Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Things I Feel Strongly About - Income Inequality

It's been estimated that, had it kept pace with inflation since it's inception, the minimum wage in the U.S. would be $16 per hour. It has not.There are several ironies regarding this. If employees were paid this rate companies profits would not have suffered. Factoring in inflation, the costs of raw materials and labor would have remained stable. The percentage of profit companies earned would not have been diminished. Also, our battered economy would be in better shape. If lower income people made a wage that would afford them a decent standard of living they would feel freer to both spend and save. A below standard wage keeps these people in a state of grinding poverty. Every penny is spent just to maintain a roof over their head and food on the table. In many cases not even these necessities can be covered.

Vast amounts of cash in this country, controlled and owned by the wealthiest corporations and individuals, sit on the sidelines. These dollars do not circulate, they lay dormant. It is akin to a farmer storing year after year of seed in his barn while his fields lie barren. There is a line from the musical "Hello Dolly", "Money is like manure, it must be spread around encouraging young things to grow."

Perhaps taxing the wealthy is one option. The increased revenue could be used for public works projects putting people to work building bridges and roads. We would be able to develop and revitalize mass transit, which is sorely lacking in the U.S., cutting down on our use of fossil fuels. We would have the ability to research renewable and enviormentally friendly sources of power.

The far right often states that 50% of taxes are already paid by the top 20% of earners. These top earners control 85% of this country's wealth. This means that they are actually underpaying their fair share.

Some are concerned about the solvency of our Social Security system. Pensions are quickly disappearing. Without Social Security many seniors would have to work until they are physically unable to do so. First our retirement age should be raised. Age 65 is no longer what it was when the program was started. Second, the cap on earnings taxed should not be raised but eliminated entirely. Why should people, even those at poverty level, have to pay 6 3/4% of their income into a program while the wealthy, in many cases, pay 1% or even less. If the cap were eliminated and the rate lowered for all to 4 1/2% there would actually be more money coming into the program than there is at present. Another irony is that those high earners, who are more able to put away funds for their old age, get more out of the Social Security system than those that earn less, even though they pay a smaller percentage of their income into it.

In the founding papers of our country are words ensuring that all citizens have a right to "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." My request to government officials sworn to uphold those words and ideals.....GET CRACKIN! 

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