- The top 1 percent of income earners pay 38 percent of all federal income taxes. They earn 20 percent of all (adjusted gross) income.
- The top 10 percent of income earners pay 70 percent of all federal income taxes. They earn 55 percent of all income.
- The top 25 percent of all income earners pay 86 percent of all federal income taxes. They earn 67 percent of all income.
- Approximately half of U.S. households pay no federal income taxes whatsoever
In response to President Obama’s recent suggestion that the gross budget deficits could easily be erased if more Americans were simply more willing to engage in “shared sacrifice.” Mr. Kirsanow poses the obvious question which the feckless US press corp hasn’t, whom does the president have in mind? Certainly not the bottom half of earners that pay effectively nothing.
But these statistics are more than just rhetorical push back points. In my opinion, the current distribution of burden for sustaining the federal behemoth is fundamentally immoral. A plurality of government spending is now entitlement spending, meaning that these spending patterns reflect a massive redistribution of wealth. We don’t all share in the burden of sustaining our civic government.
I can hear the standard refrain already – our impoverished shouldn’t be required to pay. Foremost, half our population isn’t impoverished, even by our “standard” of defining “poverty.” Second, our standard for defining “poverty” is suspect, particularly by historical standards. Most of whom we define as impoverished “suffer” air conditioning, Cable TV, and an Xbox. Our “impoverished” suffer the highest rates of obesity. Obesity is a serious health risk, perhaps the most serious modern epidemic, however, never before in history and almost nowhere in the world where true poverty is still known is “obesity” a symptom of poverty. There are some truly poor and downtrodden in the United States, however, it’s a small fraction of those “labeled” as in “poverty” in this country.
The vast majority of Americans can and should financially contribute to our shared form of government. It’s immoral to shift the burden onto a minority while conveying advantages without any payment to those that have the ability to pay.
The popular sentiment, however, remains that “the rich should pay more.” The United States is quickly becoming a land of “From each according to his ability, and to each according to his need.” Unfortunately, too few appreciate just how fundamentally un-American and illiberal is such sentiment and how dangerous it proved to be in the 20th Century when played out in places far away.