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Donald Trump’s tax crimes

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Former Mafia boss John Gotti, who has been ill with head and neck cancer, died at a prison hospital while serving a life sentence in Springfield, Missouri, June 10, 2002. He was 61. He is shown arriving at New York State Supreme Court in this February 9, 1990 file photo. REUTERS/Files ORG XMIT: WAS50D Published in NYTimes 9/11/05 BOOK REVIEW section Published Caption: Mafia boss John Gotti arriving at court in New York, 1990; he died in federal prison, June 10,2002. (Reuters)

This is a good thread on the various Savvy rationalizations being floated for why Public Enemy #1 not paying any taxes is Really No Big Deal:

The tax system in this country is certainly a disgrace, but it’s not true that very rich people don’t pay taxes, although of course they don’t pay nearly as much as they would in any minimally just and rational society.

For example, check out the effective tax rates paid by various Americans in 2015. (Your effective tax rate is the percentage of your adjusted gross income that you paid in taxes.)

Note that at the very top of the economy the tax system is actually regressive, as the very richest people pay lower effective tax rates than rich but not that rich Americans, so that the average effective tax rate of the top 4% of American tax payers is actually higher than the average effective tax rate of the top .001%. (Of course the 2017 tax “reform” has made this situation even worse).

Still, the top .001% — this represented just 1,412 returns in 2015 — paid an average of $36.4 million in taxes on $152 million of income, for an effective tax rate of 23.93%. That, again, is way too low: note that in 1955, during the socialist regime imposed by Commandante Eisenhower equivalently rich people were paying an effective tax rate of 51%. But still, even the super-rich pay nearly a quarter of their income in taxes every year.

Trump isn’t engaged in tax avoidance: he’s engaged in tax evasion, which is a crime. He should be prosecuted for it, like any other common criminal.

On a related note, it’s really striking how the concept of criminality, which in bourgeois society used to mark the clearest of lines separating the respectable from the depraved, has been simply tossed out the window by the Party of Traditional Family Values ™.

For example, here is Orwell on Dickens’s characteristic attitude toward his characters who were or had been criminals:

Dickens also shows less understanding of criminals than one would expect of him. Although he is well aware of the social and economic causes of crime, he often seems to feel that when a man has once broken the law he has put himself outside human society. There is a chapter at the end of David Copperfield in which David visits the prison where Latimer and Uriah Heep are serving their sentences. Dickens actually seems to regard the horrible ‘model’ prisons, against which Charles Reade delivered his memorable attack in It is Never too Late to Mend, as too humane. He complains that the food is too good! As soon as he comes up against crime or the worst depths of poverty, he shows traces of the ‘I’ve always kept myself respectable’ habit of mind. The attitude of Pip (obviously the attitude of Dickens himself) towards Magwitch in Great Expectations is extremely interesting. Pip is conscious all along of his ingratitude towards Joe, but far less so of his ingratitude towards Magwitch. When he discovers that the person who has loaded him with benefits for years is actually a transported convict, he falls into frenzies of disgust. ‘The abhorrence in which I held the man, the dread I had of him, the repugnance with which I shrank from him, could not have been exceeded if he had been some terrible beast’, etc. etc. So far as one can discover from the text, this is not because when Pip was a child he had been terrorized by Magwitch in the churchyard; it is because Magwitch is a criminal and a convict. There is an even more ‘kept-myself-respectable’ touch in the fact that Pip feels as a matter of course that he cannot take Magwitch’s money. The money is not the product of a crime, it has been honestly acquired; but it is an ex-convict’s money and therefore ‘tainted’.

The treating of ex-criminals as social pariahs is, as Orwell notes, not a desirable attitude, but it’s not as deplorable as the outright glorification of the present and future criminal in the Oval Office, which is now the essence of the Republican party’s ongoing worship of Donald Trump.

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