The Gulf oil spill is not only a metaphor for the habitat-killing greed of Big Oil; it fits the society-killing greed of the hate taxes movement of the last thirty years. When I open my mail box this week it is packed with special election campaign flyers for the state senate race in California.
One is published by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. On the cover appear the words “Politician John Laird’s Tax Hikes Hurt All of Us.” Above the words is a close up of the frightened faces of a senior couple who look like they’ve just been told calamitous news. Inside is an image of a worried and fearful young couple in soft focus with their infant child in foreground. The flyer announces “You pay the price for Laird’s tax Hikes.” A list of income, sales, property, utility, and payroll tax bills candidate Laird apparently supported as an assemblyman are presented like the counts in a grand jury indictment. The flyer accuses Laird of taking money that YOU could use to pay living expenses, of imposing higher costs on YOU for clothes, a car, a home and making YOU pay higher utility bills. The message is clear: Taxing YOU is evil.
The flyer doesn’t say that not taxing YOU means governments have deficits that compel them to borrow from China, allows public infrastructure to disintegrate, causes American education to fail to produce a globally competitive workforce, cuts back on public safety services of police and fire departments, and induces budget crises. Instead the flyer appeals to an ideology of selfishness and the retentive greed of citizens.
When will citizens and politicians remember that simple words of the United States Constitution that give Congress the power to “Lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises to pay the Debts and provide FOR THE COMMON DEFENSE AND GENERAL WELFARE of the United States…?” The founding fathers have a message for the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association: constitutional tax policy is designed to make the money that goes around come around.