Archive for the ‘tax protests’ Category

Thom Hartmann: Must see! The TRUE story of the Tea Party

From MikeB, who got it from Norwegianity who got it from Crooks and Liars

Nothing I haven’t written about here before. This post is the best: Comparing the Modern Tea Party to the Original By Barbara Smith

Now, that’s what I call a tax protest

It seems that Romania has decided to tax its witches, something that has caused a furore in the Romanian Witch Comunity. Not so much because they have to pay taxes, but they don’t believe they are going to receive anything in the way of benefits from the state.

The Queen witch, Bratara Buzea, has cursed the minister responsible for this action.

In addition, driving instructors will also have to pay tax, but they aren’t as interesting.

Comparing the Modern Tea Party to the Original By Barbara Smith

Barbara Smith is the author of “The Freedoms We Lost: Consent and Resistance in Revolutionary America,” just issued by The New Press.

In light of the recent anniversary of the original Tea Party, shouldn’t we consult history to clarify what the Boston brouhaha of 1773 was really about? Here are some things we would do well to remember today:

* There was little that was “conservative” about the event. A mob seized and destroyed private property. Conservative interests at the time deplored it, and the respectable descendants of the Revolutionary generation did their best to forget it when they wrote up their official accounts of the Revolution.
* It was not all about taxes. The colonists who dumped tea in Boston harbor did not oppose taxation by representative governments. They routinely voted in town meetings to support the poor and pay for common goods such as roads or public schools. From time to time they dug into their pockets to pay off public debts created by expensive wars. They did not worry much about the likelihood of taxes going to “freeloading” poor people or immigrants, because they knew that government is rarely controlled by the poor or the newcomer. Far more likely—far more dangerous—was an alliance between government and the already wealthy and well-connected.
* It was about the power of private interests. As colonists saw it, Parliament had been corrupted by the influence of money. First, opulent West Indies planters had promoted the Sugar Act to boost their profits. Wealthy Britons had supported the Stamp Act in order to cut their own taxes. Now shareholders of the East India Company hoped to reap a windfall off a monopoly on the tea trade. All these measures served special interests at the expense of ordinary colonists in North America. Rather than defending the tax breaks of the wealthy or the monopoly privileges of private companies, the original Patriots championed the wellbeing of middling households.
* It was about the obligation of government to regulate economic transactions. Eighteenth-century Patriots assumed a principle of public activism. Samuel Adams explained in a Boston newspaper: Governments might oppress the people by grabbing too much power, but oppression also occurred when governments were too weak. Government existed precisely “to protect the people and promote their prosperity.” In normal times, people expected government to limit monopolies and excessive profit-taking. In the imperial crisis, Patriots insisted that countless transactions—not only tea sales—should come under public scrutiny and serve the common good. What justified destroying the East India Company’s tea was the principle that public good trumped corporate profit.
* It was about the distribution of wealth. Americans’ ancestors had been uprooted from the British countryside as great landowners amassed more and more of the land. In North America, many English settlers had achieved a sort of middling security. Now that security was threatened. Parliament was taking the side of the rich, and some rich Americans were taking the side of Parliament. The danger was the impoverishment of everyone else. The Patriots believed that a rough economic equality was necessary to maintaining liberty.

Viewed accurately, the original Patriots would sadly disappoint today’s Tea Party activists, who promote a far different political philosophy. Of course no one today needs to agree with eighteenth-century ideas, and we know that the Patriots had their profound flaws. But we must object when present-day interests sidestep good-faith discussion of the merits of their position by misappropriating the founding generation. The principles of today’s Tea Partiers may (or may not) be correct, but they cannot establish it through sleight of hand, blithely invoking the founders while ignoring those founders’ ideas. The rest of America should not be intimidated by unfounded claims that Tea Partiers are the “real America” or that their values are the ones that originally won American freedom. Those claims fly in the face of history, and they contribute little to our ability to address the massive problems that we face as a nation.

See also: By Jill Lepore’s Boundless promise and grave peril

Liberalism and populism in the US.

I have to admit that I find the blog American Creation to be really interesting and informative. Which leads to their credit for having a post about William Hogeland (Hysteriography), which is a name I’ve encountered before since we share interests: in particular, early American insurrections and populism. Although, I have to admit his pieces in the Boston Review, Real Americans, and at New Deal 2.0, Liberals and Populism: An Uneasy History, really struck a chord with me.

The left is often left wondering why its message is lost on the people. For example, I read a blog which made some wild claims about progressives being against “freedom”. Of course, the blogger in question probably has a different concept of the word freedom than I do if he dislikes the changes that progressivism has brought about: such as the pure food and drug act, the clean air and water acts, child labour laws, laws about safety in the workplace, and so on. Or is it a person’s right and freedom to want to be a slave?

The problem is that there is a strong anti-intellectual streak in the American population. As Hogeland points out “the main populist assault (During William Jennings Bryan’s time), just as today, was on common liberal modes of discussion, debate, and expertise.” There was the disgust with the East Coast, Elites, which today would be termed the “Within the Beltway mindset”. Hogeland takes his premise even further back at Liberals and Populism: An Uneasy History going to the War for American Independence.

Liberals and Populism: An Uneasy History gets me thinking my usual question about how many of the founding fathers would have chosen to incite the masses had they known how hard the mob would be to control? As I said at American Creation, Especially since Samuel Adams wasn’t a populist! That is truly an interesting point. I know that he had made a comment about Shays’ Rebellion which would point to his being a strong denouncer of insurrectionism (“Rebellion against a king may be pardoned or lightly punished, but the man who dares to rebel against the laws of a republic ought to suffer death.”). Given that Sam Adams was prone to stirring up mobs as happened in the Boston Massacre and Philadelphia, this is truly a revelation!

Of course, this post may tend toward the elitism for which overeducated people such as myself, but one has to wonder how much the people who wanted independence at any cost would view the effect on US Politics (as opposed to the Tories who wanted any change to be done through legal means)? The problem is that the mob is not a body which can be controlled or is reasonable. One needs leadership. Or to quote James Madison:

From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of government, have erroneously supposed that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions. Federalist #10

Tax protest in the UK

I have to admit that with the talk of austerity measures and people feeling taxed out that the news that there were tax protests in England caught my attention. Has the TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party mentality hit the UK as George Monbiot has predicted? The US mind has been perverted by the idea that Independence was caused by excessive British taxes, rather than the actual meaning of “Taxation Without Representation” that means taxes must be levied by a body which represents the citizens.

No, these tax protests are about people who avoid their taxes. That’s quite a difference from the Astroturf Tea Party movement which works to ensure that the rich DON’T pay their fair share of taxes. UK Uncut, the organisation behind the protests points out that:

At the same time as making massive cuts to public services, this government is letting rich individuals and corporations avoid billions of pounds of tax. Join UK Uncut’s Big Society Revenue & Customs (BSRC) and become part of an army of citizen volunteers determined to make wealthy tax avoiders pay.

If we consider that the tax gap in the UK is an estimated £120 billion. £25 billion of that amount is due to tax avoidance by extremely wealthy individuals and big business, yet the government is barely lifting a finger to stop it. Instead, the talk is of cutting services.  Likewise, the US will be looking at similar tough cuts in programmes such as medicade and social security.   Cuts to these and other services that affect the population will have strong opposition.

The problem in the US is that there isn’t enough of a media outlet for opposing viewpoints.  That means that the message that people are overtaxed  remains unquestioned.  Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how much the people who are funding the US Tax protests pay from their billions.  Even better to see a list of US tax avoiders like this one.