By Charlie Mitchell
OXFORD – Many hoped Paul Harvey would never die. Listening to the commentator’s daily radio broadcast from Chicago was a happy habit for legions of Mississippians from right after World War II until 2009 when, at age 90, Harvey’s life and career came to its inevitable end.
At his popularity peak, Harvey was on 1,200 radio stations nationwide and another 400 in the Armed Forces Radio Network.
As a journalist, Harvey was impure. That’s because he mixed paid advertising right in with his commentaries, making it tough for listeners to know when he was imparting news and when he was selling gizmos. His heartland resonance overcame that. His listeners didn’t care.
Harvey’s scripts reported something new, usually a current event, and then he would overlay a theme, a traditional value. His themes were pure – respect for the working person, respect for the family, respect for the blessings we receive along life’s journey. His “Ode to a Farmer” was used in a Super Bowl ad for a pickup.
Displays of small-mindedness or meanness or arrogance in the news would draw rebukes from Harvey. They would be gentle, but stinging. He liked happy stories, but told sad ones, too.
A consistent Harvey overlay was, “Businesses do not pay taxes.”
For months if not years there has been posturing in Washington about how to steer government spending away from its current path – one sure to lead to economic collapse. In recent weeks, the posturing has come down to (1) cut spending (the Republican position) or (2) cut spending and also raise taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations (the Democratic position).
Democrats praise their approach as “balanced.”
Harvey, it’s safe to say, would trot out a standard theme and explain there’s nothing balanced about it. He’d tell us that if taxes are raised on a store that sells bluejeans, the store’s owner would have choices. The profit margin could be reduced, operating costs could be saved by firing clerks or the price of jeans could be increased.
In Harvey’s analysis, the last alternative – the path of least resistance – would be chosen.
Harvey wasn’t a Harvard economist. But he knew what they know: Prices of goods and services must reflect the total of all costs (including taxes) incurred in the creation of the goods and services. All taxes trickle down to the last consumer in the line. A mom buying a carton of milk for her child pays every tax imposed on every step in the process.
Where many modern corporations have not done themselves any favors has been by buying (that’s a harsh word, but it applies) loopholes and exemptions from Congress. Inexplicable tax exemptions plus obscene salaries and bonuses for executives of giant conglomerates have earned them the loathing they deserve from the American public.
Indeed, big business is so despised in America that it makes punishing their greed with more taxes more appealing every day. The president says time and again, “Make them pay their fair share.” And the crowd says, “Yeah.”
Such passion would make it hard for Harvey to be heard. But there’s little doubt he would remind us that regardless of what taxes are imposed on the big guys, Joe (and Jane) Paycheck will eventually bear the burden.
So what’s the solution?
It might be pretty easy.
Most personal computers and even some phones have special reset buttons. They are marvelous. If a file is deleted or a virus is detected, a few clicks will convince the computer it is an earlier time. The device will “know” only what it knew at that time and not be aware of any changes (or disasters) since that time.
Observers are pretty unanimous that the vast corruption of the IRS code – the special carve-outs (by Democrats and Republicans) that have polluted the process – have been enacted during the past 30 years.
With one vote, Congress could reset – adopt the IRS code as it existed in 1983 without any (or as many) of today’s “special” provisions.
That would be simple, which Paul Harvey would like. And it would end a lot of the blather, which the public would like.
America is missing Paul Harvey. His prominence began right after the Greatest Generation had saved democracy all over the planet. His rock solid faith in America and Americans never faded.
Now we have a Congress locked and loaded to send the nation into a death spiral and media folk who exploit rather than explain.
Harvey would remind us of who is in charge, because we seem to have forgotten.
CHARLIE MITCHELL is a Mississippi journalist. Write to him at Box 1, University, MS 38677, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.