Class Warfare Blog

June 3, 2010

Bill Gates’ Ideas are Better than Yours

Apparently the Congressional Republicans “better ideas” all revolve around tax cuts. Their core argument is that taxpayers know better how to spend their money than government does. Taxpayers will spend their money more wisely, more efficiently, more market empowermently, whatever, than government would. If Republicans actually believed this (I doubt they do as when they are in power, they spend more money, substantially more than their “tax and spend” opponents.) it should apply to businesses, too, shouldn’t it?

I think a fair test of this Republican belief is a tax neutral bill in which a large tax cut is made for poor to middle class folks, paid for entirely by a tax increase on wealthy folks. Now, don’t be repelled by this idea, the rich folks haven’t been repelled by the idea of tax cuts for them coupled to tax increases for us over the last 25 years. Do like they do and keep a stiff upper lip.

I don’t think Republicans would vote for such a bill, even though a great many more people would have more money to spend and, since rich people don’t spend all of their money every year like we do, they would hardly be discomfited. It satisfies their argument: more folks would be making decisions with their money than before.

Maybe this idea is too extreme. How about a bill in which everyone gets a tax cut, except the middle classes get a big one and rich folks get a tiny one? Any Republican votes there? You think not? So do I.

Now if a little voice in the back of your mind is screaming “But that is class warfare!” you are right. But, hey, they started the war over forty years ago and we haven’t even started fighting back, so I am not talking about starting a class war, I am saying “Join the fight . . . or die poor.”

My main point here is that the Republican’s guiding principle that “taxpayers will spend their money more wisely than government” should apply to businesses, too. My example is Bill Gates. Bill Gates donated 100 billion (that’s Billion, not Million) dollars to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which he runs with his wife. So, where did he get 100 billion dollars to donate? Everyone knows the story, so I won’t repeat it here. The point to be made is that Bill doesn’t need 100 billion dollars that he “earned” to live on. Not to pay his electrical bill, nor his cable bill, nor any other mundane expense. He has enough other money to cover his living expenses lavishly until he dies with some set aside for his kids. So the $100 billion dollars, well, he didn’t really need it.

He accumulated $100 billion dollars he didn’t need . . . how? (I know I am leading you by the hand, but stick with me, okay?) He generated $100 billion he did not need, even to be wealthy, by charging his customers more than he really needed to. If you bought a copy of Microsoft Windows ever (I have a copy of Windows 1.0 in my collection!), you were overcharged. Every copy ever sold was priced way too high. (Bill Gates isn’t the only person to make more money than he could possibly spend from Microsoft. Let’s see, there is Paul Allen, and. . . .) So, what are the consequences? The consequences are that Bill Gates’ ideas are better than yours. He has $100 billion dollars to invest in any idea he thinks is a good one. My ideas don’t count for much, because I don’t have money to invest in them and the task of finding investors is daunting—they all want to make money and Bill’s ideas, the ones he is investing in, aren’t to make money but to make the world a better place but then, so are many of mine.

For those of you who think I am picking on Bill and Melinda, because they are doing such good things for hungry people, for poor people, etc. I say, “So?” (Thanks, Dick Cheney!) According to the Republicans, you and I would do a better job of spending that money than Bill and Melinda are doing. The Gate’s programs are the equivalent of “do gooder” government programs that we also have had no say in supporting. Like the government, Bill and Microsoft took too much money out of our pockets to support programs that we had no say in. And many of these Gates Foundation programs are for people in other countries. Egad, they are the equivalent of foreign aid!

Okay, I will stop picking on Bill and Melinda, a nice if somewhat dorky couple. Let’s look at the dark side. Other “business persons” have accumulated way more money than they could possibly spend and they are using their funds for not so “positive” purposes. Rich conservatives have endowed Washington think tanks from which cushy jobs are offered to disgraced Republicans. Also from these think tanks much questionable “reports” and “research” flows.

Companies in the health insurance field paid $609,000 dollars a day for the first six months of 2009, trying to make sure that any health care reform that was drafted didn’t hurt their bottom lines. Could you scrape up $609,000? Could you scrape up another $609,000 for tomorrow? Where can you get such amounts of money? Where did they get such sums? This is money that was outside of the huge profits paid to shareholders and monies paid to cover overhead and to pay claims, mind you. Do you think, maybe, it was from charging way more for their services than they actually needed?

These are examples of individuals and companies accumulating such vast amounts of money that what they think counts for far more than any one, any hundred, or any million of us think. Our representatives in Congress vote with their corporate sponsors, no matter what their constituents think, and they aren’t even smart enough to cover that fact up.

Allowing huge piles of money to be in the hands of so few people and corporations is anti-democratic. In fact, disparity between the rich and the rest of us in income and property and total wealth are all at all-time highs. If this continues, there will be no democracy, no “one man, one vote.”

So, if you think I am some kind of closet socialist, coming out, think again. This country figured out how to keep the wealthy in line. A line that allowed them every luxury a mind could dream of, just not enough wealth to buy the Congress or small countries. If you want to see what America looks like in such a system, look at the 1960s. The changes of the New Deal and from the stresses of WWII under Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency, given a little time to take effect through the 1950s, produced a balanced country where the rich were rich and the poor were poor but the rich didn’t run things entirely to their betterment. The middle class was large and robust and were the primary customers for American businesses, and if we could recreate such a balanced condition, business would boom (again) and poor people would be less poor and the middle class folks wouldn’t be huddling in fear of bankruptcy.

We did it before, we can do it again. Join the fight . . . or die poor.

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