Fueled by corporate-funded anti-tax groups and a malleable news media, the news is once again awash with stories about Americans suffering under heavy and rapidly increasing taxes.
Paying taxes is no one’s joy, but the collective wailing and gnashing is embarassingly out of proportion to reality. I hate to break up the pity party, but our taxes are much lower than Germany, Great Britain, Canada, Japan, France and Ireland. Our taxes are significantly lower than the average for industrialized nations.
Sorry Tea Partiers, Wall Streeters, One Percenters, talk radio callers, and news anchor wise crackers, but relative to the rest of the developed world, you aren’t oppressed. The fact is, almost all of the planet’s citizens who are enjoying a comparable quality-of-life bear more of a tax burden than Americans do.
Take a look at reality, nicely aggregated by the Center for American Progress:
• Our tax revenue is at its lowest level since 1950.
• Today’s top tax rates are historically low.
• Taxes on investments are historically low.
• The tax on large estates has virtually disappeared.
• The wealthy and super wealthy’s tax rates have plunged.
• U.S. corporations are taxed at lower levels than their foreign rivals.
As I’ve written before, the April tax deadline is our day to pay-it-forward in patriotic thanks to past American taxpayers who kindly paid to lift our ancestors into the middle class, and paid for our education, roads, national security, Internet, police, fire, parents’ health coverage and retirement income and many other things.
But if you can’t find it in your heart to be grateful for all that past generations of Americans have done for you, your country and your loved ones, be at least be a tiny bit realistic about what is being asked of you.
President Kennedy challenged us to “ask what you can do for your country.” Right now, Americans are being asked to do damn little. So could we hold the whining down just a little?