The beautiful concept of a commonwealth is, for me, based on the idea that all people should be paid fairly for the work that they do, and should pay a fair portion of the costs of our common upkeep, proportional to earnings and assets. No one should be asked to work for wages that cannot sustain a livelihood, to be cheated of their earnings (wage theft being shockingly commonplace), or expected to work in unsafe or hostile workplaces.
It seems wholly at odds with the notion of a commonwealth that we should have, as we do, a constitutional requirement of a flat rate of income taxation. A graduated income tax, like that employed by the federal government, is much fairer. Because of our flat tax rate, the wealthy in Massachusetts have a lighter tax burden than the working poor, or those of modest means.
Partly because of this tax structure, we are among the states with the highest income inequality, leaving many working people struggling for the basics of life. I continue to work for corrections to the policies embedded in our state’s tax laws. I also oppose an “economic development” policy which relies heavily on handouts to wealthy corporations and real estate development interests. Real prosperity comes, not from top-down, “trickle down” largesse schemes, but from enabling innovation; offering technical support and affordable loans to small and local businesses and farms, and by making it possible for workers to better themselves through training, education, and access to the kind of resources enjoyed by the wealthy.