Wednesday, March 23, 2011
It's My Money
PART ONE: The dangers of stupidity and greed.
I was watching a Republican "tea bagger" babble on about how taxation was wrong. At one point, she made the statement that "its my money"! The absolute stupidity of that statement struck me, and illuminated the underlying absurdity of the entire Republican argument, which is often based on a series of false premises; like the one this prattling self-identified tea party supporter had just made. While what she meant is arguable what she said is not.
The false premise that—money—printed by the government, issued by the government, backed by the full faith and credit of the government, was" hers and the government was stealing her money by taxing her.
The utter stupidity of the remark was lost on her. Unless she is printing the money, and she is issuing the money, and she is backing the money with her personal promise of payment, not one dollar of currency is hers. And by the way, if she is printing her own money its—called counterfeiting, and she should be arrested. Counterfeiting undermines the value of the "government's money."
If she had said: its the people's money, she may have had a small point, because in theory,—"We the people" authorize the representatives that "we the people" elect to print the money in name "of the people", for the use "of the people", and back it up with the promise "of the people" to pay the debt it represents against the government "of the people". But in effect she or anyone else that repeats this stupidity is saying that—she—the person—becomes more important than we the people—who are the collective government. Or she may have meant "once I earn the money it's mine. But even that would still make her argument self-serving because it ignores the primary function of money, that "we the people" allow our representatives print on "our" behalf.
Taxation as a legitimate governmental tool of regulation.
The second false assumption based on that same false premise is that—money was meant to be accumulated or be hoarded, and that goes to the heart of, and, undermines the very function of money—money it is meant to be circulated, for the "general welfare" of the people.
Just like a blood clot in the human body is devastating when it blocks the circulation—the brain dies, the heart stops. As with blood, money is meant to circulate—without circulation—the function of money—"to facilitate the exchange of goods and services" grinds to a halt. Just like our stagnating economy, it's not that the government takes too much money out of circulation by taxation, it's that all the money has formed a clot around the very rich who are not putting the money back into circulation. The right say its my money and you are robbing me, you're punishing me, you're hindering me, *ignoring the damage they are doing to the rest of the nation. They have put themselves and a small group above the needs of the whole.
With Madison's' model of government in mind—the necessity of regulating special interests for the general welfare of the Nation as a whole without regard for the the desires of the few—taxation is a legitimate tool and an absolute necessity in light of the growing imbalance that threatens us all.
The Right wings' continual denigration of taxation as "redistribution of wealth" and as such, a socialistic idea to be spurned—underscores their contempt for the legitimate function of government—that canard is both self serving and simplistic. The fact that corporations are lavished with taxpayers money in the guise of tax brakes—to the taxpayers detriment—such as subsides to ship jobs over seas—is another example of their duplicity and their own sense of "entitlement".
It is not the poor who suffer from a sense of entitlement—it is the rich and their own exaggerated sense of importance and superiority. When they point the finger at the poor they are employing one of their favorite tactics—to blame others for a sin, of which they, themselves are guilty.
When they call liberals "elitists" its laughable. Have you ever visited a haven where the rich congregate, like the Hamptons, they are are the embodiment of the words, "the entitled elite." Their standard joke is, to ask each other, "I wonder what the poor people are doing?"
In our history they have plucked and isolated the incident of the Boston Tea Party and twisted it mean to mean "all" taxation is abhorrent and should be abolished. When what the founders and citizens fought against was "taxation without representation". They fought for the right to have a voice in that taxation and a voice in what to do with the revenues in generated.
Above all else the founders were practical men, sophisticated and well aware that a Nation needed taxes to survive and it would be foolish to assume they thought otherwise. That is why—after forming the government—they as the legitimate representatives of the people—decided there was a pressing need to raise revenue to preserve the Union—and why George Washington lead an army to suppress a rebellion over the Nation's first taxation of whiskey.
While none of them enjoyed giving up part of their wealth for the good of the whole, most paid their taxes without complaint as part of their civic duty. What is lost on the modern day "tea bagger" is the founders were not opposed to taxation, but, they were absolutely opposed to the lack of representation in the matter.
The primary function of money is as a tool of exchange.
Circulation of money is the primary consideration for a healthy economy. When one person or party hoards too much money and there is too little in circulation everyone suffers except for the hoarder. The result often is the government needs to print more money which causes its own set of problems. In the game of Monopoly, we all know that when one person controls all the money the game ends but, nobody gets hurt. We live to play another day.
In real life, when someone holds an inequitable share of money, it throws the entire balance of society into turmoil—it means that people get thrown out of their homes and families starve. It—in extreme cases like pre-revolution France, that imbalance can cause a violent backlash. That principle in modern times remains the same and is at the heart of the current revolts in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and a growing number of Middle Eastern countries. The growing chasm between rich and poor.
In an illustration of the current monetary imbalance Bill Maher said: "it's as if one hundred people are sitting at a table and together order a pizza with one hundred slices. One person is faster and hungrier than the other ninety-nine diners and he grabs eighty pieces of pizza in a flash. The other diners look in amazement at him, and ask that he give back at least one piece. Angrily he says: Socialists! Why are you trying to steal my pizza? In effect saying "you eighty greedy bastards can fight over the twenty pieces that I left for you! That's what is happening in this country right now. One percent own eighty percent of the wealth and the eighty percent are left to fight over the twenty percent of the wealth that's left.
The problem is not the "greedy unions" that just want a fair share which is their right. It's that the mega-rich who want an ever increasing share, leaving only scraps for the rest to fight over.
PART TWO: What rights? You ain't got no stinkn' rights!
During that same show, the same right wing "tea bagger"' made another statement that was even more egregious. Which was: "that the right of a union to collective bargaining" is not listed in the Constitution—and by her logic it didn't exist, of course she was stone cold, serious. And I found myself sputtering with outrage that this self proclaimed "pundit" would make such an glaringly ignorant statement.
It called to mind the utter lack of knowledge of the Constitution by another ranting right wing "tea bagger", who, boldly challenged someone else she was debating, "to prove that there was a clause in the Constitution about "the separation of church and state." Mercifully that remark, exposed her ignorance and she lost the election.
If its one thing the founders understood it was the hubris of human nature and in letters; and the Federalist they talked about that very thing. And they wrote the Ninth Amendment that speaks to that very issue. The ninth amendment reads: The enumeration (listing) in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed (understood) to deny or disparage (dispute) others (rights) retained (held) by the people.
To paraphrase the letters they exchanged on the subject in modern English…Madison to Jefferson: Tom, ya know down the road there is going to be some dumb ass that will say that if it ain't listed as a right, it ain't a right, so we had better spell it out for them—that if it ain't listed—it's still a right. Jefferson to Madison: Yup! I hear ya Jim, there are a lot of stupid people out there. I think we'd better add a ninth amendment...Problem is—those right wing "lovers" of the Constitution have either—never read the Constitution or—lack the comprehension to understand it.
So to clarify it even further—A "right" doesn't have to be listed as a "right" to be a "right". Because—in the first place—people's rights are from their creator and are infinite and limitless, therefore its impossible to list them all. And in the second place peoples rights, can't be written in or out of the Constitution by the government—if they do no harm—because they are "unalienable" anyway.
So I'd like to say on the record what I shouted in privacy: "YES IT IS YOU DUMB-ASS! THEY DO!" Too bad I can't make it loud enough for her to hear! But, she probably wouldn't get it anyway! People like her seldom do.
Commentary: The Constitution and its democratic underpinnings were borne out of concern for the welfare of the downtrodden masses that fled from a political system of cruel despotism that was rampant in Europe.
A system of upper and lower class, with the lower being subjugated by the wealthy and privileged and made to fight over the scraps discarded by the wealthy and privileged. Remember "let them eat cake" that sparked the French revolution; it is that injustice and the kind of thinking that is at the root of the enlightenment that also inspired our own Revolution.
In that sense—if— the Constitution smacks of socialism in its concern for the "general welfare" of "the people" without consideration for the privileges of the few—its because it is—at its heart a socialistic document—written before the founders had the words to describe their vision in terms used in modern political discourse.
The primary function of government is maintaining balance between "special interests" so that one group can't injure another by impinging on their rights or imposing their own beliefs. It's primary function is to "regulate" those imbalances where it finds them. Such as abolishing slavery.
The Constitution demands equal treatment and redress of grievances, and if that isn't social justice what is? Yet the reactionary right wing talking heads who are a prevalent fixture on cable, like Glen Beck, who decries social justice as evil and denigrates the very Constitution he claims to love—because it was written to ensure social justice. Is Glen Beck ignorant, stupid, or a "judas goat" spewing his noxious hatred at the call of his "wealthy puppet masters", a traitor who will betray his country and its founding principles for money? By the way, Beck you dumb ass, if you were a real Christian you'd know social justice, was the number one item on Jesus' to do list. Good luck on judgement day!
The founders saw that while all men "are created equal in the eyes of god"—men were not seen or treated as equal "in the eyes men"— especially those who would become modern day self aggrandizing monarchs of superior education and abilities, the greedy, the clever, the cunning, the amoral, the cruel, or the privileged, using their natural advantage of privilege to prey on decent hard working common man.
To listen to the Republican right, you'd think that they, and they alone, are "the only American patriots". The truth is they consider themselves superior, an elite aristocracy in every way and they are superior to the average American and that they, and they alone, are meant to "rule"—not lead or govern but "rule, by right of their superior nature—like the monarchs of old who claimed "the divine right of kings" as their due.
Their actions belie their words. They hate this America Democracy that they "want to drown in a bath tub". Or like G.W. Bush, who called the Constitution 'just a god-damn piece of paper" when confronted by its prohibition on torture.
Inflamed with self-absorbed hubris and with no rules or regulations to rein in their unbridled greed, they trample on rights of good and decent hard working people whom the Constitution was intent on protecting, like Union members right to collective bargaining, or gays right to solemnize their personal partnerships, or a woman's right to decide her reproductive future. Their actions belie their "small government" mantra. They want to regulate others without any regulations on them.
They are fascists in the true meaning of the word. Their greed is what made the banks fail, their greed is what has caused thousands to lose their their homes—in some cases the only wealth the middle class will ever know. Their unbridled greed has caused the suffering of millions of Americans. They don't love this Country they loath it. And their every attempt to stifle its noble vision are the proof of their hatred. They worship at a different altar, that of greed.