by S. Paul Forrest
”Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience, then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time, what I think right.”
~Henry David Thoreau
America today is more and more resembling the times facing our original colonies in the years preceding the 1773 Boston Tea Party, an uprising which inevitably led to our declaring independence from England and served as one of the beginning moments of our great Nation’s birth. As the past few years become more scrutinized and the future viewed with increasing consternation, it is becoming all too clear that we as a Nation are closing in on times contrary to our founding principles.
With the increasing attempt to tax We the People and control our commerce by imposing more and more regulation on business and individuals, our nation is creeping closer to a full circle, historical conundrum. The breaking point, whereby the People will act as they did not so long ago against the same intolerable restrictions that faced our original founders so long ago, is yet to be determined.
The Boston uprising in 1773 had much to do with taxation without representation. As stated at BostonTeaParty.org, Americans complained vehemently that taxes were imposed by the imperial government in which the colonies had no voice. The taxation levied from England on the colonies were employed to pay for war debt incurred from the Spanish-Indian War as well as those stemming from soldiers remaining deployed in the colonies (The Quartering Act). There were ten Acts which prompted the Revolution, many of which were revenue tax oriented.
Things are not so dissimilar now. Increased taxation is evermore on the table to pay for an exponentially growing deficit derived from America’s war efforts and National Security initiatives. Due to these fiscally destructive policies, a system is developing where social dissidence is met with claims of anti-patriotism and treated by police as a nation security threat (as opposed to responsible, constitutional American actions against a tyrannical government) and the ever growing governmental control over our every action be they civil or corporate. America seems to have come full circle in terms of historical context.
Many are insisting on higher taxation on the rich to level the playing field but just as in the Clinton Era, higher taxation for those taking risks and pushing hard to better their economic situations is nothing more than an ambition tax. In a time when businesses are able to export their business to other countries to establish manufacturing plants and call centers in lieu of setting up shop here in America, this insistence on class warfare seems counter productive for the cause of job creation. Why should those who make a good living be penalized to benefit the rest of us Americans? Is that the message we want to send: If you obtain a higher education and push yourself to be the best at what you do - profiting as a result - you will be penalized by an out of control government?
As we approach 2012, payroll tax cuts and unemployment extensions will lapse. President Obama’s Jobs Plan puts both of these items back into action to give economic assistance to working families and the unemployed, both just trying to survive in these economic times. The problem though, is how the program is paid for. President Obama proposes $1 trillion dollars in new taxes as part of what is unquestionably a lopsided class attack against those who make more than $250,000 while the right wants to eliminate unemployment compensation and any social benefits while giving full freedom to profit no matter the expense to our environment or worker’s rights.
With all the pandering to lobbyists going on in Washington, We the People are stuck in the middle just hoping for real change. The opinion from the right which has been proven time and time again to be without a basis of reality, is how tax breaks for the middle class and lower income brackets, do not create jobs. The GOP insists en masse that the only way to stimulate the economy is to give tax breaks and to fight to lessen Federal Restrictions on the “job creators” when statistics show the exact opposite affect.
The idea is simple enough to grasp: If 80% of Americans have less money, less money will be spent in the market. Less revenue translates into lost jobs or a hiring freeze. If the unconditional denial of tax cuts for the working class is a staple in the world of fiscal policy as stated in the Republican’s taxation policy, how then do they plan to revitalize an economy based upon consumption and consumer confidence when neither exists?
As stated in The Washington Post, “Economists at the country’s biggest banks have been concerned for months about damage to the economy if Congress didn’t act. In August, the authors of a Goldman Sachs report said that a failure to extend the payroll tax cut and benefits for the unemployed ranked among their three biggest worries for the U.S. economy, alongside Europe’s debt crisis.” But these statistics do not mean we should adopt a socialist system or that of Communism where everyone shares the gains: It just means every American should have Equal Opportunity to excel without bias.
Of course, there are always two sides to every political story. President Obama has recently taken the approach of mud slinging against his naysayers with the adamant insistence that Congress should just “Pass This Bill”. This approach mimics the absurd insistence that Congress pass the Heath Care Act and to paraphrase Nancy Pelosi; read it later to find out what’s in it. The Democrats seem quite content to offer increases in business taxes and increased regulation but seem to forget that at a time when free trade is allowing these same businesses to leave America because of the already high taxes and regulations, this tactic would only exacerbate an already bad situation. Reality it would seem, has escaped this generation of “Representatives”.
The American Jobs Act is high in cost and increases our government’s already bloated size; a trademark of any Obama policy; the worst of which was/is his Health Care Bill. If Obama were truly interested in helping Americans, he wouldn’t hide the continuation of the Payroll tax and unemployment compensation in such an expensive and governmentally expansive Act. The last thing we need in this fragile, economic time, is a larger governmental expense and increased taxation; for anyone.
Obama shows a great deal of political mastery which is no better or no worse than his Republican rivals’. Like a warrior going into the dark to take on the entire army single handedly, our President has undertaken a one man mission to spread the word of his version of job creation as if he alone has the only viable solution. When listening to his speeches on the matter, one cannot help but remember the Republican criticisms of our President of being arrogant. The Commander in Chief, a title seemingly wasted on this man, is supposed to be able to work well with others while effectively commanding the troops. It is painfully apparent that Obama had missed that memo. It is not surprising that the Republicans have signed an unspoken pledge to veto anything he has offered. It is so very sad because We the People need leadership; now, more than ever.
The worst part of watching the politically partisan games and the show of callous indifference in Congress to our Nation’s troubles is the absolute lack of concern for the reality of the American people’s plight. While some of us are surviving many are tanking; finding themselves out of work and some, eventually out of home. It would seem that our “leaders” only want to concentrate on re-election campaigns rather than actually leading us out of the quagmire we are currently suffocating in. There is no worse feeling than to be alone in a time of trouble and suffrage but unfortunately, that is where We the People find ourselves, today.
What is truly killing this country is not just high taxes and business regulation; not just lost jobs worker oppression, it is the side taking obsessing our nation. Congress and our people have been corralled into the limited thinking of Left or Right; Conservative or Liberal; Black or White. This mentality has not only divided us, it has begun to destroy us. We are a nation of people who once shared a common goal; a common work ethic. What has been lost in the maelstrom of greed and blame eroding the very foundations of this great nation, is the reality that we must all face our problems together in a moderate approach, else perish in the ashes of another lost Empire.
Which brings us to the heartbreak: How many people in America are just hoping for real change; real hope? How many escape the right-wing description of useless, holder-on-tos in this society; now the object of such hatred and disrespect for Occupy Wall Street? Not all of those who fell victim to the economic flurry of corporate irresponsibility and over speculation of a made up economy are lazy or in some way, useless. Most are hardworking people who only followed the American Dream even as told to even though it was so greatly disillusioned.
The heart ache is real; the pain surreal; the end, visceral. Anyone standing outside looking in can see it plainly but We the People refuse to no matter the proof countering our dream. Even toward the end of this fantastic journey quickly descending into populace fury, some cling to old ideals as if still asleep; hoping to regain the night’s ephemeral hope; it’s release from reality and fantastical illusion of pure ignorance if only for a moment. Like addicts looking for release, our cultural whole has been ascending into fantasy for too long and now, we as a Nation are being met with the tragic realism of America as it was always destined to be…a short term dream.
Temporary trappings and unrealistic hopes are the bedrock of this Nation. We all in some way are dreaming of a life that seems not only somehow natural but also deserved despite our individual lack of effort toward that end. In this now; this surrealistic interpretation of today, we are all so very embroiled in the false hopes and dreams of a fantasy America which once was that any sense of realism has been lost: Our minds, gone. Does anyone remember why this country was founded to begin with; why our Revolution occurred? The very reason for that historically whelming outcome is what seems to be overtaking this nation today. It would seem that it was all for naught if the current situation overcoming this once great country is not seen for the very anti-populace action that prompted our Declaration on Independence so long ago. For how long will the delusion; the fantasy, last before the morning comes and we all awaken, horrified at what we have become?