About Taxes and Poor People and the Narratives surrounding both
Written January 17, 2019:
I know folks don’t like reading long things, but I really thought hard about the twitter feud going on about the post concerning taxes. Read what I wrote here if you want. Walk away if you want. This is the twitter thread: https://twitter.com/diannaeanderson/status/1081357243344244736
I read that thread in full. It lists what the tax laws were from 1940s through 1980s, and the impact that had on America, such as the immense amount of infrastructure and programs we were able to fund, public education, universities, healthcare programs. A lot of that same infrastructure that was built during those times of surplus, where we didn’t have massive governmental debt, is now crumbling due to lack of funding because of tax breaks to the wealthy.
The reason income inequality is as enormous as it is today is because Reagan tore apart taxes on the extremely wealthy — those laws described in the thread. What Reagan did was unjust, and it hit the poor the hardest, making it harder for them to access basic survival stuff and have access to education and other resources. This isn’t about being envious of those who have more, and I’m baffled when folks make that claim about people concerned about impact and justice. That thread about the math of taxes was pointing out how people engage in misinformation campaigns on what those taxes actually did, and it provided actual information on what those taxes were.
Honestly, in my eyes, it is more just and economical to have those who earn more pay more in taxes. Those that earn less cannot be the ones to handle that burden, but if you examine the tax laws today, an unjust burden has been placed on the working poor, while those who earn millions in a week have less of a tax burden. (Some get away with paying nothing in taxes.) This is not just. This isn’t even about socialism. This unjust tax laws is what is fueling income inequality.
There is better solutions than to do tax cuts to the rich. We have already done the “trickle down” economics experiment. It did not work. Wages are stagnated for those below specific income levels, the unemployed surplus labor (those who are unemployed due to lack of job availability, automation, the inability to access education to retrain themselves, etc) has soared, and the income inequality between the very rich and the poor is absolutely staggering.
Asking that a more just and equitable tax reform be done so that everyone is paying their fair share that is based on how much they earn, in order to fund public education, roads, bridges, water access, healthcare, public programs, public parks, departments that enforce regulation to avoid exploitation of the public and our world, various infrastructure, etc… that we take advantage of today, but is currently in disrepair? That is a just argument, and I don’t understand why folks try to tear that down by dismissing it as envy, when it is about justice.
Even Warren Buffet, a billionaire, has pointed out that this is indeed a class war that his people are winning. Should we not discuss this?
Some demographics: folks of color, immigrants, LGBTQIA folks, disabled folks, and the intersection of these identities have been impacted hard by tax cuts to the wealthy. Many may rely on programs that give them a basic subsidy so that they aren’t homeless and starving, so that they can access educational programs, healthcare, and other necessary resources. These programs are necessary to try to even the field for those that simply do not have the same access as those who have more money and more ability to “shop around” for resources or jobs or better education. This isn’t because they didn’t put in the “hard work” to pull themselves up by their bootstraps — there are some parts of America where basic needs are almost inaccessible. Oppression exists in America; we need to be real about this.
How can we have these conversations unless we are willing to engage one another? If we dismiss people’s thoughts and experiences without ever engaging, how can we solve the problems we face? I write about these things because if we don’t talk about this, it will never be fixed. Oppression exists, but it requires hard conversations like these to find a way to end it.
I’ll be vulnerable and use myself as an example, having been homeless in my life, if it weren’t for the programs the state had, I would have starved. If it weren’t for unemployment programs — funded by the state, I would have been on the streets, my cat given up. If it weren’t for Medicaid — a government run healthcare — I would never been able to access healthcare I needed for survival. To want to have those programs funded for folks in need is about caring and justice.
There is a lot of people in twitter thread that have tried to tear down the concerns about oppression and income inequality by using dismissive language. The impact of this ripples through our society; it makes it harder for us to engage and find solutions to the problems we face. It makes it easier for those in power to use these dismissive arguments to put forth harmful policies.
We can’t build a more just, equitable, and equal world unless folks are willing to have hard conversations about these topics. And I just wish folks wouldn’t dismiss our concerns as “envy.” This never was about envy. It was always about justice and freedom for all people to be able to access what they need for their wellbeing and survival.
About The Impact we have on people
Written January 15, 2019
You know what bothers me the most about our current society? This rugged “individualist-out-for-yourself” narrative. That we somehow have no impact on each other, as if our actions are in a bubble with no consequences. And that the consequences of our actions, aren’t our responsibility, and people are too “sensitive” or too “politically correct” when those consequences are discussed. As if we are not responsible for the consequences of our words, our actions, our votes — when the opposite is true. We are indeed responsible, and everything we do and say matters and has an impact on ourselves and others.
We need to STOP perpetuating this idea that what we do doesn’t matter. ALL our words, our behaviors, our reactions, our actions, our votes, our donations, us supporting specific candidates or ideas, etc… — ALL OF THAT MATTER. ALL OF THAT HAS AN IMPACT ON US AND SOCIETY AND EACH OTHER.
If you voted for someone who didn’t make it into office, that vote still mattered. It still had an impact, and it shows who you support. That support has an impact too. It perpetuates ideas that ripple through society and other people’s minds — where topics get discussed and new ideas evaluated. No campaign that failed is ever without a consequence to the larger societal discourse — to that potluck of ideas that we all contribute to, whether we are conscious of it or not. All our votes matter to a degree; why do you think some folks in power try so hard to suppress the vote? Because voting has an impact, it always has had an impact. Don’t let anyone try to convince you that the power of your vote is worth nothing. It’s worth so, so much.
Another example: when a person shares a video of this one black person who calls discussing police brutality divisive and derails the topic into black on black crime, that has an impact. People see that, and see that those two people — the person who shared it and the person in the video is ignoring MILLIONS of people’s experiences and the data that backs them up. The denial of police brutality has caused deaths, and people see that denial. They see that derailment.
Sharing a video that gaslights millions of people’s experiences causes harm. It derails the conversation away from ideas on how to end police brutality, how to create a more just and caring world. Sharing memes and videos that mock the discussion of police brutality, or derails it has an impact on many. It perpetuates the idea that the police brutality is okay; how some people’s lives matter less than others, how discussing solutions to a problem is not allowed without painful gaslighting and sometimes deadly repercussions. We could end police brutality, but each video and meme that shuts down that discussion contributes and emboldens the brutality and violence some police officers and their departments engage in without consequence.
All of these actions, words, and sharing of memes/videos ripple throughout society. It impacts law enforcement, people’s perceptions of people of color, Congress’ actions and the laws they write, the justice system, and whether some people live through a police encounter or not.
Another example: Those of you that voice support of “religious freedom” laws. We see you, and that support emboldens congress people within state legislatures and in federal congress to try to pass laws that discriminate against LGBTQIA folks and folks of color and immigrants, and those whose identities intersect.
Everytime someone shares a meme that makes fun of how a person presents their gender — laughing over how they look too “masculine” or “feminine.” Jokes that make fun of people who use gender neutral pronouns — those punch down and they too have an impact. Such jokes sends the message that it’s okay to tear down people that don’t fit society’s ideas of male and female. To laugh at them. To see them as not valid human beings. It perpetuates the idea that trans people are not worthy of existence, that we are a joke, that we are messed up. Do you honestly think you sharing those memes and voting in those folks have no impact on people’s lives?
I know a trans person who had a medical emergency and was denied care by THREE emergency rooms. Their life was in peril, and these emergency rooms all cited their trans status as the qualifying reason for the refusal. All were religiously affiliated hospitals. There’s hundreds more stories of this; I’ve experienced denial of care for being trans. Some of us died because of it.
The impact of that isn’t just denial of medical care. People have threatened us with death threats, killed us, physically attacked or sexually assaulted us — and all claim a trans panic defense, that they were enraged by our existence. Oh, the jokes about our existence sure do add up, don’t they? They push forth the idea that we are fair game for violence. That we don’t deserve to exist, and some people will take that to the point of killing us. They have and they’ll continue to get away with it as long as you find it hilarious to turn us into your comedy routines, as long as you vote in people like Pence who try to legislate us out of existence.
Society is an interwoven fabric of ideas, laws, unspoken contracts that we have with each other. To exist in society means you are sucked into that web of interconnectedness, and what you say, write, do, vote for — all has a ripple effect through that web. Nothing you do is meaningless. Nothing you say is without impact. EVERYTHING YOU DO MATTERS.
Your words matter.
The memes you share and perpetuate matter.
Your votes matter.
Who you support matters.
EVERYTHING YOU DO MATTERS.
Use it wisely. Seek to understand the consequences, and if you don’t know what they could be or how to navigate that, reach out and ask others. Be willing to have this conversation about the impact of actions and words and what ideas you help perpetuate among the web of our society. I try to have this conversation with myself and others all the time. I try to research my impact, and apologize for times I messed up. Because I have messed up, and I’m sorry for it. I learn, I research, I talk with folks, I listen. And try to be better. To try to make sure my impact causes the least amount of harm and the most amount of good.
Our society relies on our participation in order to exist. How will you use your participation? Will you push society toward a more equal, equitable, loving, sustainable, and just future?
Or will you push it toward a more harmful, oppressive, exploitative future?
We have the power to change the world. Don’t let anyone try to convince you differently.
Reminder of our Power
Written January 2018 and reshared on social media platforms on January 12, 2019:
Love illuminates and is an action. It calls for us to act. I can’t be silent when harm happens.
Racism/transphobia/homphobia/sexism/ableism is rooted in the hatred of others and builds walls between us. It divides and oppresses, and tears us to pieces.
So we pick up those pieces and forge them together to breathe forth new life and hope and love.
So together we can tear down those walls by uniting in Love. We cannot take care of each other, especially the most vulnerable, if we do not resist against the hate-filled who build those walls. Love is an action as much as it is a calling.
So that’s my holiday message.
Love destroys walls.
Some are ready to hear the message and some fight it or dismiss it.
It took me most of my adult life to understand these walls exist.
We must acknowledge the truth. We must be willing to witness the reality of harm within our society. We must be willing to unite in love so that all of us are free. For none of us are free unless all of us are free, as many an activist has chanted.
I don’t have answers on how to tear them down so we ALL can live in love, united as equals, in an equitable and sustainable world — I’m still learning new things all the time.
I’m just asking folks to journey with me.
To see what is truly there.
To not look away
To help each other to love, learn, and find a solution —
so all of us are free.
Light illuminates the truth, and that is my mission — to try to live out that Love. To keep learning and growing, to reach out my hands and invite others on this journey. So that we all, together, reach up to that light, pull it down, and enfold the world in the brilliance of Love.
Goodnight for now, and love to you all.