Where are we going with taxation?
Reading, still, The Origins of Political Order, I note on p. 352 how in France the tax burden was shifted more and more unto the peasantry, reducing the legitimacy to rule on the part of the nobility and the power of the state to build a good society. Meanwhile, in England, it was the poor who enjoyed tax privileges. How did these two countries manage social change?
In Britain they had the Glorious Revolution, a bloodless revolution; in France they had a gory, wasteful revolution that revolted (nice play on words on my part) the settled classes of Europe. How might that be seen on the world stage concerning our own society here in the U.S.?
Given the depth of economic well-being in our society, and the way in which a minority of 10% clawed its way from the bottom of the social ladder via non-violent protests, there is hope. Many on the right still deplore the actions of civil rights protesters and even a Black candidate who sounds almost proud of “staying out of trouble” as a college student in the midst of the civil rights movement. Naturally, he’s a Republican. He also opposes the protesters in the Occupy Wall Street movement, despite the fact that they have targeted people who are actually responsible in the short view for the economic meltdown. In the long view, obviously, it is the policies of the government under Republicans that is responsible for the meltdown since the government dropped its oversight responsibilities.
So are we heading for a revolution a la francaise? Maybe we’ll develop a shot that will cause your head to fall off. However, there are so many avenues of redress through our legal and political systems that it is unlikely to expect violence any time soon. Don’t relax, though; if you have grandchildren you might want to envision a middle class reduced to dependency and penury while the lower class will be living on and in garbage durmps. That, according to Fukuyama, the author of The Origins of Political Order, is the natural course of events as elites devise ruses to pass their wealth and influence on to their children.
What they pass on is knowledge, a good deal of it, knowledge of how to manipulate and use the system. It is not really very hard to shut most people out of that knowledge and so out of that system. Poor education, tenuous jobs, living paycheck to paycheck, spotty medical care, and a generally run-down society escaped only by the very privileged, can lead to a failed society.
I haven’t reached that last part of Fukuyama’s book yet. I can’t wait.