By Henry McRandall
A few years ago, celebrated hotel billion-heiress, the late Leona Helmsley, famously asserted “only the little people pay taxes.”
Being an Amerikkkan, she was, of course, free to say that. But the simple reality is that for years she totally and illegally evaded paying taxes on her massive wealth and income, and, for that, she spent a short time in a government-financed vacation-resort-cum-jail-for-high-level-white-collar-criminals.
Few of her ilk in either Canada or the U.S. – the Top One Percent – the millionaires, mega-millionaires, billionaires and mega-billionaires – the gangster banksters and the corporate robber barons and the degenerate heirs and heiresses of past gangster banksters, corporate robber barons and Southern slave plantation owners – are quite as successful even today at paying almost no taxes.
But there’s no need to even bother trying. The nominal tax rates for the Top One Percent and the criminally-corrupt banks and corporations that they control have fallen so low and the number of tax loopholes has grown so high that their real total contribution is now almost negligible.
Forty years ago, in both the U.S. and Canada, the taxes paid – to all levels of government – by the Top One Percent and the banks and corporations they criminally control provided close to 40 percent of total government revenues – still far below the share of the benefits of government that accrue to them.
Today, their contribution is less than 15 percent of total government revenues, despite the fact that the income of the Top One Percent has grown very rapidly over these past 40 years, while almost everyone else has fallen back.
How much should the Top One Percent and the banks and corporations they control be paying? Well, how much do they benefit – proportinately — from the existence of government?
There is a commonly accepted precept that “possession is nine-tenths of the law.”
The Top One Percent – in both the U.S. and Canada – owns close to 50 percent of their respective nations’ wealth; ergo, they get almost 50 percent of the benefit that comes from having police forces, courts and prisons.
But do they pay close to 50 percent of the cost of the police forces, courthouses and prisons? Far from it.
When Amerikkka wages wars of aggression and invasions of largely defenceless Third World countries – with Canada tagging along as a “dutiful” member of NATO and loyal lapdog of the Amerikkkan Top One Percent’s puppet political prostitutes –, rapes, pillages and loots their resources for the benefit of Amerikkkan oil, gas and mining billionaires and imposes brutal right-wing puppet dictatorships, the assertion of the brainwashed is that it is doing it “to protect our way of life.”
But whose “way of life” is it really protecting?
Is it the “way of life” of the 3.5 million Americans and 250,000 Canadians who are homeless? Or the “way of life” of the 50 million Americans who can’t afford basic health care? Or the “way of life” of the 50 million Americans who depend on Food Stamps and food banks to make it through the month? Or the “way of life” of the 25 million Americans and two million Canadians who are either unemployed or underemployed? Or the “way of life” of the millions of American families who have either already lost their homes or will soon lose them to mortgage foreclosure?
Is the “way of life” of so many millions of disinherited and disenfranchised Americans and Canadians even worth “protecting”?
Or is it really the “way of life” of the Top One Percent – the millionaires, mega-millionaires, billionaires and mega-billionaires – the gangster banksters and the corporate robber barons and the diletante heirs and heiresses of past corporate capitalist scumbags – that is being protected?
And at whose expense?
Is it the sons and daughters of the Top One Percent who are asked to risk life and limb to protect their own immorally lavish and privileged “way of life?” No!
It is the sons and daughters of Other 99 Percent – or, more typically, of the poor and the working class – who are lured into risking their lives and limbs – either on the flimsy promise of a college education, if they are lucky enough to return home with both body and mind reasonably intact, or out of sheer desperation for some kind – any kind – of steady work.
So the sons and daughters of the Top One Percent are totally sheltered from the rigours and risks of war.
But does the Top One Percent – which receives most of the benfits of wars – at least pay its fair share of the cost of the Pentagon and the five military branches? The annual orgy of spending on all that state-of-the-art high-tech military technology that has no useful function but to deliver death and destruction? Or the more than 1,000 U.S. military bases strewn across more than 100 foreign countries? Or the cost of the CIA and more than a dozen other so-called “intelligence” agencies in Amerikkka – or CSIS and various so-called “intelligence” apparatus in Canada? After all, they are the primary beneficiaries of all these wars, and all these phantasmagorical weapons, and all this spying – not only on foreigners but also on Americans and Canadians.
But no! Like their contribution in terms of “blood”, the contribution of the Top One Percent – and the corporations they control – to the other half of the steep price of war – “treasure” – is also almost nil.
Economics 101 teaches that in order to function properly, a corporate capitalist economy requires a minimum level of unemployment at any given time of at least three percent. The official rate of unemployment is 8.2 percent in Amerikkka and 7.4 percent in Canada. (The real rates are actually much higher).
But are the corporate capitalists – the millionaires, mega-millionaires, billionaires and mega-billionaires – even taking on the cost just of providing a decent standard of living just to that minimum three percent of role-serving unemployed – more than seven million workers across the U.S. and Canada – that their corporate-capitalist system requires at all times in order to keep high profits flowing smoothly? Hardly. In fact, they are paying very little of the cost.
In the face of this kind of evidence – and I’m sure much more evidence could be produced – it would be very hard to convincingly argue that the Top One Percent of North Americans – and the corporations they control – should not be paying very close to 50 percent of the total revenues required by all levels of government, rather than the less-than-15-percent they are paying today.
Who should pay taxes — and for what?
By Henry McRandall