• WisPolitics
7/31/2006

Future Generations Deserve a Democracy; Not a Plutocracy

By Jack Lohman

The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.

Our political system seems to be working just as designed. Or redesigned, I should say, by modern-day politicians.

But why do business leaders accept the current double standard? Honest corporate leaders demand a management team void of personal conflicts of interest, and one that is funded by its product sales and its shareholders. That’s understandable.

Interestingly, the same corporate CEOs that would fire or have jailed employees who traded company assets for money on the side, are all too willing to support politicians who do exactly the same. I say interestingly because the current political corruption is blocking what corporations need most; a universal health care system that would get them out of providing employee health care, save them 15% on wage costs, and eliminate the need to move production and jobs offshore. But the health care interests are using our pay-to-play system against business leaders to ensure that the health care mess is not fixed. They like it just as it is.

The public wants pretty much the same thing; a government without conflicts of interest and funded by its shareholders, the taxpayers. That means politicians who do not take outside money from private sources, especially in return for public assets. And since there are only two kinds of campaign money, public and private, it therefore means full public funding of campaigns.

No, I don't want my taxes increased unnecessarily, but I am willing to invest an extra $5 per taxpayer per year to fund a clean electoral system. I know that investment will return much of the $1300 per taxpayer per year in public assets that state politicians now give to the private interests that fund their elections. And since I am already funding these elections -- through this back-door tax system -- I'd prefer funding campaigns up front at a fraction of the current cost. Most would agree that $5 would be a bargain at 200 times the price.

As a (generally) conservative Republican, I like privatization where privatization makes sense. But there are some functions that make more sense being funded by the taxpayers, and a clean government is one of them. God forbid we turn Social Security, Medicare and other needed government services over to corporate CEOs who are compensated on how much profits are made versus citizens and patients served. I don't want to live in that kind of world.

I also believe corporations should pay zero taxes. As it is, they fund only 8% of government revenues anyway. They spend millions avoiding the payment of taxes, and then pass those costs, plus the taxes they do pay, to consumers when they buy product at the cash register. So why are we going through this costly exercise that effectively moves corporate taxes to regressiveness? They cost low income folks a greater percentage of their wealth than they cost those at the top. Eliminate corporate taxes and health care costs and watch the state’s economy grow.

Personal taxes should be the government’s only income, as all else filters down to the taxpayers anyway. Taxes should be zero for those whose incomes are under $25,000 per year, a flat tax for the 90% of citizens in the middle, and progressively increase for those making over $150,000 per year. All personal income must be considered in the equation, including dividends, capital gains, inheritances, etc.

So, Republicans, disown me if you wish. But we must get off this “compassion” and “morals” kick, because we are doing poorly at both. Create an honest government for our kids and grandkids. We can either have a public democracy or a private plutocracy, but not both.

Lohman is a retired business owner from Colgate and founder of www.ThrowTheRascalsOut.org. He can be reached at jlohman@execpc.com.
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