America’s current election campaign is all smoke and mirrors. For reasons that I cannot grasp, nobody is giving voters a true picture of the choices confronting them. Brushing away the nitpicking and schoolyard “gotchas,” I get the impression that the basic choice being pictured is one of individual resourcefulness and independence versus government aid to the needy.
Mitt Romney, for example, would have you believe that President Obama wants to collect tax money from hard working Americans to “redistribute” it to shiftless bums who lie around and wait for a handout.
Nothing could be more misleading.
The truth is that the government “redistributes” much of the taxes it collects to rich and powerful interests who can afford to maintain an army of lobbyists in Washington.
And, no, I am not just talking about tax cuts for the wealthy. I am referring to actual dollars handed over by the government to private interests that already make huge profits.
The oil and gas industry collects billions in government subsidies, for example. Furthermore, the recent boom in natural gas production can be credited in large part to the billions invested in government research.
Despite the absurd claim by the Republican Party that America’s entrepreneurs achieved their success without any government assistance, it is government policy that, in many ways, determines who succeeds and who fails in today’s America.
Forget about the roads the entrepreneurs drive on to get to work. Forget about the bridges they must drive across. Forget about the stoplights and the garbage pickup and the fire stations and public health clinics and on and on…
Of course, we all benefit from such community services. Even Republicans must know that.
But the aid I am talking about is far more specific. Landowners collect millions upon millions in agricultural subsidies. And farmers in the Midwest have reaped huge harvests in dollar bills for growing corn to produce ethanol. The coal industry is hugely subsidized. The list is almost endless – and seldom mentioned in the campaign.
And, the way I see it, companies that have moved their production facilities overseas are subsidized by the removal of tariffs on the finished products they ship back to America.
So, while it is true that Mr. Romney would surely choke off aid to the old, the sick, the disabled, veterans and the unemployed, he would “redistribute” America’s tax haul in other ways. I would expect the oil and gas industry to be among the greatest beneficiaries of this “redistribution.” After all, his running mate, Paul Ryan, leases land to oil and gas interests, and we all know that charity begins at home.