Practically in the stone age. And certainly not as wealthy as they are. Yet this obvious fact has gone unnoticed (or been patently ignored) by Senate Republicans who yesterday (along with Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor) shot down a procedural vote that would have brought the “Buffett Rule” to the Senate floor for open debate.
To defend this absurdity, Republicans in Congress have marched out the same tired lines about ‘protecting the job creators‘ and ‘maintaining incentives for financial leaders.’ The assumption being: Private industry, not publicly-funded initiatives, is the real catalyst of techno-innovation and economic development. But this is totally bogus.
Take, for example, perhaps the greatest technological transformation in the last two decades: the Internet. No, it wasn’t Al Gore who invented it. Nor was it some mega-multi-national tech company. It was the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a federally funded agency of the US Department of Defense paid for with tax dollars of American citizens. DARPA developed and incubated ARPANET, which would eventually become the Internet, starting in the late 1970′s. In fact, Prof. Bob Kahn, the man who invented Internet Protocol (IP), was educated at City College of New York, a public university. (And what about the National Science Foundation, whose grants have supported 197 Nobel laureates?)
This is to say nothing about the millions, nay billions, in government contracts and corporate welfare received by some of the country’s richest industries, as well as the basic observation that these companies couldn’t operate without publicly-funded infrastructure.
That Congressional leaders refuse to even consider a bill that would barely raise the marginal income tax rate on the wealthiest, most privileged Americans is deeply distressing, given the proven track record of tax-payer funded research and development. Without it, we’d be nowhere. Yet Senate Republicans (and anti-tax radicalist Grover Norquist) continue to bite the hand that feeds them (indeed, to starve it).