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home : insight & opinion : guest columns
January 22, 2018

12/20/2017 1:32:00 PM
Holiday wishes that Santa doesn't only visit the rich
For the Daily News

A winter's day, in a deep and dark December - I tend to wake up early these days, as if someone had dropped an iron skillet in the kitchen and made a great noise while I was fast asleep, and it startled me.  Now that I'm awake again and the noise is gone, I'm still bothered by it. 

In the woods outside my house there are probably hunters shivering in deer stands waiting for their next trophy.  I'm not sure of that, of course, and I don't keep track of deer seasons, but I've heard the booming reports of what I assume are guns of some sort and I know I don't want to be anyone's mistake.  I don't mourn for dead deer, or begrudge them their trophy, but I'm not a player.

I see that Santa Claus is coming to town, repeatedly.  It must be confusing for children who want to believe in the story to see him in so many places, wearing so many costumes and speaking with so many voices.  I recall how difficult it was for me to believe someone who didn't know me would keep track of my behavior and then reward or punish me when my own parents didn't.

Some Christmas mornings were better than others, I noticed, but it had more to do with my father's job as a pumper or the price of oil or whether he had managed to keep the wells going day and night all through the year for $32 a barrel.  That was the price fixed by the smart people in Washington so they could all buy gas for 25 cents a gallon. It kept us poor while it made them rich and something about that bothered me. There may be smarter people there now, I don't know for sure, but expressing my doubts or hopes about that to them won't make a bit of difference.

It has been my experience that Santa Claus comes to the home of any little girl or boy who (1) believes that it matters if they are good or not; (2) lives close enough to someone who notices; and (3) loves others.

I must admit that I have had to spend an inordinate amount of time in the company of non-believers who delight in showing me they can be less than generous.  It's as if they think that somehow that pile of wealth they amass will be some benefit to them when their life is over.  "Remember how rich old so-and-so was before he died?" It might be remembered, but not in a good way, unless there were good done with it.

Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the country, has given more away than most of us will ever make.  He believes in America, believes we are a hard-working, profit-making enterprise that generates wealth with our ingenuity and resources. I agree, but you seldom hear him say that he has been lucky; but he has.  Instead, he speaks about the benefits of diversification of his portfolio.  Geez, Louise, who has enough money to spread their bets around enough to still come out on top when the market makes what they call an "adjustment?" The average working man calls it something else I can't repeat here in the Christmas spirit, but let's just way that bailing out the banks and Wall Street was not popular with everyone who was small enough to fail while they were too big to do so. 

If you're rich enough, life just gets better and better.  If you're lucky, you may get to be rich enough to have that happen. That sounds like a system a lucky person would want to be a part of.  Well, you have to ask yourself - do you feel lucky?

Now say that to yourself again with Dirty Harry's voice and imagine you're looking down the barrel of a .44 Magnum, "...the most powerful handgun in the world that could blow your head clean off."  Clint Eastwood spoke that line through gritted teeth in an old movie, but it could just as well be a tweet today. 

A tax reform present has been wrapped for us as I was writing this.  It has nothing to do with whether you work hard, or are in good health, or in need of help to see to it that your children have a better life then you did. It's about helping some people make the most money possible while the rest of us hope to get to be one of them. If you're a law firm, with lots of lawyers making lots of money, and you incorporate so that if you get sued, none of the lawyers will lose any money. Now the legal fiction that is the law firm no longer has to pay taxes - even though the Supreme Court has said it can advertise and support political candidates, even though it can give $1 million to the lawmakers of their choice so they don't have to pay taxes at all while we all still have to. 

Oh, those poor lawyers, they needed tax relief so much more than the working poor who can't afford medical insurance.  I'm sure they will lower their fees now to trickle down the blessing on their clients. After all, that's part of the plan that says it's going to create jobs and make life better for everyone. 

I'm as confused as Tiny Tim.  I thought as a country we were supposed to be about taking care of each other, and I was pretty sure that the concepts of charity and goodness make no mention of making a profit and then seeing to it that your taxes go down so you can make a bigger one next year. Maybe it will all work out - who can say? 

It's worrisome, but I have my wish list out and I'm making a list of things I'd like for us to buy with all the money they say we're making.  Let's see... world peace; good will to all men; no more harassment of women; equal justice for everyone.

I think that's enough for this year, I don't want to be greedy. I'm pretty sure being greedy won't get me on Santa's list for goodness and, BTW, " I believe."

Merry Christmas, everyone.  May you have every blessing. 

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