Saturday, September 24, 2011

Historical Income Tax Rates in the U.S. or We Just Like to Believe Rich Politicians

In response to 21 September 2011 episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the subsequent googling of past income tax rates…finally

I like it when Jon Stewart points out when rich people are just wanting ways to get richer, but when it comes to people talking about how we can't POSSIBLY grow economically as a nation any taxes are raised by those that can afford it, he should mention the historical federal income tax rates the U.S. has had. 

It doesn't take much time to research creditable, factual info.  Just to give you an idea of what you may find, from 1932 to 1986 the top bracket was never below 50% and topped out at 94%.  During the boom after the Great Depression and World War II, it was around 90%.  When adjusted for the ever-lovely inflation, for most of our income tax history, if a "married filling jointly" household made between ~$100,000 and $250,000, they paid 50% or more. 

That being said, our infrastructure over the past few decades has increased – as it should to some degree for any growing nation – while our taxes have gone down.  If you use almost any other rich country on the planet as an example, we should be paying more in taxes for the physical size of our country and the amount of App Store-like variations on public services.  I imagine it is mathematically plausible to lower taxes SLOWLY over time if things are being managed REALLY well for the long-term, but we obviously have seen this isn’t good for the long-term stability of the economy.  To me, it’s as if you prefer investing for your long-term future by frequenting Las Vegas instead of an “old- fashion” savings account or investing in shiny metals and rocks that still seem to grow in allure since caveman days. 

Now my personal opinion probably means I should just move to another country that has collectively figured it out better instead of saying we need to manage our money better, pay more in taxes, spend more on education, research, public transportation and healthcare (universal).  To me, it's not class warfare to raise taxes a little on very wealthy people; it's class warfare when you don't and MOST people are doing pretty poorly by comparison.  I don’t need a lot to live a comfortable, nice life.  I also don’t want my nation’s government to take from the rich and just give it to the poor – even though this sharing idea is how things worked before civilization if you wanted to survive often.  You’re doing pretty good and the family in the hut or tree next door isn’t doing so well, you share the extras you have. And when you’re down on your luck and they’re doing swell, the favor is returned.  We probably wouldn’t have made it beyond tribes if we had the mentality many have today.  So much for coming together to help your neighbors (towns and states) and fellow tribe members (U.S. citizens) in which sharing what you had with everyone for the greater good was what you had to do to survive in hard times.    

Taxes and government hoopla aside, I think we've become a much greedier, selfish nation than we were just a few decades ago.  There was a time when it was OK to "get by" or that making two or three times more than the national average was a wealthy/rich lifestyle.  What happened to us that 10, 20 or 100 times the national average isn't enough?  Even if you don’t want to take into consideration how well those that live around the poverty line have it in places like the U.S. compared to billions of others around the world, there’s a point when we need to calm it down with inventing more insanely expensive things to spend the money we think we need.      

I understand getting angry about government spending and poor management with good agencies, but we don't seem to care enough to elect decent "representatives" to congress or establish a better way of doing so, so it's kind of hard to complain about that in turn.  Elect the rich and they will try to protect the rich, i.e. themselves. 

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