Thursday, February 16, 2017

Ah, Grover Norquist

Svengali comes to mind.  Svengali was a very famous (and fictional) opportunist who seduced and dominated a young girl named Trilby.  But she was his only victim.  So, Svengali doesn’t make the cut.

Rasputin comes to mind.  Grigori Rasputin was a very famous peasant of late Tsarist Russia who had enormous influence over the Court in pre-revolutionary Russia.  But his power was short-lived.  So, no, Rasputin doesn’t make the cut.

The great Mesmer comes to mind.  Franz Mesmer was a German physician who is credited with inventing (or discovering) hypnotism.  So feared was he in his day that the word Mesmerism pre-dated the first use of the word hypnosis by nearly 100 years.  I don’t know, is Mesmer the real deal?

But surely Grover Norquist is the real deal.

Norquist is the founder of Americans for Tax Reform ("ATR," founded in 1985).  He is the author of the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” which reads, in full:
“I, ____________, pledge to the taxpayers of the _____district of the state of _________ and to the American people that I will: One, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and Two, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.”

In the 113th Congress (January 3rd, 2013 – January 3rd, 2015) (the last Congress that the ATR shows on its web-site), Norquist had seduced 219 Republican House members (out of 233, 94%) and 39 Republican Senators (out of 45, 87%) to sign his pledge.  Talk about power, unelected power!  Neither Svengali, nor Rasputin, nor even Mesmer could ever have imagined such power over a nation’s elected public servants!

Now, a pledge NOT to raise taxes sounds innocent and sensible enough, until you actually begin to think about it.

No one loves taxes, no one even likes taxes.  But they pay for government.  Without taxes, there is no government.  Indeed, without a government there are no taxes.  It is not that taxes and government are the same things; but one cannot exist without the other.  Historically, in pre-American Revolution world history, governments taxed the people to pay for the spectacular splendor of their monarchs and their Courts, and for wars.  In monarchies, the top of the social order taxed the bottom of the social order, and surely without their permission, their representation or their consent.  Call it oppression!  In our democracy – in any democracy – the people tax themselves.  We (our elected representatives) decide what we as a society want, and then we collect the money to pay for it with taxation (yeah, and with debt too, deferred taxation).  Individually, none of us enjoys paying taxes, but we understand that we are only paying our collective bills.  And, yes, I get that we all have issues with some governmental expense that we don’t approve of; but you and I elected these bozos, so do something about it if you don’t like how your representative wants to spend your money.  But keep in mind, YOU only get to demand how YOUR elected representatives act.  We are a population of some 320 million souls, living in 50 states, 19,492 municipalities, 16,519 townships and 3033 counties (U. S. Census Bureau, 2007).  You are not in charge, the people are!

Grover Norquist, the unelected spiritual leader of the Republican party, the secular Pope of the Republican party, whose power over his minions exceeds that of the Pope himself over the Roman Catholic church.  What is so horrific about the pledge, so thoughtless, is the fact that there is no wiggle room.  Taxes can be cut but they cannot be raised, not even to return to some previous level.  Implied but not stated is Norquist’s aim to eliminate taxes altogether, to eliminate government in the same breath.  Norquist is infamous for saying: "I'm not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."  Which of course means exactly what he claims not to mean.

“Anarchy” is no government.  James Madison said: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”  Does Norquist think that we are angels?  Does he think that he is an angel?

Grover Norquist has Swedish ancestry.  Sweden has high taxation, self-taxation.  Among the highest rates of taxation anywhere in the world.   And the Swedes are among the happiest of peoples in the world (#10 on the Happiness Index, after all the other high taxation Scandinavian countries, USA #13) and what they collectively purchase with their high taxes has a lot to do with that.  I think that Grover Norquist is ashamed of his ancestry.

And I am ashamed of all the thoughtless men and women who have signed Grover Norquists's thoughtless pledge!