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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Cutting taxes doesn't mean lowering expenses for the middle class and the poor.

That's because, as BuzzFlash at Truthout has pointed out before, with declining income taxes and decreased state spending, the costs that used to be covered by government pop up elsewhere. In many cases, depending upon the needs of a family, the rise in costs and "user fees" - as two examples - outweigh the middle-class income tax decreases that were extended from the Bush years.

A July 17 San Francisco Chronicle article gets to the heart of the matter:

With college tuition increasing again last week at the UC and CSU systems because of state budget cuts, many other Californians were crushed by the cumulative costs of daily life in a "no new taxes" world. CSU's $1,032 tuition increase means that a family sending a child there will see its tax windfall evaporate all at once.

"It's politics," Renwick said. "They can say we had no new taxes but we really did. They just put it in a bunch of places we don't notice."

Public transportation users are being hit with repeated fare hikes across the country, not only resulting in a hidden "user tax," but also pushing America in the wrong direction on efficient fuel use for moving people from one place to another. This "user tax" also discourages the growth of mass transportation that would reduce global warming.

"You're starting to see the anger," one analyst told the Chronicle. "You can let your roads collapse, you close fire stations or watch your library permanently shut down."

The rich will always be able to afford the higher "user fees" and flat taxes that result from declining income and corporate taxes, but many "anti-tax" crusaders in the middle class don't realize that they are biting off their noses to spite their faces.

 

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH FOR TRUTHOUT

Is the Tea Party just another name for an anarchy party?

Granted, given that the Tea Party was financially turbo-charged by the Koch Brothers (Americans for Prosperity) and Dick Armey's FreedomWorks, it's a challenge to define members of the loose-knit group. It's clear, for instance, that a significant segment of the party consists of individuals who are venting their racist gripes with President Obama.

But if you look at the corporate media conventional wisdom perception of how the Tea Party impact plays out on Capitol Hill, it is an uber anti-government force that believes taxes of any kind are akin to theft.

This is not just an eccentric BuzzFlash at Truthout theory; there is indeed a school of libertarian economic theory known as anarcho-capitalism. In fact, the son of Milton Friedman - the guru of the Reagan-era school of economics, which now seems liberal compared to the Cantor/Bachmann/Tea Party theories - is one of its foremost adherents. David Friedman believes in the primacy of the individual and property, without the interference of any governmental entity, including laws.

As excerpted from "Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism," by Peter Marshall, the extremity of what is being played out by the GOP Tea Party wing is a bit chilling:

Anarcho-capitalism has recently had a considerable vogue in the West where it has helped put the role of the state back on the political agenda. It has become a major ideological challenge to the dominant liberalism which sees a role for government in the protection of property. The anarcho-capitalists would like to dismantle government and allow complete laissez-faire in the economy. Its adherents propose that all public services be turned over to private entrepreneurs, even public spaces like town halls, streets and parks. Free market capitalism, they insist, is hindered not enhanced by the State....

Anarcho-capitalists, according to "A History of Anarchism," "maintain that even the minimal state is unnecessary since the defense of person and property can be carried out by private protection agencies."

The major area that anarcho-capitalists (and Ayn Rand adherents) would have a falling out with most Tea Party adherents is over social issues, in which anarcho-capitalists have no interest. For example, without a government of laws, it would be hard to legislate against gays, immigrants etc. In short, the government dreaded by the Tea Party could not be used by them to establish authoritarian, moralistic control over people.

But when it comes to economic theory, Eric Cantor, for example, certainly sounds a lot like an anarcho-capitalist.

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

"The tax collector cometh" could have been the headline for Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign launch in Waterloo, Iowa - her hometown - awhile back, but it wasn't.

Although Bachmann refers to her "experience as a tax attorney" in her official House of Representatives biography, she doesn't mention that her primary employer as a tax attorney was the Internal Revenue Service - public enemy number one of the Tea Party, after President Obama.

In a Wall Street Journal article entitled "Bachmann's Tax Attorney Job Was Collector for the IRS," it states bluntly:

"Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann touts one job as her primary professional experience before entering politics. On the campaign trail, she describes it as being a "federal tax litigation attorney." Others might call it tax collector.

"Ms. Bachmann spent four years with the Internal Revenue Service district counsel office in St. Paul, Minn., from 1988 to 1992."

But such revelations have done little to dampen the enthusiasm of anti-tax crusaders for Bachmann.

That's because progressives sometimes forget that politicians today market a brand, and television is their primary vehicle for promoting their brand. And visuals are perhaps more important - as Reagan's communications team proved - than what facts come out of the "liberal press." (Although it is hard to imagine the Rupert Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal being part of such a "leftist conspiracy.")

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Sometimes, we are so caught up with battles over survival issues - such as jobs, Medicare, Social Security and health insurance - that we forget that the larger frame of political conversation is being shaped elsewhere.

Rupert Murdoch's Fox "News" in America not only serves as the farm team for GOP presidential and other Republican contenders, but it is also the most powerful news force in shaping the terms of our national political debate. Through a combination of "catapulting the propaganda" (thank George W. Bush for that phrase), contributions to US politicians, and targeted media attacks on "opposition" political figures - among other nefarious strategies - Murdoch has done more to bolster the current climate of plutocracy in the US than any other individual.

Murdoch specializes in using the media to deceive a primarily white, middle and working class into hot button, emotional perceptions of reality, based on false information and disciplined message points.

In the UK, the current prime minister is calling for all sorts of investigations into Murdoch's media behemoth. But it seems a little disingenuous given that the former editor of Murdoch's now shuttered tabloid, News of the World, served as the prime minister's press secretary until recently. The former press secretary, Andy Coulson - the link between Murdoch and Prime Minister Cameron - was just arrested based on his alleged illegal conduct while editor of News of the World.

Yesterday, BuzzFlash posted a quotation from FDR that "government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob."

Murdoch is the Orwellian 1984 vision of our time, who makes a mockery of democracy by controlling the political process and conversation through the power of his discredited and dishonest media empire.

He is a direct threat to the great experiment of self-governance by a majority of the population. He has already proven that beyond a shadow of a doubt.

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The hacking of phones and invasion of privacy by the Rupert Murdoch tabloid press has been the subject of articles for years, but it took the unconscionable and illegal extracting and deleting of messages from the mobile phone of a dead British girl to bring the Murdoch empire to its knees.

Murdoch, it appears now, had bought off police, politicians, and who knows who else, as he swaggered across the Western world, creating a false, angry, populist worldview through a vast media empire. The sole purpose of this emotional, incendiary and deceptive narrative was to create governments that supported the plutocracy, not the "rabble" of democracy. The tool to accomplish this was the manipulation of the mass media to ignore facts and create a fictional "frame" that pushed populations toward acceptance of an authoritarian state, one that existed for the benefit of the wealthy.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt knew the danger of a Murdoch controlling, in an Orwellian fashion, the media, and the danger of the likes of the Koch Brothers financing propaganda - through lavish support of think tanks and front "activist" organizations - as well as a government run by corporate lobbyists. Whether it is ownership of the media, concentrated control of the assets of a nation by a few, or de facto corporate governance through campaign contribution leverage on Congress and the White House, Roosevelt warned:

The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it comes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group.

In his second inaugural speech FDR declared:

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace - business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me - and I welcome their hatred.

How little has changed since those remarks were made in 1936, except there is no FDR in the White House to champion the cause of democracy for those 99 percent of Americans who are not part of "organized money."

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One American's tax subsidy (or loophole) is another American's tax burden.

Take the money out of the middle-class taxpayers' pockets and put it into the super wealthy hands of the oil companies or hedge fund managers, for example.

In essence, people of limited means who work by the hour are paying higher taxes in order to make wealthy people wealthier. Why? Because someone has to pay taxes for the services provided by the government.

ThinkProgress noted this in terms of the tax subsidy we all pay to hedge fund managers:

The top 25 hedge fund managers in the United States collectively earned $22 billion last year, and yet they have their own cushy set of tax rules. If they operated under the same rules that apply to other people - police officers, for example, or teachers - the country could cut its national deficit by as much as $44 billion in the next ten years.

So, you and I are taxed at a higher rate than hedge fund managers for their personal gain on behalf of customers. Middle-income earners are subsidizing billionaires.

Of course, taxpayers also subsidize oil companies that have been making record profits, including ExxonMobil, which recorded the highest corporate quarterly profit in history awhile back. As the Center for American Progress reports, the middle class is paying indirect taxes to the oil companies: "In effect, U.S. taxpayers wrote a collective $7 billion bonus check to the oil industry when they filed their taxes last month [for 2010]."

Mainstream media euphemistically calls these taxpayer-subsidized profits by hedge fund managers and oil companies "loopholes."

That's like a pickpocket saying that he didn't steal a wallet, it just jumped into his hand.

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Truthout carries a report today that as a result of Scott Walker's assault on public employees, prisoners are now replacing union workers in Racine, Wisconsin.

It might have been perceived as an hysterical exaggeration to predict that the GOP attack on the value of labor would lead to not just low-wage jobs, but to no-wage jobs. One commentator calls this the "new slavery."

This is not the first use of what is, in essence, modern slave labor in the US. Some of the Pentagon's military contractors allegedly use prisoners to assemble military equipment at slave wages (e.g., 23 cents an hour).

With the loss of illegal immigrants as farm workers, prison labor is soon to follow in the agricultural fields of the South.

It was one of the great advances of modern civilization that workers were granted livable wages and that their labor was recognized as having inherent dignity.

Now, we are moving backward to an antebellum society that believes the lowest cost labor is no-cost labor.

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On July 4, BuzzFlash wrote a commentary on how US corporations stifle innovation and help reduce our competitiveness with fossilized thinking and deregulation. "Grist" - an environmental and sustainable living web site - recently offered an article that dramatically proves this point.

The column detailed "How America Just Lost [Perhaps as Many as] One Million Green(ish) Jobs to Europe" because the European consortium, Airbus, is manufacturing more fuel-efficient airplanes than Boeing, with fewer emissions and other forward-looking innovations. The Grist article drew attention to the "Most underplayed economic story of the week: European aircraft manufacturer Airbus 'trounced' the traditional U.S. behemoth Boeing at the Paris Air Show, booking a record $50 billion more in orders for new planes."

And why? Because many global American corporations are living in a nostalgic dream world that denies reality and stifles change that looks to the future.

Europe is proceeding with the kind of blinder-free research and development, not blaming workers for corporate failures, according to Grist: "This is Europe's green dividend: the cash and jobs the continent is reaping from its strong climate law and a culture that's committed to planet-friendly innovation."

Hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost to the US as they move to Airbus plants in Europe.

This is not American corporate innovation; this is American corporate negligence.

As the Grist article concludes:

The bottom line is this: America will lose more and more jobs as long as American government responds to urgent economic and environmental wake-up calls as further excuses to coddle and comfort polluting industries as they fall further behind their global competitors. Unless we get government and business move quickly to green innovation, that sucking sound is just going to get louder.

We've deified corporate stupidity, greed and incompetence in America - as BuzzFlash noted on July 5. For that, our able workforce is paying a steep personal economic price.

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How did corporations ever come to be deified in America?

Because the Republican Party, the White House (to a great degree) and the corporate mass media hold out global businesses to be the "savior" of the US.

Forget that Michele Bachmann is claiming that she is running for president because God encouraged her to do so, BuzzFlash wants to know what Wal-Mart and GE told her.

Ironically, the corporations that span the planet are like the golden calf that Moses found his people worshipping when he came down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments. It was a false, physical manifestation of God, according to the Old Testament.

Corporations today are akin to the golden calf, in that "conventional wisdom" ascribes God-like powers to them to revitalize the American economy, when an increasing percentage of America's financial assets has tipped into the hands of relatively few global businesses and financiers. The goal of this "1 percent" is not prosperity for Americans; it is to increase corporate profits and personal gain on a global level and, right now, the American worker has become an increasingly small component of that objective.

Despite "prosperity theology," the stock market and financial masters of the universe are without any religious context. It's quite simple, shareholders and investors expect corporations and banks "too big to fail" to pursue one simple goal: to maximize profits. If you have read of any wealthy person investing money to increase jobs in America, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Rich Americans don't invest in US employment; they invest in increasing their assets.

Corporations, not actually being Gods to the citizens of the United States, could not care less about the well-being of their "flock" in the 50 states. When Moses, after his descent from Mount Sinai, saw that the people were worshipping the golden calf, he threw down the Ten Commandments in outrage and disgust.

How ironic for those running for office who believe that corporations are part of the divine order - and that if one just has faith in them, this nation will again burst forth with jobs.

They are bowing before a pagan image.

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH FOR TRUTHOUT

Innovation used to be a hallmark of America, and so I read with interest about a July 4th Declaration of Innovation that declares,

We, the people of the United States of America, hold these truths to be self-evident - that great innovators drive America's unsurpassed economic success; that innovation creates jobs, markets and industries where none existed before; and that innovation moves us forward as a nation, pushing us to succeed and strive for a better tomorrow.

Unfortunately, for far too many Americans, the Fourth of July is a nostalgic celebration of past "glories" rather than future opportunities.

The American spirit of innovation was fueled by several factors, but key among them were our strong higher educational system that was open to people of all economic and social backgrounds (even if at the community college level.) The universities and colleges were backed by state and federal funding. Across the United States now, most recently in New Jersey this past week, higher educational funding is being dramatically cut, amputating our ability to prepare innovators for the future.

Much of the for-profit corporate innovation in America has come as a result of federal government investment in research and programs that are then applied in the for-profit sector, but really paid for by the taxpayer.

What is stifling innovation on this July 4th is not government, which exerts rather limited influence over our daily lives (and that is the freedom we celebrate), but global corporations who seek to eliminate competing innovation from the marketplace. Furthermore, when corporations and banks are too big to fail, it means large for-profit institutional survival supersedes the innovative abilities and needs of a democratic populace. Right now, the mass corporate media and the Washington elite perpetuate the concept that it is government - when it is the corporations and Wall Street - that are creating the economic conditions that restrain individual economic opportunity and the freedom of opportunity that results in innovation bubbling up.

Nothing is a greater example of this than the successful decades long effort of oil companies and the Detroit car industry to maintain our dependence on fossil fuels - and the oil industry pressure (while being subsidized by taxpayers) to limit government investment in alternative energy, which would create perhaps millions of new jobs, lower the national debt, lower our trade imbalance, and lead to the exporting of new energy technology products abroad. Even more importantly, it would allow us a more independent foreign and military policy that doesn't cost hundreds of billions of dollars to "control" oil producing nations in the Middle East.

Finally, even when corporations do use the profits that they are sitting on to do research and create new products, they are now generally manufactured overseas (are any of your computers, mobile or smart phones made in the US? Uh, no.), resulting in little more than administrative and warehouse jobs in the US -- along with the research staffs. Moreover, even information technology design positions and research are being increasingly outsourced to other nations.

So when we declare our independence on July 4th, it should be from corporations and financial institutions that stifle innovation and job growth right here in the US.

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