The Republic of Inequalstan invades Planet Mahers
September 26, 2011


Conservative economicsDuring a recent campaign stop, Mitt Romney was asked about President Obama’s “Buffett Plan”, calling for “a minimum tax on the rich”. Romney’s response was to criticize the plan as “Class warfare” (natch), adding, “I want everyone to be rich!” Bill Maher made the observation on his show, “Real Time”, last week, “if everyone were a millionaire, who would do all those things that millionaires hire people to do for them? Like clean their homes, drive them around, do their laundry…” This reminded me of something I saw on “Up! with Chris Hayes” over the weekend (h/t C&L):

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Briefly, Hayes, in the context of Republicans REPEATEDLY bemoaning that “the top 10% pays 70% of all income taxes”, imagines “a fictional Libertarian paradise” called “Inequalstan”. “Inequalstan” has a population of just ten people, nine of whom earn just $10 a year, while one guy makes 10 times as much: $100 a year.” Inequalstan has a flat tax “where everyone pays exactly 10% of their income in taxes.” The nine “poor” people pay $1 a year each in taxes while the one rich guy pays $10 in taxes (10%). Total annual tax revenue: $19 a year. That means the rich guy is paying more than 50% of all the taxes. This is where Hayes should of reminded people that “This is under a FLAT TAX!” Even in “Libertarian utopia”, the rich pay a majority of the taxes. “That’s because they own a majority of the wealth”, Hayes rightly points out. “Conservatives are using evidence of inequality to defend inequality.” Well said.

Plato used this same method more than 2000 years ago (around 360BC) in one of the most famous/ancient books of all time, “Plato’s Republic”. The object of his story: To prove that selfishness and immorality don’t produce a happy healthy person. By “maginfying” the behavior of a single person by applying it to the behavior of an entire city, Plato attempted to answer a series of morality questions such as, “Is it okay for a man to steal a loaf of bread to feed his starving family?” The point of the exercise: “if EVERYONE does it and it’s still okay, then it’s okay for just one person to do it.” Hayes did something very similar with “Inequalstan”, creating a pure island environment, unaffected by the outside world, to illustrate a point.

Plato believed that wealthy leaders were pursuing their own self interests at the expense of the people. Sound familiar? Nearly 2500 years later, you could reprint that same headline today. Plato disagreed with Sophists (today’s Libertarians) that believed happiness comes from the pursuit & acquisition of material wealth, believing instead that happiness comes from personal achievements and spiritual fulfillment.

As I noted at the beginning, Bill Maher quoted Mitt Romney saying he wants “everyone to be rich”. But “everyone” can’t be rich. Maher pointed out that SOMEONE still has to do all the work. But let’s take this one step further. Imagine a clean-slate planet with no people. Let’s call this planet “Mahers” because I love puns.

“Mahers” is colonized by the people of “Inequalstan”. It’s so far away, traveling there is a one way trip. No going back for more supplies. The people of Inequalstan then proceed to turn it into the same Libertarian paradise they enjoyed back home. Flat tax, all public services privatized, and Mitt Romney was appointed President by the Inequalstan Supreme Court before they left. Only the richest citizens of Inequalstan can afford the trip to Planet Mahers, so everyone living there is a millionaire. There are no “natives” to do any work and it’s too far to transport people from home. So if you want to gas up the Moon-Range-Rover, better “drill Baby, drill” for oil in your backyard (Mahersians don’t believe in whimpy things like “electric vehicles” that run on “batteries” or “solar power”.) How much do you think a Millionaire would have to pay fellow Millionaires to drill the oil for him? Suddenly, everyone with just “ten” million dollars is working for the guy worth $1 BILLION dollars. If EVERYONE were “rich”, it wouldn’t last for long.

Why? Because on Planet Mahers, since “everyone is rich”, the moment someone needed something from someone else, they would either pay someone to provide it (a transfer of wealth, making one richer than the other), or they would “barter” for it (rendering their cash worthless). A loaf of bread would cost $100 because it costs a lot of money to convince a millionaire to accept a job baking bread. And since everyone is a millionaire, everyone can afford to pay the exorbitant price. Devalued currency. Instant hyper-inflation. So Romney’s utopia where “everyone is a millionaire” is an impossibility. Someone is always going to end up “poor”.

I can’t tell you how many stupid Right-wing chain letters have found their way into my inbox denouncing “the Stimulus” and opting instead that “we simply give every American” some absurd amount like “$1-million dollars”. I end up having to point out the obvious: that $1,000,000 times three-hundred-million people is $300 TRILLION DOLLARS. “Okay, so maybe not $1-million”, is always the response. “Maybe $10,000?” “That’s still $3 Trillion dollars.” “$1,000?” “$300 billion.” Next of course is “$500″… which I point out was what Bush’s “tax rebate/refund checks” were back in 2004 & 2008. “And look how well that worked!” $59 & $75-Billion were added (respectively) to the Debt and the economy is STILL in the crapper. People used their windfalls either to pay off PAST purchases OR they put the money in the bank out of fear the economy would get worse. Bush’s “tax refund” scheme did almost NOTHING to boost the flagging economy. As far as “bang for the buck” goes, tax cuts are the worst of the worst in terms of “stimulus”.

Just as on “Planet Mahers” where Millionaires became the working poor serving the Billionaires, it’s not the AMOUNT of money you have, it’s how much money you have RELATIVE TO the wealthiest in society. The more they’ve got, the less you’re worth.

And that’s the problem with Conservativism in a nutshell. They NEVER look two steps down the road to the consequences of their policies (I think I’ve said this before).

PS: If you haven’t already, remember to vote for your favorite “Ways President Obama can revive the economy and create jobs TODAY without spending ONE DIME. Results will be published in a future edition.

Sign my petition for GREEN JOBS TOMORROW fast & cheap. Use those $4 Billion in oil subsidies to put Solar Panels on the roofs of 40,000 government buildings, or order 100,000 hybrid mail-trucks. Not only would this INSTANTLY CREATE JOBS, it would spark ENTIRE INDUSTRIES with a future, reduce our dependency on oil, reduce greenhouse emissions, and quickly pay for itself (and cut future expenses) with the energy savings. We need 5,000 signatures by December 20th.

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September 26, 2011 · Admin Mugsy · No Comments - Add
Posted in: Economy, Money, Politics, Taxes

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