[This is a draft I saved on 12/12/10 that I was going to add evidence to, but I’m fine standing behind it as is. Others have done the work that supports my glib conclusions. This is the Internet, after all.]
Okay, so here are the things that are indisputable:
The gap between the rich and the poor is greater than ever. The difference in real pay between the McDonald’s clerk and the CEO is larger than it’s ever been.
My generation is the first in this country to be worse off than the one before.
So I laugh when people say taxing the rich isn’t necessary, or is punishing them, or is hurting the economy. How is taxing people with incomes of $250,000 hurting the economy? THEY ALREADY HAVE MONEY. They will continue to spend money and make money on the money they already have. They can absorb a much bigger tax hit, but apparently they’re rich enough to matter. Meanwhile, a huge number of working people living paycheck to paycheck (if lucky enough to get one) continue to suffer.
[Edit five years later: that particular cutoff strikes me as a bit simplistic, since the cost of living for even upper middle class people has gone up; I guess the solution would be, you know, move out of San Francisco or Manhattan.]
The rich are not being “punished” by having to pay higher rates of income taxes. They’re participating in the social contract our forefathers agreed to. They have been “punished” at much higher rates in the past but they’ve sold so many of us Americans on how tough it is to be rich.
The “government” is us — the people — or at least it’s supposed to be. Unfortunately the ones with money have bought and paid for it, so it’s US who don’t enjoy the same privileges our parents did. I know it’s not that simple. But it almost is.
I guess civilization ain’t quite as civilized as it used to be. I wish there were more guys like Bernie Sanders and Russ Feingold and Paul Wellstone (RIP).