IMMEDIATE RELEASE 12 December 2014
Today’s Events in Historical Perspective
America’s Longest-Running Column, Founded 1932
Teddy Roosevelt, where are you?
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
WASHINGTON – In 1901 an American revolution began, and besides its perpetrator, the only people who understood it was happening were the Robber Barons, those ultra-wealthy individuals who controlled so much of the nation’s wealth. The perpetrator was President Theodore Roosevelt, the man who put teeth into the Sherman Anti-Trust Act passed in 1890. Although coming from the New York aristocracy himself, he had been among the people, from ranching in the West to combat in the Spanish-American War, and he sensed their discontent, their clear understanding that America might be free, but it wasn’t fair.
If he looked out over the land today, he would undoubtedly come to the same conclusion. Ever since the Great Recession of 2007-8 destroyed most American’s net worth by destroying their homes’ values and followed this with a recovery that saw wages stagnated while the rich got richer, the average American has once again been found toiling in a free, but unfair, society.
One of the manifestations of this discontent can be found in the demonstrations waged in several cities protesting police brutality. There have been other demonstrations, and as in those, looters also joined in to take advantage, but this time a new element has surfaced. People are joining the demonstrations, not just to rail against police abuses, but to list a host of grievances, all of which stem from unfair income disparities.
They see petty crimes being prosecuted while white collar criminals bilk the public for millions or even billions. They see the political process being thwarted by the infusion of ever-increasing amounts of mega-donor cash. They watch Congress haggle and pretend to care for the peoples’ business only to find them doing the bidding of those donors and their lobbyists.
They have begun to awaken to the tax inequity created by those donors and Congress, an inequity that stealthily evolved over time until the average taxpayers were paying 50 percent of their income in taxes. They are finally doing the math, adding all the twists and turns of unfair tax codes, including: federal, state, and sometimes local income taxes, real estate taxes (which everyone pays directly or through rent), sales taxes, fuel-use taxes, airline taxes, utility taxes, Social Security taxes (which pay for the last generation’s retirement, yet is not taxed on incomes over $118,500, beginning in 2015), and the list goes on from car taxes to personal property taxes.
The public is possibly even beginning to realize that their employers are not paying half of their Social Security taxes, because anything an employer pays on behalf of an employee is the same to the employer as paying it directly to the employee.
Teddy Roosevelt, where are you? Perhaps he is channeling through Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., the unabashed consumer advocate and voice of the common man.
© 2014 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
END WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND