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when “we” isn’t

As I parent, I have to deal with lots of stuff I don’t enjoy: poop, vomit, pee on the toilet seat, regurgitated food hidden in odd corners by my toddler, and … tax news.

Thanks to my rocky childhood, I understood “forced teaming” long before I knew there were words to describe it.

Forced teaming is one tactic predators use to soften their targets’ defenses. Wrote Gavin de Becker in The Gift of Fear:

Kelly asks me what signals her attacker displayed, and I start with the one I call “forced teaming.” It was shown through his use of the word “we” (“We’ve got a hungry cat up there”). Forced teaming is an effective way to establish premature trust because a we’re-in-the-same-boat attitude is hard to rebuff without feeling rude. Sharing a predicament, like being stuck in a stalled elevator or arriving simultaneously at a just-closed store, will understandably move people around social boundaries. But forced teaming is not about coincidence; it is intentional and directed, and it is one of the most sophisticated manipulations. 

de Becker writes about personal safety, but forced teaming is also used heavily by politicians and their biggest funders.

“We” need this. “We” will benefit by this. “We” are all in this together.

Chances are you’ve heard statements like this uttered by politicians, politicians’ owners funders, and political pundits.

One of the most important questions to ask people uttering such statements about taxes is, “Which ‘we’ are you talking about, exactly?”

Just because someone’s talking we, we, we doesn’t mean they have your interests at heart. Often, when someone will benefit by you losing, it means they’re working hard to make you believe there’s a we at all.

Right now, with yet another U.S. corporate/shareholder welfare bill described as a tax bill to benefit the middle class being pushed through (primarily) by Christian extremists, it’s important to really understand whether each and every so-called representative of the middle class deserves that title.

And it’s important to bear in mind that:

In the 1940s, at the end of the Second World War, for every dollar the federal government got from individuals, it got about $1.50 in income taxes from the profits of corporations. In 2010 the same number reads as follows: For every dollar the federal government gets from individual income taxes, it gets 25 cents from corporate income taxes.

Which “we” wins by modern-day U.S. tax cuts, exactly? No matter what forced-teamers say with crossed fingers, it’s not the middle class. Rather, it’s GE, IBM, and Microsoft, to name just a few.

As a parent, I have to look at tax news. I have to talk to other parents about tax news. I have to work to ensure forced-teaming low-taxes-always advocates are defeated, because the consequences of their ongoing success are as devastating as they are profound.

Why are U.S. bridges crumbling, schools falling into disrepair and closing (as teachers are conveniently but wrongly scapegoated), and health care access issues causing people to die earlier in supposedly “advanced” United States? There are myriad reasons, but a key one is this: a small number of corporations/shareholders play the slash-our-taxes game as if it’s a game without consequences.

Really, though, it’s a game they’re destroying future generations to “win” now.

As a parent, I can’t abide that. And so, as a parent, I will:
read tax news,
talk tax news with other parents,
say “oh, yeah” to 1940s corporate taxes,
“no” to this welfare bill disguised as a tax one,
yell “no!” to anyone who tells me that we all need lower taxation.

  1. November 16, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    There’s no “we” who’s gonna benefit from the tax bill aside from the wealthy and the corporations. And whether the latter can or should be considered a “we” or a “who” or a person is another issue for another day, like when I’m not infuriated about trophy hunting by our privileged compatriots.

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