For me, political parties are necessary to sustain a democracy. A one-party state, such as what once existed in Florida under racist white Democrats with power and now exists in Florida with racist white Republicans in charge, is absurd and anti-American, particularly considering democratic values. As a Republican most of my life, I found Howard Dean’s message in 2004 to be quite a good message. Sad to see his reputation shattered by ignorant and stupid scum in America. What a disgusting bunch of people who have evolved, clinging to their stupidity, into Proud Boys, Qanon, etc., as violent thugs of insurrection. Being that your magazine is published in Britain, the same type of thugs who got away with murder of a British agent because he was illegally importing rum for the Caribbean (John Hancock) and his friend, Sam Adams, we were led by such thugs, even if John Adams was not sure it was the correct path to follow. However, it was John, not Sam, who became the second president of the USA. The long and the short of it, we in America make a pledge with “…with liberty and justice for all.” The thugs are hypocrites in reciting such a pledge because they, along with 33K healthcare workers in NY who refuse vaccinations, actually mean, “… with liberty and justice only for me, myself, and I and the rest be damned.”
Your article about “ways and means” (subtitled “America will never have a European-style welfare state without a VAT)” struck a nerve with me. I became aware of a VAT, perhaps before Europe embraced it as it does. Where did I learn this? From CONSERVATIVE and founder of the magazine, The National Review, William F. Buckley, Jr.Today, iwth its fascist attitudes imprinted in that magazine, I would not touch it with a thirty-foot pole, as well as fascist news on Fox, Newsmax, and other sources which proclaim themselves as “conservative.” I find these groups to be very offensive.
What I once liked about being a Republican was the fact that so many were “socially progressive and fiscally conservative.” Buckley was socially progressive when he described smoking pot and finding nothing wrong with it. Yes, compared to the impact of alcohol, pot is non-addictive and better. I just don’t care to do it. At the same time, Buckley was fiscally conservative. In introducing the VAT (and other sources I have read), there is absolutely no desire to have a welfare state by using a VAT.
In this instance, I believe your writer used the ideas of Dr. Howard Dean, who urged Democrats to “re-frame the issues” so as to make them palatable for more people. Your writer has “re-framed” the issue so as to make the idea of a VAT un-palatable to the wealthy crust at the top. Another form of hypocrisy in that group at the top is to downgrade the ideas of a welfare state while looking the other way at ideas for CORPORATE welfare subsidies.
This last point is well expressed in your article, as you point out the convoluted mess we call an income tax here which is being used to help those at the top “subsidize” themselves and giving a free ride to those at the bottom of the welfare state. Meanwhile, the ones who are really being hurt is the destruction of a Middle Class which is pertinent for a democratic state to operate more efficiently. To me observing what has happened since Reagan took power in 1980, is a deliberate task to destroy the federal S&Ls, public health systems, public education with its teaching of civics education so the Middle Class can have some knowledge of what makes government good, rather than convincing them only that it’s Reagan’s idea of “only government is the problem.” None of these aspects were described in our article, at all.
Yes, you did mention that VAT is similar to state and local sales taxes. One thing the Democrats of Florida did (and continued by the Republican one-party state machinery there) is to NOT have an income tax at all, but to have a sales tax, added to property taxes with primary residence homestead exemption. VAT would be better than a sales tax because of less figuring by the consumer of what the tax is on each item. The “sales” tax is added as the “value” passed along to the consumer. For small businesses (which have been destroyed in America by lawyers and big corporate “Goliath”-style (figurative) giants (given free rides by SCOTUS and the “Citizens United” Decision). Why do I say this? Because I observed the NY sales tax introduced and noted the impact on small rural businesses who had to do extra work in maintaining accurate records of sales and report them to the New York State Taxation Dept. This cut into small business overhead and eventually helped to destroy small businesses as big corporations experience less percentage of overhead (cutting into profits) than small businesses. A VAT would decrease such events and (boo hoo!) put accountants and tax lawyers with less business so they can do what they really SHOULD be doing and get out of the “tax” business. Boo hoo t them, spoken as an educator who also witnessed the travesty of privatization of education by people like Jeb Bush and others in Florida. Nobody gave one damn about the impact on teachers and professors, did they? I can be a mean SOB and not give one damn about how the VAT would impact those making tons of money off taxes. For one thing, rather than invent ambulance-chasing, educators had to resort to other means of income and pull themselves up by the bootstraps the best they could. Educators in Florida often worked three and four extra jobs, especially if one-income families or as single moms or dads. Perhaps lawyers and accountants should experience the same things?
As for this crap about a “welfare” state, Bill Clinton once said, “a safety net is not a hammock.” Translation. Safety nets are not for “infinity and beyond” but a hammock is eome place where we can place our asses and never get up – for infinity and beyond. What a shame that the name Lewinsky overrides everything which Bill Clinton was about. His penis was more important than anything else, evidently. Oh, that’s right! I should not use the word, “penis,” in America because we Americans are so puritanical in thoughts that we don’t accept “fleshy” art work, as they do in Europe. Americans apparently like the pope who ripped the penis off a statue of David. FOR SHAME to me for bluntly telling a Roman Catholic that he was trying to dictate and impose HIS ideas and his ideas alone, as he complained about nude paintings in the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach. There are many Americans who appreciate works of art, whether paintings, photographs, drawings, or what not, and that man has no right to infringe on the “…liberty and justice for all” by imposing his own idea of “…liberty and justice” which fits only him, as if we all where the same size glove or shoes.
I diverge here in order to emphasize how much there is a “norm” established and dictated to us all which treads on our own liberties and justice. This includes the way income taxes are so convoluted in America that it infringes on the “liberties and justice” of the Middle Class. Democrats want a welfare state? If so, I don’t like the Democrats who push such an agenda and refuse to consider other SOLUTIONS to our PROBLEMS. On the same token, we rarely find the Republicans who were the ones who came from the foundations of that party, opposed to slavery (of all kinds) and worked with ideas of “socially progressive and fiscally conservative.” Fiscally conservative, to most of us, meant regulated capitalist supply and demand, not an aristocratic fat hedge hog idea of supply side only. it was not a measure of whether the government spent money or not. It was a matter of doing so efficiently and for “liberty and justice for all.” This article, “Ways and means,” does discuss the efficiencies which don’t exist in our American economics, but it burns me the way it goes into how the VAT helps create the welfare state, then burns the Democrats who it proclaims DO want a welfare state. For me as a Democrat, that is an insult. Perhaps when such Democrats scratch their heads at having to deal with this question, as Clinton perhaps did, they go off to find sex with someone? To relieve the pain? I don’t say this in forgiving Bill Clinton and his lack of self-control, but I do say this to try to come to grips with reasons WHY he might have done what he did, even if it is mere speculation.
Sweden is mentioned in this article. I don’t question the statistics given because I have to trust they are true and factual. I do have to question the lack of discussion regarding the homogeneity of the race and culture in Sweden, as opposed to the USA. That is more of an important considertion in all of this discussion about “welfare state” or even about “socialism.” A recent New York Times book review told us about how President Nixon tried to provide for “incubation” of new black businesses in North Carolina, but failed due to one Republican who was considered so damn powerful that he must have scared Nixon. That Republican was jackass white racist Republican from North Carolina named Jesse Helms. Like Mitch McConnell, that bastard of North Carolina held this nation hostage with his ideas about white superiority. He did what many Southern Republican leaders are attempting to do today. According to a TV Guide article from the past, Helms was also responsible for manipulating things like destroying Star Trek due to an inter-racial kiss. Helms also used his power and influence to destroy Robert Maplethorpe exhibits (and other matters regarding the arts) because of frontal nudity in the photographs. Freaking Helms with HIS own definition of “liberty and justice” … FOR HELMS … was imposed on us all. Fortunately, the Star Trek thing backfired, but consider this. It was only when another southerner (Jimmy Carter) and the Democrats took power in 1976. That was NOT a question of “welfare state,” but a question of being socially progressive and anti-racist. Same thing can be said about another Democrat from the South whose image was tarnished by several things (like involvement in Vietnam). LBJ worked to get the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act passed, even if he fumbled the ideas for a “Great Society” in some of the unorganized urban development projects. In that case, his heart was in the right place, exemplified by the passage of civil rights legislation. As I always, say, if one expects perfection, then that person is a stupid idiot because perfection of human beings does not exist. If one has the expectation that Democrats are perfect, then think again, stupid. Even Frank Sinatra mentioned how he loved fixing our nation’s problems, even if this is an imperfect nation.
At the end of the day, one can argue that any tax can be considered regressive, as this article pointed out about the sales tax or VAT. One dictionary definition of “regressive” says, “taking a proportionally greater amount from those on lower incomes.” In order to avoid this from happening with income taxes, we give earned income tax credits to which, as the article pointed out, leaves almost nothing paid by that “lower” the proportion taken from the lower classes. The net result is a rebuke by the upper classes and the Middle Class being destroyed in the process as it becomes incumbent on that one “lower class” – the Middle Class – to absorb most of the taxes. That was NEVER discussed in this article, leaving the reader left out in the dark on this matter. Instead, the writer intones the “regressive” nature of the VAT or sales tax. The person appears to really speak as if he/she is against the VAT so uses various mechanisms to address his adversity, while appearing like the person is an advocate of the VAT. I don’t get it. Please tell me how a VAT is “regressive” when the ones purchasing their own personal yachts, planes, expensive elitist imported items (not affordable to those in the lower classes), and what not would end up paying a large chunk of taxes that many in the lower classes would not pay? By saying this, the person writing this article appears to have no sense of what “regressive” means.
The true reason as to why the upper crust does not want a VAT is because this would have the impact, if implemented correctly, of removing the loopholes which the upper crust can use to justify THEIR corporate welfare. In America, this upper crust might complain about a “higher tax rate” for them, but have the ability with a regressive income tax to use “workarounds” which might be more difficult with an opaque VAT. Truly, I say to you, get rid of the capital gains tax, the income tax, the inheritance taxes. Replace them all with a VAT and stop with the BS of counting who makes out better. Just applaud and reward people for making money and profits and we can bring back American ingenuity.
Another problem with LBJ and his “Great Society” was the farm subsidies in order to take into consideration how selling more milk would lower the price of the milk in a capitalist economy. It completely removed ingenuity to meet the demands of the consumers and finding other ways to use the product, besides just the drinking of milk. With this black hole of ingenuity, a European dairy company, utilizing the notion about “pasture-raised” cow butter took a piece of the American market. A VAT would be designed with a higher “tariff” on imported goods and give home-grown products a leg up in the market. Subsidies for farmers simply destroyed the market. We have read about upstate NY farmers who “dump their milk.” Dump the milk? What the hell is that, when considering the many aspects of milk like that of peppermint and lemon for dealing with pests. In this case, a milk product has proven effective, with copper sulfide, in fighting fungus. There are other possibilities, too, which are ignored, in favor of mass market considerations, rather than meeting the needs of smaller markets, thus helping to bolster the prices paid to farmers. It is called regulated capitalism, not subsidies and handouts. Capitalism has been given a black mark by Karl Marx who was an idiot in his assessments of economics. Adam Smith wanted to counter the prevailing ideas of his day regarding supply-side economics of manors, feudal property, etc.. Supply-side economics which created a serfdom and slavery. To the “moral sentiment” of Scottish, Adam Smith, these were wrong. Yet, he got shafted by Marx because the industrialists chose to adopt Smith’s ideas but conform the ideas to what already helped the elitists gain all their money they horded over others. Supply-side economics, not capitalism with regulation of supply and demand was blamed. Thus we ended up with Marxist ideas of central control by big corporations and monopolies while proclaiming them as being “great capitalists.” The are not. They are centrally controlled. It might not be a government or nationalized corporations, but it is centrally controlled. In turn, these people work to control the very government which SHOULD be regulating supply AND demand. By use of corrupt practices and “martini lunches” these hedg hog elitists control our lives and thus bring about anger of people /like Proud Boys who don’t know anything about what true democratic government SHOULD be and just resort to violence and guns with the U.S. Constitution’s 2nd Amendment, while being coerced into believing colored people are at fault for their situation and never taking a look at how much better off THEY are, compared to so many other nations in this world – and living by APPRECIATING what they have, in comparison. Then I cringe at reading about the VAT needed to endorse the “welfare state” when the VAT was conceived by those who did not like the welfare state. Absurd and with a hollow tone.