Button, Button

If people aren’t obligated to pay taxes on their income in the first place, what difference does the rate make?

If your car is electric, what difference does the price of a gallon of gas make to you? Yes, there may be some psychic pleasure in seeing your neighbor having to shell out more and more dollars at the pump, but that’s not nice.

This whole kerfuffle is starting to look like the campaign finance scam in which Congress put restrictions on individual contributors and no limits on what incumbents could collect and even distribute to their cronies — all to insure their continuance and power in office.

The problem we have in the U.S. and, indeed, globally is that while the use of money is increasing (more people are using it to account for their transactions) and the absolute quantity in circulation keeps going up, the rate at which the dollar travels from hand to hand has slowed from a sprint to a crawl. It’s as if we were standing in a circle in kindergarten, playing “button, button, who’s got the button” and one of the players had pocketed it while pretending not to know its whereabouts. The game would come to a halt.

When it comes to money, there are two significant players who can hoard the money and keep it out of circulation: the banks and the people responsible for issuing the currency to the several states — i.e. Congress.

This raises the question why they would do that. And the answer is simple — control. The Congress, supposedly the servants of the people, want to demonstrate their ability to make their masters miserable. Why would they do that? Because their position has been made vulnerable by universal suffrage and ever increasing citizen participation. The time-servers want to show us who’s the boss.

You’d think that firing a quarter of the House in the elections of 2010 and 2012 would have sent a message to the rest that business as usual can’t go on. But, we should all know that one person’s failure, or even 110, will not effect reform in the rest. Issa will not play nice because Lungren is gone. Besides, the recently fired get to hang around for another two months. (There are good reasons why private corporations escort the fired off the premises immediately). The “retired” members of Congress get to hang around because we assume they are people of honor. More often than not such assumptions are wrong.

Personally, I think we should make common cause with some of the Tea Party crowd. They are upset that there is not enough money to go around, but their assumptions about the reasons for that situation are wrong. It isn’t because some poor people are getting too much or even that some individuals aren’t paying out enough; it’s that Congress and their cronies on Wall Street are putting on the squeeze.

The explanation for why they would do that is similar to the explanation for why prosecutors jigger the evidence to promote the imprisonment of innocent persons. Since prosecutors get no personal benefit, we assume they wouldn’t do such a thing. But, we are wrong. Sending an innocent person to prison actually enhances the prosecutor’s self-importance and our assumptions protect him from being found out. And then, to top it all off, the tradition of absolute immunity for prosecutors let’s them off the hook when they are found out. No accountability. That is the sumum bonum of the public servant’s existence. Absolute power.

And that’s what some members of Congress are after.

Why is President Obama reluctant to take on the hostage takers? Why is he negotiating with Congress? Does he have a choice? They have all the money. How is he going to persuade them to let go? Which hostages can be sacrificed? How about people who don’t really care how much they are taxed? How about the Warren Buffets of the world who aren’t into accumulating money just for show?



P.S.: California’s new voting system resulted in Democratic candidates being pitted against each other in the general election and enabled Brad Sherman to best Howard Berman by 20 points.

Howard Berman has served in the House for three decades. He helped engineer the AUMF for George W. Bush and resisted immigration reforms to promote the interests of Hispanics. He and his brother were some of the first to rely on direct mail advertising to promote political candidates.

Now there is a kerfuffle over the fact that a PAC sent out mailers to voters highlighting establishment Democrats’ support for Berman, an insult that’s supposed to deprive Sherman of the mantle of seniority he might like to inherit from Berman.

Image: Scene from The Twilight Zone episode "Button,Button" via Wikipedia.org

Monica Smith

Monica Smith writes Hannah's Blog. Born in Germany, she came to the United States as a child, living first in California, then after an interval in Chile, in New York. Married to a retired professor at the University of Florida, where she lived for 17 years, she moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia, in 1993 and now divides her time between Georgia and New Hampshire. (New Hampshire, she says, is always interesting during a presidential election.) She and her husband have three children and five grandchildren. Ms. Smith says she "learned long ago that I am not a good team player when I got hired at the Library of Congress, fresh out of college with a degree in political science and proficiency in four foreign languages, to 'edit' library cards and informed my supervisor that if she was going to insist I punch the clock exactly on time, my productivity was going to fall from being the highest to being the same as everyone else's. The supervisor opted to assign me to another building where there was no time-clock. After I had the first of our three children, I decided a paycheck wasn't worth the hassle."