Editorial: Of fiscal and other cliffs

With our softly undulating hills, accessible, rounded mountains and few natural obstacles, folks here in agrarian Rappahannock can be forgiven for believing that individual liberty married with thoughtful rationality can conquer all. But just a few miles away, in the Madison County portion of the Shenandoah National Park, near the headwaters of the Rapidan, lies a real reminder of violent, collective struggle:

It’s a so-called “cliff kill” site, dating from the area’s prehistory of “Early Woodland” hunter-gatherer cultures. Indeed, it’s thought to be the only such site yet discovered in all of Virginia. It’s called a “cliff kill” because this is where the earliest native Americans would drive game over a sheer cliff – to their deaths, thus providing sustenance for those higher up the food chain.

Today’s much-in-the-news “fiscal cliff” in Big Washington is set thousands of years later but appears to be not much different – except that we later-day American humans are driving ourselves over the cliff. Or, more precisely, our representatives in Congress are poised to drive the rest of us, lower down the food chain, off the cliff.

If the news coming out of Big Washington is to be believed, the prospect of higher taxes on the very, very rich is to blame. But out here in Little Washington and environs, I haven’t met one so-called rich person who wouldn’t be happy to pay slightly higher taxes in order to put the nation’s fiscal house in order – and, perhaps even more important, to show that we American humans are not ungovernable.

As a small business owner/operator most of my life, I’m the kind of guy Congress’s Republican majority claims would be most hurt by higher taxes. And thus the whole U.S. economy, dependent on small businesses to generate jobs, would be hurt. In point of fact, slightly higher marginal tax rates on the ordinary income generated by LLCs and Sub S corporations would encourage channeling cash into creating new jobs, among other investments, rather than into retained or distributed earnings.

Moreover, history doesn’t lie. The nation’s strongest economic growth has occurred during periods of relatively high marginal tax rates.

We here in Rappahannock County are in a privileged position to influence what’s going on in Big Washington. Our congressman (until year’s end) remains Rep. Eric Cantor, the House majority leader. Let him know (540-825-8960) that you don’t want to be the “cliff kill” for the new theology of greed.

Walter Nicklin