Letter to the editor in right wing newspaper

The editorials and cartoons of the local newspaper, the Bellevue Reporter, almost always have an anti-government and anti-taxation message.

During the 2010 election cycle, when the high earner’s income tax initiative I-1098 was on the ballot, they published a cartoon depicting government as a fat pig.

In response to one of their recent anti-government editorials I wrote this letter, which they published both in the paper edition and in the online edition, Taxes needed for good government.

The editorials of the Bellevue Reporter almost always gripe about taxes and government spending. But without government programs (roads, police, courts, public health, parks, libraries, public schools, financial and environmental regulation, etc), the market system couldn’t function and our country would resemble a failed state like Somalia.

In fact, tax rates are historically lower than at any time in the past 50 years, and Washington state has the most regressive tax system in the nation – meaning that the rich pay a lower percentage of their income in state taxes than in any other state, lower even than the middle class and the poor. One reason is our over-reliance on the sales tax and on the B&O tax (which is based on revenue, not profit). Another reason is the numerous tax breaks that rich corporations such as Boeing and Microsoft enjoy.

Who wants increased concentration of wealth, unaffordable college education, congested roads, filthy air, ugly cities, and welfare for the rich?

As Thomas Jefferson said, “I hope we shall take warning … and crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”

If I’d had more space, I would have elaborated: about companies such as GE and Apple paying little or no taxes, about warnings by Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and others about the power of corporations, about outsourcing of jobs, about inadequate funding for education, about the hiring of overseas engineers by Microsoft and other high tech firms, abut the demise of unions, and so on.

I could include figures and graphs documenting the increasing concentration of wealth, tax avoidance, and the shifting of the tax burden off corporations. But figures and graphs tend to cause readers’ eyes to gloss over.

The Left needs a concerted effort to get out message out about economic justice and the benefits of government for the Common Good.

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