Bruce Kesler: Redistribute this!
Column by Bruce Kesler
Barack Obama’s bluntly answered Joe the Plumber that we should have more redistribution from the well-off to “spread the wealth around.”
Yet, according to the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United States has the most progressive income tax and employee Social Security taxes in the developed world. Progressive means that the top 10 percent give more.
Internal Revenue Service figures show that the top 10 percent of adjusted gross income tax filers pay over 70 percent of income taxes. That’s after allowable deductions, which supposedly favor the better-off. The top 50 percent pays over 97 percent of income taxes. Over 30 percent of tax-filers pay no income tax, a percentage nearing 50 percent of those potentially subject to income tax if non-filers are included.
Top-earners receive less than 2 percent return, and many a negative return, on their Social Security tax, while low earners receive over 8 percent, and the lowest almost an infinite return for having paid very little or no Social Security tax. Retirees with earnings from savings, or pensions, can be charged double for participation in Medicare hospital and Rx coverage. We’re approaching each Social Security recipient being supported by only two or three workers, a major wealth transfer from the younger to the older and the well-to-do to the less fortunate or careful in gaining education, working hard or saving.
Most current workers eligible for defined benefit pensions, guaranteed payouts, are employed by governments. Regardless of economic conditions, the stock market, or other expenses, these payouts are locked-in. The audited deficit in ability to meet these payouts are several trillion dollars. Essential public services to Americans are being cut by state and local governments, and public colleges are raising tuition, while increasing portions of public budgets are funneled into government-worker pensions.
The Bible enjoins us to contribute at least 10 percent of our earnings to the poor, but scriptural commentary says we should be careful of going past 20 percent as we must not sacrifice our family’s needs. The best charity is that which provides skills to earn for oneself.
John McCain’s tax returns show him consistently donating over 20 percent to charity. Barack Obama’s shows him giving about 2 percent. McCain’s wealthy wife pays for a La Jolla condo for her aunt, contributes heavily to poor children around the world, and they’ve adopted one. Obama’s aunt in Chicago collects welfare and lives in public housing, though here illegally, and his brother in Kenya lives in a tiny shack.
Imagine if all these redistributions, “spreading the wealth around,” didn’t occur. How much more would you have? How much are you and your family now being denied or sacrificing for? How many more jobs would be created if business and entrepreneurs were taxed less?
One might raise one’s finger and tell Obama to “Redistribute this!”