George W. Bush surfaced briefly in New York Tuesday (4.10.12) and said he wishes the Bush tax cuts weren’t called the Bush tax cuts. He thinks it would be better if they were called something else and that would give them an opportunity to be sustained. Good luck with that one. (I’ve got an idea, boy and girls. Let’s call them the Al Gore tax cuts.) Of course, they are the Bush tax cuts because he did them. When the second round of cuts came up in the White House at a staff meeting, Bush was reported to have said something like, “Didn’t we just give those folks a break?”. They were proposed and passed anyway. All of those cuts were labeled “temporary” when presented to Congress.
In his New York remarks, Bush repeated the myth that raising taxes on the wealthy (he called them “the so called rich”, whatever that means) hurts job creation. This is a big lie that has been told over and
by the right wing in America so that most people probably believe it is true.
The people who “create jobs” are most often people with new ideas and people who have much less money, but a lot of energy and desire to succeed. The rich, in contrast, most often invest their money in safer bets than new startups and risky new ideas. If the rich want to create jobs, they can borrow money on their own, add it to what they already have, if they are willing to put it forward. In general, no one goes to the rich for new, creative ideas on business: they don’t have them (they are too comfortable) and they don’t often fund creative new enterprises because the risk is too high. And this: the rich don’t care about creating jobs, what they care about is protecting their money and making it grow so they become richer, not poorer. Is that so hard to understand? Bush and the Republicans talk as if the rich are some benevolent society where people meet in plush board rooms to discuss how to help those other, poor Americans. Rich people don’t care about the affect of their money on others, they seek at every turn to protect it.
As for the true innovators, those without a lot of money can’t generally get access to credit and to investment capital. Giving more and more money to one segment of society guarantees nothing. The whole system favors those who already have money, top to bottom, and the right insists, however, that the only way to create jobs is to make the rich into richer people. They would make all of us into a kind of vassals of the wealthy, thankful to have any job at any pay. “Yes sir, boss man.”
This notion of helping the rich to get more money is a perversion of the idea of “capital formation”, a basic economic principle. Building up capital, money, in the hands of the few is one of the markers of how a society goes from largely agricultural to mainly industrial and information based. If no one has any money, then no one can start a business. So, when a society is smoving toward becoming more modern, it is normal and perhaps even a good thing that a few people have money and the rest don’t, so that a society can be built from the ground up and then money can be spread around. We are more than 100 years away from that phase of economic development. Yet, people like Bush keep pushing this myth because it suits their political goals, keeping the wealthy rich. The sad thing is that so many people making less than 100K per year buy into it and accept it as some sort of gospel. I say, pick the lies you believe more carefully. Further, why would I accept the word of third and fourth generation wealthy (Bush and family) as to what is necessary to help those who are not rich? Do I ask an oil man if fossil fuels are the only way to power cars and heat houses?
You will never hear Bush II, or Romney, speak of the dangers of an unbalanced economy where most of the money is in the hands of the few and, at a slightly lower level, there is a slice of the very rich controlling most of the rest of the wealth. That’s where we are now in America. A democracy cannot survive, perhaps not even exist, without a vibrant middle class. It also cannot survive if a small percentage at the very top hoards all of the money and refuses to pay a decent share of supporting the whole society. Paying taxes is not fun, but it is a vital part of citizenship and, without a fully functional society based on something other than debt, the rich can’t stay rich, either. The commerce that made them rich in the first place would gradually slowdown to next to nothing. In time, wealth would dwindle and only 1/10 of 1 per cent would have it and the US would become like Mexico: a poor country with a few very, very rich people. An economy warped drastically out of balance is one either failing or headed toward failure.
Doug Terry, 4.11.12