An open letter to all the self-righteous, high-paid taxpayers and their equally pompous offspring:
Dear Pillagers of the Public Trough,
I’m poor. I didn’t used to be. But now Republicanomics is dictating more pain for those of us who are not wealthy. According to the Dept. of Labor, 2.3 million payroll jobs have been lost since this president took office. According to projections by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, based on Dept. of Labor data, approximately 760,000 of the unemployed will have exhausted their unemployment benefits by the end of this month. Yet the current administration seems to believe that job creation is and should be at the behest of the tax-relieved affluent.
The top 1 percent of Americans and the highest paid executives were not solely responsible for that huge budget surplus we built up in the 1990s. Some people that are earning minimum wage right now and working part time were making as much as rocket scientists during that time. I should know – I’m one of them. On Oct. 15, 2001, I was laid off from a job where I was making $70,000 per year and happily paying my taxes. I made $3,400 last year. I want some public benefits from those taxes I paid into. Some real and measurable job creation would be a good start. I’m not particularly keen on the faith-based economic initiatives that would have me believe that tax relief for millionaires will equal jobs for the rest of us.
I believed in the American dream. Or the version of it that I saw propagated before the current regime took office. At that time, learning a skill and wanting to work meant having a job. Having a job meant having a foot in the door. Having a foot in the door meant upward mobility. In the current economic environment, this is clearly no longer the case.
I grew up in South Central Los Angeles during a time of all-out war between gangs, police and drug dealers. I, and many other American citizens who were not born in privileged circumstances, just want the opportunity to use our freedom and initiative to move up the ladder of success. However, the newly structured distribution of wealth by the current administration is akin to an economic shutout. If you cut funding to promote services for the poor, sick, elderly and uneducated, you effectively burn the bridge to the American dream for many of us. Some Americans can’t afford to be healthy or educated without help from our government. Health and education are arguably prerequisites to the enjoyment of the benefits of democracy.
Economic leadership in this country seems more intent on increasing profits for the wealthiest among us than fostering an economic environment that is conducive to the wellbeing of its citizens. This is evident in the outsourcing of jobs endorsed by this administration. Gregory Mankiw, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, has said that the outsourcing of American jobs was “something that we should realize is probably a plus for the economy in the long run.” I guess that theory might hold water if it’s not your job that’s being outsourced – not your comfortable lifestyle that’s evaporating as you slide down Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
According the Economic Report of the President, the administration is considering reclassifying fast-food jobs as manufacturing jobs. The report asks the following: “When a fast-food restaurant sells a hamburger, for example, is it providing a ‘service’ or is it combining inputs to ‘manufacture’ a product?” What does this have to do with tax relief you ask? The report goes on to state the following: “Suppose it was decided to offer tax relief to manufacturing firms, because the manufacturing category is not well defined, firms would have an incentive to characterize themselves as in manufacturing. Administering the tax relief could be difficult, and the tax relief may not extend to the firms for which it was enacted.” Perhaps all that tax relief will foster is an economy built on “hamburger manufacturers.”
Tiye Baldwin is a Daily Nexus staff writer.