Posted by: minnow | October 21, 2012

The Common Good

I recently saw the post to the left on FB.

I’d like to offer for your consideration a slightly different perspective–If you can afford three plus cars, two or more homes, an annual European or Caribbean vacation, week-end ski trips to Vail, a $2,000 dollar de la Renta dress, or over $1000 dollars a year  for your hair budget, you don’t need tax cuts or exemptions.  And if you’re a corporation (rather than a person because there are some of us who know the difference) and can afford to give your CEO’s $100,000 bonuses you don’t need incentives or subsides.

WAKE UP MIDDLE CLASS!  The poor are not the enemy. Very, very few fit the stereotype portrayed by the above post and the number who do are considerably less than the 47 percent former Governor Romney labeled freeloaders and said needed to “take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”  The truth is of Romney’s 47 percent 28.3 percent pay no federal income tax but do pay the payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare.  Do you know what that means?  It means they work and get a pay check but with their legal deductions they do not make enough money to have to pay any federal income tax.  10.3 percent pay no federal income tax because they are retired.  In other words they’ve already paid into the system.  6.8 percent are students (who will in all likelihood eventually pay federal taxes), the very poor, military employees (who are exempt from paying taxes on their military pay), or the disabled.

Wait a minute.  Don’t you mean 7.8 percent?

No.  Actually I don’t.  In the 1 percent Other category that remains (as in others who do not pay federal income tax) are 19 and a half thousand US tax filers who make over $200,000 dollars but pay no federal income tax including six whose adjusted gross income for 2011 was over $77 million dollars.  I’m guessing Mitt Romney didn’t really mean to include them in his “freeloaders” category since they obviously know how to take care of themselves pretty well.

According to an April 5, 2012 article in US News, “How everyone else pays for Big Business”, “from 2008 to 2010, the 280 most profitable U.S. corporations sheltered half of their profits from taxes, thanks to tax subsidies totaling nearly $224 billion, according to a 2011 analysis by Citizens for Tax Justice. A dozen large companies, including Exxon-Mobil, Boeing, and General Electric, reaped $175 billion in profits, but their combined tax rate was negative 1.4 percent, thanks to $64 billion in subsidies from oil depletion allowances, write-offs from overseas profits, and other loopholes.”  In other words, these companies were given $1.75 billion more from the government than they paid to the government.  Even if each of the 12 million unemployed received a million dollars from the government and those corporations simply broke even the federal government would end up with a net profit of $1.63 billion dollars.

I can hear the argument–Yes, but they probably created a bunch of new jobs!  Wrong.  Between 2007 and 2010 companies with more than a thousand employees lost 2.6 million jobs.  G. E. alone is responsible for 22 thousand of those despite a $12 billion dollar profit in 2010.   The truth is companies like Twitter which receive no government incentives at all are creating the most jobs.

The bottom line is that the economy is inching its way back.  But, the reason it tanked to begin with had nothing to do with the poorest among us.  The same cannot be said however about the richest.  I’ve read multiple post that suggest that we should not force people to be charitable through taxation, that charity is not the job of government but rather the calling of the Church.  If the Church was actually answering its call I might be willing to entertain that argument.  But the fact remains that when we’re talking about mainline Christianity only 3 percent of what the average fellowship collects ever leaves its building.  That is simply not enough.  Furthermore, it is the stated duty of our government to protect its people and their rights and to provide for the common good.


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