Less Than Fourteen Percent
White House hopeful and real life Daddy Warbucks and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has finally released one of his tax returns. According to his 2010 tax return, Mr. Romney made well over twenty million dollars on investments and paid a federal income tax rate of less than fourteen percent or about three million dollars. Asked about his tax return and Mr. Romney was quick to say that it was legal. I don’t think anybody was saying that Mr. Romney should be thrown in prison or anything similar so the insistence that it was all legal is misplaced. The problem is that the vast majority of us who pay taxes are paying at a rate that is twice that of Mr. Romney’s on income that is only a sliver of a fraction of his twenty million dollars. And instead of seeing the inherent favoritism towards the rich, people like Mr. Romney think that this part of the tax system is copacetic.
Everybody thinks that the tax system is unfair. But while some of us think that rich people need to pay their fare share, some of us think that we should fix the tax system from the bottom. Some of us actually think that the better solution for tax fairness is to focus on the people who are living at the poverty level and demand that they pay their fair share. People who are struggling to pay rent, put food on the table, and to survive day to day don’t have the resources to pay much of anything should be forced to pay taxes. Let’s just take a moment to think about how many middle class families and individuals it would take to make up the three million dollars that could be obtained if somebody like Mitt Romney would just pay the same rate on his investments that people pay for earning a wage. Let’s say the average family of four had an income of about fifty grand. Let’s tax that whole wad at about thirty percent, twice what Mr. Romney pays. Their tax burden would be fifteen thousand dollars. Now divide that into three million dollars and you’ll get two hundred families, eight hundred individuals collectively paying more so that Mr. Romney can have his lower tax rate. How fair is that? Such a ratio would put Mr. Romney in the upper one eighth of one percent.
So much rhetoric is out there trying to convince us that if we raise the tax rate on people with Mr. Romney’s finances it would discourage the rich from investing in their country’s economy and things will only get worse for the rest of us. But that’s bullshit. One thing that’s a fact about a lot of rich people, they want to make money and become richer. No one can convince me that if Mr. Romney had to pay six million dollars in taxes instead of his much more favorable three million dollars, he would’ve said the hell with it and would’ve made the self defeating choice to do nothing. If that’s the case, why do so many of us go to work for forty hours a week, fifty weeks out of the year at a rate that is usually a lot less than what we think we deserve, to pay our thirty percent.
Yes, some of us don’t want to participate in this game. Some of us make the choice to give up on this rat race. Some of us will make do with the bare minimum and do nothing to improve ourselves. But in the infinite array of variations that come from humanity such exceptions cannot be avoided or ruled out. In a perfect utopia, there will still be many that will find fault and will buck trends for something else that better reflects their unorthodox way of thinking. But the vast majority of us will continue to play by the establishment rules, even when those rules are grossly unfair and stacked against us, kind of like America’s tax laws that continue to favor the wealthy. It is unfortunate, but when people don’t participate in the labor force other people move in to fill the void.
Like the rest of us, Mr. Romney and his peers have the choice to participate in our American collective or not. If rich people feel that raising the tax rate on capital gains investments to the same levels that the rest of us pay on our labor driven income then that’s their choice and they have the right to take their money and go wherever they chose to go. But just like the person who made the choice not to participate and passed up an opportunity to better his or her self for whatever reason, the rich person that does the same thing will leave an opening for his or her peer who still wants to do better.
Rich people who will refuse to make investments in a more equitable and fair America don’t have to participate. We don’t need to give the rich every advantage to have a strong economy. In fact, it is a sure bet that our economy will be far stronger and more resilient when our wealthy compatriots are held to the same rules as everyone else.
Lastly, if a man with an eight figure income who wants become President of the United States wants to point to his fellow Americans who have to struggle to make do with as little as four and five figure incomes and say that they should pay their fare share in taxes so that we can have a stronger nation, it really looks awfully hypocritical when that person tries to dodge the fact that he’s not paying his fair share when compared to the rest of us. It’s pretty obvious Mr. Romney won’t be hurting if his tax rate goes up. And if he can hide behind the claim that he’s done nothing illegal, then can’t many of those people who are at an income level that does not require a federal income tax say the same thing? The poor have done nothing illegal so Mr. Romney, and others who think like he does, really should get off their back.
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