I’ve never wondered why Bill O’Reilly used the term “No Spin Zone” for his show. The very first time I read about the term “spin”, or it’s lesser used synonym “framing”, I felt a little sick inside. Spin it this way, spin it that way, frame it large, frame it small – all of it means ‘we surrender any and all fealty to the very fundamental concept of objective truth’. And yeah, it nauseated me.
I think this is a pretty general human reaction to these ideas, once you’re exposed to them. We just want the truth. We don’t want people deciding how we’ll feel about things, we want to be presented with objective actuality, and make up our own minds what we feel and think about them.
Of course, this never happens. Neither progressives nor conservatives are ever exposed to any objective actuality through the media these days; the only ‘truth’ we get are the things we see and hear ourselves. And how many of us see and hear ourselves the things that get reported on? How many of us are actually present in the rooms where, for example, the new tax laws are worked out? Exactly none of us. Everything we know, someone else has told us. And that someone invariably has an agenda. And that agenda is never “I’m just going to try to tell these people the truth”. No, it’s always “how do we spin/frame this so it will get maximum clicks/ratings so next month I can raise my rates to my advertisers”?
All this is preamble to my discussion of the new tax laws, because I want to point out a few ways that the reporting of these new codes gets ‘spun’ and ‘framed’ for us progressives.
First, we get constantly told that these new laws are a ‘massive’ or even ‘unprecedented giveaway’ to the wealthiest individuals and entities in our culture. Which makes it sound like there’s this huge pile of treasure out there somewhere that legitimately belongs to you and I, and the Republicans in Congress have just handed the Koch Brothers the keys to a dump truck that they can back up to the loading dock and start shoveling it in.
And I hear all my fellow proggies out there now, crying out “Well, that’s BASICALLY what they’re doing!” Ah, ah. “Basically” is a spin word. That’s not ACTUALLY what they’re doing. What they’re ACTUALLY doing is changing the tax code so that in the future, corporations and wealthy individuals will be required to pay substantially lower taxes on their profits than heretofore, and there will be loopholes that really only these types of entities can afford to take advantage of, that will allow them to pay even less.
It’s not a giveaway. It’s “we’re going to take less from you in the future”. That’s the no spin version of what’s happening.
We are also told that this new tax bill is going to embody a “massive transfer of wealth” from poorer to richer. Again, I’m pretty sure this isn’t true. The new tax code does not empower the government to come into our homes, take our stuff, pawn it, and give the money to the Koch Brothers. In fact, the new tax code will, for several years, end up saving most of us some slight, incremental amount of the money deducted from our take home pay. This amount that we poorer sorts will benefit from the new tax code is wildly, absurdly disproportional to the amount that the wealthy will benefit from the new tax code, but that’s not at all the same as being a “massive transfer of wealth”.
No. I don’t care if it’s “the exact equivalent” or “basically the same” or whatever the hell else you want to say. This tax code does not transfer wealth. It cuts the amount that wealthy, powerful entities will be required to pay to the government in the future by a great deal more than it cuts the amount that poor individuals will be required to pay to the government, and it makes the upper bracket tax cuts permanent while the lower bracket tax cuts expire in eight years. But that’s neither an ‘unprecedented giveaway’ nor a ‘massive transfer of wealth’.
In my opinion, for whatever that may be worth, I think any tax code modifications that in any way benefit the wealthier, more powerful entities of our culture and society is, at base, fundamentally, intrinsically, and irreparably immoral and unethical. Papa John Schnatter doesn’t need tax relief and he doesn’t by any standard, reasonable or unreasonable, deserve tax relief. Our wealthy entities, corporate and individual, are nearly universally rapacious and cruel, greedy and grasping, scheming and corrupt, vile and contemptible. The very act of controlling millions or billions of dollars in this world that one is not spending virtually every cent of trying to relieve human suffering is an evil act. That is the ‘no spin’ objective actuality. I can allow an individual to be affluent, to be comfortable, to take care of his or her own children and dependents. But the incredible, unimaginable amounts of wealth that these entities have accrued is simply wrong. You can’t say it’s been honestly earned; most of it has been accrued by financial manipulations that knowingly cheat others. By paying minimum wages, screwing around with hours worked so as to not have to provide benefits, requiring employees to pay extortionate amounts of legitimate operating expenses, and when that doesn’t do it, just straight up cheating people out of things like overtime pay. And don’t even get me started on financiers like hedge fund traders.
I don’t think we need to spin this. The changes to our tax code disproportionately benefit the very worst among us. Our wealthy class is not kind, they feel no nobless oblige, no sense of social responsibility for those with less. Their defining characteristic is their rampant sense of entitlement. They are the very reason for the invention of the guillotine. Changing the laws to let them keep more of their vilely ill gotten gains is simply, straight up, an awful act of horrific evil.
A truly moral, ethical society would do exactly what I said the new laws don’t do to the poor above – they would let anyone who could demonstrate how they have been legitimately screwed by some wealthy entity just walk into that entity’s holding and property and take shit. Or, at the very least, it would let the government imprison these greedy assholes, take all their money, and indenture them to work with ankle bracelets on for the rest of their lives in their own fast food kitchens and third world sweatshops. It would take all their money and spend it on social programs. Every last bit of it. They haven’t earned it, they don’t deserve it, they shouldn’t have it.
That’s what we should say about the new tax codes. They are not a ‘heist’, not a ‘giveaway’, not a ‘massive transfer of wealth’… although that last is what they should be. They should simply be a massive transfer of wealth in the other direction – from the exploitative financial vampires who have stolen it from our veins, back to those whose actual honest labor created it in the first place.
Any changes to our tax code that benefit the wealthy and the powerful are simply wrong. We should all pay taxes. They should simply pay more of them. And we should all be paid wages that are in some way tied to the actual market value of our labor, not just what our corporate masters decree.
We don’t need ‘spin’. The actual, objective truth is awful enough.