Dispatches from Future America: Income Tax Brackets Become Hereditary
[Editor's Note: These mysterious messages seemingly always come in pairs, so after receiving the last one, I was expecting a counterpoint to arrive in my inbox soon. I wasn't disappointed, as you'll see. Like the previous one, it claims to hail from a future world, but a very different future world than the one its predecessor originated from.]
WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 2, 2041) — Reporters from the world's top luxury news services were on hand today as U.S. President Targg Romney IV signed the Hereditary Income Tax Brackets Bill of 2041 in a Rose Garden ceremony. The new law, which was passed by large majorities in both the House of Job Creators and the House of Lords, decrees that American income tax brackets will henceforth be determined by one's social class at birth.
"With the passage of this bill, America will once again be a true entreprenurial society, where one's position in life is determined by merit, rather than a welfare state in which our productive, capitalist makers are enslaved to the whims of lazy and dependent takers," said the president after signing the bill with his solid-gold pen of office. "Hereditary tax brackets will unleash the creativity of our top 1%, the most important people in American society, while teaching people of lower classes that they need to start taking responsibility for their own lives. If you want a job, a high-school education, or an emergency-room visit, you have to work to earn it."
Political watchers traced the genesis of the new law back to the presidential election of 2012. "The widespread enthusiasm for Barack Obama's reelection gave way to complacency, as millions of Millennials made pro-Obama YouTube videos, Tumblrs and Facebook pages but stayed home on Election Day," said CNN analyst Stewart Kilgore. "After his surprise victory, President Romney I's first term saw the passage of the landmark Romney-Ryan plan to cut taxes on the wealthy and voucherize Social Security and Medicare. This was followed by his successful second-term initiatives to outlaw unions and to raise payroll taxes to fund the abolition of capital-gains and estate taxes. Once his successors made the presidency and the upper house of Congress inherited positions, it was only logical for these ideas to filter down to the population at large."
At the signing ceremony, Vice President Scott Walker had some words of caution. "Despite all the heroic austerity measures they passed in a bid to avert disaster, we must never forget the collapse of the European Union as an object lesson to us. Even as their economic doom drew nearer, they kept cutting spending and slashing social services, but it was sadly too late. The New Dark Age that's now descended upon Europe has taught us an important lesson: At the first sign of approaching crisis, we have to cut spending even more deeply and slash social services even more drastically. It's the only way to avoid catastrophe."
When reporters asked if the hereditary-income-tax law, combined with the recent reinstatement of federal maximum-security debtors' prisons, would decrease social mobility, the president was unruffled. "America is still the land of opportunity and the greatest country on earth, and there are many ways for talented entrepreneurs to get ahead. For example, now that we've repealed those burdensome, big-government child-labor laws, Americans can start work in their local mills and mines as early as 6 or 7 to start building up a nest egg. There are many opportunities in the fast-growing sharecropping sector. And if all else fails, you can always put yourself or your family up for sale into indentured servitude."
Following the signing, the president outlined his plans to deal with further challenges ahead. "The Canadian tar sands are almost exhausted, and the oil wells in ANWR, Mt. Rushmore, Yosemite Valley and the Grand Canyon are all running dangerously low, with no replacement on the horizon. This poses serious dangers to America's hopes of achieving energy independence by 2100. As our national motto says, we must 'Drill, Baby, Drill,' which is why I'm calling on Congress to pass a bill allowing our heroic oil companies to drill, frack, demolish mountains, or do whatever else they feel is necessary on any public or private land they think might have more oil under it. If we pass this plan, perhaps one day in the future we'll fulfill our dream of returning to space, where our ancestors were once able to go. But we'll certainly need to lower income taxes on the top 0.001% of earners to encourage the free-market ingenuity that will permit us to do so."
A scattered handful of protesters appeared on the scene after the ceremony, but were quickly dispersed by enforcement agents from the federal Department of Labor.