George B: ‘It’s your site and I figure suffering your political views is the subscription price – fair enough. But I just want to say I am *really* tired of ‘It is a grand time to be wealthy and powerful in America.’ It’s a taunt, not an argument, and I find it annoying and offensive, and I think it detracts from your attempts at rational argument.’

☞ It’s not meant to be a taunt, it’s meant to be a theme. Especially with so many conflicting claims, it’s hard to make sense of the world. So where important patterns emerge, as I think they have in this instance, it’s helpful – or I hope it’s helpful – to try to point them out.

It’s basically shorthand for saying, ‘Hey — Is this really what we want? To shift the balance of wealth and power further toward the wealthy and powerful? I am a huge fan of the wealthy and powerful. I have some wealthy and powerful friends myself. I truly wish them well. But I don’t think their plight tops the list of priorities. Yet judging from their legislation, that does seem to be the undeclared view of the Republican leadership.’

Halving the budget for alternative energy research instead of tripling it? That’s great for the Texas oil companies, but . . . but . . .

Returning to deficits (and thus, down the road, higher interest rates and mortgage payments for the middle class) in order to provide huge tax rebates to oil companies and cut the tax on America’s top 1%? That’s great for the oil guys and the top 1%, but . . . but . . .

Lacking the resources to renovate dilapidated schools and provide life-saving, pain-killing drugs to seniors because we’ve dedicated a chunk of the fast-dwindling surplus to cutting the estate tax on America’s 4000 wealthiest families from 55% to zero? That’s great for the wealthy, but . . . but . . .

Or take my home state of Florida, which already has a 0% income tax, and lots of social problems like oppressively overcrowded classrooms. Jeb Bush halved the ‘intangible property tax’ on the wealthy from a very modest two-tenths of one-percent (applicable to only some assets, and federally tax-deductible) to just one-tenth of one percent. Great for the wealthy; but when was the last time you saw a middle-class tax halved? And what about those oppressively overcrowded classrooms?

This is not trivial stuff. Gary Condit gets far more attention, but, taken together, this is our future, the direction of our nation. The fiscally conservative balance that seemed to work so well during the eight Clinton/Gore years has been abandoned. Our lovely little prosperity machine? Yes, it served the wealthy and powerful very well. Just not well enough, apparently.

So it’s not a taunt, George, it’s a refrain. Or, really, a lament.


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