Sunday, April 24, 2011

Take My Wages, Please—Majority Support Increased Taxes to Avoid Cuts

Huck/Konopacki Labor Cartoons
An overwhelming amount of voters support taxing themselves to save their schools, parks and services, according to a recent survey reported in the Los Angeles Times. Perhaps giving up any hope of get the rich and the corporations to pay their share, 60% of those surveyed, including majorities of both parties, said they would back tax hikes if they were on the ballot. Just 33% supported the GOP alternative of balancing the budget by slashing services. However, when informed that the cuts would also affect schools, support for spending cuts dropped to only 25%.

These results ought to make it clear that the Republicans’ resistance to placing tax extensions on the ballot have nothing to do with the interests or desires of the people. Californians clearly are okay with tax increases if they will prevent the gutting of services they use and appreciate, like schools, healthcare, libraries, parks, and safety. It also seems like the California Teachers Association, with their upcoming plans to occupy the state capital to demand regressive tax extensions, has found a message that will resonate with the majority of Californians.

While one could make the argument that a little bit of pain next year in the form of increased sales taxes, vehicle licensing fees and across the board income taxes hikes is a small price to pay in order to avert $4 billion or more in cuts to K-12 education, plus an additional $400 million to community colleges (on top of the $400 million already cut), plus further cuts to CSU and UC. However, even if the tax extensions could be passed, they would be merely a bandage on a gaping wound, useful for only one year, with continuing monster deficits in the following years. The only way to ensure a budget surplus and a reliable steady stream of revenues is to increase taxes on the rich and on corporations, something that the politicians have no stomach for and that the public are unwilling to fight for. Furthermore, by accepting these regressive tax extensions, Californians let the rich and their businesses off the hook, when they are not only the ones most able to afford to pay more, but they are the ones who benefit most from all the existing subsidies and tax breaks.  

It is sad, but people are much more willing to vote for their own oppression than they are to protest, strike or take direct action to fight their oppressors. If Californians want to see the services they cherish remain healthy and vibrant they need to get out into the streets, refuse to go to work, occupy government offices, and generally create mayhem, all the while demanding that taxes be dramatically increased on the wealthy and on their businesses.

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