Thursday, July 18, 2013

From The American Left History Archives


From The Pen Of Frank Jackman


In the press of other commentaries this writer has had to delay commenting on proposed legislation this summer by Congress concerning the obviously connected issues of the abolition (or severe reduction) of the federal inheritance tax and the marginal increment of the federal minimum wage standard (see blog, dated July 5, 2006 concerning the minimum wage proposal). Obvious, you ask? Yes, those few thousand heirs who are trying to stampede Congress to protect their billions (and have spent many millions to get their way) and those millions fighting to make minimum wages (even at a lousy $7/hr) and thus avoid leaving their heirs to inherit the wind is compelling. Agreed?
At least that connection is compelling interest group politics in the demented minds of the Republican congressional leadership which parleyed these two items together in an effort to embarrass (if that is possible) the Democrats. How? By forcing an up or down vote on the counterposed issues and thus forcing the Democrats to vote against the federal minimum wage proposal. The Democrats initially, with a view to the fall congressional elections, supported an increase in the minimum wage in order to grandstand to a part of their constituency.  As if any self-respecting person could, with a straight face, support much less propose a $7 minimum wage in this day in age (see below).  Democratic politicians not having to personally live on the minimum wage apparently have weird senses of humor. The Republicans, responding to their very different base, faced no such embarrassment. Their proposal to severely cap, if not eliminate, the inheritance tax for millionaires and billionaires set just the right tone. And avoided an increase in the minimum wage, which they did not want, to boot. My hat is off to the Republican leadership for joining the two issues together. Just when this writer thought that parliamentary cretinism had reached a bottom line beyond which no rational politics could go he finds out that there is an abyss instead.  Well you live and learn.

In an earlier blog, cited in the first paragraph, I counterposed to the minimum wage the fight for a living wage. I stand by that idea here. What one may ask is a living wage? Well, for openers the current median household income.  That is somewhere near $50,000/yr. Do the math on the proposed federal minimum wage of $7/hr. Anyway one cuts it the total is about $15,000/yr. That, these days, just barely covers a family’s energy, housing and food costs. Get real. It is embarrassing to this writer to have to discuss the concerns of a small part of society which is worried (and seriously worried) about inheritance taxes when several million people have to get by on that $15,000/yr. Hell, I couldn’t. Can anyone else? Something is desperately wrong with this society’s priorities.    

Do not get me wrong about the inheritance tax issue. In the final analysis a workers government will not simply confine itself to taxing the rich but will confiscate their inheritances as part of the social redistribution process.  And not shed a single tear about it. The rich can work just like the rest of us, at first for their daily needs and by those deeds the good of society. However, that is music for the future. The point now is that the current tax does not hurt the people we care about-working people.  The point at which the tax sets in is far, far above anything a worker’s estate would trigger.  In short, the fight over this tax, one way or the other, is not central to our fight for a more just society.  Beyond that, various schemes to tax the rich which periodically spring up on the part of leftists as a means of the redistribution of the social surplus are generally put forth in order to deflect the need for class struggle.  Needless to say to really put a crimp in the lifestyles of the “rich and famous” working people need to take state power. We need that solution in order to do more than inherit the wind. Forward.

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