A really fascinating dichotomy occurs when community leaders have to go to the public for support on tax initiatives. Our example is of a microcosm of modern America – the town of St. Joseph, Missouri. We live in rural northwest Missouri, just outside of Punkin Center, and we watch the local economy. The St. Joseph School District is promoting a $.63 tax levy and a bond issue to build two new schools. So what is the dichotomy?
The St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce brags in their literature to prospective businesses that the wage rate in St. Joseph is 17% less than the State average. The attitude of the business folks in St. Joe is that $11 an hour is a fair living wage. When school tax issues fail in St. Joseph the whining refrain at the Chamber Breakfast laments the problem with the ignorant redneck lower class. When an issues is even proposed the Chamber folks begin their lament about the difficulty of passing anything progressive in a redneck community. The upper class serves cheese with their whine.
So how does this play out? Why do the school issues fail (actually, St. Joseph citizens regularly support the schools)? The current campaign is getting really nasty – some group out of Kansas City is financing the opposition – and they practice Rovian Politics. The opposition is screaming about expensive trips taken by School District Administrators. The local newspaper supports the schools so they run regular articles, like this one, in an attempt to counter the exaggerated charges.
It would be amusing if not so serious an outcome was at stake. The opposition shouts, “School District Administrators flew on a JET PLANE to a conference in SAN DIEGO. ” What in the world are they saying – should the Administrators have taken the AMTRAK, or perhaps have flown in a prop powered plane? And even worse, “The School District Administrators ate food at RESTAURANTS!” Surely that plane had the capacity for the transport of sack lunches. “And what are they learning out there – California values?”
The Chamber folks know that the School Administrators trips are frugal, that they stay in discounted rate rooms in the hotel hosting the education convention, that they eat in hotel restaurants, that they learn about new budgeting processes to maximize the tax allocation to children. But the voters, the majority of which are financially oppressed by the Chamber, do not understand anything about that world.
Here is the dichotomy: The Chamber folks cannot imagine why the $11 an hour employee scooping pig eyeballs at the local pig processing plant has a problem with flying on JET PLANES. The Chamber is proud of low wages, but cannot understand why people who live on homemade tortillas would not support higher taxes.
The haves of America create an environment of oppressive wages, grant tax relief to themselves, then complain about stupid, ignorant people. The haves of America discourage government regulation of their money – but grant tax money to local Chambers to promote business growth. The have-nots of America pay their taxes to promote the well-being of oppressive, selfish, self-righteous, arrogant, beligerant, nasty, Chamber of Commerce, Country Club, elitists.
The ultimate product of this mentality is Bernie Madoff, AIG, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, and a discouraged populace that is just fed up with the arrogance of American leadership.