Over the last several weeks, I have been researching two issues that have been of concern to me. This letter is the result of that research, along with the places where I found the information. The two items might not seem to be directly related; however, I am of the opinion that one would not be possible without the other. The first is just who pays federal income tax and the second are what rights that we, as Americans, have according to our Constitution.
There has been a lot of discussion about the taxes that we pay and how “unfair” it is that the rich don’t have to pay much tax and the burden falls to the middle class. The Internal Revenue Service (see: IRS.gov or taxfoundation.org) provided the following information - with the latest figures from 2007. There were 141 million taxpayers in 2007. Total taxes paid by America citizens that year were $1.15 trillion adjusted gross income. That equals to an average tax rate of 12.68%. However, the top 1% of American earners paid $451 billion, which is almost 40.4% of the total taxes paid and 22.8% of their income.
The top 50% of American earners – those are families that have a median income of over $50,233 – pay 87.7% of all income tax while the bottom 50% - those making less than $50,233 – pay 12.26% of all income tax. The reason that I think this is so important is that our current administration is trying to increase the taxes on the top 10% of American earners. These 14,107,000 Americans already provide 48% of all income tax to the federal government. It is absolutely ridiculous to ask for these men and women to pay more. Why? The answer is simple. It is these people that provide the majority of America’s jobs. At some point – a point we may have already reached – these folks are going to say “enough” and move their businesses elsewhere. America needs to treat this top 10% of American earners with a great deal of respect.
One point before I go to the next issue. America makes money from many different sources besides income tax. However, it is the income tax that we seem to spend the most time discussing and, around April 15, worrying about. I believe it is very important that all Americans pay their fair share, but it is unfair to castigate the rich, as the majority are hard working men and women who showcase the American spirit.
Americans seem to be fixated on the rights of the individual lately. Even newscasters speak of America’s rights as though just about everything is our” right.” This got me to thinking just what is a right and what is a privilege. For the record, I am using the “Bill of Rights”, which is the document given to Americans by our Founding Fathers. Rather than “copying” these first Ten Amendments, I am going to mention a few of the items that are not guaranteed, as these seem to be where some the biggest problems lie.
Surprisingly for some, education is not a right, but a privilege; which is a shame, given the poor way in which so many of our youth seem to make a mockery of it. Health care is not a right and it has only been recently that true “universal” health care has been seriously considered. The fact that the Ninth Amendment has been used to call for universal health care has been shown to be a weak argument due in large part to the arguments of Supreme Court Judge William O. Douglas in 1973.
What Americans must be careful of is to claim a right that either does not exist, or does so in a limited way. As an example, look at the right of free speech. The First Amendment protects, among other things “abridging the freedom of speech”. The freedom of speech has built into it a ”harm” or “offense” principle. This prohibits one person or persons from hurting another by their speech or publications (racial slurs, hate speech, and pornography to name a few). One way I was taught to look at our freedoms is that my freedoms end at the next persons fence. We each have to understand that rights must come with responsibilities. Just as receiving a driver’s license provides the owner with the privilege of using the roads as long as he/she obeys the laws; each of our rights comes with the same set of rules.
The last several months have been a scary time for those of us who believe in the Constitution. It is under attack from those who believe it is a “living document” and should “change” with the times. This has never been the meaning of the document and if you would read it, it would be obvious that it is just as pertinent and powerful today as when it was signed in 1781. With the amendments to give the Federalists the power that they felt it was missing added in 1791, the document that has seen us through all of the trials and tribulations that America as weathered is more than enough proof that the Constitution stands as a document second to none in respect world wide. The only ones who fear it are those who wish to take away our freedoms.
“We the People”, it is time to act. Stand and let your voices be heard. Many in Washington are avoiding the will of the people. President Obama is pushing through a health care plan that over 51% oppose with less than 44% for it (Washingtonpost.com). Our Representatives are John Barrow and Jack Kingston and our Senators are Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isackson. Please contact these men using the information given by the Statesboro Herald on a weekly basis. Together, “We the People” can make a difference. May God bless “We the People!