Bestselling novelist Stephen King, who gives away $4m (£2.5m) a year in charitable donations, has issued an expletive-filled call to America to increase the rate of tax paid by the country's rich.
King himself currently pays taxes of around 28% on his income, and at a recent rally in Florida wondered publicly why he was not paying a higher rate of 50%. You're unhappy about it? "Cut a check and shut up," was the response from his listeners, the author writes in a piece for The Daily Beast entitled Tax Me, for F@%&'s Sake! "If you want to pay more, pay more, they said. Tired of hearing about it, they said. Tough shit for you guys, because I'm not tired of talking about it. I've known rich people, and why not, since I'm one of them? The majority would rather douse their dicks with lighter fluid, strike a match, and dance around singing 'Disco Inferno' than pay one more cent in taxes to Uncle Sugar."
Some of America's rich do donate part of their tax savings, King acknowledged; he himself gives $4m "to libraries, local fire departments that need updated lifesaving equipment (Jaws of Life tools are always a popular request), schools, and a scattering of organisations that underwrite the arts". But, calling himself only "'baby rich' compared with some of these guys, who float serenely over the lives of the struggling middle class like blimps made of thousand-dollar bills", the novelist says this "doesn't go far enough [because] charity from the rich can't fix global warming or lower the price of gasoline by one single red penny".
America's national responsibilities, such as education and health care, cannot be taken on by the "charitable one per centers", writes King. "That annoying responsibility stuff comes from three words that are anathema to the Tea Partiers: United American citizenry," he says. "And hey, why don't we get real about this? Most rich folks paying 28% do not give out another 28% of their income to charity. Most rich folks like to keep their dough."
But despite this the rich, he believes, are "hallowed" in America. "Don't ask me why; I don't get it either, since most rich people are as boring as old, dead dog shit," writes King. "I guess some of this mad right-wing love comes from the idea that in America, anyone can become a Rich Guy if he just works hard and saves his pennies. Mitt Romney has said, in effect, 'I'm rich and I don't apologise for it.' Nobody wants you to, Mitt. What some of us want – those who aren't blinded by a lot of bullshit persiflage thrown up to mask the idea that rich folks want to keep their damn money – is for you to acknowledge that you couldn't have made it in America without America. That you were fortunate enough to be born in a country where upward mobility is possible (a subject upon which Barack Obama can speak with the authority of experience), but where the channels making such upward mobility possible are being increasingly clogged. That it's not fair to ask the middle class to assume a disproportionate amount of the tax burden. Not fair? It's un-fucking-American is what it is."
King says it is a "practical necessity and a moral imperative" that "those who have received much must be obligated to pay ... in the same proportion", or the "first real ripples of discontent" seen in the Occupy protests "will just be the beginning".
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