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I would like to respond to Rudy Schmidt’s column, “Government run by thieves and tax cheats,” in the Dec. 23, 2011 edition of The Lancaster News.
I always enjoy discussions of history and taxes. How the Mesopotamians or the Romans or people in the 1850’s or in 1913 were taxed, while interesting, is largely not relevant in our 21st-century world in which technology and society are changing much faster than in the past. History can help us learn from mistakes.
We can also learn from contemporary resources: the Department of Commerce’s website, and under the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) to find top marginal tax rates and GDP growth for corresponding tax years.
In brief, top marginal tax rates in 1944 and 1945 were 84 percent. GDP growth was a dismal -10.9 percent in 1946 when the top rate was 91 percent. Between 1947-1955 when top tax rates were at 91 percent the GDP growth averaged 3.9 percent.
Between 1956 – 1963 top tax rates were at 89 percent, but GDP growth averaged 3.2 percent. During the Clinton years, the GDP averaged 3.8% percent when then House Speaker Newt Gingrich compromised over tax rates and spending.
It seems to me that the United States would gladly find acceptable these GDP growth rates now and in the future.
A startling statistic: the six Walton family members running Walmart make more than the poorest 100 million Americans combined. Yet there are lawsuits at Walmart about not paying their employees overtime pay and regarding discrimination against women and minorities in hiring and promotions. That is after paying their employees minimum wages and allowing them bare bones health insurance coverage. This is not all about stock prices and dividends, this is about greed.
The top 1 percent do pay 40 percent of the taxes. They are the ones with the money to pay the taxes. I’m not going to lose any sleep over the top 1 percent not being able to buy a more luxurious yacht or other nonessential expenditures when there are people right here in Lancaster County who do not pay taxes because they don’t have money for food, shelter and medical expenses. These are the people who qualify for the earned income credit. They need it to survive.
I would rather give them the earned income tax credit than see them turn to burglary or theft to feed their children. While there are always people who know how to beat the system, to say that the government is run by thieves and tax cheats is unsubstantiated.
By and large, government workers are honest citizens, with families, like those in any other line of work. How many Fortune 500 companies didn’t pay any taxes last year? They are the tax thieves.
We do need tax and spending reform. All citizens, including “corporate citizens,” should be paying their fair share. Unfortunately partisan politics, with politicians in the pockets of lobbyists, will make this difficult.
Doing it in the current economic environment will make it even more so. Putting people back to work should be our first priority. Once all who can are working again, we can tackle the debt problem that was escalated under the last Republican presidency with its two unfunded wars and Part D Medicare Program.
We need to put aside partisan politics and work together as Americans to make this nation live up to its potential.