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Weekly Reader: Be fair and prosper

This Weekly Reader features links to recent articles that grabbed my interest or tickled my fancy. I hope you find something that makes you laugh, think, or cry.

Americans need to rethink taxes and the public good if we are to reverse our income inequality and overcome the lack of fairness that games our system for those with money. Writing in The Ink, Anand Giridharadas has a conversation with Danish businessman and founder of Human Act Djaffar Shalchi about why he wants to make rich people like himself pay more in taxes. In The American dream is now in Denmark, Giridharadas and Shalchi make the case that people in Denmark are doing better by being fairer.

If we millionaires are going to be “for humanity,” we have got to go beyond philanthropy and recognize that we need to be taxed. No matter how generous and smart we think we are in our private giving, unless we shift from trying to minimize our taxes to advocating to be taxed more, we are not living up to being “for humanity.” Are most millionaires there yet? No. I do feel a shift is starting, though. Please keep encouraging us — and keep pressuring us, too.

Of course, most rich people in America believe that if we adopted policies like those in Denmark, then capitalism would die. The unquestioned goodness of capitalism is just another false American myth.

In real life, contrary to the Hollywood tale, kids are more likely to achieve the American dream in Denmark than in America. America is not a beacon to the world on how to run an economy. Scandinavia has a much more impressive economic record than the US and is much more innovative. Sorry, my American friends — we’re not just fairer than you. We’re doing better by being so.

One reason we don’t have a fair and equitable system in the U.S. is that such a small percentage of the population can control the government. Writing in Forbes, Steven Salzberg asks and answers the question What Do You Call A Country Where 5.6% Of The People Can Control The Government? The United States.

Many people living in the U.S. don’t realize how truly undemocratic our current system of government is. By my calculation, 5.6% of the people can hold the entire government hostage, preventing any substantive legislation from passing.

This isn’t my opinion: it’s simply math. What’s more, it’s completely legal, made possible by the U.S. Senate–and made worse by its ridiculous filibuster rule.

When monied interest can control our government by controlling such a small percentage of the population, then they have no incentive to pay more taxes or treat people more fairly.

Image by Jorge Guillen from Pixabay

I doubt it will surprise you if you give it some thought, but 46,218 news transcripts show ideologically extreme politicians get more airtime on talk shows. That’s the point of this piece in The Conversation by communications professors and researchers Joshua Darr, Jeremy Padgett, and Johanna Dunaway.

Committee assignments are normally a blessing for new House members. But some of today’s newer members, like freshmen Republican representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Madison Cawthorn, seem to be more interested in punditry than policy.

Governing isn’t the point. “Owning the libs” is what they live for (and getting rich in the process). Is there any surprise that we have one party that simply isn’t interested in governing or representative government? Speaking of which…

John Stoehr in The Editorial Board says it is time to Stop calling the GOP ‘conservative.’ Even the the late Rush Limbaugh said that if conservatism animated the Republican Party, there would be no President Donald Trump.

Fascism is all-American. It’s native-born. And it describes the politics of the Republican Party more accurately than “conservatism” does. Sure, there are conservatives in the GOP (Mitt Romney comes to mind). There are conservative think-tanks, conservative policies, conservative legal theorists. But none of that captures the character of today’s Republican Party, which combines, in its never-ending search for enemies to punish, the elements of sadism and masochism.

Oh yes. Although they show up all over talk shows and on op-ed pages, Jill Lawrence, writing in U.S.A. Today, reminds us that After Trump, Republicans have no standing to pontificate on anything. Period. (And yes, that especially goes for silly op-eds like the one in yesterday’s Washington Post. Don’t tell me about bi-partisanship after supporting virtually everything Donald Trump did for 4 years, including voting for that fig leaf fake constitutional argument in the second impeachment trial to get him off the hook. What hypocrites.)

As I’ve noted before, Chief Justice John Roberts has long had it in for the protection of the expansion of voting rights that helped end the Jim Crow era. In Vox, senior correspondent Ian Millhiser writes Supreme Court: Two cases could destroy the Voting Rights Act. It may happen, but Congress has the power to approve an updated act and ensure the safety of our elections no matter what John Roberts and his ilk on the Supreme Court do. Fighting for democracy is hard, never ending, and worth the effort.

We will end with two music-theme pieces. The New York Times featured an article by Jennifer Moore entitled In the Ozarks, the Pandemic Threatens a Fragile Musical Tradition. “The older fiddlers and rhythm guitar players don’t rely on sheet music, so their weekly jam sessions — now on hiatus — are critical to passing their technique to the next generation.”

Marty Stuart

The Bitter Southerner features an informative and fun interview between music journalist and critic Peter Guralnick and roots and country musician (and music historian) Marty Stuart. Getting Caught Up: Peter Guralnick and Marty Stuart is worth the read, if only to hear them talk about Dick Curless and the Maine truck-driving classic Tombstone Every Mile.

Enjoy and have a good week.

More to come…


Image of Denmark by David Mark from Pixabay

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