Think again about class warfare
August 12, 2011
The First Amendment rights of speech, especially for newspaper columnists, is a marvelous privilege. Opinions can be turned into facts without the oversight of editors. An example is Melanie Sturm’s recent column (“Class warfare divisive and un-American,” Aug. 4, 2011, The Aspen Times).
As a full-throated advocate of the “no tax increases, never, ever, over my dead body,” the message is clear. However, the justifications seem far of the mark. Shortly after his election President Clinton influenced Congress to increase marginal rates from 35 to 39 per cent. Astonishingly, in the following eight years 22.7 million jobs were created. However these numbers are interpreted, higher taxes did not lose jobs. The U.S. budget was in the black after many years of red ink.
His successor reversed these increases; but despite all the money returned to the taxpayers only 1.1 million jobs were added in his two terms (Source: Wikipedia job creation statistics). Not a convincing argument in support of the “lower taxes create jobs” mantra. No need to dwell on the deficit.
Another assertion that half of Americans pay no taxes is fascinating but perhaps true if you count babies, retirees and the prison population. The bulk of Americans of working age earn salaries or wages and have their pay reduced by income tax withholding and FICA.
Class warfare is a great headline but risky since it can be interpreted as the wealthy and powerful warring against the poor and powerless. Who would be the aggressor and who would win such a battle?
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Blaming the victim is good tactics but a reasonably-skilled advocate could make the argument that it is the supporters of the status quo that are acting contrary to the civic imperatives and the innate sense of fairness of the American spirit.