An animated video produced by a California teachers union uses the crude imagery of a rich man urinating on common folks to decry what narrator Ed Asner claims is rich people’s refusal to pay their share of taxes.
The crude footage is part of a “Tax the rich: An animated fairy tale,” an eight-minute video written and directed by California Federation of Teachers’ communications director Fred Glass. In it, Asner describes a mythical land that seems to represent the U.S. and how it financed its services. He says the rich sought to evade taxes and put their money into “Wall Street” – yet another clue to the real identity of the storybook country.
“Don’t worry,” Asner says, speaking for the rich. “This is good for you, too. Because it will trickle down from us to you.”
The word “trickle” is illustrated with the bodily function metaphor, which Kyle Olson, founder of the Michigan-based Education Action Group, said left him disgusted.
“That was the most galling thing about it, the image of the rich guy standing at the top of the scale urinating down on the poor,” Olson said. “It’s nothing more than leftist propaganda.”
Olson said the video was also factually inaccurate, noting that claims the rich made the government print money for them when the housing market crashed ignored the fact that billions in stimulus spending went to help bail out homeowners and – ironically -- state education programs.
But the video could make its way into the classroom, Olson warned, noting the simplistic presentation seems aimed at kids.
“Who is the audience for this?” he said. “You could easily see teachers or social justice activists introducing it into the classroom. Nothing more than leftist propaganda.”
At the end of the video, viewers are urged to email their elected representatives to tell them to raise taxes on the wealthy in order to fund public services.
Ed Ring, of UnionWatch.org, said the teachers union’s hypocrisy in attacking Wall Street and the so-called “1 percent” is evident in the fact that [the teachers union] and other public-sector unions invest in Wall Street.
“These infantile bits of propaganda, such as their cartoon showing a rich person urinating on common folks, obscures the reality, which is that public-sector unions and Wall Street sharks are allied against the private-sector middle class,” Ring said.
Union spokesman Stephen Hopcraft said the complaints about the image amounted to "mock outrage," but said it may be edited out to prevent it from overwhelming the underlying message of the video.
"We're very proud of the video," Hopcraft said. "But maybe we'll adjust that frame so it doesn't take over the video. We don't want any distractions about the message, and we don't want any debate about a particular frame to drown out the real issue."
Still, said Hopcraft, "If you're threatened by this video, you'd better take "The Simpsons" off the air, because this is pretty mild.
John Coupal, of California's powerful Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, said he panned the video after just three minutes.
"It's unbridled Marxism," Coupal said. "I'm stunned that a union would actually put that out there."