In a Common Dreams article titled, “Add It Up: The Average American Family Pays $6,000 a Year in Subsidies to Big Business“, Paul Buchheit highlights and discusses the numbers and fields for which the subsidies and tax incentives average Americans pay annually are made up. These include anything from cash payments to farmers, subsidies for fossil fuels and state incentive plans for big businesses, tocelebrity urban cowboys who simply invest in distant farms from their penthouse apartments back in NYC.

It breaks down like this: the average American family pays roughly $870 for direct subsidies and grants to companies each year; $696 for business incentives at the state, county, and city levels; $722 a year for interest rate subsidies for banks; $350 for retirement fund bank fees; $1,268 annually for overpriced medications; $870 for corporate subsidies; and $1,231 on average each year for revenue losses from corporate tax havens–and this is just the suspected tip of the iceberg!  All in all, Americans are shelling out a relatively large chunk of their ever-depleting incomes to forces that contribute more and more to the degradation of the U.S. infrastructure, government, and communities, and they know it.  Maybe not in specific numbers, but they know it and they know it well simply by virtue of living in the United States.

To add insult to injury, Louise Story writes in a Dec. 1st, 2012 NY Times article titled, “As Companies Seek Tax Deals, Governments Pay High Price“, “A full accounting [of the subsidies]… is not possible because the incentives are granted by thousands of government agencies and officials, and many do not know the value of all their awards. Nor do they know if the money was worth it because they rarely track how many jobs are created. Even where officials do track incentives, they acknowledge that it is impossible to know whether the jobs would have been created without the aid.”  There are any number of articles lately throwing numbers around, quoting statistics and percentages regarding tax payer subsidies to the rich and corporate, but what does any of it really mean if a “full accounting” cannot be done?  Or, as Timothy J. Bartik, senior economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research put it in the same article, “How can you even talk about rationalizing what you’re doing when you don’t even know what you’re doing?”

And that’s just it.  How can we rationalize throwing money away in this economy?  How can we stand not knowing how effective the money taken from our workers’ personal security is or isn’t at contributing to the overall economic stability of our country’s financial sector and government?  How can we just accept it all blindly?  How can workers ground hollow to the bone continue to sacrifice bread from their children’s mouths or a sense of security in their golden years so that big banks can pretend to be successful giants dancing on our heads, too big to fail, too big to jail?  What keeps us from chopping down the beanstalk altogether?

Most likely you’re broke, tired, frustrated–over-worked and under-paid–waking up from the Dream.  You have little time for family, healthy food or personal enjoyment.  You rush frantically from place to place, chore to chore, or flit about in resigned acceptance stuffing cold French fries down your throat.  All your friends are broke, save one or two who keep telling you whenever you bring up the economy that they are doing better than ever, actually, as if their exception were the rule, as if our youth don’t find themselves questioning whether college is worth it when there are no jobs available, as if others don’t wonder whether work, love, life is worth it when the environment they live in is being contaminated and destroyed right beneath them without consent.

You wonder where you can find pure water, organic food, clean air, medicine and a doctor, maybe a good dentist.  You wonder when the lights will be cut off or the gas flame out on the stove.  You wonder how long you will have to live hand to mouth while banks, corporations, big business and the wealthy elites are lauded with subsidies and incentives, tax breaks, loopholes and slaps on the wrist, while the government threatens shutdowns every few months and violence plagues our neighborhoods, while our soldiers fight and die lands apart without pay and armor.  As trillions of tax dollars are robbed from average American workers each year to subsidize corporate and private criminals hiding their money in offshore accounts, you see public schools being undermined, you see the prison industrial complex skyrocketing, and mental health being codified with prescription drugs.  You’ve never thought of yourself as a Susan Powters fan but you just want to cry out, “Stop the insanity!”  But will we, as a country, together, and how?  With yet another government shutdown just around the corner, there is much in the balance, lives are on the line, and the people are far from organized. Let’s move!

Why farm subsidies are unfair for the middle class: