Point of View: Another One


And there, for the second week in a row, was another word I didn’t know in a Times column —  midichlorian. It was in Maureen Dowd’s piece about saucy dancing women come to take over the government.

It wasn’t in my Shorter Oxford English Dictionary at home, it wasn’t even in the online dictionary that Irene said would save me any more trips to our spine split, dog-eared Webster’s at the edge of Jamie’s desk.

But Mary found it, through Google, the modern equivalent of the Delphic oracle. It’s of “Star Wars” coinage and refers to cells within us that link us to The Force. She liked that idea. We are, then, all one, she said. It would be nice if we were all Obi-Wan too, but alas. Obama’s midichlorian count made Republicans tremble, Maureen Dowd said, until he disarmed them with his professorial side.

And Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s midi­chlorian count has made them tremble too. Not only does she dance, but she thinks the top marginal income tax rate, now at 35 percent, ought to be doubled. Actually, it’s not such a radical idea. That rate was as high as 90 percent in the 1950s, when bottles of milk and clean diapers were delivered to the door, when one wage earner per household largely assured a pleasant life, and when personal incentive remained undampened as far as I know. Google says the top marginal rate even reached 94 percent during World War II.

Given the fact that we’ve been making war on the installment plan for the better part of the past 20 years, it doesn’t seem out of line that the obscenely wealthy who’ve been showered with tax cuts ought to write down the obscene national debt a bit, or at least fortify some bridges. They’re the ones who have been cutting a rug, and have been pulling it out from under the middle class, whose fiscal health is paramount if a democracy is to thrive. So, yes, let’s redress things somewhat. And along that line, I’d like to say that the administration’s assault on SALT (our state and local property tax deductions) is fundamentally a soak the middle class scheme — at least as it concerns many of the half-million Long Island homeowners who itemize — that ought not to stand.  

One wonders what foreigners who hold two-thirds of our national debt might do were they treated by the administration the way those living in New York and California have been. I know, I know, he’s trying.

Warren Buffet has said he owes his wealth, which he intends to give away, essentially to the accident of birth. Ben Franklin said that once one had enough for oneself and one’s family one ought to give the rest back to the country. Teddy Roosevelt in his Progressive Party platform of 1912 advocated for “a single national health service,” inveighed against the unbridled monied interests and unlimited campaign contributions, championed middle-class wage earners, was pro-immigrant, and asserted that “the test of true prosperity shall be the benefits conferred thereby on all the citizens, not confined to individuals or classes.”

“Dismaying,” I can imagine the midichlorian-deprived exclaim as they, like Tolkien’s Gollum, fondle their Rings and whisper, “My precious, my precious.”