By Henry McRandall
A Texas homeowner has learned the very hard way not to trifle with his regressive tax burden.
In recent years, federal, provincial or state, and local governments across North America have been on an orgy of tax redistribution as tax cut after tax cut after tax cut for corporations and the very wealthy have been partly offset by a slew of regressive taxes – such as user fees and co-payments for health, education and social programs.
These regressive taxes serve a single purpose – to deny to the very neediest any access
to a wide range of government subsidies generally available to the less needy and the very greedy.
And so it was that homeowner Gene Cranick of Obion County, Texas, could only protest in vain last week as firefighters from the town of South Fulton stood and watched his home burn to the ground.
He learned the harsh lesson that not paying his yearly $75 charge for fire protection from the nearby South Fulton fire department could prove very costly.
Cranick’s bitter experience is symbolic of the rush by NeoConservative and NeoLiberal governments to totally dismantle long-cherished progressive taxation and replace it with regressive taxation which transfers more and more of the burden from corporations and the socioeconomic elite to the masses – the poor, the working class and the middle class, while simultaneously leaving governments starved for cash.
South Fulton, Texas, however, is not alone in imposing extremely regressive taxes such as user fees and co-payments on those who can least afford to pay them.
They have been used across both America and Canada and are constantly being proposed for more and more health, education and social programs.
Simply put, it is a way of rationing these programs and leaving the truly needy ever more deprived and desperate.
“Universality” is a socioeconomic construct that is rarely ever mentioned these days by the corporate mass media.
The goal of universality was to make those too-well-off to qualify for certain programs and subsidies less resentful of those who desperately needed them.
After all, it would be harder for the elite to attack programs such as Social Security in the U.S. and the Canada Pension Plan in Canada if the greedy had just as much right to stick their snouts in the trough as the truly needy.
As regressive as universality actually was – the very notion that government cannot give a dime to a poor person without also giving a dollar to a corporation or a rich person – it at least provided a greater measure of legitimacy and elite acceptance of essential government programs than there would have been without it.
But as the corporate agenda pushes North American society deeper and deeper into a dog-eat-dog reality, the NeoConservative and NeoLiberal proponents of that agenda are only too willing to enforce the mean-spirited form of government required
As long as the reactionary federal, provincial or state, and local governments that dominate North American politics are allowed by the masses to inflict such heinous policies upon the poor, the working class and the middle class, the chattering political class will continue to do so.
Firefighters watched as house went up in flames
By Henry McRandall