Meanwhile, Back In The States

Everyone is worried about whether to get the season’s latest
innoculations -the standard flu and le chic smallpox- and there is
plenty of debate about how to handle Iraq’s 12,000 page summary of
its weapons infrastructure.

Tongues are wagging across the land, slobbering over Trent Lott’s loose-lipped admission that yes, the white folks in Mississippi are still pissed off about losing the Civil War.

Al Gore won’t be tossing his hat in the ring for the next presidential election and Jim Morrison’s words may have never rung truer than they do today: the future’s uncertain and the end is always near.

But here’s one you might have missed. Like a poker player who
just can’t keep from tipping his hand, the Bush administration has
decided to float the suggestion -in the face of whatever one might
want to call the current economic situation- that the poor are not
toting enough of the load.

In a Washington Post article dated December 16, Jonathan
Weisman reports that the Treasury Department and the White
House Council of Economic Advisers are set to publish findings that 5% of Americans pay 56-59% of income taxes and 41% of all federal taxes collected by the government.

(see here)

The upshot of which is the administration’s assertion that if the
economy is not recovering, if there are harder times in store for you, Mr. and Ms. Jones, remember when you go to the polls in 2004: times are hard because the poor don’t pay enough taxes.

The people leading this country actually want you to believe things will be better if people earning $50,000 – $75,000 a year pay a third more in taxes than they do now. The notion of a flat tax and the idea of a national sales tax to replace the income tax are finding resurgent support in leadership circles.

Who are these people kidding? Perhaps next they will propose
feeding the hungry with the boiled babies of single moms on

The administration’s argument is “you can’t maintain a democracy if the people who are voting don’t care what their government costs.” That’s right people, don’t you have any idea how many billions of dollars it’s going to take to secure access to Iraq’s oil reserves and maintain a comprehensive security state during the next century? Is it fair that a small number of rich people should pay for more than half the cost of our dominance of the planet?

One of the things that always puzzled me in school was how things
went in the development of Western culture from ancient Greece and
Rome to the Dark Ages. I never bothered looking too deeply into the question, but it always struck me as odd that the Greeks and
Romans had sophisticated, elegant, inquisitve, enlightened (and, to be sure, violent, depraved, and oppressive) societies, and then
somehow in the first several centuries of the Christian Era
everything got stupid and inward and fearful and bleak.

I think I understand it now.

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