If you are not a follower of popular culture, the Met Gala is an annual fundraising extravaganza for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute in New York City. It is considered by most to be the principal social event in New York, with A-list celebrities arriving on the red carpet in outlandish fashions based on an annual theme. So, by now you are scratching your head wondering, “What this has to do with social justice and the environment?”
Well, this year, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez arrived wearing a white custom Brother Vellies ivory wool jacket dress with an organza flounce. Splashed in large red graffiti-like letters across the back was the message, “Tax the Rich”. AOC drew condemnation from some, especially the right-wing media, and kudos from others. What seems to be lost in the whole affair was the message she was conveying.
Tax policy in the United States at all levels is skewed toward the extremely wealthy. In various ways, the federal income tax favors those who derive income from the wealth they already have while wages and salaries are taxed at higher rates. ProPublica did an expose on the taxes paid by the wealthiest Americans, and found that, during the period 2014-2018, Warren Buffet paid an effective rate of 0.1% FIT while Jeff Bezos of Amazon only paid a rate of 0.98%, based on wealth growth. Furthermore, typical folks would have to pay $160 in taxes to achieve a $100 growth in wealth. See https://www.propublica.org/article/the-secret-irs-files-trove-of-never-before-seen-records-reveal-how-the-wealthiest-avoid-income-tax
The least affluent working Americans, it turns out, pay much more in taxes when state and local taxes are added in. Renters pay property taxes indirectly, along with sales taxes, automobile licenses, and other taxes not adjusted for income. Payroll taxes (FICA) are also withheld from the first dollar earned, so factoring in state, local, and payroll taxes, we get a regressive tax system in which the poor pay proportionately more than the rich. And these are disproportionately people of color, although this includes many others, and the middle classes do not do much better.
It is impossible to even scratch the surface in a few paragraphs here, but as we look at inequality, tax reform must be a big part of the solution. So, applause, AOC!
For further reading on proposals for fairer taxation of the very wealthy, click
https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/reports/2019/06/04/470621/ending-special-tax-treatment-wealthy/ For a cool video from Vox on unfair taxation, click https://www.vox.com/videos/2019/12/20/21028676/tax-poor-rich-data-video
Join the People's EcoChallenge
From October 6-27, the MSJE encourages you to join the People's EcoChallenge to learn something, take on new actions, and have fun. We have formed a team (Unitarian-Universalists of the Brazos Valley) and we are already earning points just by joining our team and picking what daily actions and one-time action you would like to do. Here is the link: https://peoples.ecochallenge.org/ Remember to join our team. The more the merrier it will be.
CROP Hunger Walk is November 7th
Now is the time to start planning for the annual CROP Hunger Walk to be held Sunday afternoon, gathering at 2:30 PM, November 7th, at Veterans Memorial Park in College Station. Please note that the date has been changed from November 14th to the 7th! Participants can join Team Brazos UU’s at the CROP Walk at the website: https://events.crophungerwalk.org/2021/team/brazos-uus You then invite friends and family to donate through the website or social media. If you are unable to participate, you can sponsor one of our participants at that website.
This is a favorite outdoor event that is family friendly (a lot of youth participate) and dog friendly (on a leash, of course). The route is also wheelchair and stroller accessible. Please wear your Side with Love T-Shirt if you have one to show team UU solidarity.
UUSC is our Split-the-Plate Recipient for this Quarter
From October through December, half of our plate donations will be going to the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. The UUSC funds projects nationally and internationally, partnering with organizations that best uphold our UU principles. With a particular focus on disaster justice, UUSC has a strong presence in Haiti, which recently experienced political upheaval, a major earthquake, and now a migration crisis along the Texas border. According to UUSC:
“As with any human-made or natural disaster, we recognize that response and recovery efforts—while vital to helping the nation rebuild—will inevitably expose inequities that impact certain populations that are already experiencing injustice. Women, children, people living with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people, the houseless, and indigent people—communities already dealing with myriad forms of oppression—will undoubtedly experience a lack of access to vital resources and services in the coming days, weeks, and months. As we do with any ecological disaster, we will first listen to understand the impacts on the ground—both in the short and long terms.”
In the past, Brazos UU’s have been generous in our support for the UUSC. We were even a Banner Congregation with more than 25% of our members also members of UUSC. Remember, you can donate to the plate collection at our website. For more information, click https://www.uusc.org/uusc-statement-on-7-2-magnitude-earthquake-that-struck-haiti-on-saturday-august-14/