Archive for April 14th, 2010


Blue Light Special

April 14, 2010

Tax day is upon us, and thanks to the diligence of my dear wife, my family has finished our taxes, just in the nick of time! Woo hoo.

One thing that’s been irking me, however, has been the recent observation by many outlets that 47% of America doesn’t pay any federal income taxes. For reasons that escape me, and for reasons that escape John Stewart, this topic has become a talking point of the right wing punditocracy. I’d like to assess the claim a bit below. For now, however, watch as Stewart masterfully disassembles it.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Like Stewart, I guess I see things the other way. I agree that 47% is a terrible number, but not because the poor aren’t taxed enough, nor because we should tax the rich less; nor even because we should tax the rich more, at a more progressive rate… but rather because it is a reflection of an outrageous wealth discrepancy. People should be making more money in this country — not necessarily because they deserve to make more money, but because there’s a lot of money floating around here. Many of the people in that 47% range are hardly making any money at all. 50% of the US population holds only 2.5% of the wealth. The other 50% of the population have 97.5% of the money. The top 10% have 70% of our wealth. The top 1% have 34%. Here, check out this chart:

Think about that.

That’s not unfair. That’s ridiculous. So yes, the wealthy pay more in taxes… because they have almost all of the friggin’ money. More importantly, they are enabled to have all of that friggin’ money because there is a massive apparatus enabling them to retain that money. Even if we were to tax the bottom 50%, we wouldn’t collect very much.

Since my wife recently quit her job and has returned to school, we’re a one income family this year. As a result, we paid a very small sum in federal and state income taxes. It wasn’t zero dollars, but it wasn’t very large either. It works out to less than $100/month.

For that I get a standing military, a police force, a fire department, a public education system, a system of libraries, a space agency, a federal highway system, an enormous management infrastructure, an educated workforce, peace of mind, and quite a bit more. For $100/month? I’ll take it. Sure, there are property taxes and sales taxes to factor in too, as well as medicare and social security, but all around, I’d say it’s a pretty good deal…

Though counterintuitive, taxes aren’t in place to take money from the wealthy, but rather to secure wealth that the wealthy have been able to accumulate.¬†As soon as my wife is done with her schooling, we’ll once again re-enter a higher bracket. When that happens, we’ll once again pay our heavier taxes, grudgingly, but knowing that it goes to enable us to live our exceptionally lucky lifestyle.

Which leads me to ask, what the hell are those in the tea party so upset about?

More after the jump…

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