To tax or not to tax, that is the question. Well at least some people in the world think it is. The rational among us recognize the importance of funding the government and the many services it provides. The real debate should be focused on the equity of the system, something that seems to always get lost in the shuffle of anti-tax rhetoric and trickle down economic fables. The secret to a functioning society relies on the willingness and ability of its most successful and financially sound individuals to not only pay their share of the burden, but to shape the public discourse in such way future generations will follow their good example.
Many of our most affluent individuals and corporations not only refuse to fund the society that has given them so much, but game the system in order to avoid paying any taxes at all. According to the New York Times, corporations like General Electric not only avoided paying any taxes to the U.S. government in 2010 but were able to qualify for tax refunds. For corporations putting up billions of dollars in profits it is unbelievable to think they contribute nothing to our treasury. Coupled with the blind insistence by many of the lobbyists and politicians beholden to these corporations that cutting their already non-existent taxes is good for the economy, it is no wonder our country finds itself in the amount debt it does. However, before we can address this issue the power brokers must wake up and change their rhetoric.
The discourse being fed to to the populace of this nation by many of the rich elite, while perhaps beneficial to a select few in the short term has catastrophic consequences. The idea that cutting taxes for the richest individuals in society improves the economy through increased production and job growth has no concrete evidence to support it. In fact, David Stockman, Director of the Office of Budget and Management under none other than the originator of trickle down economics, Ronald Reagan, thinks such a policy in our current environment is a bad idea. Yet, there are still many people in this country in places of power and affluence that continue to trumpet this fallacy while simultaneously attacking the middle class of our country and their ability to earn a liveable wage. It is simply irresponsible and shortsighted for the affluent to abuse their power in this way.
We must not allow this type of discourse to prevail any longer. Those with power and money should be willing to stand up with the rest of America and start looking beyond their short term success. This includes the shareholders, CEO’s, and other wealthy individuals that have benefited from the services and benefits of our government. Instead of dedicating resources to evading taxes and decreasing the amount paid, these individuals should be investing in the future. This includes changing the conversation from one that favors selfish individual gain to one that emphasizes the importance of building a strong community where the more fortunate assist the lesser and the grand majority exist somewhere in between. After all Aristotle said it best, “The most perfect political community is one in which the middle class is in control, and outnumbers both of the other classes.”