Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tax Day Blues: Don't Blame the Socialists

As everybody scrambles to get in their tax forms by April 15, it's entirely understandable that people would be a bit upset about the whole thing. Less understandably, people blame all this on socialists and socialism. Most notorious of the Tea Party movement who, for some reason, equate Obama's bailing out capitalists with socialism.

Speaking as a socialist, I can assure you that, if your are a working person struggling to get by, socialists do not want to increase your taxes. We want them to decrease or even go away altogether. If you're a rich CEO who never did a hard day's work in your life, that's another matter. Ditto if you're a corporation. However, if you're a corporation, you are unlikely to be reading this because, despite the claims of the Supreme Court, you aren't really a person.

In fact, if you're looking for people to fight unjust taxes (actually fight, that is, not throw teabags into bodies of water), it is precisely the socialists you should look to. Specifically, the socialists of the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI).

For instance, back in 1990, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, hero of the right, instituted a poll tax. That's right a tax on voting. The CWI in Britain, then called the Militant Tendency, now called the Socialist Party, organized a campaign of mass non-payment of the poll tax. They set up the All-Britain Anti-Poll Tax Federation, which had legitimate democratic structures and didn't involve anything like lobster banquets or charging a $549 price of admission.

They organized anti-poll tax demonstration and provided legal council for people arrested for non-payment. It got to the point where it was no longer effective to arrest non-payers because there were too many of them. The Glasgow Evening Times said of Militant's campaign:
'Using tactics modelled on the South African townships many areas have become no-go areas for sheriff officers with literally hundreds of pairs of eyes on the lookout ...While it is certain that Militant have been involved in the campaign's organisation, go to any one of the dozens of meetings which take place in the city every week and it is not loony lefties and raving radicals you'll find, but housewives and kids ...

They're the backbone of a campaign which has undoubtedly put the uncollectable into the poll tax ...

The Federation has succeeded where most political parties have failed. By biting the bullet and advocating non-payment it has been able to channel genuine grievance at the poll tax into effective, if illegal, action.'

Ultimately the poll tax was defeated and by the end of the year, Margaret Thatcher had to resign in disgrace.

In Ireland the CWI (Socialist Party) led a similar successful campaign against taxation of water and has recently been involved in campaigns against the taxation of garbage collection. In Nigeria, the CWI (Democratic Socialist Movement) has led general strikes against fuel price increases by instituted the government.

It is true that socialists in the past fought for the establishment of a graduated income tax and are currently opposed to its abolition. The tea parties, however are in favor of a much more regressive form of taxation, one that allows Wal-Mart Chairman S. Robson Walton to have a net worth of $20.5 billion while the people who actually, you know, work at Wal-Mart get paid minimum wage. This form of taxation is known as profit. Socialists call for the abolition of this form of taxation altogether by bringing the large corporations under democratic workers' control, rather than being run by unelected CEOs.

Since this hasn't happened yet, a graduated income tax can be an effective means of countering the tax that the Walton family and other unelected CEOs inflict upon the people who work for them. This is because a graduated income tax leans more heavily on the ill-gotten profits of people like the Walton family and using it to fund services like health care and education for everybody.

Unfortunately, when Democratic and Republican politicians cut taxes, the upper income bracket gets significantly bigger cuts than the lower income bracket. But when they raise taxes, they raise them for everybody equally. The result is that, in 1918, the income tax was 77% for the top bracket and 6% for the bottom bracket, but now it's 35% for the top bracket and 10% for the bottom bracket. On top of that, the services that the income tax is supposed to fund get cut, so working people have to pay more, and get fewer services, so that they can fund tax breaks for Walton family and friends.

In turn state and local governments have to increase their taxes to pay for the services that the federal government cuts. These taxes tend to be sales taxes and gas taxes and other taxes on things that people need for a living. These flat taxes hurt working people far more than income taxes.

If you let the Tea Parties do your anti-tax fighting for you, that's what you're gonna get. In fact, under capitalism, that's what you're gonna get. As long as there are large, powerful unelected corporations whose owners get paid vast amounts of money to hire other people to work for them, that's what you're gonna get. So if you're feeling completely crippled by taxes when you hand in your form tomorrow, don't blame the socialists. Join them.

1 comment:

  1. hmm, I thought the form of tax that leans more heavily on corporations and other big earners was called a "progressive income tax." Perhaps I need to examine my terminology a bit more.

    How do we get these tea-bag slinging fools to listen to us?