Selves above country | AspenTimes.com

Selves above country

Dear Editor:

In lieu of the points herein, I find Charlie Leonard’s recent column on Obama’s hating the rich way beside the point and representative of distorted Fox News talking points at best (“Attacked for their success,” Dec. 29, 2011, The Aspen Times). I would evidence Obama’s phenomenally successful fundraising from Wall Street and the corporate world. He doesn’t “hate the rich,” nor do they evidently hate him. On the contrary, he appears to be more indebted to them than many of us would like.

An estimated 41.8 million Americans are on food stamps; 46.2 million Americans are living below the poverty line; and another 100 million are classified as low-income ($22,000 to $43,000). That’s half of our population.

There are 75,000 veterans who are homeless on any given night. I found figures as high as 130,000 – decided to be conservative. Twenty-thousand veterans from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been homeless in the past five years. Illness and medical bills are responsible for 56 percent of American bankruptcies (about 2 million per year). Most had medical insurance. Homes lost to foreclosure number 1 million to 1.5 million per year since 2007, with 2010 up 25 percent.

In light of this, who is able to help pay the bills? Let’s also keep in mind that all we’re talking about is an additional tax of 4 percent on folks making more than a million per year. And this from a tax cut that was designed to expire.

On taxes:

– The U.S. corporate tax rate is second highest in the industrial world. Taxes actually paid are second lowest. The tax burden has shifted meaningfully to the middle class since the late ’70s.

– Income has dramatically shifted to the top 1 percent in the past 30 years (up 275 percent). As an example, if the top 25 hedge fund managers in U.S. paid taxes at their rate, instead of the capital gains rate of 15 percent, the budget deficit would be reduced by 44 billion.

– Tax on the upper 2 percent is the lowest in 50 years.

– Fifty percent of the top 200 U.S. corporations paid zero federal income taxes. Closing loopholes alone would net $100 billion per year. Paying at corporate tax rates, even if lowered, would net hundreds of billions more.

These are figures I researched from multiple sources (not left-wing websites). Feel free to dispute them. Of course I could also mention that:

Our infrastructure is falling apart. Our educational system is failing. We graduate fewer and fewer scientific minds in comparison to our economic competitors. Our power grid is outmoded. Our air traffic control system is outdated (and overwhelmed). Our transportation systems … ditto. Air and water quality (and quantity in many places) is declining. Our health care system is inefficient, expensive and exclusive for outcomes rendered, in comparison to many nations.

Of course we also have a serious spending/priorities problem, but when I talk to many conservatives, it’s not hard to understand their political philosophy. Every point they make about “freedom” springs from one simple point: “Don’t take away any of my money.”

They seem to think that the world is their personal grab bag. They’re much more concerned about amassing extreme personal wealth than living in a society of equal opportunity. Try saving for your retirement while paying for medical insurance, housing, transportation, education and food on $40,000 a year. Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme. It’s a means of providing minimal security and dignity to all of us in our later years, and we’ve paid for it. And Medicare is a great model for the insurance we all should have in the richest country on earth. If we want to continue our lead into the future, we’d better start investing in ourselves.

Sandy Munro

Brush Creek


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