Class warfare revisited

Published 4:56 pm Tuesday, January 24, 2012

To the Editor:
A recent letter defined “Class Warfare” as making the claim that the rich don’t bear their fair share of funding the U.S. government. In fact, the president, in calling for a surtax on those with taxable income above $1,000,000 a year stated, “This is not class warfare. It’s math.” He meant that our government needs to balance the budget and if increased revenue were to be part of that, it would have to come from the wealthiest Americans because they are the only group that can afford to pay additional taxes.
I do believe that we have “Class Warfare” in this country and it started about 1980 when “Trickle Down Economics” was brought in. The lowered tax rates on top incomes, large tax cuts to investment income, the subsidies and outright giveaways to those at the top and the companies they control, combined with tax policies that reward moving capital and jobs offshore, explain the gains at the top, while the middle class and lower incomes groups have suffered.
These are not market outcomes, but government-engineered distributions of income.
Between 1947 and 1972, the average hourly wage, adjusted for inflation, rose 76 percent. Since 1972, by contrast, the average hourly wage has risen only 4 percent.
Since 1979 the average pre-tax income for the bottom 90 percent of households has decreased by $900, while the average pre-tax income of the top 1 percent increased by over $700,000. From 1992-2007 the top 400 income earners in the U.S. saw their income increase 392 percent and their average tax rate reduced by 37 percent.
Our tax system is not as progressive as you think. The top 10-percent income group does pay 48 percent of all taxes but they have 45 percent of all income.
According to Citizens for Tax Justice, the shares of total taxes paid by each income group were similar to their shares of total income in 2010. Simply looking at federal income tax and ignoring all the other taxes we pay is disingenuous.
I don’t need to figure out which group I am in to know what side I’m on. I believe in a U.S.A. where we can wipe out poverty and create an environment where capitalism can thrive and you are rewarded for your efforts, but at the same time, we can increase wages for workers and once again we can all pursue the American Dream.
– Jerry Hardvall, Tryon

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