Taxation, party affiliation, and class clash

So, what percentage of the wealthy pay what taxes? As indicated here that’s dependent on how you define ‘wealthy’. Keep in mind that if you make less than a certain amount annually in this country, you *don’t* pay taxes at all. (Nonetheless, in my experience about a quarter of each paycheck goes away regardless. Social Security, Medicare, et. al. – not technically taxation, but it is something the government takes from you, without option, supposedly in return for a service. Supposedly.)
So in that case, hate to break it to you, but the wealthy pay more taxes than the lower classes. But of course, the battleground is (as usual) over the middle class, which I don’t relate to*, but whatever.

For me, the question really comes down to – is it fair to expect the upper classes to pay more taxes than the middle class or the lower classes? The answer is pretty simple – no, it’s not fair. Keeping in mind that I favor a flat percentage rate tax that hits everyone about the same. (Presuming that taxation is necessary. In the theoretical “pure model of ethics” sense, I don’t believe it *is* necessary, but in exchange for certain things, I am willing to be taxed.)

But remember, outrage against possible tax breaks for the wealthy is primarily originating from and regarding the middle class. Should the wealthy have to pay less taxes than the Middle Class? Of course not. But do they?
As much as it threatens to offend my Marxist sensibilities, I don’t think so. (My own issues with his dismissal of the flat tax aside**, this is a very accurate, very straightforward piece.) Certainly, many many groups would claim it so (mostly the GOP who traditionally are more interested in the Upper Classes than the rest of us anyway) – for example, this article by the NCPA. But of course, the NCPA is notoriously right wing (ask that left wing propaganda soldier Michael Moore sometime) so it’s hardly free of bias. (And it wouldn’t hurt to remember that the recent GOP counter proposal to the stimulus package would likely raise taxes.)
Keeping in mind also, that I’m primarily addressing the idea of federal income tax – state taxes are another kettle of fish entirely. (Some states, for example, don’t have them. Moreover, no two states do things quite the same way.)

Nevertheless, I’m not convinced. Maybe I just don’t want to be. I think there is a lot of truth to the above, but the exceptions can’t just be media hype and perceptual drift can it? The sheer amount of partisan disinformation, propaganda, and spin inherent in the whole issue of taxation makes it very difficult to make definitive statements with any degree of certainty. Traditionally, the GOP has been seen to represent white wealthy men and the democrats the middle classes and (some) minorities even though, in the main, the differences between the two parties have only become more and more minimalized since the 1960s. In my own experience, the base of the democratic party has always been affluent white liberals (see also: latte liberal, the ivory tower, et. al.) who have had more in common with the perceived base of the GOP but with a different set of social ethics. So are they really any more prepared or inclined to fairly represent the middle classes come tax time? (I think in general, that the poorer members of both parties, in general, vote because of tradition and where they fall socially on the liberal-conservative axis more than on issues of policy. Which can’t really help any of us in the long run.)

I think the real test will be where we’re at in four or eight years depending on how well the democrats can hold onto the government. Quite a few have noticed an emergent demographic shift that suggests upper class white families are finding greater appeal with the democratic party than they have in recent memory.

I think I’ve lost track of my initial point in my meanderings, so forgive me if this was a bit difficult to follow. I need to come up for air at this point and read what’s been writ. If you want a real reality check, click here and read a letter from someone asking, as I have, who is more likely to raise taxes – Dems or the GOP? Just understand that it’s from 1988. 😉

* culturally, I acknowledge a certain amount of privilege – having gone to primarily middle class schools, being functionally white (meaning: I look white, qed, culturally, I am), even as I try to hack all of that programming. Nonetheless, I don’t relate to terribly much of the above in any case.

** ethically, one of my main points is this: life isn’t fair, but we should strive to make it so where possible and where it is convenient to do so.


~ by Auntie Ranty on March 3, 2009.

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