In a Monday night event immediately preceding former Walker’s talk at Cornell, Prof. Lee Adler, labor relations, dissected how — in just eight years — one leader’s tenure turned a once hotbed for union activism into a state synonymous with organized labor’s most high-profile, decisive defeats.
Nearly three weeks ago, on Wednesday, October 4th, Ithaca’s Mayor, and Cornell alum, Svante Myrick ’09, presented his proposal for Ithaca’s 2019 budget. Amongst discussion of a property tax decrease, the staffing of the police department and the creation of a new street crew dedicated to improving local road quality, the mayor had some choice words for the institution which he called home for four years. In addition to pointing out that Cornell’s $2.1 billion of tax-exempt properties are equal in value to the value of all taxable properties in the entirety of Ithaca, Myrick stated that “We would be better off if any other Ivy League School were in Ithaca.”
Immediately following this comment, and in a later interview with the Sun, he specifically mentioned that Harvard — our rival in both hockey and use of colors that generally fit the description of ‘red’ — would be better for Ithaca than Cornell currently is. It might seem unfathomable that a Cornell alumnus should invoke the rest of the Ivies, and especially the Crimson, in a positive light. And yet, such is the relationship between Cornell and the city it calls home.
The American tax code is one of the most complex and byzantine bureaucratic structures in the federal government. The tax code currently stands at an eye-popping 9,000 pages and is often considered the most complex system of its kind in the world. To even remotely understand the inner workings of the nation’s tax system requires years of education and training –– making it all but impossible for the average American to comprehend how their taxes are calculated and spent. The sheer size of the nation’s tax code is a hindrance to both greater financial equality and economic prosperity. In terms of income taxes, the nation operates on a “progressive tax” system –– the more money you make, the higher the percentage of your income goes to Uncle Sam.
“What is the difference between a taxidermist and a tax collector? The taxidermist takes only your skin,” wrote Mark Twain. Those making over $250,000 may soon prefer the taxidermist. President Obama is desperately trying to adhere to his campaign promise of not raising taxes on those earning below $250,000. This is ill-conceived policy that is unsurprisingly supported by congressional Democrats, namely those on the far left of the party. The claim that Americans must pay their fair share is valid, yet our politicians have it backwards. Soaking high earners is both an economic and a political mistake.
The commotion around the Commons yesterday was not a last-minute rush to mail tax returns. Instead, the small crowd of activists that assembled on the corner of E. State Street and Seneca Street had gathered to protest federal government taxation policies that, according to the organizer’s event invitations, constitute “willful, deliberate and recklessly irresponsible fiscal behavior.”
One of the great debates in politics concerns the merits of tax cuts versus tax increases. Traditionally, the Republican Party has preached supply-side economics and tax cuts as means to stimulate growth and investment, whereas the Democratic Party has claimed that tax cuts for only the middle-class will be effective and tax increases elsewhere are beneficial. While both Barack Obama and John McCain have tax plans that are far from perfect, issue should be taken with Sen. Obama’s plan, particularly his claim that 95 percent of workers who earn less than $250,000 will receive a tax cut.