Instead Of Furloughs, Tax Those Who Can Afford It - Honolulu Civil Beat

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About the Author

John Bickel

John Bickel is president of Americans for Democratic Action Hawaii Chapter.


COVID-19 has made many think back to the flu pandemic of 1918-1919. Also a little over a hundred years ago was America’s entrance into World War I.

At that time, President Wilson convinced Congress to impose special taxes to pay for the emergence at hand, then, the war. The War Revenue Acts of 1917 and 1918 imposed more steeply graduated income taxes, what encyclopedia.com calls “a redistributive, soak-the-rich policy.”

As Governor Ige calls for a 10% furlough for state workers, we should take a lesson from history and ask sacrifices from those who can afford to pay, the rich, and not cut services when these services are needed more in this time of pandemic.

While most of us are experiencing some economic pain now, others are doing well. Grocery stores sell more as restaurants sell less.

President Woodrow Wilson enacted a graduated income tax to help the U.S. through World War I. COVID-19 represents a similar crisis.

Flickr: Great War Observer

Delivery services seem to be doing well. Bankruptcy attorneys are as busy as ever. Distilleries making more disinfectant and fewer beverages are doing well. Realtors selling single-family homes are bustling.

These people who are making more profits should pitch in more than those who are already hurting.

Living Through A Crisis

New Jersey has already latched on to this idea. It voted to increase state taxes on income over $1 million by nearly 2 percentage points.

“We do not hold any grudge at all against those who have been successful in life,” said Governor Philip Murphy, a former executive at the investment bank Goldman Sachs. “But in this unprecedented time when so many middle-class families and others have sacrificed so much, now is the time to ensure that the wealthiest among us are also called to sacrifice.”

With small businesses folding in droves and Food Bank lines stretching far, sacrifices are being made. How do we distribute them?

Furloughing public workers only decreases consumer demand for the goods and services that keep businesses in business. Cutting any programs for people with low incomes only inflicts pain on those who are already hurting.

We are living through a crisis that has taken over 200,000 American lives, almost double the loss in World War I, over three times the loss in Vietnam, and about six times the loss in Korea.

Historic sacrifices must be made to reduce the loss of life and to repair our economy. Those who are doing the best should contribute the most.

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About the Author

John Bickel

John Bickel is president of Americans for Democratic Action Hawaii Chapter.


Latest Comments (0)

I agree, Mr Bickel. Tax the rich. Maybe they cancel their $1200 month membership to the country club. Darn. If teachers pay is cut that could mean not paying for kid’s college or forgoing medication. Gimme a break. 

El1zabeth · 1 month ago

Mr. Bickel, it is a fool's errand to hold up the State of New Jersey as an example of good governance because they have decided to raise taxes on the rich. Someone close to me left New Jersey this year with her family and moved to Hawai'i, partly because of the high taxes there. Jersey's property taxes are the highest in the nation, while Hawai'i's are the lowest. Because of the incompetence of the N.J. government unemployment office, her husband wasn't able to collect unemployment benefits for six months. That's scary. And, now N.J. is raising taxes on the rich? Brilliant! Think of the state government of New Jersey as a greedy, corrupt mega-corporation and you'll get the picture. It's kind of like the state of Hawai'i, or the City and County of Honolulu. People have been fleeing New Jersey in recent years. With higher taxes to pay, even more people who are able to pay taxes will leave the state for friendlier climes. Now that our government has almost single-handedly destroyed our economy, people are leaving Hawai'i. Mr. Bickel, pick another state to emulate, sir, if you want to sound convincing, but certainly not New Jersey.

Downtown · 2 months ago

I can’t believe CB published an article like this. More taxes against the rich? How would you ever do that? Am I rich because I worked hard for 50 years and have some SS coming in... this is just another blatant attempt at government redistribution programs. We have enough of those! How about furloughing the Payroll tax for 6 months. That would put lots more money into all working people’s pockets without taking from one and giving to another. The government has never done anything that has not, in the end, cost us, the people, tons more money - like the rail!

Robmac · 2 months ago

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