Curmudgeon's Corner

cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

A Real & Willful Disconnect?

U.S., Taxes, Politics, People Making A Difference, Economy

I am amazed, although I shouldn’t be, each time I hear a senior member of our national government decry the nasty companies that move operations to areas with a lesser tax requirement than is present here in the United States.

The disconnect that appears to exist in the minds of some in government concerning the cause and effect of tax law is amazing to me.  Either these people are too dim-witted to truly understand that if taxes are higher here than in Europe, for example, companies in the U.S. will consider moving to Europe; or they do understand and are just trying to bully the companies into staying here and paying higher taxes because it obviously is their “duty”.

I suspect that these people in government are being bullies and are trying to shame the companies’ leaders into ignoring their responsibility to stockholders to deliver the best profit they can.  In some cases, though, the company leaders seem so ingratiated into the higher reaches of government that they can do no harm by off-shoring.  GE is a good example of this with its leader flitting about in Washington, including inside the White House, at will with nary a complaint lodged against him by his stockholders or his company by politicians.

Our government is so tax-dependent given high costs of operating itself, and given the largess it tosses out to favored sectors and to the voters they have in their folds.  This is not restricted to one party at all.  Both major parties are similarly situated even though the party out-of-office at the time will try to cause us to think it doesn’t have similar thoughts in mind.  One party is, however, much further developed in this sense than is the other.

It is true that some of the people we elect actually do know how tax rates impact companies since they are company owners or honest economic theorists.  Here in Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson qualifies in the first respect, and Rep. Paul Ryan qualifies in the second respect among others.  We have yet to learn just where the gubernatorial candidate Ms. Burke comes down although she was part of the Trek operation in Europe so I suspect she, too, knows how taxes impact companies and therefore employment whether or not she discusses that subtlety.

Sometimes, of course, people change from knowing how these things work to trying to make us believe they’ve forgotten or never really understood.  Let’s face it; elections too often bring out the worst in the people involved in the races.  We have only ourselves to blame for this phenomenon since we require that the people running for office use the language we want used even if that language might not be quite so descriptive of themselves as different language might’ve been.

If a politician is open and honest and forthright about everything, he or she will turn off enough potential voters as to be unelectable.  Hence we have created the art of justifiable obfuscation that is permitted of our favorites even as we recognize they are simply playing to the press and to the voters at the margins since those are the voters who determine the winners in most elections.

Campaign managers are paid well for determining what to talk about and what to avoid talking about; and, for determining what the voters really want to hear as contrasted with what they believe will get their guy or gal into office.  In our morphing of the idea of elections over the decades, we have created the very monsters we decry. 

Disingenuous political officeholders are that way because that is how they stay in office.  I am not a fan of Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) or of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) but they do get themselves re-elected time and again by playing to their constituencies, constituencies  that seem to be capable of ignoring lies and deceit or that are ignorant of same as they enter the polling place.

As population centers move and change, we may get to a point where we’ll not be able to overcome this terrible trend.  As elected officials play to newly arriving immigrant populations, over time they will re-build their base of support.  Why do you think our borders no longer exist except on maps?  Maybe we are already at a point where we’re unable to change this dynamic.  If the undecided middle 2% or 3% of voters now decides the majority of elections, we are very close to an irreversible slide since the politicians will buy their loyalty with our money and lock up their races for all time.

I fear that we don’t have too many more national elections in which to overcome this slide.  This does rest with the difference between makers and takers and that ultimately can lead to the downfall of even the greatest of countries.

On that note, have a nice day.

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