Today, civil society stands on the brink, and the catastrophe that is climate change may push us over the edge. I do not want to live in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. I love indoor plumbing, chocolate chip cookies, rock and roll and peaceful dispute resolution processes.

(I’d say I love the internet, but after listening to Julian Assange of Wikileaks this week discuss his fears that totalitarian governments will use the net to enslave humanity, and thinking about constitutional law scholar Glenn Greenwald’s descriptions of government spying and monitoring and harassing of dissidents, I am wary of the promise of liberation of certain technologies.)

No matter what we enjoy about 21st century living, the marvels of modern civilization demand infrastructure like water mains and gas lines and electrical generation and roads and bridges, as well as a functioning government and court system to maintain and regulate these niceties/necessities.

Yet the very institutions that secure not just running water, heat, and light, but some of the fundamental human rights of dignity like shelter and clothing and food for the less fortunate, are under attack from the wealthy. Denying tax revenue starves the government.

Grover Norquist, the conservative activist who promised to shrink government so much so he could drown it in a bathtub, this week seemed to get his comeuppance. Congressional Republicans staring into the fiscal abyss threatened to break from his Reagan-era “no new taxes” pledge.

But I fear the New Deal and our country’s health has suffered greatly. My friends do not believe Social Security will exist when we retire, despite our regular payments into the system. Given the lowest birth rate in recent American history, it does not appear workers will be there to replace our contributions.

Medicare, Medicaid and other parts of the social safety net are splashing in Grover’s bathtub. The water line is high. Unforeseen Medicaid expenses hit the Nutmeg state hard this week.

Read the headlines.  Comptroller Kevin Lembo certified the state’s deficit at $415 million. Gov. Malloy and his attack poodle Roy Occhiogrosso claimed the debt is less, yet cut $170 million from education and pensions and social services. $28 million here, $9 million here, $19 there. It adds up.

“The governor cut more than $13 million from Community Residential Services in the Department of Developmental Disabilities. This is not management — it’s direct funding for residential facilities. If you got $270 a week for groceries and household supplies for a group home for six residents — that’s $6.43 per person, per day — what would you cut?” asked Mary Anne O’Neill in a letter to the editor at the Hartford Courant on December 3, 2012.

She is the public policy director at Connecticut Community Providers Association. She noted further: “The governor also cut $5 million for mental health and substance abuse services, directly impacting people with serious mental illnesses and addictions. Without access to counseling and medication, their lives may literally be at risk.

“Almost $9 million was cut from residential board and care for children served by DCF. This means children will be returned to homes from which they have been removed, potentially endangering them and other family members.”

Then Treasurer Denise Nappier announced that she needs the state to borrow $550 million to pay for ongoing expenses this winter. Borrowing to cover costs is never good. Borrowing to cover capital expenditures is okay.

Yet 10 people in Connecticut control wealth equivalent to $33 billion. Ten people have enough money to run the state of Connecticut for two years. I am not buying that we must slash these social safety net and put people at risk to balance the budget. It is a farce.

Malloy is doing the bidding of the rich and nothing else. Malloy is Grover Norquist’s foot soldier, pushing the body politic with bare hands under water. Do not believe him when he says we cannot raise taxes on the rich because they will move to another state.

Let them go. Good riddance. But make sure we take enough of their wealth here before they scatter like the greedy rats they are. Or let’s just raise federal tax rates on the rich, so they have nowhere to go, and make sure that Connecticut gets more back than 65 cents on every dollar we send to DC.

I do not subscribe to the theory that Connecticut is poor and it needs to borrow more money. Who are we borrowing from? Citigroup? So the megalith can take our interest payments, make a profit and cut another 11,000 jobs globally? The 10 people worth billions? So we can give them subsidies worth millions?

The New York Times this past Sunday showed how CT gave billionaires like Warren Buffet and Berkshire Hathaway $24 million in tax breaks to keep jobs here, with no measurable results and no accountability. Yet we cut funds for children who lost the genetic lottery by being born poor?

How cruel is Malloy? His lack of political courage is appalling, and this entire situation makes me ill. The sickness is gutting programs that will help us deal with climate change, like this story about Malloy going after mass transit subsidies (when cars make up 40 percent of Connecticut’s greenhouse gas emissions).

Another symptom of my illness is when I hear the “liberal” media like John Dankosky on WNPR’s Where We Live interview CTMirror.org’s budget guru Keith Phaneuf and they fail to question the accepted wisdom that we have to cut, cut, cut.

No. I will not stand for it, and neither should you. There is plenty of money to go around. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has come up with a deficit reduction plan to save $3 trillion in the next 10 years. How?

Ending tax breaks and subsidies for fossil fuels ($113 billion). Letting Medicare negotiate drug prices ($157 billion). A progressive estate tax on inherited wealth of $3.5 million or more ($300 billion). A 5.4 percent surtax on adjusted gross incomes of more than $1 million. ($383 billion).

Letting the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for the top 2 percent expire ($1 trillion). Taxing capital gains and dividends the same as work ($730 billion). Establishing a speculation fee of .3 percent ($350 billion).

There is plenty of money to go around. Yet our society navigates dire straits of Grover’s bathtub because we eat the dialogue fed to us by oligarchs: a few people should be able to amass huge fortunes, and the rest must suffer for this inequity. This is what I throw up.

Many people I know share the same sentiments. They clap when you speak this truth to large groups. So why doesn’t Dan Malloy hear the applause and raise taxes on the wealthy instead of harming children? He is a millionaire himself? Or is it political cowardice? Either way, he is no FDR, welcoming the hatred of the moneyed interests.

Billionaires like Sheldon Adelson, who gave $150 million plus to Republicans in the 2012 electoral cycle, may have lost the presidency. But Adelson’s ilk purchased the debate, and their money continues to frame the discussion of America’s future.

The Wall Street Journal Wednesday, December 5 reported Adelson will continue to bet on Republicans. Why? He wants to destroy workers’ rights, and he thinks the GOP will win in the long term.

We, those who value human dignity and equal rights for all, must respond to this hogwash from the aristocrats. We must meet their wealth in the streets, in coffee shops, on the internet, in the newspapers, on television, on the airwaves, in the ballot box.

We must tell them the days of asking for donations to feed and house and educate and care are over. The days of higher taxes and rebuilding civil society are here, and there is nowhere for the rich to run.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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