February 3, 2012

So-called “Right-to-Work” has dangerous side-effects

Posted in health care, role of government, states' rights tagged , , , , at 3:41 pm by realitytax

So-called "Right-to-Work" has dangerous side-effects.

NFL players understand exactly what’s at stake for workers. They oppose these so-called “Right-to-Work” laws fervently. It was one of the first topics raised at the NFLPA’s Groundhog Day news conference leading up to this year’s Superbowl.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Quarterbacks Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears and Rex Grossman of the Washington Redskins are among six NFL players urging Indiana lawmakers to oppose right-to-work legislation.

Cutler, from Santa Claus, Ind., and Grossman, from Bloomington, joined New Orleans’ Courtney Roby, Pittsburgh’s Trai Essex, St. Louis’ Mark Clayton and San Diego’s Kris Dielman in sending letters to Indiana House members Monday. Days earlier, the NFL Players Association came out against the measure that would ban private contracts that require workers to pay union fees for representation.

Cutler called it a “political ploy” against workers.

October 22, 2009

Income Redistribution and the IRS

Posted in media coverage, states' rights, taxes, U.S. Economy tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 4:56 pm by realitytax

The non-partisan Center on Budget and Priority Policy, a research group forcused on federal and state fiscal policies, looked at IRS data and stated in September that:

“Two-thirds of the nation’s total income gains from 2002 to 2007 flowed to the top 1 percent of U.S. households, and that top 1 percent held a larger share of income in 2007 than at any time since 1928, according to an analysis of newly released IRS data by economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez.”

In fact, with the exception of a slight reversal that correlates with the Bill Clinton presidency, the chart of this IRS data, reproduced below, reveals an obvious trend in favor of the wealthy.

any economic class warfare in the past century has clearly been dominated by the wealthiest Americans.

Class Warfare?

In point of fact, Piketty and Saez relied on several different income concepts and each naturally results in slightly different estimates of the share of income going to each group, so the Center on Budget and Priority Policy conclusion that the share of the nation’s income flowing to the top earning households increased from 16.9% in 2002 to 23.5% in 2007 could have “quibble room.” Yet the fact remains that change represents a larger share than at any point since 1928.

I strongly urge you to read the entire article, and abandon any sense that the wealthy in America are either paying a disproportionate share of their income(s) or losing some mythical class warfare when people talk about income redistribution or raising taxes.

Taxation without representation

It’s lately become fashionable in certain circles to cite the American Revolution as an anti-tax movement. Nothing could be more misleading, and I suspect many of those who rely on the tea bag as a new rallying symbol neither drink tea nor are conversant with either the series of tax changes, such as the molasses tax (6p/gallon,) which contributed to the uprising against taxation without representation or with the impact of the choice to drink tea over coffee.

Surely many of those who opine that they, “don’t want our government to do anything at all,” and argue in favor of states’ rights, etc., do, in fact, prefer having national immigration laws (and agents to enforce them,) a standing army to provide for the common defense, and even publicly built and maintained highways over the free-market alternative as practiced in present-day Somalia. Yet there’s more to their position than simply a media-distorted, sound-bite-fed outcry being exploited for ratings and ad revenues.

The collective American psyche places great stock in the notion of fair play. Some take it so far that they want the U.S. to be the world arbiter of justice, and accordingly encourage the notion that it’s somehow an American responsibility to prevent piracy on the high seas (the ultimate free-market exercise) or to remove regimes from power in other countries if they don’t believe that leader assumed power fairly.

State budgets are under assault

The American Dream is under assault. There is no free lunch. Taxation to accomplish the legitimate goals of federal and state government initiatives must be fairly distributed. Defining the necessary changes to tax codes is a daunting prospect even if it’s separated pragmatically from debating the role of government to expedite resolving budget crises. But considering higher taxes on the wealthy hardly constitutes class warfare, let alone an unfair burden.

May 25, 2009

Texans won’t be seceding from the union

Posted in GOP, media coverage, racism, soft bigotry, states' rights tagged , , , , , , , , , at 4:30 am by realitytax

Oh I know, there’s a lot of talk about states’ rights, and they’ve got a governor making noises to insure he’s getting lots of PR,  but at the end of the day?  Texans don’t want to secede, they’re proud to be Americans – in fact, many Texans look on themselves as iconic of Americans.

Will they threaten? Absolutely they will. Collectively these are very shrewd, savvy folks when it comes to negotiating, so if Governor Rick Perry has made anti-D.C. rhetoric the theme of the month by deliberately raising secession at a tea-bag event they will talk the talk – but they’re too smart to walk out. Do you realize how much federal money flows into Texas each year? Do you think they want to give up the U.S. military bases, or NASA? Do you think most Texans want to deal with the drugs and violence spilling across the border from Mexico without federal dollars and agents to bolster that fight?

I’m not certain Governor Perry is manipulating the Texas voters or the national media for personal political gain, but consider this: Do you think the governor and his advisers don’t realize the benefit of federal funding for the wall at the border has for local construction jobs, for instance? Would the good folks of Dallas surrender the slogan of their NFL Cowboys as “America’s Team”?

Of course not.

Nor do they want to work out the price of buying back the federally owned land or start paying for the maintenance of interstate highways – and believe me, the highways matter a lot more in Texas than they do in your smaller states. But they will loyally back their governor, and they are an independent lot, so anybody doing a survey is bound to find a fair amount of pro-secession sentiment expressed -well, maybe less so over Memorial Day weekend, or the 4th of July, but few people watching veterans on parade, or fireworks while the national anthem plays, really want to secede.

And there’s no day of the year your survey in Texas would show greater support there for extending Bush’s tax cuts for the rich than in some other state after his spending priorities shorted armor for troops on the ground in Iraq. So actually, just how much pro-seccesion sentiment you found would probably have a whole lot to do with exactly how you framed the question.

So what’s Perry up to?

I hope he’s just trying to attract national press coverage, in the tried and true manner of politicians almost everywhere.  Perhaps he senses the chaos in the GOP leadership as a vacuum, and wants to position himself for a Presidential bid (although in the wake of G. W. Bush that hasn’t been a smooth path for GOP governors.) The alternative, though, if this isn’t about boosting his “federal cred” by raising the issue of federalism as he suggested last week, is dark indeed for those of us old enough to recall what the rallying cry of “states’ rights” has meant in politics in this country.

The reality is that “states’ rights” hasn’t been about the federal government, or taxes, it’s been a call to white bigots.  By raising it, and then backing away and saying it’s just a discussion about a legal principle, has Perry sent his signal to those who hear it another way? Some of us recall George Wallace flanked by Alabama State Troopers, exerting states’ rights to exclude black children from “white” schools. There’s been a lot of progress in the country since that era, and most Texans aren’t bigots, but that doesn’t change what that phrase has signalled for most of the time since the civil war. 

States’ Rights has consistently been the politically correct way of  saying we’ve got to keep minorities from attaining power, wealth, or influence.  I’m not saying there’s no bigotry left in Texas, or that President Barack Obama’s campaign and election stopped nay-sayers on all sides of the racism issue dead in their tracks. In Texas, though, there’s precious little tolerance for slippery politically correct double-speak .

You might argue that Reagan got away with a covert shout-out to white racists in a speech in Mississippi in 1980, but this isn’t the same electorate, or the same mood, that dominated the country then – and Perry may be shooting his political career in the foot. He’s arguably signaled the most extreme members of the GOP at a tea-party despite quickly back-walking from the rhetoric for the national press. Would his leadership further distance the Republicans from the values of moderate Americans?

The state that’s famous for knowing when a politician is, “all hat – no cattle,” is surely gathering around the grills and picnic tables this summer wondering just where their Governor’s going with this.

Is Perry reaching out to the most extreme members of the GOP despite walking back his rhetoric?

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