Entries Tagged 'Word of The Day' ↓

Word of the Day — Money

The ignorant way that politicians talk about money these days is not only irritating, but it’s also dangerous.

Many seem to think that money is an object. They are wrong. Money is a concept, not just a thing. Money has shown its face in numerous different guises throughout the milennia of time on earth that is known to us.

Some money is tangible to our human senses. But in this century of  the “financialization” of all things, money is becoming more and more intangible. and even hidden from us. Money is now bits of data in computers—computers that are networked with other computers on and off of the World Wide Web.

Here is why I strongy object to the view of a member of Congress saying on TV that “Government money is ‘Confederate money'”. Money may be hidden in places where it isn’t transparent to others, but the chief essential thing that makes money be real money is trust!

Money is only valuable where more than one person has trust in it.

If  there is no trust in money it becomes an object, a thing that is treated by every other object that is bought and sold in any kind of market—or hoarded. Confederate money is indeed an object. It cannont be circulated for use when buying other kinds of goods or services. But U.S. government money has won trust all over the planet.

Financialization

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Words of the Day—Earned Income vs. Unearned Income – Definitions Matter

In my previous blog post on Brucenomics, I traced the history of the terms “earned income and “unearned income” back to Karl Marx’ infamous book, Das Kapital. Was it coincidence that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) chose those two terms to use in its federal tax system back in the early 20th century? I think not!

In this post  I’ll discuss how the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and other government agencies use these terms to ensure that most Americans will find it difficult if not impossible to get out of lower and middle income levels to achieve their “American Dreams”.

The IRS continues to provide the wealthy with with largess and leaves wage earners, retirees, and minorities behind in the dust when it comes to their efforts to build wealth. In my next post I’ll show how the IRS does this. But first let’s look at who is impacted by these IRS lables.

Who Earns What Kinds of Income?

I define Marx’s two categories of income as used by the IRS this way:

  1. Earned Income is what workers get from their labor (“the sweat of their brow”).
  2. Unearned income is what capitalists (a.k.a., investors and inheriters) get from their corporate and real estate incomes.

The IRS framework for federal taxpayers rests upon this hierarchy of these two types of incomes. They split Americans into groups based on types of income we make and the amounts of income we make.

This use of a hierarchical framework of privileged and less privileged individuals instantly creates discrimination against many groups of Americans. Also importantly, it fosters the growing income inequality found within our government—in favor of investors over workers.

Moreover, it isn’t just the IRS that differentiates Americans based on how much money we make and how we make it. Discrimination against minority groups and the poor and middle classes can be found in many of our federal and local government agencies as well.

For example, the title of the so-called “Small Business Administration” is a joke. That agency has evolved to give preferential treament to funding multimillion dollar corporations, like Microsoft, Apple and Chipotle by linking them with hedge fund funders—not to aid to truly small businesses on Main Street.

Bias exists in the EPA too which lets loose toxic chemicals in poorer neighborhoods, and in banks’ redlining for mortgages. Many other agencies throughout our government too. And it’s really obvious when it comes to retirees!

How Definitions of Income Define Individual’s Social Class

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Karl Marx’s Gift to the IRS

While our new President was speaking to Congress for the first time this year, seven speakers put on a Zoom webinar labeled “In Plain Sight: The Racism Hiding in Our Tax Code” — hosted by the m4bl.org.

Moderators Makani Themba, Chief Strategist at Higher Ground Strategies, and Andrea Ritchie, Writer, Lawyer & Activist, joined five other speakers who were experts on law, race, women’s issues and taxation from activist non-profit organizations in the U.S.

Issues they discussed covered far more than IRS’ taxes!

Their focus included state property taxes that fund education; sales taxes that harm the poor; state taxes that are not shared with cities and counties; unequal revenue spending; tax credits that favor those with money; income inequality; wealth divergence; regressive, progressive and flat taxes; revenue sharing for cities who are broke; the balance between military and domestic tax spending; cannabis taxes based on money made by harming the environment; taxes for reparations to African Americans; public health taxes; and taxes on the poor.

Key issues closely related to the title of this zoom group talk, were:

(1) disparities in choice of groups that the IRS doesn’t go after for tax cheating, a subject that our current President has also been recently discussing.

(2) The figure of 380 billion dollars of lost tax revenue from unpaid taxes by richer people was tossed out. (See this article from the Center of American Progress supporting that figure),

(3) the confusing amount of jargon and verbiage used by the IRS in numerous booklets filled with too many pages, and

(4) last but not least, disparate treatment of taxation on two types of income; one for the rich vs. the other for the middle class and the poor, i.e., “unearned income” vs. “earned income”. Continue reading →