Letter from America #2, September 20, 2011

This is only my second letter from America, but I am discovering how much I love keeping attuned to the Kenyan cultural environment:

LETTER from America.2 September 20, 2011

By Margaretta wa Gacheru

It’s not only irate Kenyan MPs who are adamant about refusing to pay taxes.

It is also American Republicans, starting with members of the ultra-right wing end of the Party called the Tea Party (represented by ditzy brunettes like Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin and fundamentalist religionists like Rick Perry, governor of Texas who doesn’t believe in Climate Change and calls Social Security, the workers-funded safety net set up during the Great Depression, a “Ponzi Scheme” to be trashed with the rest of government-backed people-oriented programs).

It’s also the corporate-backed media like Fox News that are fighting President Obama’s efforts to deal with the huge government deficit (amounting to trillions) by taxing the Super-Rich.

The corporate media along with Congressmen who signed up (with the Taxpayers Protection Pledge) never to support raising taxes are all accusing Mr. Obama of waging “class warfare” against who? Against the super-rich, of course!

What Obama has done is agree with one of the richest men in the world, Warren Buffett, who says the rich should be taxed more not less or not at all (as many of the super-rich have managed to do by putting all their assets into tax havens outside the US).

The ‘Buffett Tax” is what Obama’s plan has been called. It partly includes allowing all the Bush-tax cuts on rich people’s wealth to expire. It also involves cutting out special perks that George W. Bush designed to help out his rich cronies in and outside of Congress.

And how does Obama defend his plan? By noting that the Buffett tax “is not class warfare; it’s math.” For how else is the government to tackle the huge burden of debt that the US is carrying around? The rich want to cut all the government-backed programs that assist the middle class and the poor—everything from food stamps to Medicare and Social Security.

But Mr. Buffett’s perspective seems a whole lot more humane and thoughtful. He says that percentage-wise, he pays less tax annually than his secretary!! And that just isn’t right, he contends.

But Mr. Buffett has made enemies among the elites, just as those MPs who have paid taxes in Kenya are not liked for setting a “bad example” by breaking down and obeying the law, God forbid!

Mr. Obama has made even more enemies among the rich than Mr. Buffett however, since he has finally taken a stand and not caved into Republican pressures which his critics contend he has done all too often in the first years of his time in the presidential office.

In fact, as much as Kenyans may admire and adore Barack Obama, in the US his popularity hit its lowest ebb this week with only a 42% favorable rating. Yes, this is the man who the world adored in 2008 and who won the US presidency by a landslide, promising to close Guantanamo, and end two wars which were started with a credit card by George W. Bush (since the US was already in debt when Bush insisted on going for Osama bin Ladin (remember him?) first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq.

Obama also promised to fix the economy and get Americans back to work, none of which he has done. So whether Kenyans want to hear it or not, Mr. Obama might be a one-term president and only be in office until 2012.

But there is a glimmer of hope for Obama, now that he has gotten back onto the campaign trail, which he officially did last week when he gave his impressive Jobs Speech, claiming his $3.4 trillion Jobs program was bound to put Americans back to work.

Who knows whether the Jobs Bill will pass in Congress? Who knows whether Obama will manage to make the super-rich finally pay their fair share towards solving America’s debt problem?

But one thing is certain. And that is the eloquent Mr. Obama does his best when he is out on the road waxing lyrically about all he plans to do for the American people. The reality is that his sweet words won’t be as persuasive this time round as they were in 2008, since millions more Americans are jobless and just plain dissatisfied with the Government’s inability—meaning Mr. Obama’s inability to get them jobs.

These are tough times for the American people, just as they are tough for people in Africa and even in Europe where countries like Greece and Italy may declare bankruptcy any day now.

Stay tuned for where these developments will lead. The last thing I heard was that several thousand Americans got inspired by the Arab Spring and decided to “Occupy Wall Street.” So civil disobedience a la Gandhi and Martin Luther King may be the way Americans may deal with the unemployment crisis and with their taxes as well. We shall see!

 

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