Holding an anvil on the fiscal cliff

by Sherrie Bond

As interesting as “government gossip” is, taking the time to uncover all the dirt swept under the “rug” takes some real sleuthing. As I dig into a topic, I repeat my mantra, “this is the little bit we can uncover; I’d hate to uncover what’s really hidden”! If we knew all the deals being cut, the generous gifting of our tax dollars for unbelievably stupid projects to cheaters sucking up “free government money” (as they call it), or research grants funded to study ... I don’t know... mind-benders like “do crows eating fries at McDonalds (r) have higher cholesterol levels than crows eating corn in Kansas” or “does the general public more clearly understand alpha or numeric characters on fire safety message boards in National Forests, we’d march on Washington and I don’t mean the State!

Billions of tax dollars are wasted each year impressing the folks back home and we have to put a stop to it. The lame duck administration is haggling over whether “middle class America” should be tagged with a tax increase or if only the wealthy 2% should take the hit and I don’t even know if there still is a middle class America, do you? By government definition, do you ever wonder just who are the middle classes they refer to? Are you poor? Are you impoverished? I “get it” that Oprah is a wealthy “billionaire”, but by government comparison does that make Mick Jagger middle-classed with only a few hundred “million”?

Here’s the deal: by federal definition, middle class doesn’t exist as a whole. There are now sub-sections of middle classification (all the better to tax your souls): There’s the Professional/Managerial Middle Class earning $100,000 plus per year. Next is the Lower Middle Class considered to be “lower level white collar workers” earning $50,000 to $100,000 annually, followed by the Working Class Majority which researchers find to be extremely confusing. Why? Categorically the WCM can be sub-divided into separate classifications depending on education and earnings (not by the color of their shirt collar). Of course if you don’t fit into the category, you just may fall into the Vernacular Middle Class division or people who, in the past, would have been classified as old middle class, but now are referred to as Middle-Middle Class with average wage earnings, but “average” not being defined. Of course you may be among the Working Poor or blue-collar workers teetering on “high economic insecurity and risk of poverty”, but Praise the Lord you aren’t the Underclass or the Lower Class or even (Heaven forbid) the unspeakable Poor!

Is it any wonder the nimrods in Government can’t settle the tax issues? Heck they can’t figure out who is what or even where who is! In the meantime they turn a blind eye to the average American wage-earners knowing when their backs are against the wall, they will cough up more taxes under the obvious threat of losing what they do have if they fail comply. And what, you ask, are your hard earned dollars being used to provide? Take a quick look at the 2012 Boondoggles: $75,000 spent to promote awareness of the role Michigan plays in producing Christmas trees and Poinsettias; $15.3 million for one of those (much discussed) “bridges to nowhere” in Alaska; how about $113,227 for a video preservation center in New York or $550,000 for a documentary of how rock music contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union?

There was $48,700 provided for the 2nd Annual Hawaii Chocolate Festival and $350,000 to support an art exhibit in Italy. $10 million was earmarked for the remake of “Sesame Street” for Pakistani children, $35 million was set aside for “partying” at political conventions, $765,828 subsidized “Pancakes for Yuppies” in Washington, D.C. If you really want an eye-full I would suggest you take a gander at U.S. Senator Tom Coburn’s “Wastebook 2012”. (He annually pinpoints the top 100 wasteful, unnecessary projects funded by taxpayers). There’s tax loopholes provided to the NFL, NHL and PGA - all professional sporting associations generating billions of dollars in annual profits and paying $91 million in taxes; how about the $27 million grant from the US Agency for International Development for Moroccan pottery classes or $300,000 to promote caviar consumption? The National Science Foundation received a $325,000 grant using part of it for a “robo-squirrel”; $505,000 was used for promotion of specialty shampoo/beauty products for cats and dogs; there was $1.3 million given to the largest snack producer, PepsiCo, Inc. and $516,000 spent on a video game called “Prom Week” that allows taxpayers to relive their prom night.

The list goes on and when you finish reading it you’ll possibly wonder, like me, why we are only now on the edge of the fiscal cliff, instead of a grease spot at the bottom of the precipice. Heck, I feel like Wile E. Coyote just after being handed an Acme Anvil by the Road Runner!

(Sherrie Bond serves as Director of the Northwest Log Truckers’ Cooperative. She can be reached via email at ohsee@aol.com)