All communities, urban and rural, condemn blight. Citizens don’t like it. They want their communities to be clean and sparkling, and they want their communities to grow and prosper.
Homelessness and poverty contribute to community blight. St. Joseph has an astonishing poverty rate of 18% and is losing population.
Unfortunately, many believe that private philanthropy and churches will solve the needs of those mired in generational poverty, but their good intentions barely scratch the surface in removing the barriers that hog tie those caught up in generational poverty.
Two-thirds of U.S. companies pay no income tax. One hundred CEOs have more retirement savings than 41% of all Americans. Big corporations have found tax havens abroad, forming shell corporations to hide their profits and then, safely ensconced in their havens, pay themselves a second time by charging millions of dollars to their own U.S. parent company for managing their hidden millions, a very cozy arrangement.
This is the U.S. form of crony capitalism: create loopholes in corporate taxation, reduce taxes on the filthy rich and then capitalize on the Cosmic Lie that all those riches will go toward creating more jobs for the masses, the so-called trickle-down masquerade.
In reality, corporations serve two masters, their CEOs and their shareholders and that’s it. They buy back their own shares to enhance their share price while demanding austerity from their employees (see Amazon and Walmart). Unions are being quashed and with them the voice of the common people.
Taxes, particularly income taxes, are castigated and our government demonized while many Americans scheme to pay government as little as possible.
Stop to think of taxes in a different light. Taxes create meaningful philanthropy. Taxes make communities tick. So many of the bounties that we take for granted have come to fruition through the taxes that we pay.
Think about this. If the one percenters and big corporations actually paid their fair share of taxes, the richest country in the world could afford universal health care, equal opportunities in education, adequate housing for all and improved nutrition for all Americans. Now that’s real philanthropy!
There will be those who say that government is too big and too clumsy and is not efficient enough to handle all of that money; better that it all go to tax havens to trickle up to the oligarchs to fund thousands of lobbyists, who connive with our legislators to continue to pass laws that allow the rich to pay less than their fair share and hide the millions left over in foreign tax havens to be used to promote the extravagances and the power of the rich. Instead of trickle down, the U.S. actually has trickle up, creating an ever deepening widening and polarizing wealth gap.
Dr. Bob Stuber is an internist
in St. Joseph, Missouri.