Tax the Rich (a rant about socialism)

Yup. I said it.  Tax the hell out of ’em.

I am hearing a lot of people on the Republican side shouting “Socialism!” in response to Barack Obama’s plan to raise taxes on the wealthy and cut taxes on the middle class, as if Socialism, in and of itself, is an evil thing.  A little bit more socialism would do a lot of good for this country.

A little more redistribution of wealth from those who make a lot of money should go into the system to help support those, like teachers, who do very important things for not anywhere near enough money.  A little more redistribution of wealth could go a long way in repairing the crumbling infrastructure of this country, and to put aside funding to help repair damage from the natural disasters that will keep coming.  A little more redistribution of wealth could help create jobs we really need and support research and development in state educational institutions that can create still more jobs.

The dirty secret of “trickle down” is this: when you cut taxes on the wealthy, they don’t use that money to go down to Ma & Pa’s Hardware and buy more widgets because they already have plenty of widgets.  They don’t buy more groceries because they can already afford to buy as many groceries as they need.  They don’t eat out more because they can already eat out all they want.   They don’t really do much with that money that helps your average American citizen or small business owner; they invest that money to make themselves more money, and they don’t, as a rule, invest it in Ma & Pa’s Hardware.

The idea that this is somehow encouraging people to “drink from the government trough” or “suckle from the government nipple” seems to overlook the fact that the government is the people.  Or at least it should be.  It does not do our country good for the gap between rich and barely making it to become super-ultra-rich and not making it, but that is what has happened in my lifetime.

When I hear complaints about how Gen X and Gen Y are supposedly lazy or unmotivated, my initial reaction is to ask, “Why should they be motivated?  What’s left for them?  Where is their American Dream?”  In order to be motivated, there has to be a dream, a goal, something desirable that is somehow attainable.

When you start out working for peanuts and after ten or twenty years (and a good college education, lots of experience, and plenty of overtime), those peanuts are still not quite enough to feed you and pay your rent, you start to wonder why you bothered buying into a system that rewards the ones who don’t need rewarding.

Now, I’m sure there are a lot of wealthy individuals out there who would cry, “Not fair!  I make all this money, and I should be able to do what I want with it!”  Well, it’s about time to start supporting, in a tangible way, that system that allowed you to “pull yourself up by your boot straps” and become the success you are.

I’m also tired of hearing people living on very little defend the so-called “conservatives” and their agendas because of some idea about how it’s patriotic to be poor if the alternative is this terrible thing called “socialism.”  We have implemented plenty of socialist programs in our country to help those who need it, and calling them “socialist” does not make them any better or worse than simply calling them “help.”

And for those who would accuse me of inciting class warfare–absolutely.  Absolutely I am.  Because the right has been conducting an insidious class war for years–pretending they are the party of the working class, of “average Americans” with “family values” and then waging a war of attrition on their own base of support for years!

Those “average Americans” and working people and military families who have been hoodwinked into believing that the right represents their values and their interests should turn around and bite the hand that has been feeding them lies and little else.


18 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by mariestacey on October 14, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Start supporting the system huh?

    Unashamed class warfare? Why didn’t you name this article correctly. Marxist.

    You don’t know what socialism is. That’s why you’re just fine being an idiot that embraces it. Do you realize that increased taxes means increased government control? Does that fact even SINK IN? CONTROL is what the American public (and I’m sure that teacher) are ‘afraid of’ not helping others you pretentious sack of hot air.

    When was the last time you did something for someone else? I’m sure you can’t remember. But obligate the rich! Because you have done nothing productive yet so you want to benefit off of them! Educate yourself. Read the Constitution. Or do you reject the Constitution? It doesn’t support socialism. It never has and it never will.

    You must be OBSESSED with money.

  2. Posted by preservetherepublic on October 14, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    I appreciate that you actually admit that it is socialism. I was born in poverty and stayed there until a few years ago. I started a business and worked my way out of it. I had the opportunity to do so because of our capitalistic society. I wouldn’t have had that opportunity in a socialist country. I understand the attraction of socialism to the middle class, but name one country that it has worked in. It never helps anyone for very long.

  3. Posted by flyingtomato on October 14, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    I appreciate your measured response, preservetherepublic. I was not calling for an entirely socialistic government, but to implement some systems that would help to moderate the huge gap between rich and poor in this country.

    We have already implemented many such systems–some are flawed, but many work (see the postal service). I, too, started a successful business, and I also work full time teaching.

    I am a little worried that our market system is often mistaken for our government system–we are in a representative democracy. Perhaps that was the key to your success as much as the capitalistic markets. Even now, we are seeing the results of unregulated capitalism.

    However, our representatives in this democracy often seem to forget just who it is they represent–corporations, or people?


  4. Posted by preservetherepublic on October 14, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    I was a teacher also. I quit teaching in order to run my business. I taught in the poorest town in my state. I quickly learned that my students came to be below grade level because they already had a victim mentality passed down to them by their parents. Once, I taught them to take responsibility for their actions, their grades improved drastically. They learned that hard work leads to success. The problem with the middle and lower class is that they have a victim mentality and fail to financially educate themselves. Wealth redistribution doesn’t work because they don’t understand how to manage money. Look at people who win the lottery and end up broke again. They need financial education, not handouts. Teach them to fishminstead of giving them a fish.

  5. Posted by flyingtomato on October 14, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    In my post, I don’t suggest giving handouts; I talk about putting money where it can help repair our country–supporting better salaries for people who are doing important work, research and development at state universities (which is currently funded by and therefore enslaved to big corporations), repairing infrastructure and preparing for natural disasters.

    I find that a discussion that starts out with, “the problem with this or that group of people” is full of generalizations that are often more false than true. Maybe the problem is not so much a victim mentality plaguing the entire lower and middle class, as you lump them together, but with your perception of your own entitlement to the success you have reaped? I’m sure everyone can be as successful as you if they just do x,y, and z? But then we wouldn’t have any teachers left to teach that man to fish, would we?

    Often, the “they” and “them” you refer to do know how to fish–they’ve had to learn in order to feed themselves, but unfortunately the pond is rather ill-stocked or fished-out.

    And often those who say “teach a man to fish” are those who don’t really know how to fish, but they don’t have to because they can just pay someone else to fish for them.

    I do not presume this is the case with you. To say that “hard work leads to success” may be true in many cases, but success is not always measured in grades or dollars. Sometimes it’s measured in something that can’t be quantified by our capitalistic markets.

  6. We agree. Tax the heck out of Oprah. She’s filthy rich and hasn’t done one good deed with her money. And greedy businesses are just as bad. Rich businessmen are never philanthropic. It’s an oxymoron. Never mind foundation grants for education. Tax those SOB capitalists. And distribute the money to those who don’t know how to make money. They’ll spend it wisely and definitely reinvest in their communities.
    Your “rant” makes several generalizations. But none are supported by examples. Maybe next summer you could head home for a few weeks and enter Vermont’s highly regarded Breadloaf Writing Project. Oops, no. Funding from foundation grants will evaporate because of the higher taxes you want to implement. And those tax dollars will go into paving roads and educating kids. (More likely it will continue right into wasteful earmarks, just like it always has.)
    Out of curiosity, I thought your degrees were in English and history, not economics.

  7. Posted by flyingtomato on October 14, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    I don’t think Middlebury College will have much trouble funding their Breadloaf Writers Conference. But actually, I already went through that program (the Young Writers Conference, that is) as a high school student, so I’m covered. Thanks for your concern!

    Yes, tax Oprah. And tax wealthy corporations. But if you read my post, you’ll see it says absolutely nothing about distributing the money to people who don’t know how to make money. It talks about research and development, infrastructure, and preparation for natural disaster.

    But, I’ve noticed the moment you call that system of taking tax money (wealth) and redistributing it “socialism,” people get all bent out of shape. It’s a hilarious knee-jerk reaction to a word that describes a lot of government programs we already have and that we’ll probably need more of to get out of this recession.

    Yes, my degrees are in English and history. So, I guess I’d better not think about or learn about or write about anything else? My blog, my perspective. Obviously, you enjoy reading it, or you wouldn’t keep coming back for more.

    Glad to be of service!

  8. Breadloaf for young writers is NOT Breadloaf for educators. They do NOT have the same objective for educators as for students. Going as a student and assuming you’re covered shows a lack of familiarity w the writing project’s purposes.
    like any funded program loses its foundation money, the program withers. Just interview any director of a writing project and ask whether they’re concerned about corporate donations. They spend the fall and winter courting them. And it’s naive to say Breadloaf shouldn’t be concerned just because they happen to be of exemplery quality. And who will fund it when you’ve sucked off all the profit for taxes to fix roads and stockpile MRE’s?
    As for your blog, I must try to stick to the CSA posts and not read the political stuff. Your politics are generating a visceral response that I need to relearn to control.
    One last caution: write about what you know. Economic theory isn’t it. Dirt, seeds, baby frogs, dew on the grass, shallots, creative leftovers. That stuff’s often nearly poetic. Looking at the comments a lot of folks agree with me about tonight political comments.

  9. Posted by flyingtomato on October 15, 2008 at 7:07 am

    Oh, Cherrie. Chill out. I know the two Breadloaf programs are not the same thing. I just like to watch you flip out.

    I’ll write about whatever I choose and whatever interests me, whether it’s economics or baby toads. My blog–my prerogative.


  10. “Write about what your know.” It’s a mantra for good writers, Rebecca. I thought you’d recognize it from your Breadloaf Lite training. As for flipping out, why is a challenge to one’s reason and examples regarded as “flipping out?” Of course it’s your blog, and in a free society (if we still live in one), it’s my “write” to acknowledge what you do well, writing about your day to day experiences growing and nurturing, and what you’re less than effective about. Annie Dillard didn’t waste her gift and neither should you.

  11. Posted by flyingtomato on October 15, 2008 at 9:01 am


    One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that what others identify as my “gifts” are those things they personally think I should focus on–ignoring what they don’t value or don’t agree with and presuming to know when I’m “wasting” what they perceive as my gifts.

    What I know and what I write about expands over the years. To write essays is to try to wrap one’s head around a problem or an issue in order to comprehend, to add meaning and perspective. I do write about what I know and also what I’m trying to comprehend, and your expectation that I should limit myself to what you think I know (or what you want to hear) is ludicrous.

    If you don’t agree with my comprehension, my meaning, my perspective that’s perfectly acceptable, and I’ve allowed most of your comments in that spirit of acceptance despite your often rude and condescending tone.

    What you don’t seem to understand is that everything I’m writing about is connected in my world–I work with local economies and local food systems, and I read about and research these issues and how they’re interconnected with global economies and global food systems. I recently published an article about pricing strategies at farmers markets in a national journal–an article on economics!–but you claim I know nothing about it.

    If you only want to read what you agree with, perhaps my blog is not for you. To claim you know the extent of the gifts of a complete stranger only reveals your “gifts” of presumptuousness and condescension.


  12. Rebecca, please continue writing about whatever the hell you want to!

    Oh, and I’m on board with what you say in this post. I always find interesting the assumption of so many that the wealthy are wealthy because they have earned every last little bit of what they have. It’s simply not true. Yes, it’s true that I have made something of what I was given (I consider it good stewardship to do so), but I am where I am because of things I had no control over…inherited my IQ, had great parents and a wonderful, stable childhood, grew up in a peaceful small town, benefited from a solid public education system, and on and on. I didn’t in any way earn those things, and the more money I make, the more I realize how indebted I am to my family, community, and–yes– government for the good life I lead and wish for others to lead.

  13. Posted by flyingtomato on October 15, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Thanks, Erin, for the positive encouragement.

    Don’t worry–I’ll continue to write about what interests me, no matter how far afield of my degrees.

    But right now, I’ve got to post some of the CSA newsletters I’ve forgotten about! Whoops!

  14. I want to chime in my support for this post, too. I don’t have time for much of a response, but I felt the need to help offset the angry comments. (Yikes! That first commenter isn’t looking to make friends…)

    As for the second commenter’s challenge: ” I understand the attraction of socialism to the middle class, but name one country that it has worked in.”
    Okay: Denmark. Socialized medicine, nationally funded college education. High taxes. Happy People.

  15. Have you heard of Blog Action Day, by the way? It’s today, and the topic is poverty.

  16. Posted by flyingtomato on October 15, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Thanks, Alejna! I guess I should have waited until after midnight to post that sort-of-related rant. Alas, my day has been overrun by an early meeting, an anxious friend, literary analysis on Southern Lit., and a big load of manure!

    But, maybe I can put together a few thoughts for this worthy cause.


  17. Sorry my statements on your talent come across as condescension and presumptuousness. (I don’t have to know you personally to know you…if you are an honest writer. You are, aren’t you? ) By gift, I meant your ability to describe your experience with the land and growing organically. There’s nothing there to agree with or disagree with. Just good information for another grower.
    Interspersed with stuff of much value is your essay advocating class warfare. You named it a rant but seem surprised if a reader responds in kind.
    As for condescension, I thought my response pretty tempered compared to some of your other readers.

  18. Posted by Matt on October 16, 2008 at 11:03 am

    Christ, Cherrie. If only you used your powers of analysis for something constructive rather than expounding on every qualifier and actual meaning of words in your comments. I know something gets lost in translation in some comments, but to what end are you defensive? Are you just trying to goad the dear flying tomato again so you can feel righteous? okay, i’m done. lol.

    oh, and for the record, flying tomato, i’ve converted yet another person to your blog. the tomato goodness is catchuping on!

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