Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I recently had an e-mail exchange with my state representative about a bill that, if passed to become law, would eventually provide as much as $21,000 in tax cuts per year to the richest 1%.  In addition, this bill would reduce revenues which would inevitably reduce spending on critical, even life-saving services provided in the social safety net.   Such cuts are already happening.  I recently talked to a local Mother whose son with long-term schizophrenia will no longer receive guardianship services he has been receiving for years that have kept him relatively stable.  As a mother myself of a son disabled with serious and chronic schizo-affective disorder, I know up close the effects of cuts in services to the well-being of these people and their families.   

In responding to my request that my representative vote "No," he replied, "The argument about tax breaks going dis-proportionally to the wealthy, well that is an argument that is not founded on sound math. It only makes sense that those who pay the lion's share of a tax, get a larger tax break when the time comes for tax breaks, but that is a philosophical difference that I feel we will never be able to overcome."

I am not philosophically opposed to corporations as such, nor profit, nor CEO salaries that reflect ability, knowledge, and hard work.  I am philosophically opposed to greed.  As a teacher, I routinely worked 60 to 80 hours a week when school was in session.  When it was not in session, my time was more relaxed, and I could squeeze in some vacation time some years around course work for recertification,  research to stay up to date, and preparation for the following school session.  Toward the end of full-time teaching, I earned about $40,000 a year, and I felt rich. By "philosophical difference," I hope my representative does not really mean to suggest that he believes a CEO who earns millions every year is worth that much more in salary and thus deserving of that much more in tax breaks than the teacher who teaches his children, or the nurse who cares for him in recovery from open-heart surgery, or the skilled mechanic who keeps his automobiles in top-notch working order, or any other worker who works comparable hours as the CEO and has comparable training, knowledge, and abilities in her own profession.  

I recently reread the U. S. Constitution.  Nowhere in that document, nor in the Declaration of Independence do I find justification for the kind of gap between the rich and the rest of us that we find in our current economic climate.  What I do find are phrases that philosophically support a more equitable distribution of wealth than we have actually ever had:  “All . . . are created equal . . . endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights . . . to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;”  “Promote the general welfare;” “Provide for the general welfare.”   

I have other sources for my opposition to legislative actions such as ME  LD 849 that promotes and enables greed, sources such as literature from major religions of the world.  From http://www.christian-wisdom.com/money/0/quote-category.html "If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered" -Proverbs 21:13.  "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy" -Proverbs 31:8-9.  "No one can serve two masters. . . . You cannot serve both God and Money" -Matthew 6:24. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" -Matthew 19:23-24.  From  http://www.buddhaquotes.co.uk/All-Buddha-Quotes/?keyword=poverty  Buddha Quote #368 - "There can be no peace as long as there is grinding poverty." From Prophet Muhammad, http://www.jubileeusa.org/get-active/jubilee-congregations/islamic-resources/islamic-quotations-on-responding-to-poverty.html:  “He who sleeps on a full stomach whilst his neighbour goes hungry is not one of us.”  "Acknowledge the rights of the poor, neighbors and beggars.”

I think I must be missing something about where my representative is coming from philosophically.  I asked him to please explain. 


  1. I hope, Alice, you maybe were able to do the math for your representative. The evidence is pretty conclusive that tax breaks for the wealthy don't translate into trickle down benefits for the rest of us. Like your blog. Steve Demetriou

  2. Why are you not opposed to profit? The profit motive is an incredibly sloppy motivator in terms of directing industry to meet human need. Better to run industry for use than profit.