Income inequality is not class warfare
The United States of America is no longer a democracy.
This is not up for debate anymore. Multiple studies, including one from Princeton, confirm that the state of US politics resembles an oligarchy more than a democracy; meaning that the main influencing power in our government lies not with the majority, but with a few groups.
The American public is aware of this. The stigma of politicians is that they’re “all in the pockets of corporations,” and anyone with basic critical thinking skills can see this is, for the most part, true.
The Princeton study found that “organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy,” and that “mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”
Contrary to what conservatives like Ted Cruz might think, money does not equal free speech, but because of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, unions and corporations can now flood the political spectrum.
We saw the result of this when over $7 billion was spent in political contributions in the 2012 election, making it the most expensive election in our nation’s history.
But how has our society arrived to the point where people even have that much money to spend on elections?
As many have heard before, the richest one percent of Americans are on track to having more wealth than the bottom 99 percent.
This is also not up for debate. The rich are getting richer, and everyone else just has to sit by while wages remain stagnant.
This is shown by how CEO’s pay have increased by 937 percent since 1978.
This is outrageous. People deserve to be successful and prosperous, but when they are doing it at the expense of others, that’s when a conversation needs to be had about what is the morally right thing to do.
As much as Americans hate the word, the answer really is taxes.
Henry Blodget, CEO of Business Insider said that “some of the most prosperous periods in US history have come during periods of super-high marginal income tax rates. And some of the most disastrous periods in US history have come after periods of super-low income tax rates.”
One of those periods was during the Great Depression of the 1930’s.
One of the reasons higher-income earners are staying so wealthy is because a lot of their profit actually comes from investments and capitol gains, which are taxed much lower than regular income tax rates.
Even Warren Buffet, the second richest man in the U.S., admits his effective tax rate is lower than his secretary’s.
When Mitt Romney released his tax returns during the 2012 presidential election, we learned he only paid an effective tax rate of 14 percent.
Most Americans pay a tax rate around 25 to 30 percent.
When people get too much money to spend a tax break, it won’t encourage them to actually spend that money; it just makes them ask the question how much more they can make.
You can only have so many cars, houses and boats.
Even Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul said he believes in a more equal tax system such as a”flat tax” where everyone, regardless of income, pays an equal share of taxes.
This is about fairness. If everyone pays them same rate, then no one will complain that they are paying higher or lower taxes than anyone anymore.
Tax reform is desperately needed in this country, and it needs to happen now.
Just as the fictitious Warden Norton famously said, “Not tomorrow, not after breakfast, NOW.”
Opinion editor Anthony Torres is a political science junior and may be reached at [email protected]