Friday, June 17, 2011

Tax the Rich

Tax the Rich
by Tina Phillips on Friday, November 19, 2010
Previously Published in The Pioneer

Most people whine about having to pay taxes. Many believe that the government is stealing their hard earned money. In addition, many vote for candidates who support lowering taxes.
However, did anyone stop and think about the consequences of such a stance and policy? Do people realize what taxes do? Taxes are used to pay for essential services we need as a collective society. Things like roads, schools, subsidized childcare, Medicare, Social Security, and other social safety nets that help support our society. Just imagine what our society would look like if we did not have taxes. All of those things we need would not exist because they would not be funded. Not a pretty picture.

Take for example recent years in California. They call it a “budget crisis” but the real issue is that many people in our state government were not willing to raise taxes in order to raise the revenue needed to fund essential services our state needs. What has been the result? Many cuts. There have been cuts in social services such as the budgets of non-profit community organizations, many of whom have closed their doors forever. Cuts to many government agencies. Cuts to K-12 schools. Cuts to our very own university. Not to mention the tax on students. What tax you ask? Our tuition has gone up steeply in the past 10 years.

In fact, a 15.5% raise in tuition was just approved by The CSU Board of Trustees. They are going to increase tuition for undergraduate, graduate and credential programs by 5 percent in winter and spring 2011 winter and another 10 percent for the fall 2011. Effectively these rising costs of a college education are pricing people out. It also increases student debt as students take on larger and larger loans to cover the costs of going to college. If we want to secure our state’s future success and growth this is not the way to do it. If we want a society that supports reaching our fullest potential, we need to be willing to pay for it.

Although we should all be willing to pay our fair share, I believe we need to shift the tax burden to those that have money to give: the rich. The rich and wealthy have extra money they do not need. We should give it to people who do. Some people would say the wealthy earned that money so we do not have the right to take it away from them. I would argue much of the money wealthy people have has not been earned. It was either inherited or it was exploited from working people. It is not uncommon that CEO’s of corporations make 500 times their lowest paid worker. Even if one did earn all that money, I think they still should be willing to sacrifice that which they do not need for those that are in great need. That is the type of ethical and principled society I want to live in. In fact, we used to have more of that kind of society back in the 1950’s. Back then the tax rate on the rich was 90% and the country was a lot more stable because of it. Now it is a mere 35%. With that in mind, one can understand how and why we are suffering right now. Instead of cutting taxes for the rich, it is time to do the opposite. It is time for the rich and corporations to pay their fair share so we can all have a better quality of life.

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