For a nation with the word united in its name it does seem self-contradictory to have a tax code that splits people into brackets. The income tax brackets fly in the very face of a necessary link in the chain of our founding. At the signing of our Declaration of Independence it was Benjamin Franklin who said, “We must hang together, gentlemen…else, we shall most assuredly hang separately.” The phrase, “Unite or Die” became popular leading up to and during the American Revolution. It was a rallying cry that understood what we have seemed to have forgotten. The colonies were up against a terrible threat, they knew that either they could forfeit their belief in a God-given right to self-govern or they could unite. There was no possible way that 13 separate colonies could win on their own. It required a concentrated effort. Again, we see that today nothing has changed. Today we face what threatened to tear apart our young nation. We are a divided people. Whether this discord comes in the form of party identification, race, gender, income level, or religion we focus solely upon these differences over our common goals. This division has severed our connection with many of the ideas fought for so long ago and has led to a political discourse full of kneejerk reactions and inflamed rhetoric.
Abraham Lincoln said in his acceptance speech for the Republican nomination for the 1858 Illinois Senate race,
“A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.”
Why not take a lesson from the man who knew better than any American about the danger of civil disunion? It is understandable in an election year to be at odds. But the language here is taking on a tone that extends deeper than election year partisanship. I do not intend to partake in any hand wringing over “hate” language. Such speech is already over hyped and not taken seriously. But examine just the topics on the mind of the political class since the beginning of this year alone. Supposedly there has been a coordinated attack on the women of the United States from one political party. If examined with any objectivity, this accusation can be proven foolish and inane within seconds. A political party, especially one out of power, is concerned with cultivating as many votes as possible. An open assault on half of the populace would be cause for commitment in one of this country’s most effective asylums. Yet this story is parroted throughout the press. These stories and accusations do not further any substantive discussion and can only result in a finger pointing yelling match. And it has. Our paper thin veneer of a “progressed” society can be so easily torn through. How else can you explain the scale and speed of uproar surrounding the death of a black youth in Florida? I loathe bringing up the tragedy and only wish to discuss the aftermath of the attack regardless of the facts. One reason it can be studied without regard to the facts is because much of the immediate and visceral reaction was taken up by those that did not have any facts. To be clear, it is not only the actions of groups of individuals that can be found at fault in this regard, but more tellingly the actions of professional news organizations. NBC, ABC, and CNN have all had to retract or back away from previous statements made without regard to the facts of the case. These news organizations had a direct hand in stirring up tensions where none needed to exist. It would be foolish to believe that it began and ended with a tragedy in Florida.
Another point of proof to the causes shaping division in America could be only the phrase “pay their fair share.” It is almost taken for granted that this is a creation of the 2012 Presidential campaign that must be answered swiftly without regard to the history of the phrase. In fact in our current political climate it can found even in 1992 Presidential campaign literature. Over a span of twenty years, this phrase has entered into every Presidential election year battle since then. Even the popular distinction between the 99% and the 1% that we are made to believe is the brain child of the people that brought us tent cities, waste buckets, and rape free zones (how comforting) can be found in the October 3, 2000 Presidential debate in Boston. Even in 1996, 68% of people thought that “upper-income Americans” were not paying their fair share. And all politicians have fought over in the past twenty years is the difference between 39.6% and 31% with our current rate sitting at a compromised 35%. The great tax debates of our time are not as valorous as our politicians have led us to believe. While I am definitely one to favor a tax decrease, I refuse to call a man a hero for cutting the rate 4% while ignoring the greatest tax alternative on the table.
This is the heart of the matter. Using our current tax code, our politicians, of both stripes, have duped the American public into thinking that they are the arbiters of the “fair” way all the while demeaning their opposition as either corrupt or un-American. While Americans are pitted against each other the feeble willed political creatures of Washington escape in the ensuing dust. It is this tactic that has allowed for Congress to ignore passing a budget in over 1000 days. This method has allowed for a $5 trillion expanse to our debt and loss of a credit rating to be harangued in the public court without any one person, party, or group to accept blame. These are huge and historical actions that will have very real consequences but any time the question is called to the floor there is yelling and browbeating over the greediness of the rich and the profit hunger of our corporations. At this point the politicians step away from the camera and let the rebuttals drown in the din of the cries of the 87.9 million Americans no longer counted as a part of the labor force. The unmet needs of these men and women and their families are a pitiful byproduct of the inherent class warfare built into this tax code. Instead of help, assistance, or, most importantly, a job, these men and women are given a list of people on who they can place blame. Blame the corporations who moved overseas. Never mind they did it to escape the most punitive tax in the industrialized world. Blame the rich for not paying enough. Never mind that “enough” has failed to be defined even though both parties have controlled all of the government in the past twenty years and have had ample opportunities to do so. Blame Warren Buffet for making his secretary pay more in taxes than he does. Never mind that he is paying a capital gains tax instead of an income tax. (Or could we not just lower her taxes?)
The point is that our tax code is used as a tool of division in a country that was built on national unity around a common idea. The “fair share” argument has proven through time to be a political ploy and never a search for the perfect percentage. Our founders had disagreements over a push for complete independence. But once the decision was made they understood the need for unity. Today unity is seen by some as weakness in our political decisions. But we must look to our forefather’s example. They had unity for a purpose. Their common cause was the right to govern themselves. We only ask for the same right to do so with our own money. Even though this seems to be a reasonable expectation do remember that the words quoted by Lincoln earlier were in acceptance for his Senate nomination. A fight he would go on to lose. Being right does not ensure victory. Even as eloquently spoken, people do not like to hear that disunion exists. He knew though that there was not enough room for both, either there would be all slave or all free states. We FairTax advocates know that the same applies for us. We must either submit to the control of Washington as to the amount of money they will allow us to keep. Or we must press on. There are no tax brackets in a FairTax system. When the tax is raised on one it is raised on all. For the first time in nearly a century the political class will be unable to slip a tax increase past the watch of the average American citizen. We will finally be able to hold our elected officials accountable without arguing over how much Warren Buffet pays his secretary, which is none of our business in the first place. Abraham Lincoln’s words had much more prophesy in them than even he realized. But the consequences in them are not confined to the nineteenth century. Like his many other accomplishments their impact is felt even today. A house divided against itself cannot stand. The events over the past years should call our success and the prospect of our future success into question. We are a house divided. By law we are divided. Separated into brackets based upon income. Those separations are used to divide a people who were envisioned to act together. How then can we succeed? The brilliance that is America began in 1776 with the men in Pennsylvania. Men pledged their livelihoods, their families, their free and independent states in the name of a common cause. Over which would fly one banner. The self-evident truths espoused there were that all men were created equal. We of a nature are not a class based country. This current division acts as a poison inhibiting our ability to effectively govern. For the past twenty years, at least, we have been demonizing the “rich” and asking them to pay their fair share. It is time for a fair tax. Rid ourselves of this useless division and allow the American people to fight the fights that need fighting. Unite or die. Make your choice.