I went to a huge outdoor flea market in Tacony Palmyra NJ today. I usually go once or twice a year to find some bargains. This time, I was also hoping to sell some stuff that's been sitting in my storage unit for way too long. And since a friend was already renting a space, and getting there bright and early, it was a sink-dunk plan.
Tacony Palmyra Flea Market Photo by Rob Kall
We got to talking about how amazing it was that people were coming all the way from New York to set up stands to sell stuff. There are, I would estimate, at least 1000 sellers there, offering cell phone accessories, knock-off copies of brand name sneakers, blue jeans, hats, produce, perfume, office supplies, kitchen accessories, cleaning supplies, incense, bongs and glass pipes, tee shirts, lots of headphones and ear-buds, tons of costume jewelry"
Google Maps view of Tacony Palmyra Flea Market
This is a mostly cash business. My friend and I got to talking about how most of the vendors here were not paying taxes. They were selling here, not getting rich, just trying to survive.
another Google Maps Aerial view of Tacony Palmyra Flea Market
I told him that I'd just done an interview with the authors of the book, Betrayal of The American Dream. Applying Investigative Journalism to Betrayal of the American Dream Donald Barlett and James Steele
While we were talking, I got a call from one of our editors, who'd written an article that suggested that a lot of people from the Occupy Wall Street Movement, who oppose government, were doing the same kind of thing that Grover Norquist was. I disagreed. I said that government that's been serving the wealthy is the problem, not all government. I said that the OWS movement opposes government that serves and protects the one percent.
I finished my phone call and went on to tell my friend how the book, Betrayal of the American Dream, describes how the congress, the White House and a lot of government agencies no longer serve the middle class or the poor-- how they have sold out, screwed and betrayed the middle class. I went on to talk about the bullshit argument that wealthy people built their businesses themselves, arguing that anyone who's become wealthy uses the resources provided by government-- courts to enforce contracts, roads, the internet, educated workers.
But as I was talking, I looked around at all the vendors selling cheap, crappy knock-off shoes and trinkets made in China" out of the backs of their 10+ year old vans and trucks. These people were not benefitting from the government. They were scraping by.
I brought up taxes, how it is not fair that Mitt Romney pays the same or less than the hard working vendors at the flea market. I pointed out that under Eisenhower the top tax rate was 92%, and that it was over 50% even under Nixon. I said we should bring back progressive tax rates, where people at higher incomes paid more for the highest income levels.