Yep, that's right. I'm posting again on the disparity between rich and poor in this country, and the ignoble fact that the rich don't pay anything near their fair share of taxes. It all started this past weekend when I read a post by Barbara Ehrenreich on HuffPost called Smashing Capitalism. If you're not familiar with Ehrenreich, among other things, she wrote a book called Nickel and Dimed, about how difficult it is to get by on subsistence wages in this country.
Smashing Capitalism is a tongue in cheek post on the subprime loan and credit crisis, which I normally would have just read, smirked, and moved on from. But one of the comments linked to a New York Times article from March of this year that I had forgotten about.The article - called Income Gap Is Widening, Data Shows - reviews 2005 income data, and shows the stark difference between rich and poor in this country. Here's how that article starts:
Income inequality grew significantly in 2005, with the top 1 percent of Americans -- those with incomes that year of more than $348,000 -- receiving their largest share of national income since 1928, analysis of newly released tax data shows.
The top 10 percent, roughly those earning more than $100,000, also reached a level of income share not seen since before the Depression.
While total reported income in the United States increased almost 9 percent in 2005, the most recent year for which such data is available, average incomes for those in the bottom 90 percent dipped slightly compared with the year before, dropping $172, or 0.6 percent.
The gains went largely to the top 1 percent, whose incomes rose to an average of more than $1.1 million each, an increase of more than $139,000, or about 14 percent.
This kind of data infuriates me. I would think it would make you angry, too. What I find interesting, though, is that when I post about income and tax related issues on POLJUNK, those posts receive the most comments, and most are in disagreement with me. Which I don't really understand, as I'm fairly confident no one reading this blog is among the top 10 percent of earners in the country (that is, making more than $100,000 a year). Why would anybody in the lower 90% of earners defend the right of the rich to pay so little in taxes? How is that in the interest of the less-than-rich?
For example, why should the marginal tax rate for people making hundreds of thousands of dollars be going down (which it is)? Why is it below 50% for people whose income is more than a million dollars a year? It makes no sense to me. No one needs a million dollars a year, and I don't see how anyone can justify why, say, a hedge fund manager's work is so much more valuable than a coal miner's. The coal miner keeps my lights on. What a hedge fund manager does is of no consequence to me, except in a bad way, like the meltdown of the subprime mortgage market we're seeing.
But many Republicans will defend the right of the rich not to pay taxes to the death. They are absolutely obsessed with it. It's as if taxes were life threatening. "Hey, did you read the paper this morning? 40 people died in Boston today. Guess what from? Taxes." If only Republicans would devote themselves so rabidly to issues that really affect Americans negatively, maybe Karl would have his permanent Republican majority.
Anyway, I just don't get it. We've got a 9 trillion dollar national debt, which we pay $400 billion in interest on every year. Yearly federal budget deficits that run in the hundreds of billions. 44 million people without health insurance (actually, I think it went up to 47 million recently). Crumbling infrastructure all over the place. And the idea that tax cuts will ultimately increase government revenues and make up for the tax cuts is beyond ludicrous. People who say that are either dumb as rocks or bald-faced liars.
The rich should pay more in taxes, period. And we should reduce federal spending by cutting unnecessary programs and reducing waste and fraud. But we won't be able to do that until we have a Democrat in the White House. And maybe not even then.