13 June 2012

Fickle Memories, or how quickly we forget

Noam Chomsky has famously called Richard Nixon our "last liberal president" in part for his declaration of a war on drugs back in 1971.  The war that Nixon initiated was vastly different than what we see today.  As Chomsky pointed out, "two-thirds of the funding went to treatment, which reached record numbers of addicts; there was a sharp drop in drug-related arrests and number of federal prison inmates, as well as crime rates."

The other fairly liberal minded move that Nixon made was in 1969 when he signed the Tax Reform Act.  Fairly few citizens who call themselves Republicans or Conservatives must remember the days when even Republicans recognized that the wealthy needed to pay more in taxes.

In 1969, Nixon signed the Act and gave a pretty damn insightful speech in which he bemoaned the fact that "(a) large number of high-income persons ... have paid little or no Federal income taxes".   The Tax Reform Act was enacted to close those loopholes.

A significant piece of Nixon's legislation was that "(m)ore than 9 million low-income people who pay taxes will be dropped from the tax rolls. This results primarily from the special low income allowance that I proposed last April as a means of making sure that people at or below the poverty level do not have to pay Federal income taxes."
This was from a Republican president.  He raised taxes on the wealthy, something unheard of in today's new right.
As citizens, we have the right to be outraged by the obstinate behavior of elected officials who disregard prior public policy.  We have a precedence in this country to take care of those who lack the necessary means for which they need to take care of themselves.  The new right would have us throw that all away.  And they've sold that to the American public (whom they call tax payers and consumers) as savings.  In actuality tax cuts lead to future losses as public entities lose funding.  Think about what that means - public entities - these are roads, parks, libraries, courthouses, municipal shelters, firehouses, police stations, schools, universities, colleges, and on and on.  No money no roads.
The United States is a society built by people yet today many of us have chosen not to support this society.  Instead we are locked in rhetorical struggle fueled by incessant self-absorbed propaganda.  (For example, a new ABC television program proclaims to make You the director - sounds foolish).  This self-absorbed propaganda purports to make you the taxpayer and that you get more money through tax cuts.  The reality is that we get little from tax cuts but the wealthy get much much more.
As anyone can see by searching the internets even Reagan raised taxes.

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