Tom Matlack calls for a 100% solution, not a 1% one.
According to David Brooks in the New York Times today:
“A group that divides the world between the pure 99 percent and the evil 1 percent will have nothing to say about education reform, Medicare reform, tax reform, wage stagnation or polarization. They will have nothing to say about the way Americans have overconsumed and overborrowed. These are problems that implicate a much broader swath of society than the top 1 percent.”
As much as I really like the idea of people finally getting sick and tired of a broken system, pinning everything on the 1% is a suckers way out of a deeply entrenched problem we all have a hand in creating and are going to have to fix. Brooks goes on:
“They will have no realistic proposal to reduce the debt or sustain the welfare state. Even if you tax away 50 percent of the income of those making between $1 million and $10 million, you only reduce the national debt by 1 percent, according to the Tax Foundation. If you confiscate all the income of those making more than $10 million, you reduce the debt by 2 percent. You would still be nibbling only meekly around the edges.
They are not the only small thinkers. President Obama promises not to raise taxes on the bottom 98 percent. The Occupy-types celebrate the bottom 99 percent. Republicans promise not to raise taxes on the bottom 100 percent. Through these and other pledges, leaders of all three movements are hedging themselves in. They are severely limiting the scope of their proposed solutions.”
Getting a bunch of people in tents on Wall Street and in cities all over the country is a great way to express discontent, but where the heck does it lead when the problems are about education, unemployment, and spiraling deficit? Mathmatically the 1% doesn’t get you there. You are going to need some bigger Cojones–way bigger.
Brooks is talking about, and I agree, is something on the order of Matt Miller (a former McKinsey consultant…yes, its hard for me to say those words too, who probably isn’t in the top 1% but he might get there over time) who wrote “A Third Party Stump Speech” in the Washington Post not long ago:
“How’s this for something different? I want to raise your taxes, cut spending on programs you like, and force you to rethink how we run our schools, banks, armies, hospitals and elections. And I want you to cheer when I’m done. Because if you embrace the “decade of renewal” I’m calling for, we’ll emerge with a more competitive, sustainable and just America — the kind of America we all want to leave to our children.”
That’s not a 1% solution but a complete revolution in how things are done that actually attempts to address the fundamental problems. And Brooks is behind a complete overhaul in the tax system to make it far simpler and based on consumption to promote savings and investment, an idea I have been pounding the table about in my empty room for some time now. Brooks concludes:
“It’s not about declaring war on some nefarious elite. It’s about changing behavior from top to bottom. Let’s occupy ourselves.”
Amen. I am not against sticking it to the MAN, but that is just not going to fix the problem. We’ve spent the last two years in some huge side show while our country is falling apart. And now we are debating 1% solutions rather than 100% solutions.
Throw all the bums out and let’s actually start getting real.
photo by daquellamanera / flickr