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July 14, 2016


A friend of mine sent me a WW II cutout recently that featured pictures of Deanna Durbin and W. C. Fields, her salary and what could be bought for the war effort by the taxes they paid. Deanna Durbin’s annual salary of $206,000 yielded $100,000 in taxes and was enough to buy two 155 mm field guns. W. C Fields’s annual tax bill of $154,000 was enough to build a plane and a tank. Other such pictures and numbers included General Motors, whose annual taxes of $70 million were enough to build a battleship. These are 1940’s numbers and would be far greater these days after several decades of inflation and monopoly pricing.

The first thing that occurred to me when I looked at these numbers was the tax cut George W. Bush engineered for the rich and corporate class during the war with Iraq, a first. Never before had any president of any party slashed taxes DURING A WAR, which speaks to his total irresponsibility and the total greed of those who profited from his largesse.

There are lots of ways to spend money without seeming to spend it, and one is to fail to collect what you could and should otherwise collect, like taxes during wartime, for instance. Tax cuts while in deep deficit are bad enough, since they increase the deficit even more, but tax cuts while in deficit AND during a war are not just tax cuts but irresponsible giveaways.

Bush, like all other presidents, should have proposed tax increases to pay for his war(s), but didn’t. His “wars on the credit card” which cost hundreds of billions of dollars have raised our deficit to unheard of heights, and those of the rich on his dole who stuffed their pockets with his “cuts” are, with amazing chutzpah, now complaining about the deficit and Obama’s role in bringing it about.

Hello! Obama had nothing to do with it; it was Bush’s party and Obama was left to clean up the debris, like those who clean up following the parade of elephants at the circus. Indeed Obama, even with a tea party-led determination to oppose his every initiative, has brought order to the Bush years of fiscal chaos to such a point that a few days ago the Dow was at an all-time high, and even with the uncertainty bred by Brexit and EU jockeying for position, those who profited from Bush’s wartime tax cuts are profiting again with a stratospheric Dow while wages continue to stagnate, wage and wealth equality is expanding and the middle class is being hollowed out. Many of those who were the beneficiaries of Bush’s tax cuts are now opposed to a raise in the minimum wage, and Trump (one of such beneficiaries) even says that wages are too high! Can you spell total greed?

If lobbyists for these Wall Street greed hogs had tried their luck with a tax cut during WW II, they would have been sent packing in short order. It was considered a patriotic thing to do to pay high taxes, work hard in defense industries or serve in the armed forces in the war effort while enduring rationing of gas, sugar, tires etc. The global fascist threat was real and its defeat a first order of business; profit-making was far down the list. Draft-dodgers were looked down upon, unlike now when draft-dodgers run for office (Cheney, Clinton, Trump, Gingrich, Romney et al.) and hold their hands over their hearts when the flag goes by in a parade, a flag they chose not to defend when their hides were on the line.

While not seditious, I think that Bush’s run-up of the deficit was not only irresponsible but unpatriotic as well. He did this country no favors when his giveaways to those who didn’t need it hobbled the country’s ability to engage in needed initiatives in the future, initiatives such as education, repair and renewal of our crumbling infrastructure etc. Thanks, George! We appreciate your help.

As to WW II, I can speak with some authority because I lived it. I was also a draft-dodger during that war but dodged it via volunteering at age 17 and was in New Guinea when my draft notice was forwarded to me when I had turned draft age at age 18. I did not appear at the court house for the swearing in as a draftee, being otherwise occupied at the time.

There are many ways one can be irresponsible and act against the interests of one’s country, such as a failure to serve one’s country in time of need, running up deficits for no good reason, especially during wartime etc. Paying high taxes during WW II was not only the patriotic thing to do but made economic sense by avoiding an exploding deficit for future generations to pay, generations who had no voice in the vote that indebted them.

Greed seems to be an all-encompassing condition of body and spirit and perhaps incurable, but irresponsibility is curable. The next time (if ever) that a president proposes a tax reduction during a war or even when we have a deficit of any size, we should all as one collectively ask him or her: “Are you out of your cotton-picking mind? Let’s raise our taxes and pay our bills. It’s the responsible thing to do.”    GERALD      E


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