Donald and his Deadbeats

Tea Party stampDonald Trump loves America, right? Wants it to become “great again.” Funny sentiments from someone whose behavior suggests he’d rather see it starve. He made an economic speech earlier this week that, if economic experts are to be believed, would give little if anything to the poor and middle class but would dish out  juicy new tax loopholes for his billionaire cronies, adding trillions to the national debt.

I will leave the actual details to the economists. But the net effect of his proposals is twofold: He would allow those with the fewest resources to continue to foot the bill for living in this country, and he would give the people best able to support this so-called greatest nation on Earth a pass.


Full disclosure: Because I am the descendant of a low-level robber baron, I can be considered among that dreaded 10 percent. I live comfortably, not lavishly. I appreciate the freedom my resources provide me. I also  accept the idea that, because of my good fortune, I am obligated to help others as  I am able.

Money is energy, nothing more, nothing less. I can use  that energy trying to make things better  or I can spend that energy trying to make my life better. How I direct that energy demonstrate my priorities. As they say, follow the money.

I pay taxes. Willingly. Of course, I take every legitimate deduction I can, but I don’t go out of my way to seek shelters or to avoid paying what I legitimately owe. I see taxes as the price I pay for living in the greatest nation on Earth. My accountant looks at me with bemusement when I sigh and pay a particularly high bill. I’m not thrilled to pay it; I’m as prone to greed as the next human being. I also know I am not going to starve. I pay the bill. Willingly.

Donald Trump and his ilk seem to think that living and working in the United States should be a free ride. Of course, we don’t know how free a ride Trump has been having because he won’t release his tax returns. But by spending so much time and energy avoiding taxes, it’s clear they don’t care what happens to the rest of us.

I have been reading the thoroughly delightful and well-researched book, Lafayette in these Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell. It is the story of the American Revolution told via the words and letters of the people who actually fought it. She reminds me that this nation was founded on a, shall we say, skeptical attitude toward taxes. The Tea Party, those rascals who have managed to convince a sizable portion of Congress that brains have no place in politics, take their name from the incident that fired the national imagination and led almost inexorably to the war for independence.

The Disney image of all those colonists running around in Indian garb smashing tea chests and dumping them in Boston Harbor may not historically accurate but it is deeply rooted in the national psyche. Lest we forget, however, the issue wasn’t taxes per se. It was taxation without representation. Last time I looked, we have plenty of representation when it comes to our taxes. Of course, what passes for representation today might not fly  with the discerning taxpayer, but we always have the opportunity to change  representation. The point is this is not 1773 and this is not pre-Revolutionary America suffering the dictates of a Parliament on the other side of the Atlantic. The issue is who should support this country? As I see it, all of us  have a piece of that bill.

A friend in the counseling business decries the drastic increase in the numbers of fathers who, at the end of a marriage, walk out the door without the slightest intention of supporting their children. It’s particularly galling among those men with means. They don’t accept that feeding, clothing and educating their children remains their responsibility even after a divorce. They don’t mind being known as deadbeats. Worse, they have the means to avoid the nasty consequences rightly heaped on poorer parents who abandon their kids.

It’s the same mentality among those individuals and corporations (I know corporations are not people, and you know they’re not people, but so far, corporations seem to be getting the people treatment, so allow me a little anthropomorphism here) who blithely take their profits and stash them where Uncle Sam can’t touch them.

By hiding their wealth, they are saying it’s OK to freeload on all the benefits of living in this country and exploit the economic, security and educational infrastructure of this nation to get incredibly wealthy. To hell with the rest of us.

The light company doesn’t  give away electricity. The gas company doesn’t give away the methane it rips from the ground. Even Donald’s deadbeats charge for whatever widget they manufacture, or hedge fund they set up or idea that catches fire. They don’t give their things away yet they gladly skate on their obligation to the rest of us.

The government doesn’t always get it right. There have been too many documented IRS abuses that have destroyed lives. There is a lot of room to fix the way we pay for this national enterprise. But unless you’re Grover Norquist and really want to see an emaciated national government drown in some giant bathtub, we have to keep the enterprise afloat in order to make things better.

The Donald and his Deadbeats can’t see any farther than the end of their noses. They have come to believe that because they are rich, we owe them. We should be in such awe of their accomplishments that they are relieved of the obligations of citizenship.

Au contraire. Because they have benefited so greatly from this magnificent country, they should be first in line with their thank you gifts. These supposedly smart people (and corporations) should be able to see the connection between their prosperity and the place where they created it. They have a stake in making sure it stays healthy; to keep the good times rolling

Deadbeats delude themselves by thinking wealth is somehow an indicator of self-worth. On the contrary, wealth is simply a measure of accumulation. How it is used is a measure of character. It’s not what you have but what you do with it that shows the world how you measure up as a human being.

As far as I can see, these deadbeats are big fat zeros.







Have you no sense of decency?

I wrote this to U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan earlier this year when it was clear Donald Trump was unfit to be president. I received no response.

Paul Ryan Constitution

June 13, 2016

The Hon. Paul Ryan
U.S Representative, Wisconsin
Speaker of the House of Representatives

Dear Rep. Ryan:

There comes a time in history where choices matter. You now have another opportunity to repudiate Donald Trump and his vicious and, frankly, increasingly mentally incoherent hate speech for good. I urge you to do that because of your position as the man people view as leader of the Republican Party

Endorsements can and should be withdrawn when the candidate no longer merits support. While I don’t believe Trump ever warranted an endorsement, you said you did it in the name of party unity. No political party is more important than our national soul. If you continue to endorse him while pussyfooting around his post-Orlando rant then you have put party above country and you will rightly lose whatever respect you may have retained after you tossed your hat, and the GOP’s, into Trump’s ring.

We do not agree politically but the beauty of our system is that people who disagree can find common ground and move us ahead as a country and as a people. Trump cannot do that. Frankly, if he goes unchallenged within the GOP at the convention, then the GOP has forfeited its right to any support.

I urge you publicly to repudiate Donald Trump, and soon. It’s been done before in this country when Joe McCarthy, another Wisconsin Republican, threatened our willingness to tolerate dissent, ruining many lives. He cast any opposition as Communist and clearly believed that all Democrats started at least at a light shade of pink bleeding to scarlet. His blatant run at our constitutional freedoms to dissent, to free speech and freedom of association collapsed when Edward R. Murrow publicly exposed him for what he was: a petty tyrant who relished his ability to blackmail people into submission. I include here the transcript of the last three paragraphs of Murrow’s March 9, 1954, broadcast “See It Now, A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy.” Substitute Donald Trump for the references to McCarthy and the threat is crystal clear:

“No one familiar with the history of this country can deny that congressional committees are useful. It is necessary to investigate before legislating, but the line between investigating and persecuting is a very fine one and the junior Senator from Wisconsin has stepped over it repeatedly. His primary achievement has been in confusing the public mind, as between the internal and the external threats of Communism. We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men — not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.

“This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy’s methods to keep silent, or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.

The actions of the junior Senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad, and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn’t create this situation of fear; he merely exploited it — and rather successfully. Cassius was right. “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

Good night, and good luck.”

One senator from Wisconsin brought our country to the brink of disaster, but people of conscience stood up in opposition. Will you continue to endorse Trump or be like that Army lawyer who finally stood up to McCarthy and asked, “Have you no sense of decency, sir?”?
Sarah Vradenburg
Akron, Ohio