Saturday, October 18, 2008

Joe's mistake

Joe Wurzelbacher, like many other Americans, believes in policies that work against him and the vast majority of citizens. The ersatz plumber and Ohio resident has been used by John McCain as an example of a working guy who would take a hit financially under Barack Obama’s tax proposals. In reality, Joe the Plumber – and millions of other working people – would benefit from a plan that raises taxes just a bit for anyone making more than $250,000 a year and lowers them for most everyone else.

US Census Bureau statistics for 2005 showed that 1.5% of US households earned more than a quarter-million dollars and, yes, I do believe in higher taxes for those at the top. The wealthy have, without exception, benefited from public resources and a stable nation and, therefore, it is justifiable to have them kick in a larger share of the money that is necessary to keep the social contract functioning. Many have raked in cash in the real-estate boom and the soaring stock market of the past decade or two and should now bear a larger responsibility in cleaning up the resulting mess.

Let us not forget that, historically, the highest tax bracket is currently at one of its lowest levels since before the Great Depression. To finance World War I, the uppermost bracket was raised to 67%. During the Depression and then World War II it was increased to as much as 94% and stayed above 70% through the post-war economic boom and into 1981.Under Ronald Reagan the top bracket was lowered first to 50% and then into the mid-30s, where it’s mostly stayed. Currently the tax code tops out at 35%.

Since the 1980s, income disparity has widened drastically in the United States. I believe in spreading out the resources rather than having a small group horde the wealth, allowing them to live in excess while others lose their jobs, live on the streets, suffer from illness, receive subpar educations or go to sleep hungry. There is no justification for this in the richest country in the world. Yes, our status as the economic superpower is now threatened, and this is all the more reason why those who can afford to should be asked to step up and to sacrifice for the good of the country, just as was done in every other difficult period in American history.

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