Taxation Inequality, Income Inequality, and the Occupy Movement

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I volunteer my time impacting communities that face discrimination.  I share my time, give from what I have, and contribute what I can.  I spend my time urging change, convince others to move beyond themselves, and plant ideas of hope, growth and opportunity.  I worry about the growing numbers of seniors living in poverty, the growing numbers of those in their 40s and 50s living just above poverty with no ability to save for their retirements.  I work to create opportunities through a chamber.
My fear is that the result of my efforts is effectively countered by the negative impact of the tax changes the federal government has assaulted Americans with over the last three decades continue.  Democrats and Republicans have been complicit in the effects
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From 1979 and 2005, the mean after-tax income for the top 1% increased by 176%, compared to an increase of 69% for the top quintile overall, 20% for the fourth quintile, 21% for the middle quintile, 17% for the second quintile and 6% for the bottom quintile. (see http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=957)  Decreased labor union political clout, accompanied with major decreases in social services, redistribution programs and entitlements have exacerbated the trend.  Certainly there are determinants that economists would add but the dizzying drop of the tax rates to income and capital gains has created the most significant mayhem.

Americans have the highest income inequality in the rich world and over the past 20–30 years Americans have experienced the greatest increase in income inequality among developed nations. The more detailed the data, the more divergent the change appears.  If you weren’t aware, the richest are getting much richer.

Public policy and partisan politics are the root factors causing Americas growing inequality.  Education, labor force, and demographic changes can be ruled out as the causes of the widening gap between the rich and the poor.  Simply, the U.S. is unique in having experienced such a rise in inequality – a trend that, if caused by education, labor force, and demographic factors, would have manifested itself in other developed nations.

Congress needs to learn the art of sharing.  Reducing taxes on the wealthiest of Americans and receiving huge PAC donations isn’t sharing.  It is a simple transaction.  Sharing is a principle that should be applied to the tax debate more appropriately.  When Warren Buffett pays less of a percentage of his adjusted gross income than my mother, it is unfair.  The wealthy should not pay 15% when the poor pay more than 25%.   The wealthy should share in the burdens of America – the wars, the fight in global warming, the education of our young, and the responsibility to address the care of our seniors.  They should not require a discount simply because of their wealth.
There is no question in my mind why the Occupy movement has started.  It is simply a poorly focused movement.  Consider occupying Congress, along with every Congressional office, every congressional meeting, and every meeting where a congressman will meet with constituents around the country until elected officials address tax policy to the betterment of the American majority.  That way Rep. Cantor can explain to Americans how he can allow more and more Americans to end up in poverty, simply by tax policy results, and yet he continues to advocate for it.
For years, I have worked with individuals and business owners to plan for their financial future.  I assist them to invest what they have earned, after the costs of living.  I work with them to address future risks and help them insure against the unexpected.  Unfortunately, current federal tax policy and the widening gap continues to diminish the group of people I can serve and inevitably everyone but the richest will join the growing group of individuals and professionals who have become the victims of this sad strategic policy of Congressional tax policy.

I am a proud compromiser.

I am a proud compromiser.

I allow people to pull ahead of me in traffic.  I may flip them off because they cut me off, but I don’t drive headlong into their rear bumper.

I allow women to go ahead of me, as I open a door.  Not because they need to go before me, but because my dad would come back from the dead and give me a severe spanking if I didn’t.

I often don’t get my way.  I don’t get the first parking spot, I don’t get to attend the concert of my dreams and sit in the front row, I don’t get to go on a cruise every year.  But, I don’t attack those who focus on those benefits as necessary for their lives to be complete.  I don’t reject the idea that concert halls, sports arenas, and schools need to be built even when I can’t afford the events and won’t every have children that attend them.

If I wasn’t a compromiser, I would vote down every school bond issue, saying I don’t get a benefit, and that my taxes shouldn’t go to where I don’t get a direct benefit.  Families should pay for their children, and not get a tax break for them.  If they are stupid enough to have four children, let them be charged a surtax for any about two.  But, I don’t go around attacking school budgets.  In fact, I would prefer that my share of school taxes go to music programs.  But, unfortunately few music programs have survived.

I am comfortable paying into social security, knowing others who haven’t been as successful have safety nets for themselves.  I think everyone should have to save for their retirement, but I understand that people sometimes have life events that destroy their hopes and dreams.  I would require that companies be forced to contribute 6% of all salaries, and that employees were forced to contribute 8% into a retirement plan.  And, rather than simply wish them dead, I am proud I belong to a country that will help those who need assistance throughout their lifetimes.  I am proud that social security provides living assistance to women who are old, who weren’t given chances to compete with men only 20 years ago, and that social security – while discriminating against those women based on their incomes, or their dead husbands, still provides something.

I felt the implementation of Medicare Part D was a terrible idea, with many problems, which have been supported by the data.  Yet, I still provided education about it to my clients. And helped 90 year olds understand they had to use the internet.  And, I did it for free.

I felt that Medicare Part D should be improved by allowing Medicare to negotiate for all drugs, not just at the insurance company level, which would provide a better benefit to seniors.  But I am glad that seniors now have an updated Medicare solution, though the costs could be reduced.  I would compromise by creating  more efficient solutions that benefit all Americans, not just those who are related to the Pharmaceutical companies.

I don’t always agree with the majority (in fact rarely – because stupidity normally wins in a democracy), but I work toward a community of shared values, giving freely of my time.  I opposed both wars, even to the point when others called me a traitor, and experienced suspicion for my beliefs.  I was placed on the terrorist watch list for over four years by the Bush Administration.  Yet, everyone who knows me knows that I would never be violent.

I opposed the creation of Homeland Security because I felt it was the seedling of a new introverted America that does no good in the globalization efforts that are in the best interests of America.  I feel that it creates a suspicious environment where every American is suspect who doesn’t goose step to the majority party in power.   And, it was the most costly increase in government spending in 30 years.  Yet, I continue to participate in America.  Will we start consolidating all those Homeland security departments for savings?

I oppose demonizing of latinos, mexicans, and other darker skinned people from south of the American border who want to participate in the greatest country on the earth.  I refuse to call them “illegals” as I know that is a term intended to make them feel little more than slaves in our country. I oppose ignoring their plight, refusing them charity, hope, or help.

I want my taxes to go toward fixing our immigration policies so that everyone can benefit from an amazing America of diversity.  I want my taxes to address social ills.  I want hate mongers to go to jail, yet I want those who aren’t hurting people to receive treatment not isolation, education not prison.

I want a social safety net for those who need it.  I want America to stop going to war every single time that a politician wants to go to war.  I want our military out of Afghanistan and Iraq, Korea and Germany, as well as Japan.  And, I want a draft reinstated.

I want a Federal Investment into the cure for AIDS and Cancer, not just a profit focused response from multi-national Companies, because I don’t believe there is an incentive for cures, when companies can provide pills to simply maintain or keep the disease at bay.

I want a tax policy that actually creates jobs.  In the 50s and 60s, tax policy encouraged owners to create jobs.  With the reduction of taxation on income, reduction in dividends, reductions in capital gains, the encouragement to create jobs has been reduced 70%.  Tax reduction doesn’t create jobs.  Economic history proves that.  Drastic tax reduction increases wealth disparity which in turn causes social class warfare.  A strong middle class creates a stronger peace, less volatility in markets, and a more certain future.  Since the 1980’s, America has damaged the relationship between owner and worker, eliminated 90% of all pensions, left most retirement up to the individual at the expense of the community, transferred extraordinary wealth to the top 10%, and created a struggling poverty class that our country hasn’t seen since the 1890s.  If Social Security and Medicare are extensively destroyed, America will effectively return its population into similar demographics as we had in the 1890s which were abhorred by those at the turn of the 20th century.

So, I still pay taxes, I don’t threaten America’s future by destroying its present.  I work for solutions even though people get elected who couldn’t pass a basic economics class.  I still believe in America even when corporations are allowed to own media centers and call it journalism.  I still believe in America, even when it doesn’t recognize that it discriminates against me, denies me basic rights, and often threatens my ability to make an income.

So, yes, I am a proud to compromise.  I believe even stupid people should be allowed to live in America.  I accept that even churches that preach that I should be killed can exist in America.

Because I believe that as an American, we can live together in peace.  I pay my taxes, even though taxes are spent in ways I would oppose.  I simply want everyone to pay 20%, no matter their write offs.  My mom shouldn’t pay 23%, and the super wealthy only 18, as it stands now.

But, I would be willing to compromise.