Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mulling over Mitt's millions

"I'm the 1%!"

Mitt Romney released his tax return and there were no surprises. He pays about 13.9% in taxes, whereas the working poor in our country pay more like 30%. Republicans are hanging on to these tax breaks until their fingertips are bloody. What I can't believe is that many poor and middle class people still support Republicans and their billionaire buddies. They have fallen for the canard that rich people who get even richer = more jobs for poorer people. It wasn't true when Reagan said it, and still isn't true thirty years later.

Mitt doesn't work in the sense you and I work. He collects money. Mitt made a point to say that he didn't inherit his wealth. But his dad was the CEO of a major corporation in the 1960s, American Motors, and Mitt grew up with money. He learned early on how to exploit, how to make himself wealthier. A commentator said that Mitt's income works out to $47,000 a day, more than the great majority of working people earn in a year.

"Of course I don't know how much money I have. It comes in faster than I can count."

When Mitt tries to sound like a man of the people he can't, because every time he talks that silver spoon he was born with gets in the way of his tongue. He has no common touch because he hasn't associated with common people. He sounds like a rich person trying to convince us lesser mortals he's less than he is, the top 1% of the 1%-ers.

After writing a couple of early drafts of this post I watched an NBA basketball game to get my mind off politics. It didn’t work. I was watching a bunch of really tall millionaires running up and down a court throwing a ball at a hoop. Even the NBA minimum salary is about ten years of a working person's earnings. These financial realities are true across professional sports in America. Athletes who have been given the double gifts of good genes and skill can earn staggering amounts of money. Ball players will justify this by saying their careers are short, and that's true. But our careers are long and they still don't even out. I'd like to see someone like LeBron James or Kobe Bryant play for $50,000 a year, minus endorsements. Would they still excel, or just gripe about their wages while worrying how they're going to pay their mortgage and still buy food or shoes for the kids, and god help them if anyone in the family gets sick.

Bryant earned $24.8M in the 2010-11 season; James lagged behind him with a paltry $14.5M.

But in sports big money comes with close scrutiny. In a pro ballplayer's career everything he does is recorded. If I were doing my job with thousands of people watching every move I made, and had other people on the sidelines keeping track of my statistics I'd be very nervous. In that way I was lucky in my job. I got to be responsible for myself for thirty years. Only occasionally did I have to answer for anything I did. And Mitt probably didn't have to answer for much, either. As long as everyone was making money who would want to ask where the money was coming from? The only questions would be is this all? and where can I get more?

"Stop asking me questions I don't want to answer!"

Romney finds his feet being held to a very hot fire. When he wouldn't release his taxes he was criticized for hiding something. When he did release his taxes he was criticized for how much money he has, and how he holds on to it at the expense of other American taxpayers. Sorry 'bout that, Mitt! It's the way of politics, but not the way of CEO's. They have to answer only to shareholders. They feel privileged, and don't like anyone asking intrusive questions of them. Mitt is especially brittle when asked these types of questions. He wants to say it’s nobody’s business but his, but of course it’s our business to examine closely the people who want to be President.

The Republican candidates bicker amongst themselves as to who is more conservative. It's all just eyewash. What they are really doing is trying to hold onto a status quo where the rich keep taking out of the system while others pay into it. There isn’t the thickness of a dollar bill between their philosophies. Why their supporters and members of the Republican Party—most of whom are decidedly not rich—go along with this is beyond me. Maybe they're just hoping if they get close enough to a candidate like Mitt some of his skills with money will rub off.


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