Perception, Reality and Role Conflict

I’ve been thinking a lot about that MTSU poll released last week. One writer called it schizophrenia, I think it’s something more akin to role conflict.

Tennesseans should be scratching our heads. On the one hand, we’ve got these very vocal folks who are screaming that if we don’t lower taxes, as long as its not a tax that EVERYONE pays, the world is going to end.

We’ve had 30 years of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and it hasn’t helped regular people one bit.

Corporate Taxes down, worker taxes up

If you click on the chart above you’ll see that tax rates for the wealthiest and corporations have gone down since the early 1970’s. Payroll taxes, which everyone pays 15.3% of their first $100k/yr into have gone up. This has been a huge tax hike on the middle class, but no one ever mentions it.

We're making a lot less too

In my lifetime, incomes for 90% of income earners have seen their incomes decrease. I mean, if they at least kept pace that would be one thing, but going down, that stings.

See what I mean about taxes...for everyone but the wealthy.

While we’ve been cutting taxes on the wealthiest, we’ve been paying more at the bottom of the scale. A lot more. Taking back a tax cut from one of the 400 wealthiest earners in the US would give thousands of people a tax break, but no one seems interested in that anymore.

The rhetoric has skewed our vision

It’s just cut, even if it doesn’t go to me. Cut, cut, cut… and none of it is benefitting anyone, but the wealthy… and it’s not even trickling down like they said it would.

Your pay isn't getting any bigger

So its no wonder that Tennesseans are conflicted. We’ve been told one thing, and got another so many times we don’t know what to think. And when you see things like this, it makes you wonder about other things like this and this.

We live life based on perception, that we treat as reality. It is more about what we feel than what we think. When what we see, what we feel and what we think come into conflict, its easy to just turn off. Shut down. And some people are betting their political lives that we’ll do that very thing.

But by doing that, we give up. We agree to be done to. That’s not what America is all about. It’s about taking charge of your own destiny. That’s what our founding fathers did.

It may seem too big, but there are a lot of us. If we really want a future that’s better for our kids than we had…well…we’ve got a long way to go. But if we don’t start now it won’t get started, and our kids will suffer from our inaction, just like many of us are suffering the inaction of generations that have faded away.

We can’t rebound if we don’t get involved. If we don’t demand that we hold the people who made the economy tank accountable, they’ll just do it to us again. If we aren’t willing to stand up and say “we helped you get where you are, now pay your fair share”, we’re going to keep getting trampled on. If we won’t say that human rights are more important than corporate profits, we’ll be writing a ticket to our own servitude.

I think we deserve better.

I'm not property. What about you?
I think that’s what the protests around the country are about, shifting the focus of the country from the “invisible hand of the market” to the real hands that are only reason a modern market exists.

We don’t live in an 18th century world, and for us to use an 18th century notion of economics to guide us today is not only ridiculous, but serves only the very few.

Until we disabuse ourselves of the notion that capitalism and the economic policies that support it are only for the very few, we’ll continue to see additional economic stratification, which not only hurts our growth, but also sustains a system where those with the most power can game the system for their exclusive benefit.

I don’t think this is what the American Dream is all about. I think its about time we took back that dream so we can all benefit from the fruits of our labors, rather than what we have now: a world where greed and want are both acceptable, where the winners are lionized, and the losers are vilified.

That’s not a world I want to live in.

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