Posters like this used to adorn telephone poles in my hometown when the Communist Party ran candidates in federal elections. I was about ten years old. My friends and I used to snicker because we knew that communists were authoritarians masquerading as democrats and they were also looney-toons losers who seemed to split into tiny factions. Some of this sentiment is with me still while other stuff I've decided was the result of Cold War brain-washing.
But this phrase has started to resonate with me more and more. It continues to do so after reading this Toronto Star article about the perils of taxing the wealthy.
Taken at face value, this policy should be a winner for a deficit-weary public, as support for the idea of taxing millionaires and billionaires generally scores high in most polls.
But that’s not how it works. Particularly in the first presidential debate, and also in the two other debates since, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have turned the spotlight on Obama’s higher-tax pledge and have successfully managed to make many average voters believe that the Democrats, with their long-standing reputation as the party of “big government,” cannot be trusted to limit the increase to the very rich.
Ryan said it best in the vice-presidential debate: “You see, there aren’t enough rich people and small businesses to tax to pay for all their spending. And so the next time you hear them say, don’t worry about it, we’ll get a few wealthy people to pay their fair share, watch out, middle class. The tax bill is coming to you.”
Whether or not this prediction comes true is beside the point. Indeed, as political scientist Larry Bartels showed in his book Unequal Democracy, the economic conditions and the tax burden of the very rich tend to influence the perception of the less affluent regarding their own situation.
That's the whole jist of the article. It's "perilous" to tax the wealthy because lying pricks like Paul Ryan will say that the middle class will be taxed higher too. (They'll always be able to dredge up sludge like "Joe the Plumber" who will swear up and down that they're being taxed higher when the government has actually CUT their taxes.) And, evidently, people like Pierre Martin won't extend any effort to correct the picture.
Perilous 'eh? I've said it before; if it was given to Canadians that the government was going to cut the taxes for the wealthy and the corporations and that this was NOT going to increase productive investment but would only serve to increase spending on luxuries and financial speculation, and that this would eventually create higher deficits and the cutting of public services, NOBODY would have bought it.
Of course, it's not just tax policy. It's crushing unions. It's automating people's jobs. It's shipping jobs overeseas. It's attacking the public sector. But tax fairness has to be a part of it. Let the liars lie. After a couple of months of mocking their bullshit, a confident government would realize that it's only the bleating of a hypocritical elite and their irrelevant media hacks.