Simple Math

     The thing that distinguished this country from all others throughout our history – once did our damndest to exterminate the Indians – was opportunity: opportunity under the capitalist system.
     This opportunity was offered not just through the natural wealth of the land we had cleared of its previous inhabitants, but through education: free education for all children for as long as they chose to go to public school, and college education too, for moderate cost.
     In the early days of Harvard, all you had to do to enroll was to show up.
     When my mother attended the University of Chicago during World War II, tuition was $50 a semester.
     And what has become of this Eden?
     Some of the biggest crooks in the land today are colleges – chain colleges, run for profit, on the Internet and occasionally in a physical place where you can put your hands on them – if you can believe the U.S. Congress and a string of class-action lawsuits that Courthouse News has reported on this page.
     Colleges – colleges run for the profit of those who run them – have become a sewer, a stinking sink of take-the-money-and-run hucksters.
     They bilk their students and they bilk the taxpayers, who ponied up for the students’ loans.
     These chain colleges, or Internet colleges, or bloodsucking swine – whatever you choose to call them – are still unregulated by Congress: like the savings and loans were, like the “diet supplement” industry is, like the banks and oil and chemical industries might as well be.
     But that is not the point of this lesson.
     The point is that when the ripped-off, violated, economically raped students and investors in these chain colleges finally get the nerve to sue – to sue Corinthian Colleges, above all, which, from my perusal of dozens of class-action lawsuits, appears to be the most shameless fraud of all of them, the most malicious, worthless and despicable – when the students sue, it’s for the thousands of dollars the colleges stole from them, and the years of their lives the colleges stole from them, through bald-faced lies.
     But when the investors sue – the people who bought shares in these profit-making colleges – it’s for inflating the price of the colleges’ stock through “false and misleading statements.”
     That is, the colleges claimed that they were making more money than they actually were – that they were earning more money than they could earn, honestly.
     Not a single college, nor a single corporation of which I am aware, has ever been sued in this country for reporting that they made less money than they actually did.
     Now, if corporations were taxed fairly, it seems to me that they would want to under-report their income, not exaggerate it.
     If corporations were taxed fairly, why would they report that they had earned millions, or tens of millions, or billions of dollars, that they had not actually earned?
     They would report bogus income – and be taxed for it – only if the taxes upon that phony income were trivial.
     This applies not just to the vile, fraudulent chain colleges that Congress allows to fleece students every day – it applies to our corporations as well.
     Enron, WorldCom, Merrill Lynch, Countrywide Home Loans, AIG, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, the whole lot of them – reported billions of dollars of income that did not exist.
     Why would they do that, if corporations and banks were fairly taxed?
     Obviously, they would not do it.
     The United States today faces a multitrillion-dollar debt, and a trillion-dollar annual deficit. The party that has run the country for the past 30 years – the Republicans – insists that we are groaning under the weight of unjust taxes – particularly the rich people, particularly the corporations.
     But it ain’t so. It can’t be so.
     If it were so, then corporations would be under-reporting their profits, not exaggerating them. So would the sleazy chain colleges. So would the banks.
     I’m not an economist or a U.S. senator. I’m just a guy who went to college – to a real college – and did the best I could.
     Search though I may, I cannot find any flaw in this logic. Some of the language may be a tad harsh, but that’s no matter. Corporations and banks and chain colleges have no feelings to hurt.
     The top marginal tax rate under President Eisenhower was 91 percent. The top marginal tax rate for corporations then was above 80 percent. And we were pretty prosperous in those days.
     The tax rates today are about one-third of that, and our economy is in the sewer.
     It seems to me that this indicates a fairly obvious remedy for our economic situation.
     I do not expect to see it applied.

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