Greed, America’s Top 1%, and Government

by Bill O'Connell on December 28, 2010

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He was made out to be a folk hero.  Bernie Sanders was filibustering the old fashioned way, by talking continuously, like they did when Mr. Smith went to Washington.  Sanders, the self proclaimed socialist, was railing against greed, but he failed to see the irony.  While he was lambasting the unseen faces of America’s top 1% of earners, he stood there as the face of our federal government that can’t make ends meet on $2.165 trillion but those rich bastards had better pay their fair share.  Not only couldn’t the federal government not get by on $2.165 trillion, it overspent that revenue by $1.5 trillion.  Who is the real greedy bastard? 


How poignant that Bernie should stand there and say, “Greed is, in my view, like a sickness. It’s like an addiction. We know people on heroin. They can’t stop. They need more and more.”  I could not describe the federal government more accurately than that.  The sad part is that Mr. Sanders doesn’t see the problem as out of control spending, he sees it as him not being able to get his hands on his heroin, his fix.  He wants more money and he wants it now, and shame on anyone trying to keep him from getting it.

Deroy Murdock lays it out nicely in a piece on National Review Online titled, Merry Christmas to America’s Top 1 Percent.  It is true, as Mr. Sanders points out, that the top 1% earn 20% of the income in this country.  However, they also pay 39% of the taxes.  So if 1% earning 20% of the income is unfair, how is 1% paying 39% of the taxes not fair enough?  The bottom 50% earns 12.8% of the income but pay only 2.7% of the taxes. 

Here is where their thinking is off track.  Picture an airplane flying at 5,000 feet.  Let’s look at that altitude as if it were the median income.  How much lower can it go?  It cannot go down more than 5,000 feet.  On the other hand, how high can it go?  Leaving aside the technology of the airplane, there is no limit.  The point is that there is a floor, but there is no ceiling.  That is the fallacy of comparing income percentages.  It doesn’t take too many Bill Gates, Oprah Winfreys, Warren Buffets, to make that top 1% pretty high up (a little over $380,000 according to Murdock).  In a recent article in Newsday, here on Long Island, it reported a number of public school superintendents making more than that amount.  If you are fortunate enough to make it to the major leagues in baseball, the minimum wage is $400,000.  So let’s get a grip.

There is also a danger to the class warfare politics of Bernie Sanders and friends.  What if the 2.7% paid by the bottom 50% actually falls to zero?  You could have a majority of the voting population paying no taxes and supporting policies that the entire burden for paying it falls on a voting minority.  How badly do you think government will spin out of control then?

The other side of the coin is how do the rich do in area of charity?  Well, Mr. Murdock points out that 10% of the wealthiest taxpayers provide 42% of all charitable deductions taken on tax returns, to the tune of $72 billion.  Another study has also shown that conservatives give 30% more to charity than liberals.  Liberals like to take other people’s money by force and institute government programs to provide the services that they are not willing to voluntarily go into their own pockets to provide.

It’s time for Bernie Sanders to sharpen his pencil and see what programs should be cut so that he and his fellow greedy politicians can live within the means they are provided by a generous citizenry, instead of grandstanding for more and more.

That’s my opinion; I’d like to know yours.  Please comment below.

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  • A libertarianin 08824

    I was with you right up until the phrase “the means they are provided by a generous citizenry”. Sorry, but the characterization is all wrong.

    There’s no “generosity” in the equation.

    The gang in power will send men with guns to take you to jail or kill you. There’s no “voluntary compliance” with the will of “The Master”. It’s the 800# gorilla in the room. Comply or die!

    So we are robbed a slice at a time. The Gang In Power are nobody’s fool. There’s no way they can control 300 Million pissed off Americans. About a third of whom are armed. And, about a tenth can give as good as the get.

    (The drug gangs are the finest “light infantry”. Who like indigenous rebels can blend into the population seamlessly. The Totalitarians can’t keep “contraband” out of their prisons; so how can they keep the people unarmed if they are in revolt. Note how well MayorForLife Bloomberg does keeping guns off the streets in New York.)

    So, the DUTY of every American is to piss off the “sleeping” “We, THe Sheeple” at every opportunity. I like that movie quote.

    “I fear all we have done is awakened a sleeping giant.” — apocryphal quote attributed to Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto played by Mako in the movie ‘Pearl Harbor’

    I want the sleeping Tiger — the American patriots — to wake up. The Tea Parties are the first vestige. Note how fast the TSA backed off when the “holiday revolt” was announced.

    The LAST thing the ruling class wants is an enraged citizenry!

    Get mad! Get loud! And, refuse to cooperate with theft!

    • William O’Connell

      It was a little tongue and cheek with generosity meaning we haven’t yet marched on Washington with guns. Get mad? Agreed. Get loud? Agreed. Let’s try to work the process with the people we just elected. Other options are still on the table.

  • Pingback: POLITICAL: Gooferment taxation; Comply or die! « Reinke Faces Life

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