Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Let's Talk About Taxes

So, it's been, what, a week since the "Joe the Plumber" debacle at the debate, and I think it's fair to say that taxes are the most misunderstood issue in an election. Here we are, a nation fighting two wars (which is another issue entirely, but here we are), facing crippling economic slowdown and at an environmental precipice. How the party of "limited government interaction" got us to this point I'll never know, but these are problems where the government is either the only solution (war) or the likely leader of a solution.

I'm not for irresponsible government spending, but something's gotta give. Either government spending must come down drastically or the government must raise more income. What we have now is fiscal malfeasance at its absolute worst.

Now we have Republicans continuing to label Democrats as tax-and-spend. This will be the only time you ever hear me quote Cheney seriously, but "so?" In my view, a fiscal conservative is not someone who says they support small government but then goes and spends more than any administration in history. A true fiscal conservative spends what money they have, regardless of how much it actually is.

But, more importantly, who exactly are we taxing? It's misleading to say that only a certain type of tax scheme is "wealth redistribution." All tax schemes distribute wealth, plain and simple. The idea that somehow the wealth is going to trickle down has been proven false, not once, but twice now.

So, here are my thoughts. Any business person who believes that tax cuts are the best way to grow a business deserves to go under. These excessive tax cuts and rebates for businesses are nothing but corporate welfare. The best, and really only, way to grow a business is to sell more of your product. And, the only way to sell more is if people can buy more. So, doesn't it make more sense to keep the money in the hands of the people who spend it. Instead, with gas and food prices up 300 to 400%, people are struggling to cover their basic needs. They're not buying anything that's not a necessity.

I read a great piece on dkos (that I can't find anymore) that discussed the strength of the economy is in the rate at which money changes hands. It's like comparing the pulmonary system of a couch potato versus that of a triathlete. Right now, this economy is sluggish, slow and out of shape. We don't even have the energy to get off the couch, much less go for a run. And why is that? Probably because the last eight years have not been geared at truly growing our economy. Sure, there were shots in the arm, but we all know that steroids do more damage in the long run. The Bush tax plan was like steroids at the beginning, but the strength wasn't real and now we're suffering from crippling damage.

So, what do we need to do? Well, a good start would be to stop wasting $10-12 billion per month in Iraq and an increasing amount in Afghanistan. And then what? We need to keep the money in the hands of the people who drive this economy. So, rich people, sorry (not really), but you're heyday is over. You didn't hold up your end of the "trickle down" economy theory, so now we're going to go for the "trickle up" theory. I believe that when the many succeed, we all succeed. It's not socialism or communism, it's common sense.

There is a saying in the Navy that goes, essentially, "On the strength of one link in the cable, depends the might of the chain." Well, right now we have a lot of weak links in our economic chain. Strengthening those links would strengthen our economy. It's time to go back to REAL responsible government, a Democratic government.