Conservative tax policies present many problems
Published: Thursday, January 9, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 9, 2003 at 12:53 a.m.
"This is the South, after all. There are a lot of people who are registered as Democrats just because their parents were, even though they're not really liberals." Sun writer Tim Lockette attributed this comment to Travis Horn, Alachua County Republican Executive Committee chairman, in an article (Jan. 1).
As long as "liberal" has broadly negative connotations, it is apparently not necessary to narrowly define it. However, one useful broad application might be to find it in how we would answer the question: Whom do various interest groups look to for insurance against their risks?
In the last 20 years, we have seen 10 major federal (i.e. Federal Reserve, or U.S. Treasury) bailouts of the bad investments and mismanagement of our leading financial and lending institutions. Because of this risk and insurance by government favor to our wealthiest families and investment houses, the stock market has gone up 10 fold over this time period.
Predictably, 85 percent of these gains have gone to the top 10 percent - and half of this to the top 1 percent - of U.S. wage earners and wealth holders.
Also, since 1980, finance has overtaken manufacturing as the favored means of wealth creation. (Can we blame local environmentalists?)
Due to Progressive Era holdover that sought to repeal some of the privileges of wealth, like the capital gains tax (and on the state level, Florida's intangibles tax, which Gov. Bush would repeal), we actually had a recent, briefly balanced, annual federal budget.
Are state and local Republicans about redefining "conservative," as was Theodore Roosevelt, or are they merely anti-liberal?
In his book "Wealth and Democracy," Kevin Phillips, a refugee from the Nixon White House, traces out how "conservative" government in U.S. history has always meant federal protection of the financial risks of our most wealthy and opportunistic citizens.
"Liberal" then, as applied by Republicans like Travis Horn, must only apply as a pejorative when used on those who would use government policy to shift the burdens of economic downturn from those least able to bear it and on to those who so greatly benefit when the market is up.
It is not the "liberals" I fear who would bring us to class war. From my middle-class perspective, it is by supporting and renewing progressive policies, which we can come back from the brink that "conservative" policies would maintain us.
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