Wit and Wisdom

First thing this morning I came across a gem from one of my favourite New York Times writers, Nicholas Kristof, and while I very rarely share more than a paragraph or two from another source, this one was just too good to pass up!  I am always a fan of sardonic, tongue-in-cheek humour and this fits that bill perfectly. Read on …


Billionaires Desperately Need Our Help!

It is so hard to be a billionaire these days!

A new yacht can cost $300 million. And you wouldn’t believe what a pastry chef earns — and if you hire just one, to work weekdays, how can you possibly survive on weekends?

The investment income on, say, a $4 billion fortune is a mere $1 million a day, which makes it tough to scrounge by with today’s rising prices. Why, some wealthy folks don’t even have a home in the Caribbean and on vacation are stuck brooding in hotel suites: They’re practically homeless!

Fortunately, President Trump and the Republicans are coming along with some desperately needed tax relief for billionaires.

Thank God for this lifeline to struggling tycoons. And it’s carefully crafted to focus the benefits on the truly deserving — the affluent who earn their tax breaks with savvy investments in politicians.

For example, eliminating the estate tax would help the roughly 5,500 Americans who now owe this tax each year, one-fifth of 1 percent of all Americans who die annually. Ending the tax would help upstanding people like the Trumps who owe their financial success to brilliant life choices, such as picking the uterus in which they were conceived.

Now it’s fair to complain that the tax plan over all doesn’t give needy billionaires quite as much as they deserve. For example, the top 1 percent receive only a bit more than 25 percent of the total tax cuts in the Senate bill, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

Really? Only 25 times their share of the population? After all those dreary $5,000-a-plate dinners supporting politicians? If politicians had any guts, they’d just slash services for low-income families so as to finance tax breaks for billionaires.

Oh, wait, that’s exactly what’s happening!

Trump understands, for example, that health insurance isn’t all that important for the riffraff. So he and the Senate G.O.P. have again targeted Obamacare, this time by trying to repeal the insurance mandate. The Congressional Budget Office says this will result in 13 million fewer people having health insurance.

But what’s the big deal? The United States already has an infant mortality rate twice that of Austria and South Korea. American women are already five times as likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth as women in Britain. So who’ll notice if things get a bit worse?

Perhaps that sounds harsh. But the blunt reality is that we risk soul-sucking dependency if we’re always setting kids’ broken arms. Maybe that’s why congressional Republicans haven’t bothered to renew funding for CHIP, the child health insurance program serving almost nine million American kids. Ditto for the maternal and home visiting programs that are the gold standard for breaking cycles of poverty and that also haven’t been renewed. We mustn’t coddle American toddlers.

Hey, if American infants really want health care, they’ll pick themselves up by their bootee straps and Uber over to an emergency room.

Congressional Republicans understand that we can’t do everything for everybody. We have to make hard choices. Congress understands that kids are resilient and can look after themselves, so we must focus on the most urgent needs, such as those of hand-to-mouth billionaires.

In fairness, Congress has historically understood this mission. The tax code subsidizes moguls with private jets while the carried interest tax break gives a huge tax discount to striving private equity zillionaires. Meanwhile, a $13 billion annual subsidy for corporate meals and entertainment gives ditch diggers the satisfaction of buying Champagne for financiers.

Our political leaders are so understanding because we appear to have the wealthiest Congress we’ve ever had, with a majority of members now millionaires, so they understand the importance of cutting health insurance for the poor to show support for the crème de la crème.

Granted, the G.O.P. tax plan will add to the deficit, forcing additional borrowing. But if the tax cut passes, automatic “pay as you go” rules may helpfully cut $25 billion from Medicare spending next year, thus saving money on elderly people who are practically dead anyway. If poor kids have to suffer, we may as well make poor seniors suffer as well. That’s called a balanced policy.

More broadly, you have to look at the reason for deficits. Yes, it’s problematic to borrow to pay for, say, higher education or cancer screenings. But what’s the problem with borrowing $1.5 trillion to invest in urgent tax relief for billionaires?

Anyway, at some point down the road we’ll find a way to pay back the debt by cutting a wasteful program for runny-nose kids who aren’t smart enough to hire lobbyists. There must be some kids’ program that still isn’t on the chopping block.

The tax bill underscores a political truth: There’s nothing wrong with redistribution when it’s done right.

26 thoughts on “Wit and Wisdom

  1. A praiseworthy approach. Sarcasm finely sharpened always works, pity you often don’t get the chance to say it to their duplicitous faces.
    I could go esoteric and suggest that their dirty, greedy little spirits will whither in their obsessions to seek a happiness they will never mind, so matter how many floating gin palaces they own.
    There again, I could go religious there are these bits in the New Testament about rich guys coming to a sticky end.
    Or fatalistic and point out to them that it don’t matter whether you get dropped in a cardboard box or a plush fancy coffin money ‘don’t mean jack’.
    If you don’t think depressing enough for them Jill, I got a few more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is why I always brighten a bit when I see a comment from Woebegone But Hopeful, for I know you will make me laugh! You do have a way with words, and they seem to just appear at the most appropriate times! I especially liked your reference to ‘floating gin palaces’. 😀 😆

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jill, for so many who voted for these folks expecting a different outcome, they will be in for a surprise if these bills become law. Trump took advantage of something that has been apparent for a long while – more than 1/2 of the Republican voters are voting against their economic interests, but have no idea they are. Yet, Trump brilliantly spoke to these folks and played to their fears. It is not your fault you are being screwed and it is immigration, global trade, Muslims, handouts, etc.

    Now, the GOP has latched onto populism, but is still playing the same deck of cards. Give money to rich people and corporations and watch it all trickle down. Of course, trickle down has been shown not to work in four separate studies (the one done by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service was buried by Mitch McConnell before the Romney/ Obama election) and about bankrupted Kansas.

    What many do not know, is trickle down economics dates back to the Robber Baron days and was called the “Horse and Sparrow theory.” This more colorful name defines it better as to why it does not work, except for the horses. The idea is if you feed the horses, what they excrete can be eaten by the sparrows. The sparrows would be us.

    Please do me a favor and let people know of this older name. It is much more memorable. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are, of course, right in your assessment. It is disturbing that those who support the people who devise these measures do not seem to understand how they will be affected, and don’t seem to care to educate themselves. What disturbs me most, though, is that this populist movement is not just here, but is also prominent in Europe.

      I love that name … ‘Horse and Sparrow Theory’! I will definitely use that one! Thanks!


  3. After reading this tongue in cheek post (and truisms often appear in humour), while looking at the collective comments, I am aware how we all react differently, from despair (Sha’Tara), to activist’s (David Prosser) to reluctant acceptance (acflory), to outrage (Gronda and eschudel), to pointed recognition of a truth (Jackcollier7).

    My own reaction is one of a mix of all of that and none of it. I don’t despair (and you shouldn’t either Sha’Tara), because despair makes us impotent and immobile…that is exactly what stuff like this is designed to do. For the same reasons I won’t allow the anger, or the outrage it is designed to foster.

    I believe that the current government in the US is quite influenced by evil thinking. Using a psychological advantage to push life force aside in the pursuit of money and power.

    You can contact your senator or representative to express your disgust, but many of them have been seduced into the power game too – they do not want to commit political suicide!

    I am not saying we should forget about this, but my feeling is that we must not let all the negatives pull us down into the dark rabbit hole. Instead, focus on what is good in your life… And keep building that up. The power mongers might try to make us slaves, but they cannot succeed if we keep our thoughts on what is right and good… And work to create a space where we help each other despite them.

    A friend sent me this old YouTube video of his favourite song yesterday. I have already shared it with Jack, but the rest of you might just see how good it can be if we all just care for each other!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You provide much food for thought with this comment, my friend. On the one hand, you are right in that we cannot live in the rabbit hole … I mostly do, and it is not a fun place to live, but I have help climbing out when I need to, so it works out okay. And we all need some balance … we cannot forget that we have families, friends, lives apart from the political situation. However, on the other hand, there are many who have buried their heads in the sand, completely ignoring the rumblings from the political world (and I don’t just mean the U.S., though obviously that is my main point of focus). This, to me, is the danger, for it has happened before and the ostriches with their heads buried make it so much easier for the ‘powers-that-be’ to grant themselves more and more power until … need I say more? Sigh … nothing is simple, and balance these days is tough to achieve. At least for me it is.


  4. I wanted it to make me laugh but it made me cry instead. And people say to me, you’re so healthy and doing well, why the death wish? Why do you yearn to leave? I don’t have a death wish… but if the real image of man’s earth is engaged, there’s just so much one can take. Oh well, let them take everything away, like the Nazis did to those slated for the death camps. I know this, that in the end they will be the biggest losers and that may not be so far down the road. Duality rules here and under those rules, re-balancing is a necessity. Just a matter of when the hourglass tips over.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m not sure how to respond to your comment, my friend, but I certainly hope you realize that you have much value in this world. And these injustices, these abominations that we are fighting right now … well, in order to fight the good fight, you need to be alive. It’s hard … I know that as well as any, for there are days I do not want to get out of bed, but rather would like to bury my head under the covers. Give yourself a break from the internet for a day or two, go for a walk … I find that being in nature calms me in a way that nothing else can. But know that the world needs all of us who have good sense right now, and you are one of those! I send you a BIG HUG … please hang in there.


  5. I like a good bit of black humour. I’d like it so much better if it pricked the conscience of some Republican senators right before the big vote.This tax bill and the new repeal plans for Obamacare are nothing short of inhuman put forward by a group f people with no regard for anyone but themselves..
    xxx Cwtch xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sometimes this type of dark humour makes a point where direct speech fails to. Time will tell. They are so blatant about it, too, not even trying to hide the fact that the bill is an abomination from the first word. Sigh. A bunch of cretins.
      xxx Cwtch xxx

      Liked by 1 person

        • Keith told me that Mitch McConnell’s voice mailbox is full. I have called and left messages plus emailed, and I’m guessing there are thousands who have. How much good does any of it do? I’m not sure. Time will tell, I suppose, but if the bill passes in the Senate, I’m fairly certain that they will reconcile the two bills quickly and I have no doubt whatsoever that Trump will be waiting, pen in hand, to sign. There is quite a bit of public outrage, so I’m hoping at least 2 more republican senators refuse to vote for it. But, even with that, as we saw with the “repeal & replace” efforts, they will keep revising and trying again. Sigh.
          xxx Cwtch xxx

          Liked by 1 person

    • Me too! Kristof is a true humanitarian and goes on trips to many places in support of humanitarian causes, then writes about what he sees.

      Lobbying in and of itself isn’t necessarily bad, for there are lobbies for good causes also … we just never hear about those. But buying elected representatives is indeed morally wrong. We seriously need campaign finance rules far beyond what we have now, but several years ago the Supreme Court ruled that it wasn’t right to put limits on what a candidate could receive. And paying somebody already in office should be considered corrupt and punishable by law. But don’t look for that to happen anytime soon. 😦


      • -sigh- I have no problem with anyone trying to persuade a politician of the value of their ’cause’, but lobbying seems to be equal parts carrot and stick. Be a good boy and you get the carrot for your campaign, party, pet charity, you name it. Don’t support /our/ cause and your political career is dead.
        How can that not be a recipe for corruption? 😦

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ahhh … no, you are right that when they are putting money in the pockets of our elected representatives, our employees, if you will, it is criminal, at least in my book. Pure lobbying doesn’t extend to that. What they are doing today goes way beyond lobbying and is what I would consider graft, bribery, corruption, whatever term you like. And the threats by groups such as the NRA and big corporate donors? Those should be investigated and treated as a potential crime. But … too many already-rich people are enjoying the benefits far too much to put a stop to it. It would be like a child saying, “No, mommy, please don’t allow me to eat any more candy”. Yeah, right … not gonna happen. At least not until we manage to vote for some who are honest and willing to fight to stay that way.

          The other part of the problem is the bully in the Oval Office. He has shown them that they either toe the line, do his bidding, else he will retaliate. They are scared of him. Bigly. 😉


  6. Dear Jill,

    These rich folks are ingrats. If you and I earned a million dollars, we would be grateful pay our taxes and share some monies with worthy causes. We would count ourselves blessed.

    Too many millionaires and billionaires look upon those dependent upon Social Security, Medicare, as peoples being on welfare.

    This bill is billionaire welfare at the expense of increasing the burden on the middle class and the poor.The republicans ought to hang their heads in shame. Shame! Shame! Shame!

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, I am sick of being told I’m the beneficiary of an ‘entitlement’ program because I get Social Security, which I paid into all my working life, from age 13!!! And yes, if I won a million dollars, I would gladly pay the taxes and then give away most of what was left, for I have neither the need nor the desire to be wealthy. I AM wealthy in the ways that matter. I hope the bill goes down in flames in the Senate … we shall see. Hugs!!!

      Liked by 1 person

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