My Turn: Teddy Roosevelt would be horrified
Here is a speech by a Republican president:
“The absence of effective state, and, especially, national, restraint upon unfair money-getting has tended to create a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose chief object is to hold and increase their power.”
The speech calls for “a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes . . . increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate.”
The speaker was a Roosevelt – not FDR, but Teddy, the Rough Rider, in 1910.
Teddy saw the dangers of income inequality 100 years ago.
Teddy would be horrified today to see a single family, the Wal-Mart folks, with holdings eight or nine times the size of an entire New Hampshire state budget for a year. Or a single corporate entity like Koch Industries dominating the flow of information (look for Americans for Prosperity commercials with paid actors trashing Obamacare).
Teddy would be horrified as well by the $26 billion in bonuses (over and above regular salaries) paid to Wall Street executives last year.
That amount of money, if spread around, could double the wages of every worker in this country who earns the federal minimum wage we now have.
One partial solution to this nightmare imbalance is a tiny tax proposed by HR 1579. It would impose a one-half of 1 percent tax on financial transactions on Wall Street. This is not a tax on dividends or capital gains. It does not affect small businesses. It seems to me that it would hit hardest on hedge-fund guys and the people who sit at their computers and buy and sell stocks at lightning speed, creating volatile, unstable markets way too often.
It will be tough to get a bill like this through the Republican-dominated House, but I trust U.S. Reps. Annie Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter to support measures like this one.
I do not expect the same from any of the people who want to run against them.
The bill could raise as much as $350 billion. Sen. Kelly Ayotte likes to talk about the deficit. I wonder if she would like this bill. Ask her, at her next town meeting.
(Tim Frazer lives in Concord.)