Working towards peace and sustainability

Peaceworks’ Message on Tax Day 2016

A slightly shorter version of this message has been printed as a leaflet for Tax Day distribution at the Columbia Post Office. A PDF suitable for printing is available if you CLICK HERE.  

Fair Taxes?  Hmm . . .

Do you like paying taxes? Probably not. Most of us don’t. But responsible citizens generally recognize that we all should be paying our share. The two keys to legitimate taxation: 1) Taxes should be fair, based upon ability to pay, and 2) Taxes should be spent on things that benefit society, enhance our well-being, provide Real Security and create a brighter future for all.

Several decades back, working people shared in a growing prosperity and could look forward to their children doing better than they had. Taxes were progressive, with those who could afford to pay being taxed at significantly higher rates than those with modest incomes.

The combination of massive tax cuts for the wealthy, arcane loopholes, use of tax havens and special treatment for capital gains income have made the system much less fair. And wealth continues to concentrate. From 1979 to 2007  (the eve of the Great Recession) half of all income gains went to the top one percent. And during the recent recovery, more than 90 percent of new income went to the one percent.

The wealthy are making lots more money—and keeping more of it—due to the tax code. This is not only unfair to the 99%, but it is bad for the economy, as working people lack purchasing power, and the wealthy have more money than they can possibly spend. The middle class is being wiped out, and the economy is on the road to stagnation.

A key to reversing this trend is real tax reform that requires those who can afford it to pay their fair share. Peaceworks supports the kinds of tax reform that are promoted in the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ People’s Budget. You can learn more about the People’s Budget 2016 if you CLICK HERE for a summary, or CLICK HERE for a more detailed version.

In addition to reforms that make the tax code more progressive, the People’s budget includes a major revamping of expenditures. If passed, it would significantly benefit working people and those living at the margins, generally make the economy more robust and begin to seriously address the climate crisis.

Tax Dollars Well Spent?

The greatest challenges to our way of life are not coming from ragtag terrorist cells, nor from foreign adversaries who aim to challenge us militarily. Yet we continue to fund the Pentagon at a record clip, spending more than the next seven largest military powers combined. And most of these are U.S. allies. It’s time to cut the bloated military budget.

It’s time to end the endless war and save the tens of billions of dollars wasted on unnecessary and counter-productive foreign interventions. We must also eliminate boondoggle weapons programs whose procurement benefits only the contractors. At the top of this list is the proposal to spend $1 trillion to revamp U.S. nuclear weapons systems.

The real threats we face include massive dislocation from climate change, as well as enormous problems that come from failing schools, unaffordable colleges, aging infrastructure, health problems from  polluted air and water and social dislocation due to growing gaps between rich and poor.

The People’s Budget, which Peaceworks supports, calls for prudent investments in infrastructure and people. Nearly everyone agrees that our water and sewage systems, our energy grid, our highways and other transportation systems all are in serious need of upgrade. Making these investments not only creates needed jobs, but makes our economy more productive. Likewise, providing quality education, from pre-school through university, provides the human capital needed for a truly productive 21st Century economy.

Addressing the reality of climate change is a top-tier priority. We must invest in efficiency improvements and in the rapid transition to a renewables-based energy economy. Some of these investments must come from the private sector, but public funding to make this transition is also needed. Spending to address the existential threat of climate change certainly is necessary and prudent.

We urge you to join us in calling for new priorities such as these. Contact info for elected officials can be accessed if you CLICK HERE.