Vignettes for These Times

Author: Gary Hart

*Neo-Nazi and White Supremacist signs are not in evidence in Houston these days.  It would be interesting to hear how a lily-white society and government might have prevented Hurricane Harvey or managed its response better.

Indeed, what is striking about the dramatic pictures from Houston is how multi-racial the rescue is.  Blacks helping whites.  Hispanics helping blacks.  Asians helping and being helped.  Why does it take a natural disaster, or for that matter a war, for race to take a holiday?  America is always at its best when we are all in it together.

*Texas is among the most conservative and anti-national government States in the Union.  But the Federal (repeat Federal) Emergency Management Agency is there on the front lines of rescue and recovery and not a word is heard about the wasteful government in Washington or the tax dollars that it is spending.

Which brings up again the unanswered and unanswerable question: what are the functions of the national government they want to get rid of.  Texas’ former governor Mr. Perry wanted to eliminate the U.S. Department of Energy.  Now he is its Secretary and only beginning to find out what the Department does.  He did not know, for example, that about half of the Department’s budget goes into the development and management of our nuclear weapons stockpile, as well as development of new technologies for nuclear energy, and that the Department administers a wide range of national laboratories performing futuristic and cutting-edge research.

*It is also noteworthy that, at least until recent months, there has been a general unspoken consensus between Democrats and Republicans on immigration and multi-culturalism.  The last serious immigration reform measure in the 1980s was truly a bipartisan effort, but of course that was in an era where Republicans were not pilloried by right wing media for cooperating with Democrats.

Under Reagan and Bush administrations guest worker programs, some leading to citizenship, were permitted and sometimes even encouraged because pro-Republican agriculture and hospitality industries needed low wage workers in the fields and kitchens.  There may have been winks and nudges toward white nationalists but, if so, they were subtle and not, as today, blatant.

*Many Democrats, including this writer, deplore the rise of an “alt-left”, especially in its more virulent form.  White nationalists and neo-Nazis want violence and to provide it is to play into their hands.  The vast majority of main-stream Americans, imbued with the principles of our Constitution, can and must stand their ground and represent our best values.  But the job of enforcing law and order is best left to professional law enforcement.

*Our ever frustrated and angry President says he wants to get on with “tax reform” which we know is code word for cuts in corporate and wealthy tax rates.  The theory, restated so many times it is redundant, is that corporations will use newly untaxed dollars to expand and grow and “create many new jobs.”  Really?  What’s to prevent Big Guy, Inc. from increasing dividends to shareholders, increasing executive salaries (already completely out of any relation to productivity growth), buying new company jets and retreats, building new expensive corporate headquarters, increasing advertising budgets, and the list goes on.  None of this adds any jobs or increases national productivity.

Why not substitute tax credits for tax cuts, that is let Big Guy, Inc. deduct from annual taxes productive investments, such as new plant and equipment or worker training, AFTER these investments have been made?  Harry Taxpayer can’t claim a tax deduction for medical expenses before he gets sick.

Tax “reform”, that is reduced tax rates for those at the top, should not be based on hope.  They should be based on performance.

*Once more: how can the Texas Congressional delegation insist on massive federal reconstruction assistance after Harvey when almost all of them voted against the same kind of relief urgently needed by their fellow citizens in New Jersey and New York after Sandy.  There are a number of words that describe that kind of behavior and hypocrisy is the mildest.

And, finally, how can Texas, or anywhere else for that matter, harbor so many “nationalist” who don’t believe all Americans are part of the nation.

2 Responses to “Vignettes for These Times”

  1. Tom Gee Says:

    I really like your corporate tax credit idea, stuck in the middle of this essay on Texas. Perhaps there could be some criteria like clean energy, affordable housing, affirmative action, etc. Ah, that there could be real leaders again. What do you think of the Kasich-Hickenlooper axis, by the way?

  2. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Tom,

    Having advocated quite early for a Biden/Hagel ticket going into the primaries in 2008, I think a fusion or hybrid ticket for 2020 would be a very, very interesting proposition.

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