Recovering our money mere justice

Posted March 24, 2009, at 7:47 p.m.

April 15 is coming; better get your financial documents ready. Uncle Sam needs you to pay up because the money’s flying out of Washington faster than it’s coming in and what you don’t cough up we’ll just have to borrow — again.

It’s really quite remarkable that there are any resources left in the world from which to borrow. Foreign countries or our grandchildren, they are all pretty tapped out.

And while it feels as if there’s relief in the “tax credits for the middle class” argument, don’t forget that you have to make a certain amount of money before they actually apply to you.

Take the new tax credit for health insurance premiums. An economist explaining it on MSNBC said that your payments to the insurers must first exceed 7.5 percent of your total adjusted gross income. If your insurance gobbled up that much of your budget, you’ve likely dropped it long ago.

And after years of unrestrained war spending and real tax breaks for the obscenely rich, it appears ordinary America has become “outraged” “angry” even “punitive.”

President Obama says that government can’t “govern out of anger.” OK, true enough, but I’d like to suggest that demanding fairness from time to time isn’t anger. Although sometimes you have to get angry before the bad guys play fair.

If we weren’t all too busy worrying about losing our jobs, our homes and our tempers we’d have time to look at politics differently.

So let’s take a minute now and view this falderal at the federal level — what with multimillion-dollar bonuses and ripping off the U.S. public — as what it really is: complete and total dysfunction.

To simplify the dysfunctional dynamic, let’s say the corporate fat cats with their hands out are part of our family, just one of the kids. Congress and the presidents — present and recent past — will play the parts of the parents who can’t ever agree on how to discipline their kids.

Of course, because of their ineffective parenting one of the kids will become the dominant bully and victimize the other weaker kids: you and me. We’re the smaller, hardworking children who do their chores and don’t ask for much. We don’t ask for much because our older, manipulative sibling will flatten us and we’ll be so sorry that we ever reminded him that we are alive.

Let’s name the bully kid Craig. I don’t mean to insult anyone named Craig, but I wanted to pick a name with AIG in it.

This week Craig was caught by the Connecticut attorney general lying to Mommy and Daddy and to us.

Connecticut AG Richard Blumenthal says Craig lied to Mom and Dad a lot. Seems Mom and Dad gave Craig an allowance. It was actually back when Mom (Congress) was still married to Dad (George W. Bush) that they agreed to give Craig an extremely big allowance because Craig convinced Mom and Dad that our family would completely fall apart if Craig had to face the natural consequences of Craig’s own bad decisions. In order to give Craig the big allowance they had to take it from the rest of the kids: us.

Well, Blumenthal, his real name by the way, found out that not only did Craig get his agreed-to allowance, including roughly $165 million for contractual bonuses, but he also took $53 million more out of Mom’s purse for nondisclosed bonuses. Our folks want us to believe they didn’t know Craig had the wallet, maybe he took it while they were fighting about whether the rest of us should be able to go to the doctor.

Turns out that because of the agreement between them, once Craig got the bonus money that was “obligated contractually” Mom and Dad didn’t have a right to ask for it back.

Some in our parenting government say it’s time to tax Craig to get the money back. April 15 is, after all, barreling down on the rest of us.

But other parents don’t agree. They say it’s punitive.

Huh?

If one of your kids took the other kid’s allowance and you sent him to his room, that would be punitive. Getting the kid’s money back is merely justice.

Pat LaMarche of Yarmouth is the author of “Left Out In America: The State of Homelessness in the United States.” She may be reached at PatLaMarche@

hotmail.com.

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