Dear Tea Partiers, Let’s Get Mad Together

Not because the government does too much. But because it’s done too little.

Consider a few disturbing truths:

— We cry ‘socialism!’ at the mention of higher taxes, but we allow a businessman to make enough money to pay the salaries of every police officer, firefighter, and public school teacher in the city of Chicago.

— The richest 1% had a big slice of the American income pie in 1980. Since that time, they’ve cut a second piece of the same size for themselves, and then a THIRD piece! Three times as much in 25 years. They got this extra pie not from being good hard-working little boys, but from tax cuts and deregulation.

— As Howard Zinn argued, low-income people go to jail for thefts of a few hundred dollars. The people who take BILLIONS from society by calling their income “carried interest” instead of income are considered shrewd capitalists.

— And how about corporations, the driving force of a ‘revitalized’ economy? Right now the 500 largest non-financial corporations are sitting on $1.8 trillion in cash instead of investing in people. And they’re not paying much in taxes. The portion of federal revenue derived from corporate income tax decreased from 33% in the 1950s to 12% in 2005. Companies have saved billions by moving their headquarters to tax havens such as Bermuda or the Cayman Islands. Business-backers claim that the U.S. has one of the highest corporate tax rates among OECD countries, but the U.S. is actually the fourth lowest among OECD countries in the collection of corporate taxes as a percentage of GDP.

Tea Partiers, we should get mad together at government, because they’ve done too little to correct these injustices. It is not in their own best interests to raise taxes on the rich.

And we should get mad together at the mainstream media for not reporting on the abuses of the small percentage of very wealthy people who make it so hard on the rest of us.

PAUL BUCHHEIT teaches in the School for New Learning at DePaul University.