September 13, 2013

The Attack at Home

A new bill threatens the food security of millions Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

While the attention of the country has been riveted on President Obama’s proposals to launch missile strikes in Syria, hidden in the shadows, the House of Representatives has been busily preparing an attack of its own. This attack will not be directed against a foreign government accused of massacring innocent civilians with chemical weapons. Rather, it will be launched right here at home, and its targets are our fellow citizens, whose crime is simply being poor and dependent on federal assistance in order to eat and feed their families.

In the coming week, House Republicans will introduce a bill that delivers a major blow to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps. For 48 million Americans, 17 million of them children, food stamps serve as a fragile lifeline to food. SNAP benefits are far from adequate, since a family of four might receive at most about $668 in assistance per month, while many receive less. Recipients often run out of funds before the end of the month, and they usually have to restrict their purchases to processed foods—cheap and high in calories but lacking the vital nutrients provided by more costly fruits and vegetables.

Despite these shortcomings, SNAP still serves as a critical safety net that protects the vulnerable from an even deeper plunge into the pit of food insecurity, a situation in which they might have to skip meals, reduce their nutritional intake, or go for days without eating. The program has been found to be particularly effective in improving the health and learning abilities of children, who find it hard to concentrate at school with empty bellies. From an economic standpoint, food stamps have proven to be an asset rather than a liability. A study by the Department of Agriculture found that each $1 in SNAP benefits generates $1.84 in gross domestic product (GDP). An independent study says that "expanding food stamps is the most effective way to prime the economy's pump."

The people who depend on SNAP are by no means exploiters of the country's largesse: almost 90 percent live in either poverty or extreme poverty. The program thus provides a helping hand to those who, without these benefits, would have no way to feed their families. However, this hand may soon be withdrawn. This coming week, the Republican majority in the House will introduce a bill that slashes spending on SNAP by $40 billion over the next ten years. To get an idea of what this means, consider that in June the Senate approved a bill to reduce spending on SNAP by $4 billion over the next decade. Earlier this year the House had debated a bill that would have cut SNAP spending by $20.5 billion over the next decade—a figure over five times that proposed in the Senate. After prolonged debate, in July House conservatives decided to put off a new proposal until the end of the summer.

Now they have drafted a bill, and it’s one that would double the cuts to SNAP from $20.5 billion to $40 billion. The bill also lays down more stringent requirements for obtaining food stamps and more flexible conditions for states to deny nutritional assistance to those who apply. This double whammy is bound to hit millions of struggling people with the force of a shock-and-awe bombing campaign. 

What consequences will this draconian measure bring about, should it prevail? The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities offers a detailed analysis of the likely impacts of the cuts, the main features of which I’ll summarize:

It would deny SNAP to between 4 and 6 million low-income people, as well as many low-income children, seniors, and families that work for low wages. These would include 2 to 4 million poor, unemployed, childless adults who live in areas of high unemployment, and 1.8 million people who have gross incomes or assets modestly above the federal SNAP limits, but disposable income below the poverty line. Two hundred and ten thousand children in these families would also lose free school meals. The bill authorizes states to cut off an entire family’s food assistance benefits, including their children’s—and for an unlimited time—if the parents don't find a job or job training slot. However, the bill apparently provides no measures to create jobs, no work or workfare programs, and no additional funds for work or training slots.

While the bill’s proponents insist that recipients of SNAP must get off their butts and find a job, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out that this “rhetoric about the importance of work also overlooks the fact that most SNAP recipients who can work do so. More than 80 percent of SNAP households with at least one working-age, non-disabled adult worked in the year before or after receiving SNAP.”

Families do not turn to the government for assistance in meeting their basic food needs because they are lazy and want handouts from officials with bleeding hearts. The reason is simply that they can't afford adequate food, and they can't afford it because jobs are scarce, incomes stagnant or declining in real purchasing power, and too many jobs pay wages that are minimal or as close to the minimum as employers can get away with. For this reason poverty in this country remains at unconscionable levels, with the gap between the super-rich and everyone else growing wider

When President Obama turned to Congress to marshal support for rocket attacks against the Assad regime in Syria, conservatives in the House voiced doubts and objections, maintaining that such an attack would not advance our interests. Few objected that we don’t have the funds to support another war. If they had felt we had some stake in the conflict, they would have certainly found the funds. When it’s a matter of war, somehow funds always manage to materialize.

When, however, it comes to helping the poor and needy, they suddenly find themselves crashing into a wall of fiscal constraints that force them to allow a substantial segment of our population to slip down the slope of poverty. Instead of bringing forth hearts of compassion to renew—even expand—the programs that provide for people’s needs, our elected officials harden their hearts and close their hands.

It is often said that a budget is a moral document. How our representatives spend our taxes reveals in stark black and white our nation's values and concerns. And how we respond to their decisions reveals, too, our own souls, our own deepest values. These responses show where we stand in relation to our neighbors and to those across the country who share our humanity, who look to us for a ladder up from the pains of poverty, illness, and hunger. When a proposed bill puts lives at risk and endangers the future of millions—including millions of children—it must be flatly rejected on the most compelling moral grounds.


Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi is a Theravada Buddhist monk originally from New York City. He is the former editor of the Buddhist Publication Society in Kandy, Sri Lanka, and has many important publications to his credit, the most recent being his full translation of the Anguttara Nikaya (Wisdom Publications, 2012). In 2008, he founded Buddhist Global Relief, a nonprofit sponsoring hunger relief and education in countries suffering from chronic poverty and malnutrition.


Images courtesy of Flickr/NCReedplayer, Flickr/Conway L.


Further Reading

A Moral Politics: Nourishing change in US food policy

Into the Fire: Food in the Age of Climate Change

Preserving the Fecundity of the Earth: Climate change poses the single greatest threat to the world’s food supply. But we can stop it.

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buddhaddy's picture

Any mention of the EBT card fiasco yesterday. Those greedy people got "profit". Evil as "profit" is. and it was ill-gotten. should they pay it back? or is it again, "not their fault"?

buddhaddy's picture

How many times have any of us Buddhists actually gone somewhere, taken time out of our own day, and fed someone? in the last day? The last week? Or convinced someone else to go and feed someone? How about a flash food mob? gather together, and go bring food to a shelter? If we really care, we can donate to a group like buddhist global relief, and still go out and give personal time and food to someone we know or know of, or a local shelter.

mahakala's picture

Does this mean all tricycle proceeds will now go towards feeding the poor and homeless?

DB's picture

Bhikku Bodhi,
Thanks for keeping Dhamma lessons down to earth,
Bob

Halflotus's picture

I agree that food stamps are a more worthy use of government power than war.

However the funding for both is taken from taxpayers by force and coercion, and in millions of instances, against the taxpayer's wishes and interests. Is this right action?

mahakala's picture

The world’s 100 richest people earned a stunning total of $240 billion in 2012 – enough money to end extreme poverty worldwide four times over, Oxfam has revealed, adding that the global economic crisis is further enriching the super-rich.

“The richest 1 percent has increased its income by 60 percent in the last 20 years with the financial crisis accelerating rather than slowing the process,” while the income of the top 0.01 percent has seen even greater growth, a new Oxfam report said.

For example, the luxury goods market has seen double-digit growth every year since the crisis hit, the report stated. And while the world’s 100 richest people earned $240 billion last year, people in ”extreme poverty” lived on less than $1.25 a day.

The problem is a global one, Oxfam said: ”In the UK inequality is rapidly returning to levels not seen since the time of Charles Dickens. In China the top 10 percent now take home nearly 60 percent of the income. Chinese inequality levels are now similar to those in South Africa, which is now the most unequal country on Earth and significantly more [inequality] than at the end of apartheid.”

In the US, the richest 1 percent’s share of income has doubled since 1980 from 10 to 20 percent, according to the report. For the top 0.01 percent, their share of national income quadrupled, reaching levels never seen before.

“We can no longer pretend that the creation of wealth for a few will inevitably benefit the many – too often the reverse is true,” Executive Director of Oxfam International Jeremy Hobbs said.

Hobbs explained that concentration of wealth in the hands of the top few minimizes economic activity, making it harder for others to participate: “From tax havens to weak employment laws, the richest benefit from a global economic system which is rigged in their favor.”

The report highlights that even politics has become controlled by the super-wealthy, which leads to policies“benefitting the richest few and not the poor majority, even in democracies.”

“It is time our leaders reformed the system so that it works in the interests of the whole of humanity rather than a global elite,” the report said.

zumacraig's picture

Interesting how Oxfam and the like refuse to ever criticize capitalism, the system that requires this type of poverty and gap between rich and poor. This is not surprising news. What is interesting is how the 99% continue to defend the 1% on message boards, in conversation, in voting etc. Make no mistake, the fortunes of the 1% were not made, nor maintained, by hard work. They began with stolen land and free labor and continue with absolute control of the government-regulated global market.

It's appalling to me to see people who call themselves Buddhists come on here and spew libertarian right wing rhetoric...blaming the poor, individualism...when Buddhism is about ending suffering, the causes of suffering and realizing the real interdependence of us all. We should be tirelessly thinking, criticizing and working to end capitalism and create a collective mind focused on healthy food for all, nonviolence, shelter for all, medical care. If we did so, much of our misery and it's causes would disappear.

buddhaddy's picture

When we can divorce big business from big government, the problem of the ultra rich will take care of itself. They feed off each other. And buddhism is about ending suffering within yourself, but removing the desires that lead to it. if you give food to someone, and he craves a castle, you cannot remove his suffering. Only he can remove it. Don't bother replying. I'm sure it will just be another personal attack instead of a thoughtful answer to my statement.

mahakala's picture

I dont find it appalling.. because I find it rather commonplace for people of all kinds to make all manner of idealistic claims with no action to back up their statements.

zumacraig's picture

This is also a great way to dismiss and obfuscate, much less stop a conversation. No solution = Criticism means nothing.

zumacraig's picture

Everything we say and do is ideological. There's no way around it. The Dharma is ideological, depending on who you talk to. The danger is in thinking we can reach some non-ideological state.

mahakala's picture

Your absolutist perspective is starkly incorrect. Describing what I had for breakfast is not "ideological". Teaching someone how to drive a car is not "ideological". The list is exhaustive.

Reductionism gives a person the illusion of knowledge, by way of limitation. "Everything we say and do is ideological" is not only inaccurate, its wildly ignorant. It is not a profound statement of truth, just a reflexive argument for the sake of pure opposition. If you really want to solidify your personal position, then you should at least investigate your potential procedures, if not your motivation.

Why dont you try to explain the danger in reaching a non-ideological state for us? It sounds like a very interesting theory.

zumacraig's picture

I invited you to think on it and that's intellectual posturing? Your dismissive comment about me being some sort of Pepper-ite indicates you are not available for a conversation. However, here is some of my understanding on ideology.

Everything we do is ideological. An ideology is a system of working with, responding to, figuring out mind independent reality. The collective mind structures are ideology and we are subjects. Awareness of this is part of buddhist awakening. So, what, how, when I eat breakfast is ideological, whether I'm aware of it or not. It's not some natural reality, but created. The ideology implied at breakfast goes from the food I choose to eat (organic, healthy, processed?) to the way I eat it (on the floor, at a table?). Ideological, in this sense is much bigger than this or that 'ism'. Although, it includes those. What is considered the American breakfast (how, what, when, where we eat it) is what food companies have sold us and made seem natural through relentless marketing. The cereal isle is illustrative of this.

The danger in not being aware of ideological structures should be clear. You could be unconcsciously perpetuating the suffering of the masses as is the case with our collective delusion that capitalism is natural and not an ideology. This is more of a subtle example. Clearer examples are numerous in history...one of the most glaring being Slavery. What's clear to us now as utterly evil seemed natural not more than a few hundred years ago. Alas, slavery continues, just under the veil of the current, seemingly natural ideology of capitalism.

zumacraig's picture

What you ate for breakfast and the exhaustive list is all ideological. To not see this and believe in the possibility of some non-ideological state or a post ideological society is what's in error and reductionist.

I'm availabe to speculate on some of your questions, but not if you are going to continue your reflexive arguments. Everything you said about my comment was pure dismissal based on the fact that you don't understand what I wrote and/or are unwilling to think about it a minute. Phrases like 'wildly ignorant', 'illsion of knowledge' argue nothing. I encourage you to think for 2 minutes on how what you ate for breakfast is ideological.

mahakala's picture

Tell me what are the ideological parameters of a description of breakfast? Telling me to just figure it out on my own is not an answer. I've already figured it out, and you are wrong. If you think differently, then prove it. If you want a discussion, then you have to discuss the topic. I want to know your reasons for saying what you said. I already know my reasons for saying what I said: namely, its a ridiculous reduction of a particular concept into meaninglessness by way of absolutist generalization.

And what exactly is the danger of not having an ideological position? You never answered that. You just reiterated that its dangerous.

I am trying to understand what you are getting at, but its not clear at all. You need to clarify your statements with some sort of factual information that is understandable from a logical perspective. So far, all you have done is grandstand with an attempt at intellectual posturing by way of some amazingly flimsy abstractions. If you have something to critique, you should be able to back it up with more than just a personal preference for your own particular imaginary mental formations.

BTW, havent you expressed admiration for the diatribes of that Tom Pepper character? Birds of a feather, it would seem.

buddhaddy's picture

you are the one who said breakfast is ideological. you explain it. please, no more cop-outs

zumacraig's picture

It's not a copout when I'm asking you to think. A copout is your consistent trolling on this board with absolutely no interest in discussion, learning or thought.

If you can't come up with a reason why breakfast is ideological, then you've proved my point above. I could give you some examples, but I'm sure you'd dismiss them as anything but ideological.

buddhaddy's picture

and . . . silence. no examples

buddhaddy's picture

Oh no, please, let's see the examples.

buddhaddy's picture

Please explain how breakfast is all ideological

Dominic Gomez's picture

Shakyamuni Buddha was an ideologue after his awakening. Some ideas stick around longer than others because they are applicable to reality.

Katherine Weed's picture

As a strong Democrat, I have been deeply disappointed by Obama's willingness to embroil us in another outrageously expensive military action. This might help weapons suppliers and those they purchase from and employ, it does nothing to address the deep moral issues raised by this article. I made donations when possible and do what I can in other ways, but individuals acting alone can't achieve much nationally. It is hopeless to write my Senators and Congressman, although I do from time to time, as they are very conservative wealthy Republicans who seem to have Romeny's lack of concern for the 47%.

wilnerj's picture

What has been occurring for several decades is the gradual but uneven rise in prices -- aka inflation. This has eroded the purchasing power of the consumer by a steady onslaught against real wages. What we are seeing today is due to a large part to inflation. And a major factor contributing to inflation is the easy money policy of the Fed. While short-term interventions to address the growing disparity in income and wealth must be entertained along with the preservation of programs such as SNAP, longer term structural changes must also be considered such as returning to the gold standard. Administrators and elected official being human make mistakes either due to vested interests, external pressures, ideology or simply miscalculations. When it comes to regulating the growth in the money supply, the scope of activity should be externally constrained by tethering the decision making process to gold.

Adding to this malaise was the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act which separated investment banking from commercial banking. This had provided a firewall helping to contain financial bubbles. A return to this separation between investment and commercial banking should also be considered.

planckbrandt's picture

Inflation is built into the fractional-reserve money creation system. It is relentless because more money has to be created constantly in order for interest to be paid on old money already out there. But, gold standard is not the answer. Gold standard resulted in frequent deflationary periods and much hardship in the past. The money expansion of the 1920s followed by the Great Depression happened on a gold standard. Gold is after all a commodity controlled by huge mining conglomerates and their banks. And, gold mining destroys the environment and destroys communities. Even now in Myanmar the newly invented conflicts between Buddhists and Muslims arise because of foreigners seeking to clear off land to build gold mines. The same conflicts arise now in Sudan and the Horn of Africa, and Colombia. We don't need gold as the center of our money supply again. That only creates more Cecil Rhodeses and their corrupt reactionary capitalist cronies.

We need deeper wisdom than what is produced in economics departments of corrupted universities. Fortunately, writers like Charles Eisenstein offer a critique of money infused by Dharma. Those are the places for us to go to look for solutions. The real solutions to this money problem are not going to be spoken of by politicians or taught in university economics departments. Those institutions are owned by the owners of the money system itself. We need to go into the center to see things as they really are through generations of half-truths. The time is now. The constraints and outcomes we have been taught to see as axiomatic are merely constructions that can be changed. The debt-money system is one of those things.

wilnerj's picture

What then are the real solutions?

lookingout72's picture

The Gold Standard is only meant to be applied to government spending. Private parties could use whatever form of money they want. Paper, coffee beans, feathers, whatever works! However, due to our legal tender laws, everyone is forced to use federal reserve notes. I think competing currencies would create competition and allow the people to choose the most stable medium of exchange. This would put a lot of pressure on the federal reserve.

wilnerj's picture

Or just create chaos as people speculate on alternate currencies and quasi-moneys.

buddhaddy's picture

Did chaos not create the universe?

wilnerj's picture

The universe as such is beyond our understanding. It is just too darn big! Even the term universe is awkward. Does it mean the totality of being? Then what is the sum of all being?

But the chaos to which I refer is that within the social sphere between human beings and not a grand understanding of the cosmos. Now then within the context of human activity, what example can you provide to show chaos as constructive? What edifice or what social institution was built upon a foundation of chaos?

buddhaddy's picture

As with anything, it is a matter of scale. A lawn can appear to be a wonderful example of perfect order. But if you peer closely at it, it is a chaos of blades of grass, all going in slightly different directions. If you look at the progressive growth of a city such as New york, over a hundred years in compressed time, it would appear as total chaos. If you were able to show all of the inputs, elections, political back and forth deal-making, stopping and starting, planning changes, etc. that went into the Affordable Care Act, It appears as chaos. Chaos is everywhere in the universe, from the microscopic activity in each living cell, even in the most planned edifices that humans have built. it's simply a matter of what your perspective.

wilnerj's picture

You make excellent points. Is it really chaos or are we looking at complex systems? I would define chaos as the opposite of order or as complete disorder. The blades of grass are self contained organic systems thriving within a larger ecosystem. NYC is regarded by us mere mortals as organized as we do not live for an hundred years and are not equipped to compress time. The planning and deliberations and cajoling that goes into legislation is all part of the social order within which we reside. A system (order) does not have to be simple, symmetrical and linear.

buddhaddy's picture

Your points are excellent as well, and probably stated more clearly than mine. narrative is not a honed skill of mine. However, the given definition of chaos is "not order", and order "not chaos", so each has no definition of it's own. So I believe that the essentials of all of this, is that we can never define chaos, nor order, except within the context of our own personal perception and belief. That said, as each blade of grass is allowed to grow as it will, resulting in beauty, so is each human should be allowed go grow as it will. In which case, again, I prefer freedom to make choices good or bad, and ask that government only not impede my right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Inasmuch as they cannot guarantee any of these, I only ask that they try to prevent any who would take those from me, including government.

wilnerj's picture

And I bow with hands together to your point of view as a lover of freedom.

buddhaddy's picture

There was a college campus being built. it was coming close to the time of the beginning of semester. the buildings, shrubs, and other structures were in place. the construction team asked for the plans for the walkways, and other access paths so they could lay down the concrete and asphalt. The college official in charge of it told the construction team to hold off, as it was too late to begin now. wait until the end of the school year.
At the end of the year, the team came back in search of their plans for the walkways, etc. the college official told them: "look around you. the students and faculty have told you what the most efficient paths are to get people where they need to go." that is chaos bringing order of the best kind to fruition. Now, can you please define "chaos" for me?

wilnerj's picture

Indeed, that is an excellent example of chaos. And the campus is never constructed.

buddhaddy's picture

how is it that the campus is never constructed. perhaps you didn't arrive at the logical conclusion of how it did, in fact, end?

wilnerj's picture

Without appropriate level of funding, planners, architects, construction contractors and of course cement mixers?

buddhaddy's picture

i'm not sure I understand. the chaos was specifically related to the efficient system of inter-building travel. and the students, in what would appear to be a completely chaotic manner, provided the most efficient routes. As to the funding, you must have funding at some level, for any concerted effort. Where the funding comes from, and how efficiently it gets there are the discussions to be had. For the sidewalks, the planners and the architects were unwitting students and faculty. And I'm still waiting for that definition of chaos. And Thank you for this most enlightening discussion.

buddhaddy's picture

but your example of the universe stands. For government to fix any of this is impossible. the totality of the population is just too big and complex for any central entity to manage without a host of negative unintended consequences. all of the theories of socialism, marxism, whatever ism you want to support, are wonderful ideas. but they don't work with populations.

wilnerj's picture

Agreed, but there is government and there still remains the need for regulations but not central planning.

buddhaddy's picture

I believe the bottom line to all of this is simple: Chaos theory. Anything that government tries to do to maintain central control, and prevention of problems, results in a host of unintended consequences, resulting in more complex fixes, resulting in more chaos. The simple answer is to go back to the cold, logical basics of Freedom. Freedom to succeed, Freedom to fail. Freedom to try or not to try, and to face the consequences of either. Freedom to help the poor, or not, as your spirit will. Large corporations are only a danger when they influence, or are influenced by partnerships with government. Freedom is not perfect. but if we concentrate on preventing outright crime, keeping a solid firewall between government and business, and keeping very simple broad regulations that prevent things such as overt pollution, the natural ways of people will produce a generally better world than we have ended up with now. If you don't believe that people collectively have the ethics to do that, then what makes you think that those people who run the government are any better? and they have the authority of guns behind them. There should be only one tax. 100% taxes on all assets upon death. that would prevent the rich dynasties from growing, and bring a fairly level playing field for all, from the beginning.

wilnerj's picture

In the case you present, government seems to be deemed a monolithic entity that is external to individual decision making and is solely designed to constrain human activity. And yet there is an electoral process where the polity can choose their representatives to govern them. Hence, it is not a monolithic entity that resides outside of the pale of individual decisions.

How can there be a categorical separation between government and business when the rule of law is essential to the survival of markets? Who enforces contractual obligations? Who preserves the means of exchange -- that device so necessary in the tender of consideration in the fulfillment of contractual obligations? Thus, government is indispensable to the private sector. No firewall can ever suffice as it undermines the very nature of markets by destroying the trust essential to the formation of contractual agreements between buyers and sellers.

The 100% inheritance tax can only serve as a disincentive to the pursuit of profit and of other forms of earnings and hence industry. What,for instance, may motivate someone to toil and earn is that the income derived from one's endeavors can be saved as inter-generational equity. Many individuals seek to improve their lives, to be sure, but many also seek to improve the lives of their progeny as well. The elimination of inheritance therefore dampens this incentive to work hard.

buddhaddy's picture

the rule of law is still important, but we have moved beyond the simple rule of the original constitution, and big business is married to government in deep and in-extractable ways. that's why big business gets away with what they do. But the constitutional law was originally only as your first example: the contractual obligations. Although, in the original free markets of the ancient world, those who's word was no good could not trade with anyone because of simple word of mouth. and the means of exchange has often been determined by the two trading parties. remember where the word "trade" originated. Look into Bit coins. As to improving the lives of their progeny, you can't have it both ways. Those who amass a great fortune, and are allowed to leave it to their offspring will just create another "rich" family you can all vilify. And when I look around me, i see that progeny are just as often damaged by inheritance as benefitted.. Look at many of the rich. they are that way because they simply love the game. What could be a more "socially just" system than every person starting out with the same resources? And as my final argument against government and busines: Has that relationship been successful so far? what miracle changes would you implement that would Fix the current dysfunctional relationship? and I don't mean theory, ideas, etc. what would actually work, is proven to work?

wilnerj's picture

It still stands that the elimination of inheritance dampens the profit motive which is central to entrepreneurship and the creation of wealth.
There are also families that have cultivated their inheritance setting up foundations and supporting many good charitable endeavors.

The search for a fix is essentially and inescapably utopian. We cannot scrap the current system and no cure exists for the current dysfunctional relationship. Any such notion of repairing or resolving society's problems presumes a separation between the one providing a solution and history. We cannot escape from history. We cannot escape from our destiny. It is impossible to separate one's self from history. Hence no solution is in the offing. Historically, the attempts at finding solutions (aka social engineering) have ended in disaster. .

buddhaddy's picture

So only those with children build fortunes?

wilnerj's picture

There are nieces and nephews. Ever hear of the rich uncle?

Anyway, there are also endowments.

buddhaddy's picture

Are not endowments often beneficial to many?

wilnerj's picture

Most certainly so. Should they be taxed 100%?

buddhaddy's picture

No, only the personal income that results from nepotism. It would not be perfect, and it's just an Idea. the point is to get as close as we can to having every human being start their journey on as even a playing field as we can. I personally don't believe that ideal is even valid, but it's the big screaming point of many who want to tax all the rich, so it's my idea of a solution that truly addresses it. You start out with the same resources, you choose how to use them. I would much rather just have a simple national transaction tax, if we ridded ourselves of all of the other hidden taxes and government fees. That way, each would have skin in the game. The rich buy a lot more, so they would pay a lot more. When our politicians wanted to raise that tax, it would be very visible, and all voters could see it. It would affect all voters, and their vote would have real meaning. But somehow, that simple solution is anathema to many. I would like to know why.

wilnerj's picture

Excellent idea - a national transaction tax. But as we both know it would devolve into a series of taxes some of which would be concealed. Also the U.S. is a federal republic with three layers of government; Federal (national) State and Local and therefore not one single tax as there is not one single taxing authority. And there would be exemptions for those who live in poverty and thus it becomes means tested.