April 7th, 2011 18:54 EST
New York State Governor and Politicians Pass Budget Favoring Millionaires, Screwing The Middle Class
Albany upholds the predator class
News reports about New York State`s debt range from scholarly to learned to informed to unfathomable, but they have in common an absence of the ordinary man`s common sense.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has succeeded in engineering a Draconian budget that targets education and Medicaid, but while the press marvels at the near miracle of the state enacting a budget on time it sidesteps the question foremost on the minds of upstate taxpayers with a lick of savvy:
While the deficit hawks in Albany pat themselves on the back, do they suppose for a moment that they`re offering any comfort to beleaguered property owners, many of whom have already been screwed by banks and the banks` developer-buddies?
[Here is the Treasury Department`s account of the national debt down to the penny, including the identities of our debt`s holders.]
The inevitable response to Albany`s newfound fiscal conservatism will be higher property taxes, and all around the state assessors are hard at work raising evaluations and bullshitting taxpayers that it doesn`t necessarily mean a tax rate increase or higher taxes.
It damned well will mean higher taxes to fill the void the state is leaving, because Cuomo`s victory hardly means that communities will be similarly willing to bite the bullet. There is too much patronage, too much jurisdictional overlap, too much taking care of pals for that, and the governor and the state legislature know this very well.
Local assessors have broad discretion and very little oversight. Few taxpayers can afford to fight them, the way General Electric has fought the IRS, for example, and gotten away with paying virtually no taxes.
Seen in this light, the recent dealings in Albany, whatever your views about austerity and overspending, are only sleight of hand, because New York property taxpayers, already up against the wall, will be shot where they stand by their own communities struggling to adjust to Albany`s cutbacks.
Cutting a budget in Washington or Albany is much easier than cutting a budget in Horseheads or Catskill. In Horseheads and Catskill the victims have faces. In Washington and Albany they`re faceless, represented, if they`re lucky, by paid lobbyists. When you have to pull the rug out from under somebody you go to church with, someone in your lodge or Legion hall, it`s not so easy to crow about deficits and austerity.
The governor and his allies have pulled off a cheap trick. Their deeply flawed strategy dodges the larger issues, just as the deficit hawks in Washington dodge them by blaming everything on bloated government " in Washington while saying nothing of corrupt and bloated local and regional government.
Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar aren`t the enemies, they`re just stand-ins for the self-righteous suits we send to Washington who have their minds made up about everything under the sun, never mind the facts.
Take the federal debt or the New York State debt. The federal debt stands at about $14 trillion. The New York debt is about $120 billion. Right-wingers are using those numbers to scare us into starving out just about everything that gives Americans any hope of a better future. And they`re getting away with it.
But are such extreme cutbacks the only solution? No, they`re not. There are other solutions, but politicians bought and paid for by business lobbyists don`t want to hear them, and that`s what makes them our real enemy. We have no voice about our taxes, but corporations do, and that`s why the tax burden is falling on the middle class and helping to eat it alive.
Al Qaeda attacked us and we started to take our republican democracy apart, calling it security when in fact it was a domestic power grab. The economy falters and the politicians want to take the middle class down and step on the necks of the poor.
What makes the New York situation especially cynical is that all along the state`s politicians have had a solution at hand which they chose to dismiss because it offended Wall Street, the same Wall Street that screwed the middle class and then begged for welfare from the same taxpayers it screwed.
The state could, as the reformer Ralph Nader has advocated, levy a tax on Wall Street speculators.
Listen to what Nader says:
Let`s start with a fairness point. Why should you pay a 5 to 6 percent sales tax for buying the necessities of life, when tomorrow, some speculator on Wall Street can buy $100 million worth of Exxon derivatives and not pay one penny in sales tax? Let`s further add a point of common sense. The basic premise of taxation should be to first tax what society likes the least or dislikes the most, before it taxes honest labor or human needs. "
In that way, " Nader continues, revenues can be raised at the same time as the taxes discourage those activities which are least valued, such as the most speculative stock market trades, pollution (a carbon tax), gambling, and the addictive industries that sicken or destroy health and amass large costs.
So, your member of Congress, who is grappling these days with gigantic deficits on the backs of your children at the same time as that deep recession and tax cuts reduce revenues and increase torrents of red ink, should be championing such transaction taxes. "
Read Nader`s full argument here and decide for yourself whether this idea should have been cold-shouldered in Albany. And while you`re reading it, ask yourself why the popular press gave it short shrift.
The state`s failure to enact a tax on plastic bottles, coupled with blowing off Nader`s ideas and cutting out the supplemental tax on the mega-rich, sticks it squarely to the property owner who is already stressed by the highest property taxes in the country and the thieving machinations of developers and bankers. The state has, in effect, nurtured confiscatory taxation of the poor and middle class in order to uphold the predator class. The bottle industry and the bankers lobbied Albany expensively to get theirs, but the average taxpayer was incapable of even obtaining honesty with his meager vote. Is this representative government?
And yet many of the same politicians who have now so callously stabbed the property owner in the back will get themselves re-elected by badmouthing bloated government in Washington. They could have done something where they stood, but they opted to hornswoggle the voters by scapegoating the federal government for all our ills. And complacent media let them get away with this cheap trick.
Here`s my take about that: Ralph Nader doesn`t generate any advertising revenue for the press, but Wall Street does. The press is not about keeping you informed first, it`s about making money first. It shares this predicament with the politicians. In both cases, you`re incidental. We live in a capitalist society, so we`re up against a necessary evil here. We must hope and pray that idealism will temper greed and self-seeking, and in Albany idealism has just lost a big round.
Djelloul Marbrook is a retired newspaperman. His second book of poems, Brushstrokes and Glances, will be published by Deerbrook Editions on December 20, 2010. His first book of poems, Far From Algiers, won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize from Kent State University in 2007 and was published in 2008. It won the International Book Award in 2010. His novella, Artemisia`s Wolf, will be published by Prakash Books of India in December. His novella, Saraceno, was recently published as an e-book. His story, Artists Hill, adapted from the second novel of an unpublished trilogy, won the Literal LattÃ© first prize in fiction in 2008. The pioneering e-book publisher, Online Originals (UK), published his novella, Alice MIller`s Room, in 1999.
Del`s book, Far From Algiers: http://upress.kent.edu/books/Marbrook_D.htm
New review of Far from Algiers: http://www.rattle.com/blog/2009/05/far-from-algiers-by-djelloul-marbrook/
Artists Hill, Literal LattÃ©`s fiction first prize: http://www.literal-latte.com/author/djelloulmarbrook/
His blog: http://www.djelloulmarbrook.com
His mother`s art: http://www.juanitaguccione.com
His aunt`s art: http://www.irenericepereira.com