Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Return To Pre-Revolutionary France

Paul Krugman has written a blistering analysis of what the Republicans call tax "reform." They're using the same arguments that George W. Bush used to sell his tax plan. But there are new and egregious add-ons:

There are also some new aspects to this latest money grab. This time around, much more clearly than before, the goal seems to be to favor wealth, especially inherited wealth, over work. And buried in the legislation are multiple measures that would make it much harder for the children of the middle and working classes to work their way up.

The bill targets middle class families and makes it harder for children to achieve the American Dream -- to rise further than their parents have:

Suppose that a child from a working-class family decides, despite limited financial resources, to attend college, probably taking out a loan to help pay tuition. Well, guess what: Under the House bill, that interest would no longer be deductible, substantially raising the cost of college.
What if you’re working your way through school and your employer contributes toward your education expenses? The House bill would make that contribution taxable income.
What if your parent is a university employee, and you get reduced tuition as a result? That tuition break becomes taxable income. So would tuition breaks for graduate students who work as teaching or research assistants.
So what we’re looking at here are a variety of measures that will close off opportunities for children who weren’t clever enough to choose wealthy parents.

And, because the bill also reduces the inheritance tax, it makes it easier for the wealthy to pass on their fortunes to their children. It's clear, Krugman writes, that the Republicans are planning to entrench plutocracy:

The tax legislation Republicans are trying to ram through Congress with indecent haste, without hearings or time for any kind of serious study, looks an awful lot like an attempt not simply to reinforce plutocracy, but to entrench a hereditary plutocracy.

It's not just stupid economic policy -- it's a return to pre-revolutionary France.

Image: mentalfloss.com


Lorne said...

I was thinking about this issue this morning, Owen, as I read The Star. Although I will not vote for the Liberals in the next provincial election, their decision to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour strikes me as the best way to stimulate the economy, as people at the lower end of the economic spectrum tend to spend more of their money. Tax cuts for the rich, despite the propaganda, do no such thing.

Another peek behind the curtain, eh?

Owen Gray said...

Exactly, Lorne. The best thing you can do for the economy is to force the dead money at the top of the pyramid down into the hands of the people who will spend it.

Toby said...

The reference to Pre-Revolutionary France is apt. While the population of France was relatively stable during the reign of Louis XIV, it grew after his death by 45.9% over the next 74 years. The means to support the growing population did not keep up. (Feel free to check my math.)


Whenever a society is under stress there will always be demagogues and rabble-rousers stirring up the masses and looking to take advantage. All they need is a flash point.

The Revolution of 1789 is one of the most important events in history and should be fully understood by all. It is always understood by such as Lenin and Pol Pot.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Toby. These days the French Revolution is a mere story. Its causes have been forgotten.

Steve said...

Let them eat soylent green

Owen Gray said...

Those who voice that opinion will lose their heads, Steve.