October 8, 2011 by Richard Drake
In the news recently President Obama discussed a tax code that reflected billionaire Warren Buffett’s suggestion that people making more than $1 million a year should pay a tax rate that is a least the same percentage of their earnings as a middle-class taxpayer. Is taxing the rich a good idea or not?
Like so many countries, America is a nation rich in mythology. We thrill to the stories of Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed and John Henry.
And our myths aren’t drawn from whole-cloth. How many stories about Wyatt Earp or Elliot Ness are actually true?
Thanks to Disney, many of us know the myth of Davy Crockett at the Alamo, swinging his trusty musket, Old Betsy, at the Mexicans as they overrun the fort, though this sadly is not true.
And the process continues, as those who make over a certain amount of money have been transformed from being wealthy into “job creators.” And after all, we don’t want to overly tax the John Galts, Charlie Sheens and Paris Hiltons of the world, do we?
Charlie Sheen? Paris Hilton? Yes, well, there’s the rub. Not every rich person is a job creator, are they, though it seems rude to bring that up when we are in the midst of myth-making.
Another myth seems to be that once President Barack Obama took office, a whole slew of Draconian regulations sprang up and tax rates shot up to the heavens, which is far from reality. Corporations have been taking jobs from Americans for many years, and parking them in countries where workers are paid barely livable wages and environmental standards are almost nonexistent.
Yet another myth/cliche pushed forward is the one that many Americans don’t pay any income taxes — though they do pay other forms of taxes. The reason they don’t pay income taxes is that their lives are in the cellar, financially.
Would those who carp about their not paying income taxes be willing to trade lives with them for even one day?
We talk a lot about “class warfare” and “fairness,” which mean different things to different people, I suppose. I think that Americans just want to have the feeling that we really are in this together. The growing anger across the country is an indicator that ordinary men and women no longer feel that way.
That’s fairness, though you can’t get there from here, with a protected class who haven’t done a whole lot for us of late, demanding tax breaks that, quite frankly, based on their recent performance, they just don’t deserve.
Maybe if the wealthy in this country would like even more money from the public purse, they should all individually write an essay (no ghost writers allowed) on what they have done for us lately, and what they will promise to do for us, should they get the tax break they so desperately seem to need.
We set standards for teachers, after all, why not for those who insist on tax breaks?
There is a school of thought that the best job creators of all are the folks with jobs, who have money to spend, and use that money accordingly. They buy the goods from the factories owned by the real job creators, thus creating an organic whole.
Richard S. Drake is the author “Ozark Mosaic: Adventures in Arkansas Alternative Journalism, 1990-2002,” and is the host of “On the Air with Richard S. Drake” on Fayetteville Public Access Television. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to read Mike Landry’s response, a view from the Right