The Tired Donkey has pointed out elsewhere that the Democrats and Republicans are Myrmidon Donkeys bent on taking your tax money to court Freeloader votes; the Republicans talk a good game from time to time, but the result is always the same: fewer and fewer donkeys shouldering more and more of the tax burden. And when you combine the ranks of the Freeloaders with the ranks of the pitiful Stockholm Donkeys, you arrive at a number that is more than half of the electorate. In short, loyal donkeys are under siege and in the minority. So. Where does this leave us? The Tired Donkey will tell you.
As we have seen, more than half the people in this country don’t give a damn about how your tax dollars are spent because they either pay no taxes or have been co-opted by those who pay no taxes. The Myrmidon Donkeys know they no longer need donkey votes to maintain the power that feeds them, and so they have no incentive to spend donkey dollars wisely. The only way to change this is to strike fear in the hearts of the Myrmidon Donkeys. To do this, we need only release the Stockholm Donkeys from the thrall of the Freeloaders and give the public-spritied Freeloaders—and there are many of those despite what you may believe—a cause they can believe in. This, of course, is more easily said than done, but if we can harness the anger afoot in the land to create a fair-tax majority, we can all get what we want. More tomorrow.
The Tired Donkey has long been aware that the etymology of “myrmidon” is connected to Greek mythology. But he has never researched the matter. Knowing that he was preparing this post and knowing also the discerning nature of his readers, the Tired Donkey decided that it would be interesting to dig into Greek mythology to provide his readers with a deeper understanding of the term. This was an error. The internet is a bad place to research Greek myths because there are more versions of each myth than there are internet pages describing the myth. But this has led the Tired Donkey to a startling conclusion: since the myths are all just invented stories, anyway, the Tired Donkey is free to choose the version he likes best and present that to his readers. And here it is:
The Tired Donkey is no prude, but the story of the conception of Aeacus is a strange one. Zeus turned himself into an eagle and made off with Aegina, eventually taking her to an island which now bears her name. According to the Wikipedia entry, she became pregnant after Zeus took the form of an ant and seduced her. Please don’t ask the Tired Donkey how this happened because he does not know and is unwilling to speculate; he will state for the record, however, that this seems farfetched even by the standards of Greek myths. Anyway, Aegina soon gave birth to Aeacus; no source the Tired Donkey could find—not even Wikipedia—alleges that Aeacus looked like some kind of human-ant mash-up, but the Tired Donkey believes it may be possible. Hera, Zeus’s sister and wife, became jealous as sisters will, and used a plague to kill all the inhabitants of the island; she spared only Aeacus and his mother. Aeacus was lonely and prayed to his father for company. Zeus, apparently still in the grip of his ant phase, responded by transforming the island’s ants into men and women who came to be called Myrmidons after the Greek word for ant. The Myrmidons were fierce fighters who followed orders without question; they eventually went to Troy with Achilles. Some sources claim the Myrmidons had six arms; most do not. The Tired Donkey chooses to believe that they did indeed have six arms.
So now we come to the heart of the matter. While writing recent posts, the Tired Donkey spent time considering the special nature of members of Congress and other politicians—including President Obama—who support policies that will increase the ranks of the Freeloaders. These creatures are not Stockholm Donkeys because Stockholm Donkeys are victims of their own weak minds. No, the Freeloader-voting members of Congress are different. They are calculating and actively court Freeloaders; in fact, they solicit money from Freeloaders with promises to swell their ranks and deliver more goodies to them after confiscating more donkey money. They are something worse than Stockholm Donkeys. They are Myrmidon Donkeys: politicians who are in the thrall of the Freeloaders and do their every bidding.
In an article earlier this week in the New York Times, Jackie Calmes and Carl Hulse discuss Democratic opposition to various provisions of the Obama budget proposal. They highlight the opposition of creepy-looking Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) and Representative Charlie Rangel (D-NY) to the president’s proposal to limit tax deductions for the wealthiest 1.2% of donkeys; Myrmidon Donkeys Baucus and Rangel cite a potential drop in charitable giving as their reason. The Tired Donkey is skeptical about this “reason” and finds it more likely that these Myrmidon Donkeys enjoy the patronage of some rich Steadfast Donkeys who don’t want to pay more taxes, but he will have to explore this suspicion in more detail on a later date since his purpose today is to discuss the language of taxation.
Reading on, the Tired Donkey came across this curious sentence regarding the strange Myrmidon Donkey opposition to more taxes on rich donkeys:
The next day, however, Mr. Geithner* staunchly defended the proposed limit, telling the House Budget Committee it would affect few taxpayers and still let them take deductions at the same level as in the Reagan years: a 28 percent rate, nearly twice what most taxpayers can claim.
What, you may ask, is wrong with this sentence? The Tired Donkey will tell you. It implies that under the proposal, rich donkeys will be getting a real bargain. “Good heavens! Deductions at twice the rate most taxpayers can claim. What a deal!” Wrong. The Tired Donkey is tempted to use a prison sex metaphor here, but he will refrain because he is aware that he has some younger readers. Instead, he will give it to you straight, just like the tax code does: in 2006—the latest data the Tired Donkey can find (here)—the rich donkeys Myrmidon Donkey Geithner is referring to paid 39.89% of all income taxes collected by the federal government. Yes, you read that right: 39.89%. The highest marginal tax rate is what applies to the vast majority of these payments, and that rate was 35% in 2006. Myrmidon Donkey Geithner may consider it a deal to pay taxes at a 35% rate and only get deductions at a 28% rate, but the Tired Donkey has a different term for it. He calls it getting the shaft.
*Tired Donkey Note: Mr. Geithner is Secretary of the Treasury and a tax cheat of some renown; he may very well be the Queen of the Myrmidon Donkeys.
Imagine my surprise to hear Chris Matthews, on his February 26 broadcast, enthusiastically announce that President Obama is “promising to tax the rich people in order to pay for health care for the working people.”
Dear Mr. Matthews: maybe you are a rich person who doesn’t earn your money and doesn’t work. Since I see you working on TV all the time, perhaps you secretly feel that cheerleading for Barack Obama isn’t really “work.” I’m willing to accept your critical self-assessment.
But I and all the other people I know earning over $250,000.00 a year – and into seven figures – well, we are definitely working people. Most of us work longer hours than our employees do, take more work home to do in evenings, and work more weekend hours than our employees do. Many of us travel and spend a great deal of time away from our families. Many of us bear enormous executive responsibility and the stress that comes with it.
We also do more valuable work – not by accident, but because we have worked very hard to make ourselves more valuable. We have chosen to learn more and keep learning more; read more, play less; develop expertise. And almost all of us worked much, much, much harder than the ‘average working person’ for years, even decades, to create our businesses, master our crafts and skills, build our reputations, and finally put ourselves in positions to harvest our current high incomes.
As a matter of fact, our willingness to work more and work harder than most of those you designate as “working people” might just be the reason we now, finally earn much higher incomes. I know this is a troubling concept for liberals, but there it is: cause and effect.
So when you speak class warfare, it enrages us. Your dividing of Americans into separate groups, “working people” and “rich” – thus characterizing the rich as “not working people” – is obscene.
Oh, and just for the record, we already pay extraordinarily high taxes. More importantly, we pay an exorbitant share of the total U.S. tax burden – far, far in excess of the difference between our incomes and those paying less, little or none, and far in excess of our ratio to the population and our consumption of services.
We are Atlas already carrying the entire nation on our shoulders, and we are now tempted to shrug. You see, we could choose not to work if sufficiently antagonized, assaulted and abused. And for every one of us who takes the next four years off, thousands can kiss their jobs bye-bye. If that’s a surprise to you, I’d be delighted to explain it with specific examples.
We not only work harder than all those we provide jobs for, we also provide nearly all the capital and take all the risks to create businesses and build communities and retail centers and everything else that provide the majority of jobs. Those you see as working people create no jobs for themselves; we non-working rich provide them all. If we put our capital on strike for the next four years – a strike already in progress – there’ll be 16 to 20 percent or worse unemployment, a 3,000 or lower Dow wiping out all working peoples’ pensions and retirements entirely, boarded up businesses as far as the eye can see, and no health care for anybody.
Yes, that’s a threat.
Finally, a quick math lesson. There are no more than six million of us (give or take) that Obama has targeted for his grand panoply of stated income tax increases, backdoor tax increases via the taking away of real estate interest, charitable giving and other deductions, capital gains tax increases, etc. If you confiscated 100 percent of our combined incomes, you still couldn’t pay for everybody’s health care.
This is the most vile lie ever told to those working people. Why? Because every dollar of income stolen from me with taxes I retrieve plus three from those working people, to cover the taxes and overhead. I do so by: downsizing companies and cutting jobs, outsourcing jobs, not investing in expansion and creating jobs, and by raising prices. The last, raising prices, causes inflation, the biggest tax on working people and the only tax on poor people. Every tax-the-rich scheme costs far more than it gets. Nothing else could come close to the destruction guaranteed by abusively taxing the rich.
Some honest reporting about all this would consider the so-obvious folly of trying to force six million people to buy health care for 200-million; acknowledge that Obama is not merely returning top tax rates to Clinton or pre-Reagan points but that he is laying on myriad tax increases by removing deductions; and would stop smearing the rich as not-working-people. We ought to be thanked, daily. Better, we should be encouraged to work at creating and building things, but right now we’ve set that aside to work at out-maneuvering Obama’s tax assault, and watch how hard we work at that.
The Tired Donkey is especially impressed by Steadfast Donkey Kennedy’s threat to put his capital on strike for four years. Unfortunately, the Tired Donkey remains a working donkey, and he can’t afford such a grand demonstration of his might. But he urges Steadfast Donkey Kennedy go for it and thereby help prove the ultimate point: donkeys are the economy; the Freeloaders are just along for the ride. Be careful, Myrmidon Donkeys, lest you find yourselves exercising your dominion over a Third World country.