Back when I was a kid, I remember seeing a cartoon where Sylvester the Cat inherited a lot of money. As he was a rather foolish and irresponsible cat, he wanted to blow it all on frivolous things, which, come to think of it, was his perfect right to do. Enter Elmer Fudd. He taught Sylvester the value of investing. His money wouldn't disappear; he just wouldn't have all of it available all the time. As little side note, this was part of a series of cartoons Warner Brothers made to explain economics to people.
Recently, a sign I saw in Georgia reminded me of this cartoon. No, it didn't have anything to do with cats, or hunters or even people who have trouble pronouncing the letter "R"; it was about texting while driving. The sign said it was now illegal to text while driving, and that got me to thinking. Gee, isn't that kind of obvious? I mean, what bonehead would text while driving? Then I thought some more, and I realized, we have many laws that state the obvious; things that anyone with a little common sense should know.
Here are few example, "Don't drink and drive"; "You can't drive until you're sixteen"; "You can't vote until you're twenty-one"; "Teenage girls should speak to their parents before getting an abortion"; "Obey the speed limit," and so on.
All of these are things everyone should know. Unfortunately, people know it, but stupidity known no bounds! That's when I thought back to Sylvester and Elmer. Back when I was a kid, my dad worked part-time for the IRS. After all, during tax season it was very busy. He saw many examples of what we know as tax shelters. He explained to me that the tax rate on the rich was very high - something like seventy or eighty percent! The rich could get around that by putting some of their money into various tax shelters; they could invest it in real estate, new companies, research and development, and so on. In this way, they paid less and they invested in the economy.
Then things started to change. Today, the rich pay much less in taxes and they reap the rewards of this: huge salaries, many large homes, cars, properties and so on. Meanwhile, the poor and middle class find themselves squeezed for money and they still have all these obvious laws. It made me wonder why we trust the rich to make the right decisions with their money, but we don't trust the poor and upper middle class, with their elaborate lives, and extravagant lifestyle.
Some might say, well, we can't trust that people won't drink and drive; they could get in an accident and hurt some people. True, but a rich person wasting millions of dollars on, for lack of a better word, nothing can have an equally devastating impact on a lot more people.
Today, we have an economy in chaos - some would say it's in free fall - and debt is soaring. We also need to get money into businesses and invest in the future. It seems to me that an awful lot of "Sylvesters" are in need of some "Elmers" to guide them. Maybe boosting the tax rate on the rich, and giving them tax breaks for investing would be a help. Call me crazy; it helped with the greatest economic boom in USA history, it just might help us now.
Elmer, where are you when we need you?
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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