I’m a little tired of The Garden Island giving voice to misinformation peddlers like Ann Coulter or Stan Lake in his recent claims about “tax reform.” I don’t want to debate this but rather just point out the facts that are patently incorrect or deeply out of context.
Stan states that U.S. “corporations pay the highest tax rates in the industrialized world.” On paper that’s true, but it doesn’t account for loopholes and tax havens. According to Vox.com, U.S. companies end up paying between 13-21 percent in taxes, which is on par or below other industrialized nations. Some companies, like Walmart, end up paying less than 5 percent, far below the industrialized-world averages.
“Money flows toward where it is treated well,” Stan states. What a ridiculous truism. Does this platitude include Enron, Bernie Madoff, President Trump and his violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause and all the abusive money grabs or scams we’ve seen over decades? Please.
Stan states, “More than half of all Americans pay zero federal income tax….” These people are too young to work, retired, disabled or cripplingly poor. For instance, a family of four living on less than $27,000 per year (Can you imagine?) will pay no official federal income tax but they will pay into Social Security and Medicare. Beyond that, should we start taxing students with no income or retirees living only on Social Security? I think not.
“The top 20 percent pay over 67 percent of all taxes….” It’s now actually higher. But that means that people earning $100,000 and above—all the way up to hundreds of millions of dollars per year, pay the bulk of all taxes. I currently barely fall into this group and I’m okay helping support society because I can. It’s a privilege to do my part while I can. Perhaps we can talk about raising taxes on workers when we create higher-paying jobs, since wages have been virtually stagnant in the U.S. since the 1970s.
Stan’s gross attack on public education is absurd. Do we have real problems? Yes. Should teachers be thrown under the bus for those problems? No. Let’s remember that public education was put in place in America so we’d have an educated electorate to vote. The right has sought for decades to destroy public education, so we have a dumb, powerless working-class while rich oligarchs call the shots. I’m not a supporter of that model. Are most Americans?
Stan attacks subsidies on our renewable energy industries. Google how much we already subsidize the oil industry. Estimates are as high as $52 billion annually. Nice try, Stan. The right continues to pull out the tired example of Solyndra, which ceased operations in 2011. If there were a myriad of failures like that one, we’d hear about it every day. Strong economies support emerging industries. Sometimes there are successes and there are also failures. It’s part of innovation.
I agree with Stan on college costs. We must remember, though, that this started in the 1970s when private loans, as opposed to government loans or grants, started to become the primary source for paying for college for the working or poor. Guess which party favored this “free market solution”?
And then Stan ends with an attack on big, corrupt government. The right hates government. Here’s the thing, though: I’ve worked in huge companies that were wasteful and corrupt. I’ve worked with small nonprofits that made foolhardy decisions or had the occasional rogue employee steal something. Our sacred churches have financial scandals and worse. Whenever you get a group of people together, some things that aren’t always good are going to go down. Many times, though, wonderful things do happen. Government is no more corrupt or worse than any other large group of people trying to work together. And for all of you who want to make government the enemy, please stop driving on our publicly funded roads, flushing your toilet into our sewer system, sending your kids to school, walking on our beautiful trails or swimming in our pristine waters which are all protected by big-bad government.
It’s time for America to get off the Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Breitbart misinformation crackpipes and to start consuming fact-based, well-vetted news and media. If you hate government and taxes, move to Somalia, our best example of what really happens when you have nothing but lawlessness. I’d much rather take my chances on our messy democracy right now.
Jason Blake is a resident of Lihue.