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Why are the super-rich so opposed to taxes?


How much money does anyone need, anyhow? I used to work for a very wealthy family. They spent money like it was water. Their wealth was unfathomable, yet they still resented what few dollars they paid. During the 2016 Republican primary season they were inclined to support Ted Cruz—yes, that Ted Cruz, the most disreputable man in Washington now that Trump has left town. Cruz, they figured, would lower their taxes so that they could buy more mansions, planes, baubles.

Now we have President Biden, who is promising “to reward work, not just wealth,” by raising the tax on capital gains and on giant corporations.

Imagine that, rewarding work, not wealth!

Republicans, predictably, are bitterly opposed. Most Republican congressmen are not rich, but they hope to be, which is why they carry water for their billionaire corporate paymasters, who they assume will someday reward them when, having been tossed out of office in a Democratic wave, they can then land a cushy job in P.R. or on some do-nothing Board. Perhaps that is the vision of Rep. Kevin Brady, the Republican from Texas’s 8th Congressional District. “Another economic blunder by the Biden administration,” Brady thundered about the President’s tax plans. “It punishes investment in local businesses,” he added.

Brady knows something about “local businesses.” One of the nation’s largest oil companies, Anadarko Petroleum (acquired by Occidental Petroleum in 2019) is headquartered in Brady’s District, and—surprise!—Anadarko has been one of Brady’s top campaign contributors.

Well, it would be fun to spend a couple weeks tracing the nefarious connections between rightwing Republicans and the secret money they feed on. I’ll leave that to Jane Mayer. Meanwhile, all of this begs the question of why Republican voters—the little guys, the working stiffs—are so opposed to raising taxes on the rich.

I mean, it’s not like poor Republicans have any love of billionaires. I think we all resent the .01 percent, maybe not personally, but in terms of the way they consistently rake off the national wealth for themselves, and then buy Republican politicians to help them keep the scam going. I imagine some Appalachian dirt farmer in Kentucky, who can barely afford to repair his car or put food on the table for his family—the kind of person showcased in the book and movie, Hillbilly Elegy.

This man is dignified, unashamed of his calloused hands, proud of his roots, and damned if he’ll beg for help from anyone, especially “the gummint.” He’s a devout Christian (even if he doesn’t always live his life in a Christian way), and he thinks most city dwellers are more or less perverted, if they’re not actual Communists and terrorist sympathizers. He has little more than a grade school education, but he doesn’t trust elite college graduates anyway; what do they know of his life? His granddaddy may have voted Democrat back in the day, but he, himself, is a solid Republican, a Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell guy. And because they tell him that taxing billionaires will make him even poorer than he already is, he’s against taxing billionaires. Does our poor Kentucky dirt farmer ever sit down and think things through, like why raising Charles Koch’s taxes would hurt him? Koch is worth $63 billion-with-a-“b,” and his dark money may be the single most potent force in the American anti-tax movement. The answer is, it’s most unlikely our farming friend ever puts his mind through such mental contortions. He’s not inclined to critical thinking, and besides, he trusts good ole Mitch and good ole Rand, and that’s all there is to it. Doesn’t the Greatest Christian of modern times, Trump, say the same thing? “I hope they don’t raise your taxes, but if they do I told you so,” he warned his fans in his so-called “farewell address” on Jan. 20, just two weeks after fomenting insurrection. Of course, by “they” he meant Biden’s Democrats, and when he predicted “they” would raise “your” taxes he did not explain that Biden has no intent of raising taxes on “them,” the little people, but only on the superrich. However, this truth was concealed from Republican voters (who, watching Fox “News,” didn’t even know what Biden was proposing), and our farming friend in Kentucky was given more reason than ever to remain a Republican. “I’m a poor man,” he said to his friends at the local honky-tonk, where a few nights a week he can escape his crushing existence. “I can’t afford to pay no more taxes.” Fist bumps and clanging beer mugs around the bar! Toasts to “President Trump, who won the election.” Somebody says “Hang Pence” The band swings into Dixie. A man drapes himself in a Confederate flag and, brandishing a Glock 19, screams, “From my cold dead hands!” A woman, drunk and reeling, begins singing “God bless President Trump.” Our poor dirt farmer, among his people, is happy.

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