It’s Up To You New York, New York

Gay rights get a big lift from Albany.

New York lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats, have come together to do the right thing. In legalizing same-sex marriage, they have shown that this republic can still function on behalf of its citizens – can still chart a course as noble as the American heart. I applaud them.

And to the republic, for which it stands.

 

In the sticky heat of another New York summer, two hundred and thirty-five years ago, our founders fought the British in the marshes and estuaries of what would one day become the Empire State. Although the battle was lost, Washington and his troops were able to escape and regroup for what would unfold as a decisive winter campaign. The battle of New York was a key step in our nation’s independence. Over two centuries later, New York once again plays a pivotal role in an ongoing struggle for liberty. On behalf of my friends, Chuck, Kim, Beth, Lola, Andy, Karen and Sharon, thank you.

 

Tax This – The Citizens’ Survey

Like most adult Americans, I’ve begun to think about maybe starting to perhaps kinda almost commence doing my taxes. Conceivably, it could happen sometime between the Winter Olympics and March Madness. Or not.

That's right, it's tax time.

The public’s general lack of enthusiasm for filing a return could be mitigated if the IRS added some incentives. Perhaps a comment form, or better yet, a survey, mailed out with every tax manual, allowing us to critique the stewards of our tax dollars. When you buy a toaster they include a consumer survey, why not when you write out a big fat check to the government? The results could be read on the floor of the House and Senate every April 15th, during mandatory sessions of Congress.

A sample survey might look something like this:

1) Do you think stimulus tax dollars should be spent on the companies that created the financial crisis, or the people who are suffering from it?

2)Do you think your tax dollars should go towards everyone’s health insurance plan or just the health insurance plan for members of Congress?

3)Do you think your tax dollars should be spent to finance elections or should corporations be left to take care of that? (See questions one and two above.)

Maybe it would be more enlightening to just let people choose where a discretionary portion of their tax dollars, say 5%, should go. I’m sure there would be a significant discrepancy between Congress’ agenda and the priorities of the American public. Talk about voting with your dollars.

As simple as this plan is, I’m sure it will never happen. Sounds too much like … Democracy.

Representation Without Taxation

The Supreme Court will address corporate influence on federal elections today when they hand down a decision on the “Hillary, the movie” campaign finance case before them. At least five of the terms in that last sentence will make most people’s eyes glaze over, but listen up. The idea that corporations should hold the same rights as people is lethal to true democracy. Not instantly, like a bullet, but incessantly, like carbon monoxide. Corporate influence hides in the shadows and hallways of Washington D.C. You can’t see it, you can’t taste it and exposure to it will lull you to sleep, but given too much, your democracy stops breathing. 

Do you smell something?

 

The idea that corporations have the same right to free speech as an individual is an invention of the court. It’s not in the constitution, it’s not in legislation, but it will continue to be found in arguments before the bench until it is shot down, an action this current, very corporate, version of the court will likely never undertake.  

I find it ironic that these corporations, entities that will move cash and facilities offshore in an instant to improve profits, argue for their rights as if they were citizens of this country. They want representation without taxation. Corporations, by nature, are beholden to no one but their shareholders. They are citizens of no country, and prove it time and time again.  

In case you missed the headlines: Exxon, AIG, Dupont, GM, United Health Care, Firestone, Ford, Enron, RJ Reynolds. All of these companies, and more, have damaged this country’s health, environment and/or financial stability without remorse. Until corporations can be incarcerated, until corporations can bleed, they will not deserve to be considered citizens of this country.  

If you doubt the influence of corporations on lawmakers, doubt no longer. There is no greater example of Congress bowing to lobbyists than the current health insurance debate. Over two-thirds of the people in this country support some form of public option, yet it won’t even appear in the final bill. Apparently our elected officials fear corporate dollars more than the voices of the people.  

That’s my argument, one this current court would never give the time of day. But why should they listen to me? I just obey laws, pay taxes and vote.