Yesterday, Mike's sermon was about Jesus' lesson on not worrying about clothing or food and about not worshiping "mammon". After the sermon, we had a great discussion about what that means for us today. And, being the political group we are, it came around to talking about what we should be doing as a society and what the government should be doing.
Generally speaking, we're a pretty liberal bunch at Nexus. During Mike's sermon he showed some recent graphs showing the increasing gap between the rich and the middle class and the poor. Speaking for myself, I find that growing gap to be deplorable. The rich are getting richer while the middle class is losing ground and the poor are just barely holding their own. So, we inevitably got around to the budget cuts going on right now- cuts which seem to be targeted at the people who can least afford them. Most of us were talking about how deplorable the cuts are. One of our members point out (rightfully so) that we cannot keep up the deficit spending we've been doing. I absolutely agree with her. Something's gotta give. But, I wonder, when John Boehner says "We're broke.", who is the "we"? He's right. Tax revenues for the government are down. Government spending is up. The government is broke, just like a lot of us are. But, wait a minute. During the midst of this financial crisis, while the government is strapped, the middle class is losing ground and the poor are suffering, the rich are not only getting richer, the rich are paying tax rates that are historically low. So, while, I agree with Boehner, the "we" he is talking about is the middle class, the poor and the government, not the top 1% of income earners. The top 1% who, by the way, control 35% of the wealth in this country. Sure, our government needs to be more responsible with how it spends money. It's way out of control. But, I'm not sure the problem is simply the fact that the country is broke. I think the rich are trying to take advantage of this fiscal crisis to fundamentally alter what the American public expects out of its government. I am not at all convinced that a tax increase on the wealthy would be a bad idea. The top marginal federal tax rate has been as high as 90% in the past. Today it's at 35% and we're being told the rich cannot afford to raise it to 39%. And, we believe that!
While we're all scrambling around fretting over insufficient funds and debating about whether we can afford to continue to fund programs like home heating assistance, the rich continue to get richer. We believe that wealth redistribution is a bad thing, a socialist thing. When Barack Obama told Joe the Plumber he'd like to spread the wealth around a little bit, he was labeled a socialist. People in this country are very scared of socialists. I've got news for you who fear wealth redistribution. It's already happening. The thing that amazes me is middle class and poor conservatives keep buying into the very system that is taking the wealth of our country and redistributing it. Increasingly, our country is turning into a plutocracy, a society run by the rich for the benefit of the rich. Why aren't people who of scared of socialism scared of plutocracies?
While the rich and the corporations do have most of the wealth and the power. The rest of us still have 90% of the vote. It's not too late to change things.