Friday, August 8, 2008

Political Thinking: tax cuts and consumerism

During my ride into work, I tried to think about work. I really did. But my thoughts wandered into some political thinking.

The following topics need research, but I do not want to lose the theories. I think more and more about politics lately for some reason.

Several weeks ago, someone sent me an e-mail with a comparison of income and savings before and after the Bush tax cuts. The numbers were staggering.

I pay $10 to $15K USD in taxes a year. If Obama wins and repeals the tax cuts, I will end up paying more than $20K USD in taxes. That's huge.

So my thoughts wandered and I started assembling concepts while I drove to work.

I started with a pervasive thought from my good friend Derek. He talked to folks in the belly of capitalism in lower Manhattan who correlated television watching to our rampant consumerism. People now feel entitled to goods and services beyond their means by both advertising and the content of television programming.

(As an aside, the advice was 'kill your TV' and following suit, I haven't turned on my TV all summer. It's going well. Life is more clear and present, but I digress.)

My thinking branched into two concepts. The first concept was a question, really, on whether or not editors in Hollywood consider the consumerism value in programming.

The shows that I like never last long. In recent history, I loved 'Life With Bonnie' and 'Less than Perfect'. There wasn't much consumerism there. Blap. Cut. Off the air. But I marvel at the wide appeal that horrible shows like 'Desperate Housewives' have on the world. There is a ton of consumerism in that show, where people can fantasize and aspire to rise their hovels into the affluence on Wisteria lane.

The second concept is that from a practical point of view, if people are going to achieve the promise of consumerism, they need money. So I realized the tie between conservative economics and the liberal nature of programming.

It was almost as though someone drew up a covert, natural contract to the effect, 'Fine if the American people want to elevate their lifestyles above their natural ways and means, we'll put more money in their pockets to spend as they wish.' TAX CUT!

So up and down the socio-economic scale, people can get frilly coffee instead of drinking water. They can embellish their consumerism to lean upwards toward Wisteria lane.

But what happens when the tax cuts are repealed. Now we're stuck. We want to sustain our habits and buy frilly junk. But we can't. Because more money (in my case upwards of $8K USD) will go to the Federal government and only a tiny bit returns to me.

The Obama regime might retort and say, 'Oh, but we'll help you tired and poor by giving you Federal money.' And I can reply from the experience in all of my volunteer positions, 'Mr. Obama. I can't find people to volunteer to fog a mirror. I'd turn cartwheels if I could find a volunteer who could fill out a grant for your, I am sorry, ~my~ federal money.'

So I see a big trap. Do you?

Repeal the tax cuts and everyone has less money. And with less money, we're unable to fulfill the consumerism dream. So everyone feels repressed. Eventually, we will be repressed and despite the whole rebel yell for loss of freedoms in the Bush administration, we'll later have loss of economic freedom which means loss of our choice to aspire to the lifestyle set before us.

I much prefer to keep my money at my disposal to do as I see fit. If I pay $8K more in federal taxes, I doubt that I will have extra to give to local organizations and directly impact my local community.

That's what I care about the most.

All of this needs deeper research, but I didn't want to lose the theory so here it is.

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