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Tom Tully, You're Being Watched
by Brian S. Wise
14 January 2003 

Liberalism need not be all that problematic, but is, when you're on Tom Tully's list.

Approximately eight weeks ago, a liberal named Tom Tully (or a number of liberals working under the name Tom Tully, one cannot be sure) got hold of the Brian Wise mailing list e-mail address, certainly not a difficult thing, and added it to a stridently anti-Bush, and disturbingly prolific, list. The notes are always sent originally to what you suppose are his friends (Flo, three- chairs, G. Gaudette, Mike Smith and so forth), and always end with some sort of deep seeded wish you are to assume is impossible with a Republican in the White House (Peace, Keep the Faith, et cetera).

Never mind the long-established etiquette that quietly implodes when one is sent e-mail he didn’t ask for – you must directly subscribe to the Wise mailing list, for example, just as easily as you can unsubscribe. (Here I must admit my hypocrisy in retaliation: Tully was directly signed up for the Wise mailing list, and has yet to cancel.)And to his credit, Tully did finally mention the option to unsubscribe, about seven weeks after the mailings began (if it came any sooner, I didn’t see it).What creates worry is the content of the things, and the ideas advanced, including these two examples (it could have been many more, but – oh! – the space limitations!):

One: From “Long Live the Estate Tax!”: “The Bush economic stimulus proposal is a continuation of [sic] Class warfare being waged by the Bushies!! Dumping the estate tax on dividends WILL NOT stimulate the U.S. economy but IT WILL give Bush and his fat cat friends a huge tax break.”

Two: From “The Bush Tax Scam!!”: “The hogs are at the through [sic] again and Bush is going to feed them again. … In 2002 his tax cut wiped out a 5 Trillion Dollar surplus. The economy actually got worse! The unemployment rate continued to increase.The federal Government returned to deficit spending. the [sic] National debt went through the roof. His tax proposal for 2003 will wipe out Americas [sic] middle class.”

And so forth.

Now to the first part: While it’s true that the estate tax only kicks in on those inheritances higher than the average (something like $300,000, if memory serves), we are speaking here of inheritance taxes, a term that by design should suggest money (property, whatever) being passed from one who has died to someone of his choosing. That means the money being passed on has, through the course of the deceased’s lifetime, been taxed from here to eternity: Federal, State, local, interest, capital gains, sales, property, luxury, ad infinitum. And despite that, it should be taxed again when given as a gift? This personifies the obscenity of American tax law. The inheritance tax should be dealt away with no matter who it benefits, the belief being that taxation does more than enough to deprive the living, thank you, without pimp-slapping the dead.

To the second part, the United States has never had a five trillion dollar surplus. At its most recent peak, during some very strong economic times, it was something like $250 - $300 billion. If, by five trillion, we’re talking about the projected (an important word, projected) cumulative surplus over 15 years or so, sure.

But use your common sense. Within two months of President Bush taking office, and even before, it was well established that the economy had slowed. Anyone who has ever taken a basic economics class can tell you that governments are already losing money in a slow down, because less money is being made, and therefore less money is making its way into the treasury. Therefore surpluses cannot be maintained; therefore deficit spending becomes the necessity, in that the feds cannot suddenly decide to not spend $300 billion. (It can, and should, decide to spend much less over the long haul.) Now, the better the economy is doing, the more debt it can safely carry; the American economy will expand at roughly four percent this year. Our spending may be in many ways morally and ideologically misdirected, but it’s not prohibitive, and we’ve seen how fast deficits can disappear. The concern in these times is not how to fund government, but how to grow the economy. Take care of the latter, and the former will take care of itself.

The problem of Tom Tully, whoever he may be, is not that his remarks are wrong, but that there are such things as bright, intellectually honest liberals, who handle their beliefs without forwarding along every compulsion to babble on to complete strangers. These liberals are done a terrible disservice by nonsense like this, and since too few of them seem willing to say so, I will: Tully, stop! You’re not smart, and you’re not well informed. Quit while you’re behind.

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