In fact, Mr. Edwards is correct about there being two Americas. One pays taxes, the other doesn’t.
Liberals of Mr. Edwards’ stripe talk at length about how upper income citizens don’t pay their “fair share,” but are studiously silent about how much they DO pay, and what the ephemeral phrase “fair share” is supposed to mean.
Here are the “two Americas” in actual facts and figures: One America — the top half of wage earners — pays virtually all the country’s federal income tax (97% to be exact). The other America is getting, for practical purposes, a free ride. It pays 3% of the income tax. It also benefits disproportionately from welfare and entitlement spending.
But there’s more. The ire of John Edwards and his fellow liberals is particularly directed at those at the top. So here are the numbers for those groups. Of federal income tax paid in 2004, the most recent year for which figures are available, the top one-tenth of earners paid over two-thirds of the income tax burden. And the much-reviled top one precent of earners paid 37%. In other words, these supposed top-one-percent parasites — one one-hundredth of the population — paid well over one-third of the income tax.
No fair-minded person thinks that those prospering shouldn’t carry most of the load. But the idea that the prosperous should be resented for “shirking” — as Edwards and his liberal cohorts continuously imply — is simply preposterous. When the top 10 percent of earners pay almost 70 percent of the income tax, “shirking” is scarcely the word that comes to mind.
Property rights are part of freedom’s foundation. If the government can confiscate what you’ve earned, a goodly chunk of your freedom has evaporated, and what remains is in serious jeopardy. We saw this — indeed, even the mainstream media saw it — in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s astonishing Kelo decision, which held that the government could condemn and seize your property, up to and including your house, simply to fatten future revenues. Confiscatory taxation of income is better hidden but equally dangerous — dangerous to the standard of living each of us works to provide for his family, and even more dangerous to the property rights upon which our liberty ultimately rests.