erik lundegaard

All Hail Hendrik Hertzberg!

No doubt this election has turned me into an up-to-the-minute news/blog junkie. (Thank you, Andrew Sullivan.) It’s gotten to the point where my guys, Frank Rich in the Sunday Times and Hendrik Hertzberg in The New Yorker, whom I used to read with great anticipation, now often feel like old news by the time I see them in print. That? They’re still talking about that? It’s like they’re writing about a foul-out that began the inning when currently two runs have scored and there’s men on second and third. One fears for the print form (and thus the thoughtful form) in political coverage.

Still, these guys are so good they often come through. Loved Rich’s piece last week and particularly loved Hertzberg’s latest “Talk of the Town.” Everything you wanted to know about socialism but were afraid to ask. “You” being you. Or possibly Joe the Plumber.

It’s more than John McCain’s comment to the daughter of a doctor who, during the 2000 campaign, complained we were getting too close to socialism in this country (“...when you reach a certain level of comfort,” he told her, “there’s nothing wrong with paying somewhat more”), or the fact that Sarah Palin’s Alaska, which has no sales or income tax, funds itself with huge levies to oil companies and then gives what’s left back to (or just “to”) its citizens. Talk about spreading the wealth. And these two are basing their entire presidential campaign (this week) on attacking Barack Obama for similar economic plans? Their hypocrisy is overwhelming. One wonders, for the thousandth time, how they sleep.

Hertzberg fires this:
The Republican argument of the moment seems to be that the difference between capitalism and socialism corresponds to the difference between a top marginal income-tax rate of 35 per cent and a top marginal income-tax rate of 39.6 per cent. The latter is what it would be under Obama’s proposal, what it was under President Clinton, and, for that matter, what it will be after 2010 if President Bush’s tax cuts expire on schedule.
More comprehensively, he gives us this, which has always been my argument:
Of course, all taxes are redistributive, in that they redistribute private resources for public purposes. But the federal income tax is (downwardly) redistributive as a matter of principle: however slightly, it softens the inequalities that are inevitable in a market economy, and it reflects the belief that the wealthy have a proportionately greater stake in the material aspects of the social order and, therefore, should give that order proportionately more material support.

On HuffPost, Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, of all people, who supported Hilary Clinton earlier this year and is now supporting John McCain, has an anti-Obama post in which she raises the same stupid fears. I’m not sure what her game is — is she really that greedy or does she merely want McCain to win in ’08 so Hilary can win in ’12? — but she trots out that familiar Republican talking point against higher taxes for the wealthy:
Today, the top 1% of earners contributes 40% of the nation's $2.6 trillion tax intake and the bottom 50% pay 2.9% of our nation's total needs.
I can’t think of a better argument for a more steeply progressive tax system than this. If the top 1 percent, paying at a rate similar to mine, already pay 40 percent of our taxes, think how much money they’re making. If these people are lucky enough to have the skills that allows them to prosper in the kind of system we currently have, then they should be paying even more to keep that system running smoothly. And they haven’t. It’s time the bastards paid up.
No tagsPosted at 08:59 AM on Sat. Nov 01, 2008 in category Politics  


Mister B wrote:

Like Dawn and I have said many times (to each other, usually), rich people most likely got rich because of the middle-class and poor.

And it's always bothered me that most pro athletes say they're Republicans and it seems (to me, anyway) that they are such (even the ones who grew up poor and finally struck it rich with that first pro contract) because they don't like paying more taxes on their stratospheric salaries.

Erik, we're showing up on Tuesday and we'd like more than anything to leave in a good mood.
Comment posted on Sat. Nov 01, 2008 at 01:02 PM
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