It approaches swiftly and quietly, as it does year after year. A day that the American right reviles as a representation of government intrusion, inefficiency and greed. Yes, tax day is within sight. For all the rhetoric and vitriol directed at taxes, Americans know very little about their tax system and where their money goes. Right-wing millionaires have gleefully embraced the revulsion to paying taxes expressed by the lower and middle classes. The Tea Party was founded on resistance to taxation and government spending. And, the logic is clear and simple: a man or woman should be entitled to the sweat of his or her own brow.
However, the realities of the America economy paint a much more convoluted picture. Real wages for the working-class have remained stagnant since 1972. People work longer hours for fewer benefits, and the notion of job security has vanished. While you have been suffering, those who control the most have done exceedingly well for themselves. Last year was excruciatingly difficult for many Americans. Teacher salaries were cut, small-businesses and manufacturers closed their doors, and people who were once firmly entrenched in the middle-class found themselves destitute. Meanwhile, corporate profits hit all-time highs, and through shady accounting, many of them paid no tax. The American worker has seen an astounding spike in productivity during the past 30 years, but the rewards of their labor have only benefited those already at the top. In Washington, the Republican Party preaches job-creation and the resurgence of the middle-class, but have enacted policies that rob funding from areas that create jobs in order to give the rich tax cuts. Punishing the rich for their success is equally destructive, but in a system where the top 400 tax earners make more money than the bottom half of the nation combined, a gross imbalance exists. People decry President Obama for implementing “socialism” in America, he is doing a poor job of it when millionaires and billionaires are thriving and working people are despondent.
As the nation is being told to make sacrifices and difficult cuts, millionaires should do their part and help drag America out from debt and uncertainty. This should extend to the political realm, where the paltry 60 billion in cuts comes from programs that already run on tight budgets. Rather than target NPR’s 5 million dollar budget, trim fat from the Pentagon’s spending of nearly a trillion dollars. Instead of denying reproductive services to women through Planned Parenthood, reducing the number of abortions in this country, focus on reforming Medicare to make it more efficient. But most importantly, when you are looking at your taxes, cursing the government, realize that many of the ultra-rich pay a smaller percentage, and a smaller dollar amount than you are sending. And then ponder that the Republican leadership touts the extension of Bush-Era tax-cuts for millionaires as one of their greatest victories, allowing people who let their money do their work enrich themselves at the expense of those trying to make a living.