America’s National Pity Party

It’s that time of the year again. The April tax deadline, when Americans come together as one to feel sorry for ourselves about the outrageous tax burden heaped upon us. Ooooh, the agony!

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?

– Loveland

14 thoughts on “America’s National Pity Party

  1. Newt says:

    Using Western Europe as a barometer of anything is laughable. Because they do taxation wrong, doesn’t mean we need to approximate their level of dysfunction and social misery. We’re still overtaxed. We still overspend. That’s the only lesson to be learned on April 15.

    P.S. North Sea oil makes it easy for Scandanavians to pretend they don’t mind over-taxation.

      1. Newt says:

        North Sea oil makes Danes very happy, kind of like North Dakotans.

        Why is America besieged by immigrants?

      2. Joe Loveland says:

        I see your point about immigrants coming to America to find low tax rates. Lots of higher-taxed Canadians flooding the borders. Not many lower-taxed Mexicans.

      3. john sherman says:

        Anyone who thinks North Dakotans are happy needs to spend more time in the ND media penumbra; they have an immense capacity for feeling aggrieved and put upon. Right now they are gearing up for a state-wide vote on a university mascot with simultaneous chest-thumping and hand-wring.

        Mexican migration now is apparently about zero. Canadians in my experience come to the U.S. to buy school clothes for their kids and then turn around and go home, perhaps out of fear they might get sick in the U.S.

      4. Newt says:

        I can assure you – the net migration of Canadians is overwhelimingly in the direction of the U.S. The same with Mexicans, although much less so since Obama ruined the U.S. economy.

      5. Jim Leinfelder says:

        Their happiness may well be more linked to the perception of fairness and a more transparent delivery of government services that are less conspicuous in this country:

      6. PM says:

        Apparently, Americans really don’t move from state to state in order to avoid taxes–

        http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2012/04/greg-mankiw-argues-that-if-people-feel-that-their-taxes-exceed-the-value-of-their-public-services-they-can-go-elsewhere.html

        Bottom line–people rarely move because of taxes. For that matter, people rarely move at all–Just 1.7 percent of the population moves in any given year, on average. And only 30 percent of the U.S. population will ever change their state of residence in their lifetimes.

        Apparently this myth is due to shoddy analysis by ALEC, who cheery pick their “facts”–ie, that FL (which does not have an income tax) grew by 46% from 1990 to 2010–ignoring that nearby GA, which does have an income tax, grew by 50% during the same period.

    1. PM says:

      Newt, those are not just European countries–the comparison group was the OECD–the most developed countries in the world. And it’s not just Scandinavia, either. And, since the US is now one of the largest exporters of oil based fuels, why should we be any different than North Sea countries?

    2. john sherman says:

      What do you want a government to do? Outside of Aynrandia where to they do it right? What would you use as a measure?

      I would like a physical infrastructure, including mass transit, that works; a competent educational–pre-K through graduate school– system that is open to all; a health care system that provides a high level of care throughout the society. No kids should be born into the world pretty much screwed because of who their parents are. We should all live in a largely nontoxic environment, and we should be able to buy products, except labeled poisons, which are not toxic. To get these benefits, I’m willing to pay taxes at the level they were under Bill Clinton.

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