Page 12


War Continued from page 3 escape from gritty reality. If World War II was, as Studs Terkel dubbed it, “The Good War,” then, judging by subsequent festivities, the Persian Gulf action has become “The Feel-Good War.” This impression was heightened by tawdry extravaganzas such as Gen. Schwartzkopf standing next to a life-size Mickey Mouse at a televised glitz-a-thon, and the giant yellow ribbon now festooning the Capitol dome here in Austin. One returning soldier I talked to was appalled by all the hoopla, though he appreciated the good will, and he said others of his comrades shared those feelings of ambivalence. The Gulf war provided an easy jubilation because it supplied a clear-cut, seemingly morally unambiguous problem, a Snidely Whiplash-style”, stereotypical bad guy \(as portrayed by the U.S. and missiles. The messier, institutional scourges that plague our cities, our environment, our children don’t admit such convenient villains. And our leaders would have us believe that the solutions aren’t as readily attainable as Patriot missiles and F-16 fighters. In fact, however, we already know how to mitigate many of the symptoms identified by the Jobs with Peace report: stricter pollution laws; redirecting spending priorities on proven programs like Head Start, Job Corps, Maternal and Today, not only do we lack a beneficent moral equivalent of war, we have had a war that now seems the moral equivalent of television. Infant Health; better pay for teachers; and so on. But such victories are not nearly so spectacular as those we saw on CNN, and their advocates not nearly so influential as those in the Pentagon or the oil companies. As in so many other areas, George Bush may be more representative of his people than his oponents might want to admit; foreign policy and military exploits are infinitely more attractive than the grimy politics and tough choices involved in actually providing for the general welfare. The philosopher William James once called on anti-militarists to push society to treat social problems as “the moral equivalent of war” in order to . prevent the real thing. Today, not only do we lack a beneficent moral equivalent of war, we have had a war that now seems the moral equivalent of television, with a cynical President as game-show host and the frustrated American people as audience. Mr. Bush may be enjoying high Neilsen ratings, as expressed in the polls, but those numbers listed above, the ones you don’t see on TV, tell us more about the national character than any flag-waving specatcle. B.C. Tax Continued from page 5 and we have no way of knowing that by the available data. The real question is whether all individuals pay taxes in proportion to their ability to pay.” According to McDonald, the Connally/Sharp business tax is simply another regressive “hidden sales tax” that will affect consumer prices and further the disparity of tax payments among businesses. “I think it’s a terrible idea,” said McDonald. “The fact that it’s just another sales tax will make the system even more regressive than what we have. We need a personal income tax to offset regressivity.” But Andy Welch, the state’s director of tax information, denies that the business tax is a sales tax. He claims the new business tax will correct “What I fear is coming is a taxpayer revolt” Sen. John Montford. the inequities of the present system. “The business tax will address the regressivity of the business tax structure,” he said. “It will be a much fairer and [more] equitable business tax than what we have now. The alternative is a sales tax on legal services and so on.” McDonald also questions the cost-cutting measures included in Sharp’s plan. He notes that the bulk of the money will come from license and fee increases, cuts, and several one-time savings such as payment deferrals and money transfers. “I suspect we’re going to find every agency will be affected,” he said. “And very little, I think, of this [Sharp’s plan] is the result of in creased efficiency and eliminating overlap. A lot of it is simply cutting services and the like. I’m sure there are some potential real savings, but a great deal of it is just transferring money and actually raising fees.” quent and lonely criticisms, Sharp’s plan may prove seductive to lawmakers. The plan gives the Legislature an easy way out of a political hot spot. But the long-term prospects are less conclusive, some even say ominous. Montford predicts a property-tax revolt waiting around the corner if tax payers don’t get some relief. “The Texas Business Tax [the Sharp/ Connally plan] does not reform the inequity in the tax system,” said Montford. “What I fear is coming is a taxpayer revolt, and you will hear a hue and cry that you have never heard before. I believe we ought to face the issue head on, and have the political fortitude to have an income tax coupled with property tax relief and sales tax curtailment.” But lone voices like Montford’s aside, as long as public opinion ‘remains dead set against personal income taxes, most politicians will have a convenient excuse to avoid the tax equity issue entirely. This is Texas today. A state full of Sunbelt boosters, strident anti-unionists, oil and gas companies, nuclear weapons and power plants, political hucksters, underpaid workers, and toxic wastes, to mention a few. 1 E, . . ti 41, -:Pi C ft, ,1 -g N 4’,.4,,.. /118046. o u -:”” . , e, A Pit, a` Itikr 44 zilli j :, ye A10\(…,,, .0-4. lit .,..1 “IV* iiiii r 1 ‘ 4\1 / I . . . … ,…. i 7 . mr SW . ‘, r” -FA N’41 ‘ eft . Jr tr..,… Ages 779. BUT , DO NOT DESPAIR! b l a TEXAS OIP II server TO SUBSCRIBE: Name Address City State Zip . $27 enclosed for a one-year subscription. Bill me for $27. 307 West 7th, AUSTIN, TX 78701 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15