( Gainesville Sun ) – There are no easy answers to financing U.S. health insurance, mental health care, social services, public health and other services for nearly 330 million individuals.
The USA is a very large country and financing services must be tailored to this reality. Accordingly, funding government programs requires us to muster the courage to properly tax oligarchs, mega-corporations and others who often completely avoid federal taxes.
It is a big shock for folks to discover how much is lost to the government by corporate/oligarch tax avoidance. But it is also shocking what many corporations are doing when they hold back money for wage increases/employment because it’s not profitable for them to hire employees at decent wages.
They lend their now tax-free money to the U.S. government to fund deficits. When the U.S. government refuses to tax corporations and the rich and instead borrows from them, it runs a deficit by spending more than it takes in, due to not taxing them.
Ironically, our government turns around to the same people it didn’t tax, corporations and the rich, paying them high interest on the borrowed money.
Using favorable tax laws, offshoring of taxable profits and other avoidance methods, large corporations, big insurance, big pharma and the ultra-wealthy rich no longer pay adequate and fair taxes to the government. The U.S. has substituted debt to finance many government services, which is the main cause of today’s obscene $21 trillion debt.
Although very profitable for those in the 1%, it is a stunning and unmitigated disaster for everyone in the 99% when wealthy and privileged social groups substitute high interest-earning loans to the government for the taxes they formerly paid. Additionally, they often shift any increases in tax rates and percentages away from themselves and on to lower and middle-class taxpayers in the 99%.
The disaster is that our economy relies almost completely on debt for its growth and causes immense problems in all directions; e.g., the interest rate jumps to 28% when we are late on a credit card payment. It is why our wages are stagnant with paltry cost-of-living increases if any; fees/wages have declined in real terms. If we earned a sustainable income in the first place, many families would not have to borrow money to survive.
Advocates say the minimum wage should go up to $15. In the 1950s and the 1960s, the minimum wage tracked productivity and GDP. If it had continued after the mid-1970s, it would be about $20 an hour in 2018. That’s money that poor working people are handing over to the wealthy and is why a university education, houses, medical bills and utilities cost so much.
Our system is designed so that the 99% can never free themselves from debt to the 1%. Currently, the richest 1% hold about 38% of all privately held wealth in the United States, while the bottom 90% hold about 73% of all debt. The richest 1% in the United States now own more wealth than the bottom 90%.
The 1% impose the intrinsic instability of their system on the entire population, and then get the government to respond with deficits that even further benefit and reward the greed of the very same 1% oligarchs and corporations.
Ironically, we’ve borrowed so much as a nation from the rich, large corporations and some foreign countries that even they now are unsure they want to continue to lending to us because of today’s astronomical debt. To maintain their loan profits, they want us to eliminate/severely reduce programs for poor and sick people with austerity/cuts in all social and public health programs, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, etc.
The absurdity and danger to our community of such an economic policy is exceeded only by its gross injustice.
F. Douglas Stephenson, LCSW, is a retired psychotherapist and former instructor of social work in the University of Florida Department of Psychiatry. He is a member of Physicians for a National Health Program.
Via Gainesville Sun
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