It's tax time again, the time of year when Americans grouse about forking over part of their hard-earned cash to the dear old government.
These days, there's a whole movement dedicated to grumbling about taxes full time -- I'm talking, of course, about the Right's latest incarnation -- tea partiers, who are gearing up for another round of protests.
One of the complaints heard a lot among those stirring up people's rage is that 47 percent of households owe no income taxes this year. That's apparently a sign that that 47 percent is a bunch of freeloaders, and the rich shouldn't be asked to make up the difference.
But take a closer look and you'll find that the only reason taxes are going up at all on the wealthy is that they've seen their tax rates fall and their incomes skyrocket over the last 3 decades. In other words, the tiny tax increase they may see won't even begin to balance their compensation.
And at the other end, state and local taxes, not to mention sales taxes, are actually regressive — they burden the poor more than the rich. Reporter David Leonhardt lays out the facts in a recent story. Then there's the fact that the working class and poor tend to pay more in payroll taxes. And the fact that what we really should be screaming about is that almost half our population's earning so little.
Covering their taxes is the least of our worries. Who's going to buy our products? This is what jobless recovery looks like. Poverty for most and a tiny influential minority stirring up a
movement to fight any responsibility. It sounds like a recipe for a failed state to me.
So why the rampant anger on talk radio and cable news? Leonhardt has an answer for that: “it’s hard not to notice that the talk show hosts themselves tend to be among the very wealthy.”
The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv which broadcasts weekdays on satellite TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415 Free Speech TV) on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Support us by signing up for our podcast, and follow GRITtv or GRITlaura on Twitter.com.