- Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Conservatives often work against themselves. Remember when everyone said we should all oppose the so-called death tax? Sounds terrible, right? How dare the government tax us on our hard-earned booty — even in death!

Turns out that in 2023, a filing is required only for estates with combined gross assets and prior taxable gifts exceeding $12.9 million, or $25.8 million for married couples. Yeah, that’s not me, either.

So why do middle-class people like us bristle over a silly thing like the “death tax”?

One part is fairness: It just doesn’t seem right.

Another is that we all hope to one day be there (most of us will never succeed), so we would like to keep our booty.

The third is that conservatives tell us to be up in arms.

In the end, we’re negotiating against ourselves. With the way things are now under President Biden — and make no mistake, our president is a huge cause of the ever-rising inflation and soaring national debt America is taking on — we little people, the hoi polloi, have got to have each other’s backs.

That’s what made me take another look at the demands of the United Auto Workers, whose contract expires Sept. 14. What do they want? A 46% pay raise. A 32-hour week with 40 hours’ pay. A restoration of traditional pensions.

Now, hang on. Conservatives hate unions. But again, they’re battling at cross purposes. Union members are you and me — the cogs in the great machine of production that do the work but get little of the fruit that our labor produces.

Americans were sold that bill of goods decades ago. They toed the line, and most of our manufacturing was sent to China.

Why pay an American $40 an hour for something China will pay its workers $5 a day to produce? Think about that. We so don’t want to pay Americans a fair share of corporate profits that we’ll have China make it, then put it on a boat, ship it here and then drive it there.

The North American Free Trade Agreement crushed American manufacturing, and artificial intelligence is about to put the coup de grace to the American worker.

With all this, America’s innovation, its endless drive to produce, just fell away. It doesn’t exist anymore. Mr. Biden talks about restoring manufacturing to the nation.

That’s not going to happen.

Think back to the early days of the pandemic. Remember when everything disappeared from stores? It turns out that America is not even remotely close to being self-sufficient. I was in the grocery store buying toilet paper — from Canada. We can’t even make our own TP?

And then we needed masks. They don’t work against COVID-19 (proven), but we were all told to wear them. Who makes them? Not us. We got them from China.

So back to the UAW. America is going down the tubes — and even though I’m an old guy and we predictably say such things, houses in desirable areas cost $600,000 and cars go for $75,000 — plus the fact that our kids are getting out of college hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt — this really isn’t debatable.

Plus, polls show that a majority of Americans are living from paycheck to paycheck.

Most young people don’t plan to have children. How can they? Back in my day, my dad worked, my mom stayed home to raise three kids, we lived in a grand house with a pool, and our family took two vacations a year — on one salary. Now, DINKs (those “double income, no kids” young people) can barely stay afloat.

Let’s conclude with Sen. Bernie Sanders. He said this in an op-ed on Labor Day: “Never before in American history have so few owned so much and has there been so much income and wealth inequality.”

“Incredibly, despite huge increases in worker productivity and an explosion in technology, the average American worker is making over $45 a week less today than he or she did 50 years ago after adjusting for inflation,” the Vermont independent said later.

I just did the math. He’s right.

“Today, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, tens of millions struggle to put food on the table, find affordable housing, affordable healthcare, affordable prescription drugs, affordable childcare and affordable educational opportunities. In our country today we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major nation, and half of older workers have no savings as they face retirement,” the senator said.

That’s true, and it really should embarrass every American. So when you read about the UAW’s fight against the overlords that make all the money — while you do all the work — remember, we’re all in this together. Maybe the union’s win will be the tide that lifts all about boats.

• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at josephcurl@gmail.com and on X, formerly known as Twitter, @josephcurl.

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