Weakening the Very Bonds of Society

Mitt Romney’s tax avoidance weakens bonds of American society

If politicians and those around them do not pay their fair share of taxes, how can we expect that anyone else will?

The Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on the campaign trail in Cincinnati, Ohio. Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuter

Mitt Romney’s income taxes have become a major issue in the American presidential campaign. Is this just petty politics, or does it really matter? In fact, it does matter – and not just for Americans.

A major theme of the underlying political debate in the United States is the role of the state and the need for collective action. The private sector, while central in a modern economy, cannot ensure its success alone. For example, the financial crisis that began in 2008 demonstrated the need for adequate regulation.

Moreover, beyond effective regulation (including ensuring a level playing field for competition), modern economies are founded on technological innovation, which in turn presupposes basic research funded by government. This is an example of a public good – things from which we all benefit, but that would be under-supplied (or not supplied at all) were we to rely on the private sector.

Conservative politicians in the US underestimate the importance of publicly provided education, technology, and infrastructure. Economies in which government provides these public goods perform far better than those in which it does not.

But public goods must be paid for, and it is imperative that everyone pays their fair share. While there may be disagreement about what that entails, those at the top of the income distribution who pay 15% of their reported income (money accruing in tax shelters in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens may not be reported to US authorities) clearly are not paying their fair share.

There is an old adage that a fish rots from the head. And if no one does, how can we expect to finance the public goods that we need?

Democracies rely on a spirit of trust and co-operation in paying taxes. If every individual devoted as much energy and resources as the rich do to avoiding their fair share of taxes, the tax system either would collapse, or would have to be replaced by a far more intrusive and coercive scheme. Both alternatives are unacceptable.

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Opinion:

That Americans, in particular Repugnicans, can even consider this person (and I use the term loosely) as a candidate for the presidency demonstrates so clearly that a large proportion of Americans are stupid.

I wish to make it clear, that while my recent posts have obviously been anti-Romney, that doesn’t mean I am in favour of the Democraps; they are no better.

Electing Romney would simply be jumping from the pan into the fire.

The USA is already sizzling nicely, and the majority, not JUST Repugnicans) are about to get fried, both financially and personal restrictions.

I am not American, neither have I ever been there, I can’t understand why on earth anyone would want to go. I have long held the opinion that America is a beautiful country, it’s just that it’s full of Americans. It is true that the USA is at the top of my list of countries that I never wish to visit. Having said that, I do know some very decent Americans; and I might add that they are against the two-party system, they see the rot.

What I am worried about is that what happens in the USA reflects around the world, of which I am a citizen. Hence, I have as much right to criticise the USA as any American.

Everything that Romney stands for, and I mean everything, is so much against the grain of what America once was; that is a great country. You and I have to pay taxes, Romney’s tax avoidance alone should disqualify him from ever holding any public office without even considering his policies.

 

 

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