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Posted on Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 5:50 a.m.

Taxes can define our country's 'rich character and noble national principles'

By Robert Faber

Despite the assumption of youngsters still in their middle years, age is not the ultimate source of wisdom or of insights into the mysteries of life. As a collection of memories, however, it can be a valuable source of information to help guide us through some of the puzzles and problems still to come.

I remember the shocking moments of the attack on Pearl Harbor, for example, although I had no idea where it was or what it meant. It was Sunday morning and I was on my way to meet my friends at the “Y” when news of the attack brought new drama and excitement into our lives—even if no understanding.

It was when the older guys there explained the likely consequences of the attack and let us know they were going to volunteer for service that some of the reality of the event began to sink in.

It was a bit later in the war when I learned that several of those heroes—those “older guys” who were in their twenties—had died in action.

And that, too, was when an understanding first took hold that the world, our world, was larger than our family and our friends and our school. It was much later—months after Pearl Harbor and a dozen years after the Depression—that I first began to understand the people’s place in the country and the country’s place in the world and that the trauma of the nation were more than headlines in the paper, but were real tragedies for many of its people.

In the later days of World War II, when our people began to find the dignity and security of a job for the first time after a dozen years of financial struggle and the debilitating humiliation of poverty, FDR made a speech asking for patience.

Seeking “heavier taxes,” he pleaded with everyone to wait a little longer, noting that ‘We cannot be content . . . if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure,” then quoted Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes in adding, "Taxes are the price we pay for civilized society.”

And his plea was heeded. With the people’s contribution of time and dollars we were once again “one nation, indivisible.”

That subsequent period of growth vastly expanded our manufacturing capacity, improved the scope and magnitude of our education system and helped put us in the forefront of a new world of the internet and of space exploration and of the many other 21st Century sciences—making us the richest, strongest, most respected nation in the world.

By way of contrast, today’s military responsibilities are increasingly assigned to such mercenary providers as Blackwater - paid with funds borrowed from China. The pride that built our nation and inspired our people is being reduced to a collection of antagonistic phrases designed to embarrass the political opposition.

The aspiration to greatness that had defined our nation almost since its founding is being buried under vitriolic discussions of taxes—how much and who pays.

FDR’s plea was to maintain the rich character and noble national principles that had defined us from the beginning—and continues to be our model. Today, all these decades later, the virtues that inspired our founders continue to be our pride and our continuing goal and striving for that goal is the best legacy we could leave - for both our children and our nation.

Robert Faber has been a resident of Ann Arbor since 1954. He and his wife, Eunice, owned a fabric store and later a travel agency. He served a couple of terms on the Ann Arbor City Council. He may be reached at


Bill Wilson

Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 6:43 p.m.

Mr. Faber's pieces are always entertaining, if only to observe which trees are obscuring his view of the forest. FDR's policies were not the "plea (that) was heeded. With the people's contribution of time and dollars we were once again "one nation, indivisible." It was the manufacturing boom that fed the war that enabled the recovery, as man has known and employed even before the time of the Roman empire. If Mr. Faber wishes to leave his children a true legacy, he should try engaging the truth, and leave his altruistic notions where they belong: in his dreams.


Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 3:51 p.m.

Responses are amusing as always from the same apologists. Faced with the disastrous obama presidency, many support American democrat decline - the chosen one can do no wrong. Such intellectual corruption is worse then ignorance as political agendas are placed over the good of the nation. We see obama failure after obama failure, the worst president in a century, but his think incompetence must be covered up or ignored at all cost. SEALS in Benghazi fighting alone on a roof for 7 hours as their calls are ignored, run out of ammunition are finally killed by mortar explosion – don't ask and don't report. Taxes on the rich that fund the government for 8.5 days? Yes we can!! $16 trillion in obama debt? - tax the rich! 70% of those making $250k are small business owners? Tax the rich! will accomplish nothing but accomplishments have never been obama thing – this is a game – its' theater, even as YOUR non-rich taxes will be going up. You didn't know your hero will seize about a car payment more in taxes from your check book every month? Ohhhh…too bad – hopefully the obama economy you voted for yielded you a BIG RAISE this year!! LOL Change you can believe in?! LOL Socialized health care already stagnating research and cutting health services to "save money" by cutting care? Tax the rich!! I will so enjoy observing AA voters live the economically corrosive policies they voted into office!! LOL Elections have consequences kids and you and your future generations are about to experience them first hand. - and speaking of kids, make sure you tell them how much you think you know about politics and how proud you were to vote for your hero obama. …it will be beneficial for them to put a face on their declining, squandered future: YOURS.


Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 3:50 p.m.

Our taxes are squandered by greedy politicians and wasted on frivolous government pork barrel projects. Those of us who work and actually pay taxes are going broke. It's time for spending cuts and the time is now. This is not a revenue problem.


Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 3:46 p.m.

Mr. Faber has his eye on the ball, and his main point echoes across the ages. "If we do not hang together," noted old Ben Franklin, "We shall surely hang separately." John Donne reminded us "no man is an island, entire of itself". Some previous commenters (and they should know who they are) might benefit from another of Franklin's observations: "Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain. And most fools do."

Bill Wilson

Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 5:35 p.m.

Another man also observed: "First, they came for the communists, but I remained quiet and said nothing.... as I wasn't a communist..."

Claude Kershner

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 11:01 p.m.

It would take us 50 years at a tax rate of 56% for EVERY eligible tax payer (read flat tax) minus capital gains to meet our current and future unfunded financial obligations plus pay of the national debt. Does that really sound like a tax revenue problem? It is clearly a spending problem!


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 5:39 p.m.

Yes there is a difference between good politics and good policy. We are currently getting good politics.

Ed Caldwell

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 4:46 p.m.

Wow.....comparing raising taxes today to raising taxes after WW2 is the most idiotic comparison that can only be pulled off by liberals who are drunk with a need for power and manupulation. There is no way to compare the economy of today to the one after WW2 although Paul Krugman wants to. A wise and thoughful liberal please answer me how much exactly does the GDP need to be raised until we are in the clear???? How much investment needs to happen before the economy is doing well? How much stimulous do we neeeeed from the Government to turn our great country around? How high should taxes be raised on millionaries errr 250,000 err 400,000 errr soon the middle class??? Oh and before you point and blame just own it, none of this makes any sense financialy only politically.


Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 4:06 p.m.

Right on. know you're in for a wild ride when the piece begins with Pearl Harbor or the Great Depression and tries to relate it to obama's Chinese funded economy! LOL


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 4:39 p.m.

I do not think we are defined by our willingness to have the government take from us, so they can give to others. We may be defined by our willingness to allow government to spend 40% more than it takes in. We cannot continue to allow politicians to bribe us with money that they borrow from future generations.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 4:10 p.m.

Pay all you like Robert, there is a line on the form for that.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 3:43 p.m.

The problem isn't that we pay taxes or that they want to raise taxes. It's how the money is spent. I for one do not want to pay more taxes if the money is wasted. Which seems to be how the bulk of misused funds is used. Giving them MORE money leaves them no reason to trim the fat at departments, spend wisely or wanting to find misuse of funs by the recipients (fraud). I believe in teaching people to fish (that are perfectly capable of fishing) and not just handing them a fish (unless they truely just need it handed to them). THey certainly don't need a cellphone or cable tv to be "equal" to everyone else. I would much rather give money to my church to help those in need, they historically did a better job of helping the poor (have less "administraition" fees, more volunteers) than the government that has a department that has to justify it's existance and workforce everytime budget talk comes up.


Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 6:57 p.m.

The Gov't isn't a church! Scrooge was more of a Church when he lived in Christ and freely was charitable!


Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 4:55 p.m.

"Dickens is dead" So are a lot of people from history. But "historically" speaking, Dickens was very critical of church-run charity. Also, I was not aware that Scrooge was a church.


Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 2:17 p.m.

John, Dickens is dead. But for the sake of argument lets revisit the Christmas Carol, where by Scrooge gave to others by his OWN FREE WILL (and was happier doing so). He gave directly to those in need. He wasn't FORCED to give by the tax man who collected the funds, then took administration fees to redistribute it.


Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 4:25 a.m.

"I would much rather give money to my church to help those in need, they historically did a better job of helping the poor" Dickens seemed to think otherwise.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 4:49 p.m.

Well put. Businesses reinvent thems selves as times change. Government keeps the old programs and adds new ones. We could reduce our deficites by capping spending until we get a balanced budget and requring all gov agencies to find ways to reduce their budgets.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 3:19 p.m.

Maybe you should read

Laurie Barrett

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 2:42 p.m.

The gap between rich and poor is greater now than it has ever been. It's phenomenally large. Taxes can be a mediator in cases like this. I advocate bringing the classes a bit more into common ground.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 8:44 p.m.

No. The gap between the top 0.0001% and the poor is growing. Move the top measure down a tiny amount and you'll find the gap is shrinking. Another faulty meme the extreme left likes to parrot.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

As a nation we have fewer tax payers than in past. We owe $16.3 trillion. Baseline budgeting allows the Government to grow about 7% each year. If we do not address the true issues there will not be a USA in a few years. Maybe we should ask Senator Levin & Congressman Dingell why there has been no budget for 2011 ,2012, & 2103. Or what their plans are for slowing the growth of the $1.25 trillion deficits projected in each of the next ten years under the President's proposed budget. We need the democratic party to step up and throw out the entrenched politicians that are driving us into bankruptcy.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 2:50 p.m.

Maybe we should ask Ronald Reagan and GW Bush why they removed roughly 11 million tax payers from the rolls? 5 million were removed from the rolls under the 2001 tax cuts. Reagan removed about 6 million with his cuts and promotion of the Earned Income Tax Credit.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 2:28 p.m.

As France sets 75% tax rate, millionaire heads to Britain Read more: It's just a matter of time that we'll all be reading that all the rich will relocate, why not, why continue to see your tax dollars support a nation of enablers and more handouts for the ones that are not willing. The ones that really need it I understand but we have too many generations that would rather stay home and have the government support them.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 11:20 p.m.

@Clownfish Yep, I read your misrepresentation. And I called you on it.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 8:42 p.m.

The door won't hit him at all. It swings inward, hitting those who used to have jobs for the company he ran until he liquidated his assets in preparation for the move.

C.C. Ingersoll

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 6:34 p.m.

If they leave for another country then you take their passport and their citizenship from them when they go. If they don't want to contribute to America then they can go be millionaires elsewhere. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 6:26 p.m.

_^^^Except that is a blatant misrepresentation at best, closer to an outright lie.- Really? Did you read what I wrote? This is what I wrote:" The top rate for most of his presidency was 50%." This is what the rates were: 1980: 70% 1981 69.13% 1982-1986 50% 1987 38.5% (just below where Obama wants to put it, and the GOP does not) 1988 28% 1989 28% Reagan was president from 1981-1989 That means that from 1981 to 1986 tax rates were AT LEAST 50%. 1986-1981= 5 years. 5 years is a larger part of 8 than 3 years. Allegedly the period of 1982-1987 was a boom time for America. I think this is true because I hear the GOP talk about it a lot.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 4:07 p.m.

^^^Except that is a blatant misrepresentation at best, closer to an outright lie. In 1988, the top rate was 28%. It was higher earlier, before he got to work on it. Of course, you knew that, right?


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 2:54 p.m.

So you would be against setting the tax rates where Ronald Reagan had them? The top rate for most of his presidency was 50%.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 2:33 p.m.

The exodous of rich people from US has started. Did not one of the Facebook billionares move to Singapore to avoid high US taxes?

Stan Hyne

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 2:21 p.m.

The preferred solution is to assist people in finding a job. Not the greatest most grand job in the world, just a job. From there look for a better job. Sitting at home getting paid doesn't help the payer or the recipient.

mike gatti

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 2:02 p.m.

Great piece Mr.Faber.

G. Orwell

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 1:52 p.m.

These days, paying taxes mean helping the super rich. Our taxes go to fund numerous wars and bailouts for the big banks. While the super rich pay hardly any taxes with all their offshore tax havens and tax free foundations. You know who our politicians really work for. Reduce taxes on everyone and increase taxes on corporations and eliminate all the loopholes. While at it, stop all the illegal wars and invest the trillions in our infrastructure and economy.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 8:40 p.m.

Exactly, Stan. A corporation is merely a collection of people who invest their money. Most of us invest in banks, and receive a set of services. Some make riskier investments in corporations, with potentially higher rewards. If we tax corporations more, they raise prices accordingly. All that happens is a higher percentage of our own income goes to the government and the rich - those who have more elasticity in setting demand - are taxed at a lower rate. But, yes, let's eliminate the proverbial loopholes. All the millions of pages full of them, granted by corrupt politicians as a reward for donations.

Stan Hyne

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 2:25 p.m.

Corporations don't pay taxes, people pay taxes when they buy the corporations goods. All taxing corporations does is make them less competitive compared to the similar corporations that don't have to pay those taxes.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

Really like this article, and I really don't mind paying my fair taxes. What I do object to is the way Big Government is spending my taxes. To many politicians who end up being millionaires, campaign contributors who receive large amounts of money, the bail out of banks with CEOs getting huge bonuses, dollars sent overseas to countries that are supposed to help the little people, but seems to only stay in the hands of those in power. A President who says he is not going to provide increases in salaries, and the entire staff in the White House received huge increases while many private citizens none or lost their jobs. So I say this, the government officials need to get their act together regarding spending and not increase any taxes at all. And, they can start in their own houses.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 6:09 p.m.

Careful Carol, according to Clownfish, since money was wasted in the past it must continue to be wasted. Also, unless you were complaining in 2002, you can't complain now. I'm not sure what documentation is required for for the 2002 complaining. You will have to follow up with Mr. Clown on this.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

Robert, if you want to give more of your money to government, simply write them a check. If you expect the rest of us to be happy to send more of our hard earned money to government so that they can give it to campaign contributors like Solyndra and the UAW, that won't happen. I will be happy to pay more taxes once government stops wasting what it already receives.


Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 4:03 p.m.

Amusing to see the mounting obama apologist desperation as their pleading for the nations worst president in a century becomes more and more tortured. Still begging back to their fading Bush Lied bumper stickers. LOL They believe they have a crystal clear view of googled up leftist web site history except were democrat incompetence is concerned - Barney Frank? Chris Dodd? What?? Clown is still clueless - baffled by Blackwater and Halliburton's dramatic contributions to the war and has no idea that the trucks full of missing cash belonged to his buddy Sadam Hussein. ...but hey, it was on his bumper sticker so it a "fact"!! LOL ...anything to distract from obama crashing the US economy – but I'll bet he doesn't have a bumper sticker for that.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 8:34 p.m.

War is when the lives of you and your countrymen are on the line. Did any of us really think there was any personal threat when we watched, in the comfort of our own homes, Wolf Blitzer narrating our ability to stick a ten-ton missile down an Iraqi chimney stack from a base 1,000 miles away? Apples and oranges. Did taxes rise during the Vietnam War? No, they actually declined. So I wish the entitlement-hungry left would stop repeating this silly and incorrect meme.

C.C. Ingersoll

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 6:30 p.m.

A simple fact: At no time, anywhere on earth, in recorded history has ANY country EVER gone to war while at the same time they cut taxes instead of raising them. Until George W. Bush Two unpaid multi-TRILLION DOLLAR wars later we're cutting Social Security and cutting taxes while trying to cut 'government waste' (aka: government programs the rich refuse to pay for)


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 6:19 p.m.

No, my argument is: "This has been going on for years. It was WAY worse under GWB. How many times did you vote for him? Did you whine and moan constantly from 2000-2008 or did you "support our president", two wars, "cost plus, no bid" contracting to politically connected companies? Did you go after the GOP when they passed a law/regulations that helped ENRON cost us all money? Solyndra is chicken feed in the Big Picture, it was less than 4% of the loans granted by the DoE. Where were you when the deficit went from 5.9 T to $10.6T? I was out protesting the tax cuts, high govt spending and the unpaid for wars. I was told repeatedly to shut up and stop hating America. Can you answer any of my questions?


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 3:24 p.m.

So, clownfish, is your argument that because government wasted money in the past, it ok to waste money today? Seriously?? Is that it?


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 3:05 p.m.

Just curious where SONNYDOG was in 2002? " Using taxpayer monies, US Government agencies were the largest backers of Enron's activities abroad. Although Enron-related projects obtained more than $7 billion in public financing from all over the world from 1992 to 2001, US Government agencies (the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation, Export-Import Bank, the US Maritime Administration Trade and Development Agency) lead the way with $3.4 billion in support of Enron-related projects abroad. This assistance, and other, less tangible favors, was provided by US officials and institutions despite widespread evidence of Enron's involvement in fraud, corruption, and human rights abuses." January 18, 2002 The New York Times recently reported that for four out of the past five years Enron has not paid a dime in federal income taxes. To add insult to injury, Enron actually received a $382 million refund check. --- Ken Lay allowed GW Bush to use the corporate jet, got Phil Gramm to pass ENRON favorable laws (that helped throw California into a chaotic mess), Wendy Gramm, wife of Texas Republican Senator Phil Gramm also aided Enron's rise to power. As the lame-duck chairwoman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, she pushed through a key regulatory exemption on Jan. 14, 1993, six days before Clinton took office. Five weeks later, she joined Enron's board of directors. Enron, a leading contributor to Phil Gramm's campaign coffers, then named Wendy Gramm to its board of directors, where she served on the board's audit committee and pocketed millions in payments and stock benefits over the next nine years. So, ENRON makes SOLYNDRA look like pretty small potatoes. I bet you were out on the street with a sign supporting GW and his spending spree?


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 2:44 p.m.

Please do a breakdown for me, how much of YOUR tax money went to Solyndra? Now do a breakdown on how much went to Halliburton and how much was lost as floating CASH in Iraq. Then do a quick breakdown of what ENRON cost the tax payers (they were BIG donors to the Bush campaign) Then tell us who you voted for in 2000 and 2004. Next up show us the massive increase in jobs brought about by the tax cuts of 2003 vs the increase in national debt. After that you may whine some more. I remember a phrase that used to be a fave of conservatives when Other People were putting their lives on the line to find those Iraqi wmd's..."Freedom ain't free!" We don't hear that much thses days. what we hear is a lot of whining when federal tax burdens are at historical lows.

Dog Guy

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

Beyond this essay we need no additional proof that "age is not the ultimate source of wisdom or of insights into the mysteries of life." For some people, understanding beyond parroting the party line must be posthumous.

mike gatti

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 2:03 p.m.

Stay classy dog guy


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 1:26 p.m.

the problem is not more taxes it is that the little add ons or as I call them bribes they put into budgets and bills to get elected officials to get their votes. the other problem is back in the great depression people were starving, all the jobs were gone so government programs were started to help the needy now the government creates more and more needy every year we are even importing needy people from other countries. do SOME people need help? absolutely do SOME need to get off their butts and find a job? ANY job to help pay bills? ABSOLUTELY some have to much pride to take what they consider a meanial job because they know the government will take care of them and they can steal anything else they want. we are losing what made this country great, the ability to have the American dream a house a car in a safe neighborhood because we are now a nation of takers and the many take so much from the givers the givers are tired of giving.

C.C. Ingersoll

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 6:23 p.m.

We are losing the American Dream because 'The Rich' are taking more, getting more, demanding more and paying less than their fair share. The rich have their own police department that guards their gated communities. The rich say "Why should I fund public schools when I send my kids to a private school?" America stopped being great when we stopped being a country that supported each other and became a place where everyone decided to look out for #1 and ignore the little old lady across the street; instead of HELPING her cross the street. Social Security adds NOTHING to the debt or the deficit yet cutting it is somehow linked to the 'fiscal cliff' Oh, right. The rich will never need Social Security (but they still cash the checks instead of sending them back) they have their retirement for their grandchildren already in the bank.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 12:31 p.m.

I like this. Everyone wants to live in "the greatest country in the world", but fewer and fewer seem willing to pay the price for that luxury, and take that quality of life standard for granted. Meanwhile, we bicker over nickel-and-dime line-items in budgets without touching the twin sacred leviathans of defense spending and entitlements.