From: Doug Logan
Several months ago, I heard a piece on the radio that stuck with me. It was at the height of the campaign season tax return flap. The reporter was a U.S. citizen, an immigrant from Finland. He explained that in Finland, anybody can go into a tax office and find out how much anybody else paid and what percentage of their income that tax payment was. I know what you’re thinking. The answer for wealthy Finns is “about 35 percent.”
A striking point was that Finns don’t mind this. The reporter cited one of the richest people in Finland, the founder of a computer game company, whose opinion was, “I like living here. I’m proud of what my country offers its citizens, and I want everyone to know that I pay my share.” Among the things Finland offers are universal health care and college educations.
Clearly, Finland differs from the United States in at least a couple of ways. First, of course, we have those strict constructionist conservatives insisting that, for some reason, the federal government, or even society in general, should not provide health care to people. I would rather turn the issue around. Why shouldn’t the wealthiest economy in the world offer health care to its citizens?
True, the founders did not list health care among the inalienable rights, but “care” in 1787 meant waiting until a patient either died or got better. Also, 18th century professionals had hardly better success than grannies with herb teas. The medical expert Lewis and Clark consulted before their famous expedition recommended calomel, toxic mercurous chloride, as the treatment for nearly everything. Archaeologists trace the expedition by the mercury in camp latrine pits, because the compound is a pretty violent laxative.
Which brings us to the second difference between Finland and the United States. Wealthy Finns are proud to pay their fair share. Rich Americans, on the contrary, are proud to dodge theirs. It’s odd, because those wealthy Americans demand as many handouts as they resent giving anyone else. Instead of food, housing and health care, the rich demand tax abatements for every bit of industrial development or new factory machine. Wealthy business owners demand that the community train their workforce for them, in community colleges that saddle students with debt, instead of on the job in apprenticeships. American wealth demands right-to-work laws so they can avoid facing the union representation that gives workers a chance of fair wages.
Small investors are not to blame. It is a management class that demands shameful salaries for inflating stock prices at the expense of working people. We are told that the corporate welfare creates jobs, but that is simply a lie. Real economists debunked the trickle-down lie decades ago. Creating jobs means more people buying things, not sending profits to offshore tax shelters.
Since the administration is made up of the people who gave us the bubbles and crashes, let’s hope it all holds together until voters can choose candidates who will really work for our benefit.