Trade-offs in politics – On not having it all.

I’m not sure where it started (I’m sure there is a book or paper on it somewhere), but clearly U.S. Americans cannot make good decisions about trade-offs in politics, i.e. there is this sense that we can have it all. And we can’t.

Not to over-kill poor Joe the Plumber who has been unwittingly pulled into the debates and center of the action, but I thought his statement about Obama’s tax plan was the perfect example of this (from the NYTimes):

Obama said that under his proposal taxes on any revenue from $250,000 on down would stay the same, but that amounts above that level would be subject to a 39 percent tax, instead of the current 36 percent rate.

Wurzelbacher said Obama’s tax plan wouldn’t affect him right now, because he doesn’t make $250,000. ”But I hope someday I’ll make that,” he said.

”If you believed (Obama), I’d be receiving his tax cuts,” Wurzelbacher said. ”But I don’t look at it that way. He’d still be hurting others.”

So he doesn’t yet make $250,000 a year, but he doesn’t want tax increases for those who do because maybe someday he will make that much. Obama would “still be hurting others.” Yes, um, like those who make over $250,000 a year.

And the thing is, dear Joe, that our government just spends a lot of money. On saving the financial system. On wars. On military. And, hopefully, eventually, on making sure that people have health care. On debt payments. And on crazy things like building roads and such. And you have to tax someone for this. So we can’t have all the things we want, like wars, and schools, and health care and roads and such unless we tax people. And I would rather it be people making more than $250,000 than less. $250,000 is kind of a lot of money – it means you are living comfortable, able to take care of yourself and your family, and probably take vacations, live in a nice house, eat well, and do fun stuff. Since a lot of people can’t buy a house, pay rent, eat well, eat enough, or get health care so they don’t suffer and die, I’m just afriad that people who are better off – out of either hard work or luck – are just going to have to pony up a little more.

Maybe instead of complaining about tax plans that tax those over $250,000 a bit more, U.S. Americans might not want to elect leaders that get us into so many wars, deregulate the financial industry so that it can do whatever it wants, and give huge tax cuts to those who are the best-off in this country. Then we wouldn’t have to worry about things so much, ehh?

Not that this is anything new. But I felt obliged to say it. And, I always write more when I am procrastinating on work. As I am doing now…

3 Responses to Trade-offs in politics – On not having it all.

  1. Jess says:

    “So he doesn’t yet make $250,000 a year, but he doesn’t want tax cuts for those who do because maybe someday he will make that much.”

    You mean tax *increases* right?

    And yes, this is the heart of conservative economic policies, and how the conservatives have been able to get lower-income workers to vote for them even though they get screwed economically. On the campaign trail, they talk to voters as if their policies of “cutting taxes” will benefit everyone, regardless of income, and then go legislate only for the rich.

    And you’ll notice that once again, McCain went through an entire 90 minute debate without saying the words “middle class,” (see transcript at CNN) and yet still talked as if he would lower everyone’s taxes equally, which is demonstrably false.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for the correction, Jess. I changed it.

    I know – Joe the Plumber, to me, embodies so much about how people think these days and how politics is working in this country (apparently me and a lot of other people since he is the star of the day). And I feel like what it would take is U.S. Americans reading more and understanding more about how things are working now (economy, politics, etc.) but it would also take a more nuanced (or at least somewhat nuanced or at least some understanding of all) understanding of history. Which seems to be too much to ask.

  3. Shaya says:

    It seems silly for McCain to harp on Joe the plumber who won’t even be affected by the tax increases. Plus, when he spoke to Obama he didn’t clarify if he was making over 250 thousand before or after expenses. Obama’s plan will actually help him! Good post, Elizabeth!

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