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by Carlton Stephenson
Big fallout over the fiscal cliff! Are you following this? Verbs, turning back on themselves like snakes swallowing their own tails. Nouns, knocked around to dysfunction. Adjectives, lashing out at their users in outright rebellion! Could this be the constipation of message that the GOP blames for its recent loss at the polls? I can’t tell who is victim and who is perp. But cover me, dear reader, because I am going in after the words.
Ka-pow! A sliver of Americans pay most of the taxes so unless it’s given a tax cut the shakeout is unfair.
For whom, we ask. Isn’t taxes based upon income? Do I hear a corresponding campaign for a cut in income?
Taxes are a partnership between earner and leveraged country. One places his bets while the other supports and keeps him safe. Of the two, one cannot up and leave when the going gets tough, hideout in numbered Swiss accounts or lobby away its civilized responsibility to its weak. Taxes are its maintenance.
Time was when none of this mattered. Vast America had enough room for every hunter gatherer to do his thing without ever encroaching on the property of any other and no governance was required. But then we built a fence and coalesced in common need, and realized all earners are not created equal. In no time some outdistanced the others in acquiring wealth, with which came the ability to influence policy and block opportunity. Forward to the present where the upper quintile of us owns over half of all private wealth and earns roughly half of all private income.
If you earn most of it then you must pay all of its taxes in proportion to your ability to block access to others. Not so?
Now granted this messing around with people’s taxes; cutting some, raising others; can only breed resentment and cries of favoritism. No one’s taxes should ever be cut or raised period. As the country evolves and taxation pinches one group or another, the tax code should be periodically upgraded to reflect the appropriate payback per income. But that’s a whole other argument.
Nip the payback of top earners and yes, there may be a few more jobs; but less progress for country and species in a way that cannot really be measured. The rich have no elected responsibility to move a country forward, to protect its environment or cater for human advancement. Indeed, far too often we see them primarily securing themselves and acting to further constrict wealth. Here comes a pseudo royalty presiding over a nation of beggars.
Fair? Republicans think so. Or maybe that’s just the constipation.
Either way, the word ‘fair’ has been abused in this process and now needs serious therapy. I have it isolated, and I’m bringing it out of the dialogue. Please have the medevac ready.
Every human wants freedom. How then do we come to the place where one group is fighting the other for (you guessed it) freedom? Don't they already agree? What’s the fight about?
But wait; all freedoms are not created equal.
In tropical Guyana where I was born and where sparse mini-buses were the only late night commute at one time, buses overloaded their seats almost to suffocation.
Passengers totally hated this. Those already on board, that is. For the tired commuter standing alone on a dark road, it was a merciful act of sweet kindness. With relief he will squeeze himself in, aghast at the complaints of those who must now make themselves smaller, and gladly suffer in silence all the way home.
Dare the bus try to stop for yet another just as desperate, this recently rescued is first to cry out in indignation. Suddenly, his suffering is intolerable.
Here is a freedom that is not shared: The freedom of opportunity that, once secured, becomes the freedom of property against which all new aspirants are the enemy.
It’s called by many other names from the outside: racism, classism, greed, sometimes just prejudice. But from the inside it is called freedom.
Secondly, there is the freedom to interfere with another person’s freedom. For example: the right to bear arms. This is not an inalienable right. Yet it threatens another right that is—the right to life. In a clash of rights, shouldn’t the inalienable take precedence over the amend?
The freedom of religion to impose itself (by God given decree, no less) on other religions and on the non-religious.
The freedom to be irresponsible: towards the environment, to the community, to an employee; without intervention by government or union.
These are freedoms Republicans clamor for.
Terrible, for the reputation of the word, ‘freedom.’ I see it cowering in shame in one of the many corners into which it has been stuffed, its self esteem shot to bits.
I am bringing this word out of the dialogue, for repairs.
One American forms inside of another; hopefully by invitation, frequently by accident, far too often by tragedy. Regardless, this new American plans to ‘occupy’ for nine months during which it will challenge all three inalienable rights of its host: her right to life, her right to liberty, and her pursuit of happiness. And this is only the beginning.
In this thrilling miracle of American life, it is impossible for these so joined Americans to enjoy the same constitutional right to life. For you see, each directly threatens the other. If the host is not appropriately circumspect, the guest dies. If the helpless and innocent guest develops a quirk of fate, the host dies. Sometimes they both die
Only one of these two can preserve the life of both. This original—who alone truly knows whether her guest was wished or forced, who alone remains in constant touch with guest and reality—it is by her choice and God’s blessing that we are given new life. But the choice comes first, not the life, or the cart pulls the horse.
There is no question that this will never sit right with everyone. And it shouldn't. We are in the realm of miracles with serious risk at one end and tragedy at the other. A mature discussion is required in which the safety and unquestioned support of both lives must be paramount. But if we can accept that no woman in her right mind loves abortions, we can have this discussion without putting cart before horse.
Unfortunately, when the subject comes up one voice yells “choice” and the other, “life,” two mutually exclusive concepts that need not interact, that grate past each other to screeching, snarling sounds and fearsome heat.
Humbly, I apologize to the word ‘life’ for being forced into this awkward context, without fair consideration of its freedom. “You are bigger than this, bro,” I tell it; “Rise! Reign in peace!”
‘Fair’, ‘Freedom’ and ‘Life.’ I don’t know if their rescue will return sanity to Congress or at least uncork the GOP’s message. I hope it does, for America—all America—needs the GOP’s perspective for balance. But these three words, what would we do without them? I’m sure you join me in wishing them a speedy recovery. Last I checked, they were doing so at separate secret locations under guard.