This joke has been floating around the internet for the past couple of days: “A unionized public employee, a tea party supporter, and a CEO are sitting at a table with a dozen cookies on a plate. The CEO takes 11 of the cookies, turns to the tea partier, and says, ‘Watch out for that union guy. He wants some of your cookie.’”
Brilliant, and it would be hilarious if it wasn’t so true. I woke up this morning to a radio report about how the “surplus” income tax on people earning over $250,000 annually in New York is going to expire and talks to extend it are going nowhere, partially because Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo doesn’t support its extension. Instead, in order to balance the budget he apparently favors slashing health care for the poor, firing thousands of public school teachers in some of the state’s neediest neighborhoods, and cutting funding for the city’s already cash-strapped public transit system.
What is wrong with this picture?! Wealthy people in America pay the lowest taxes they’ve paid since before World War II, and to offset that lost revenue state governments around the country, as well as the federal government, are slashing programs for the poor and middle class. Investment bankers and large corporations did most of the work getting us into the economic mess in which we find ourselves – but they’ve largely recovered while everyone else is watching their wages get cut and government services get eviscerated.
Thanks to the influence of those same bankers and multinational corporations, the solutions elected officials are offering are to cut taxes, give those corporations more money, and cut education, health, and social service spending for the rest of us. Goldman Sachs and Moody’s Analytics just completed separate studies showing that these strategies are going to seriously hurt the economic recovery and cost hundreds of thousands of jobs – but it seems that no one in Albany or Washington is listening.
These days the world often really feels like a very, very dark version of Alice in Wonderland.