Taxes, Death, and Greed

You know the two certainties in life. In truth, there are at least three. The third is: the greedy are always among us, and usually above us. There's a relation to the first two. To be greedy commits a person to an eternal war with taxes. The more a fellow hates taxes, the deeper into greed he has likely fallen.

Those who say “freedom isn’t free,” and who mean it sincerely, don’t allow themselves to become greedy. They won’t get mixed up sharing the cost of what makes this nation great, in what the Framers used to call “blood and treasure.” They know that freedom involves sacrifice in the household. But often we do allow our resentment to descend into selfishness. That attitude fails to honor the sacrifices of those who gave the last full measure of devotion, those whose faces we are shown when the TV says "freedom isn't free." Death, taxes. They are too close for comfort. It’s funny how rich folks almost never say that freedom isn’t free.

To be greedy is also to live as if death were not a certainty, as if one could buy heaven or construct it here on earth. Yes, the greedy do know about death, sort of. They set up trusts for their children and scurry to secure their estates from inheritance taxes. Meanwhile, ungreedy people with common sense, who become wealthy, see to it that their children earn their own money. Ungreedy wealthy people (and there are some) have seen what becomes of the children of the rich. Those who are born into such privilege rarely turn out to be happy, healthy people. They become petulant and immature adults who cannot grasp the idea of an honest day’s work. Nor can they imagine the effects of their behavior on ordinary people. One such child occupies the White House. If ever there was a person whose greed set him at odds with taxes and death, it’s the orange-tinted man-child who whines on twitter several times a day.

I saw a celebration yesterday of greedy people, House Republicans congratulating themselves on the only thing they’ve been able to accomplish this year: reward their corporate masters with billions in corporate welfare (your money, or your debt), and with a bonus for the wealthy individuals who run those enterprises: personal tax cuts into the millions. Their party was sickening to me. Rich people, praising other rich people for being so rich and so very clever; the rest of America watching with knowing disgust. Will they remember this smug episode in November? I think so.

What is worse is that fear and hate drive the nation's vote, but then Republicans, while playing to that fear, now do what we actually ought to have feared all along. But they are good at distracting us and making us fear what will never harm us, namely each other, in our diversity.

The Republicans have done it this way as long as there have been Republicans. They change their target for whipping up hate and fear as the times shift –is it the Irish, or an influx of eastern European immigrants, or Bolsheviks, or Nazis, or 227 communists in the State Department, or black civil rights marchers, or hippy anti-war subversives, or Russians, or gay marriage, or illegal Mexican workers, or Muslims, or now, of all things, women, that I am supposed to be afraid of? I can't keep up. A question for you: How long do they have to behave this way before we recognize that they know this is all a distraction. What do Republicans really serve? The answer will not evade you for long: money.

Republicans will embrace any difference so long as it is willing to serve money. There are rich people who have emerged from every hated and feared category I just listed, and the Republicans are fine with them. They aren’t afraid of Saudi princes or Russian businessmen, or former communist leaders, or Clarence Thomas and Condi Rice. But somehow the possession of wealth, the willingness to defend wealth, and the privilege and power to come with it, makes a person acceptable to those who celebrated yesterday. Be as female or as black or as queer or as Muslim or as Mexican as you wish, but only swear to serve Mammon: you may join the party --and the Party. You won't pay taxes and maybe you won't die (or at least you can live as if you won't). I suppose we won’t be seeing Trump’s taxes. What do you bet he doesn’t pay any?

The self-congratulations of House Republicans have nothing to do with you and me. But there was Mike Bost, right among them. He’ll be getting a tax break, I think. He can correct me if I’m wrong. My taxes actually go up under this new plan. But I don’t mind paying taxes. Freedom isn’t free. I saw Bost pitch a childish fit on television over taxes once. I think he doesn’t like to pay them. Maybe he thinks freedom should be free, for him at least. I wonder how charitable he is. It would be good if we could see his tax returns. I am certainly happy to make mine public. Let that be a challenge to you Mr. Bost. Show us whether you are greedy. Show us whether you just gave yourself a raise, in effect. You didn’t give me one. But then, I didn’t ask for anything from your greedy friends.



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