Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Taxation Without Representation

Washington crossing the Delaware. What the painting could not record were the cries of  "Sit down! You'll knock us over!"

Taxation Without Representation
by Coast Watcher

The Battle of Trenton was a small but crucial engagement which took place on the morning of December 26, 1776, in Trenton, New Jersey. In the hour before dawn of that morning, General George Washington crossed the Delaware River using boats to convey 2,400 men of his army. Conditions were hazardous, with deep snow covering the ground and large ice floes in the river preventing the rest of Washington’s troops – a little more than half his total force – from crossing. Nevertheless, due to these very weather conditions his opponents had lowered their guard, believing themselves safe from attack.

The Hessian mercenaries employed by the British were shocked to find a rebel army bearing down on their winter encampment. After a short but fierce struggle, most of the Hessians surrendered and the remainder retreated in confusion.

Although it was small engagement as military conflict goes, it served to inspire the army to continue the fight and attracted a growing number of volunteers to the Colonists’ cause.

The American Colonists fought a war against unjust levels of taxation imposed by Britain. Most people today know their battle cry: "No taxation without representation!" 

Why is the war, and the two hundred and forty-first anniversary of this particular battle, relevant today? Because once again we’re seeing an unjust level of taxation being imposed by our supposed superiors and masters, a level of taxation that imposes an unbearable burden on a populace already struggling with ever-shrinking income and ever-increasing debts. Once again we’re seeing a rising level of opposition to this inequality.

On Friday, December 22 the GOP’s tax bill passed into law with a stroke of Trump’s pen as he sat in the great Oval Office. It followed the active connivance of the Republican-dominated Congress to prevent the details of the bill from becoming public. Even Senators were not allowed to view the document before voting on it.

The whole bill was fabricated by over 4,000 lobbyists working on behalf of the rich, and big business. I think we’ve all seen images of the shoddy presentation
of the bill, with handwritten notes tailing off into illegibility alongside the printed text. It’s an effort that would shame a third-grader and would rightly earn an F  in any school worth the name. This sorry mess was handed to the GOP millionaires in Congress, who fell over themselves with slavish eagerness to do their masters’ bidding. The whole thing was passed with reckless speed, with no thought nor care taken to consider the consequences to ordinary Americans.

A last-ditch effort to delay the passage of the bill came when Senator Bernie Sanders challenged it on the basis of incorrect parliamentary procedure. The whole shambolic process has now introduced additional hardship on the majority of the American populace in the form of additional expenditure. As if that wasn’t enough it also deprives 13 million people of healthcare through defunding the Affordable Care Act’s and makes provision for oil drilling within the Arctic Circle. Oh, and the rich – including Trump and his family – get a massive tax break and easement on inheritance taxes. How nice
just in time for Christmas!

The new law eliminates the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that most people must have health insurance or else pay a penalty. It should be noted that this very clause was introduced by the GOP during the wrestling over the ACA in order to make it toxic to the general population. By eliminating the harmful clause they themselves created, the GOP thinks they can gain approval from voters.

Even if this is the case, it may not help them.

Due to the indecent haste with which this bill was rushed through Congress some of the most harmful effects will be felt in this coming year – 2018 – rather than 2019 when the mid-term elections are over and the people have presumably forgotten the new tax law. What effect this will have on a Republican party and President already struggling with growing unpopularity remains to be seen. Trump’s first year in office has been marked by chaos and dramatic shifts in policies which seem caused by what he sees on Fox news.

As we go about our daily rounds in these post-Christmas days, spare a thought

for those brave men who, two hundred and forty-one years ago, struggled through snow and ice to defeat an enemy determined to keep the Colonists under the boot of unbearable taxation. Are their ghosts looking on now and wondering why you, their descendants, are doing nothing to oppose the modern incarnation of that oppressive power?

Related Links:

Still confused about what's what in the "GOP Tax Scam" and how it will affect you? Here are some helpful facts followed by a short video from Robert Reich who explains things simply through illustrations.

Trump's Trojan Horse Tax Plan

BIO: Coast Watcher looks into the past and sees where we've gone both the right way and the wrong way. But will we learn  from our Founders' example and overturn the current corrupt system which taxes us without representation and gives power to a hereditary aristocracy of the 1%? The answer to that question remains to be seen in 2017, but in the new year perhaps we'll be the change we've been looking for.


Other stories this past week that mainstream media didn't really cover because they didn't really want you to know:

NPR does a hit piece on alternative media journalist/comedian Lee Camp:

Jill Stein interview with Democracy Now after a smear campaign is started against her, reminiscent of McCarthyism: 

How the US Government Hid Fracking Risks to Drinking Water:

From Sierra Club:

I'm angry, and I'm sure you're angry, too.

Congressional Republicans just passed their massive tax scam -- the worst piece of legislation in a generation -- despite its deep unpopularity. There's no way of sugar coating it: This law will have far-reaching negative consequences for families across the country and our environment.

It's an outrageous giveaway to the richest of the rich and corporate polluters at the expense of the rest of the country, and at the cost of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

But we're not giving up, we're fired up. On this bill alone, Sierra Club supporters like you sent tens of thousands of emails and made thousands of calls to key members of Congress. And we won't stop in 2018.

If you're angry about this bill, join me in pledging to continue the fight for progress in 2018. Together we can win.

Republican leaders rammed this disastrous legislation through at a breakneck pace, with no public hearings or input. There were late night, last minute changes and secretive backroom deals designed to give even more away to their corporate pals. Here are some of the worst parts of this bill:

  • Opens the Arctic Refuge to oil drilling, which could have a devastating impact on the Porcupine caribou herd and the Alaska Native tribes that rely on it for subsistence
  • Gives massive handouts to corporate polluters and other corporations
  • Balloons our deficit by about $1.4 trillion which will force funding cuts to public health and environmental programs in the months to come1
  • Repeals a key part of the Affordable Care Act, leaving 13 million people without healthcare in the next 10 years, increasing premiums, and creating uncertainty for many hardworking families1
  • Imposes a devastating excise tax on Puerto Rico, as if it wasn't part of the United States, that would kill job-creating industries on the hurricane-ravaged island while it's still recovering2
Sign our pledge today to continue to fight for all communities, our planet, and our future.

In the face of an uphill battle with a president, cabinet, and congressional leaders that are anti-science and pals of corporate polluters, we've done a lot of pushing back. At every turn, the Trump administration or Congress has tried to pull a fast one on us. 

But we have been paying attention, and we have successfully pushed back, delayed, and even stopped some of the worst plans from being implemented. We're delaying their attempts at repealing the Clean Power Plan. We've protected the Affordable Care Act from a full repeal. We've rallied by the thousands to protect our public lands and waters. We've exposed their racist travel ban, and so much more.

This year has been an amazing show of strength of the environmental and progressive movements -- thanks to you. We have shown our real power, and we will continue into next year.

Join me in saying "I'm in" for continuing the fight for a cleaner, safer, and more just and equitable future for all. Sign the pledge.
Thanks for all you've done,
Michael Brune
Executive Director
Sierra Club

1 - "GOP, with tax bill finalized, makes its case to a skeptical public" Washington Post
2 - "The Final Republican Tax Bill Screws Over Puerto Rico" Mother Jones

From Jobs With Justice:

When you leave a tip at a restaurant, you expect it to go to the server who waited on you. Unfortunately, Trump’s Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta wants to make it easier for employers to steal people’s tips. 
We can’t let these business owners and the Trump administration get away with legalizing wage theft. Tell the Department of Labor to halt their proposed rollbacks NOW!
Restaurant owners and the National Restaurant Association (‘the other NRA’) have made it clear that they don’t think working people have a right to keep the tips they receive from customers. Corporate lobbyists pushing this proposal represent NRA executives of well-known brands like Outback Steakhouse, Red Lobster and Olive Garden. These greedy companies see tips as another way to line their pockets. In fact, the latest analysis shows that employers would pocket $5.8 billion if this ‘tip stealing’ rule moves forward. 

These profitable corporations are promoting a policy that will make it harder for their employees to provide for their families. This is unacceptable. Make your voice heard before it’s too late.
American eateries are far from being great places to work, even with the legal protections in place today. Twelve percent of people working in restaurants report stolen tips, and the majority-female workforce faces overwhelming rates of sexual harassment. In fact, the restaurant industry is the single largest source of sexual harassment complaints in the U.S. 

Secretary Acosta and the NRA are on a mission to make restaurants even worse places to work. But we know that if enough of us come together, we can stop these corporate lobbyists in their tracks. The federal comment period only is open for a limited time. Act now to fight back and stand with working people. Send a message to the Department of Labor today!
In Solidarity,
Jobs With Justice 


From Friends of the Earth:The Trump administration is poised to hand Monsanto a license to pollute our environment, harm our health, and wipe out monarch butterflies. It could renew the registration for glyphosate, a.k.a. Roundup®, moving us further away from organic agriculture.

Roundup® is linked to a 90% decline in monarch butterflies in the last 20 years. And it’s bad for us as well -- the World Health Organization has called this pesticide is a “probable carcinogen.”

But Trump’s EPA just released a report based heavily on industry studies that contradicts the strong science showing links between glyphosate and cancer. This is a clear signal that the agency intends to allow Big Ag to keep dousing our food in this toxic chemical. We need your help to stop it!

Over the last two decades, what used to be a roaring river of butterflies migrating to Mexico each year has become a trickle.

At the same time, the amount of Roundup® being used each year has gone from 25-30 million pounds to 180-185 million. That’s more than half a pound of pesticides for every American. The impacts on our health and the environment have been huge.

The evidence is clear: we must stop supporting a food system built on toxic pesticides like Roundup® and instead build a future of organic for all. The EPA could start by revoking the license for glyphosate. But we need your help to push it to act.

Add your name: Stop Monsanto from poisoning our environment and communities with Roundup®!

Roundup® is wiping out butterflies and putting our health at risk -- but it’s making $5 billion every year in profits for Monsanto. So surely the company is pushing the EPA to protect those profits.

Instead of caving to Monsanto, the EPA should be helping us shift toward healthy, sustainable, organic farming. After all, organic farmers don’t use glyphosate or a whole host of other toxic pesticides. Organic farming helps bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects flourish. It promotes biodiversity and is better for your health. And it improves farmers’ incomes and boosts local economies.

With Trump in charge of the EPA, it’s going to be an uphill battle to defend our food system from Monsanto. But the agency still has to consider public input. If enough people like you speak up, you can force it to help shift to a food system that works for pollinators, people and the planet.

Help save monarchs from extinction: Tell the EPA to revoke Monsanto’s license to pollute!

Standing with you,
Lisa Archer,
Food and Technology Program Director,
Friends of the Earth

From Politics Reborn:

Like many of you, Politics Reborn is deeply disappointed to see the Republicans pass a tax bill that will only benefit the wealthy while only worsening the situation for many lower-income communities. We could rant and rave, listing the various reasons why this tax bill is a terrible piece of legislation, but we aren't going to do that. We aren't going to tell you things you know and think about the bill. 

Instead, we are going to talk about something that we surely need more of in this movement, and that is hope. 

What’s happening in the United States right now is neither unique nor extraordinary. It is a continuation of the many sins that our history books erase. For as long as America has existed, there has been injustice. Nevertheless, there have always been people who have stood up, organized, and fought for a more just society.  

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "The moral arc of the universe is long but it bends towards justice." The question we must ask ourselves is this: What are we doing to better assure the arc bends towards justice? 

This movement can not simply be a series of reactions to each and every horrible change that the Trump Administration has implemented. We must be proactive, not reactive. It is time to build from the ground up. It is time to organize our communities!
Volunteer for Politics Reborn Now!

We are creating something that will make a lasting impact on society but we need your help on the amazing projects we are involved in. Will you join us in our vision in implementing the programs necessary to create systemic change?

Michael Blecher

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