Poverty in the United States is on the rise. According to the 2010 US Census, the poverty rate in the United States rose to 15.1 percent, the highest it’s been in 17 years. Obviously, this means the median annual income also dropped…by 2 percent and down to $49,445. In fact, during the past decade, the Middle Class saw rather mediocre income growth, the poor saw virtually none and the rich saw a steady rise (in the face of large tax cuts for America’s wealthy).
The 2001 Bush Tax cuts brought the highest marginal tax rate down from 39.6 percent to 35%. During President Bush’s term, America also entered two expensive wars….and did not raise taxes to help fund them. We lost several thousand American troops in the fight to weaken al-Qaeda and take out Osama Bin Laden. We’ve done that and yet the war(s) rages on. Rather than end the wars (or at least vastly reduce the number of service members), Uncle Sam decided to cut services. Oh, we also [still] have service members in Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan and South Korea. The last time I checked, WWII and the Korean War ended.
Had it not been for unemployment insurance, the poverty rate would undoubtedly be higher.
I am not trying to instigate a class war. To the contrary: I hope to be rich some day! The ability to reach one’s dreams through hard work and talent is one of the greatest things about this country. Millions flock to America for the chance at making it big. However, I am against policies and actions that make things better for the well-off at the expense of everyone else. That is the very definition of irresponsible.
It is irresponsible to maintain the status quo in healthcare availability, for example, while entire families go uninsured because they cannot afford even basic care. It is irresponsible to leave a person’s teeth to rot in their mouths because they cannot afford a procedure at the dentists’ office. It is irresponsible for intelligent and hard-working young people to have to drop out of college because they cannot afford it. I have personally witnessed all of these situations (and lived through the last one – thankfully, I’ll be returning to college this coming Spring 2012 semester).
I’m not an expert and I don’t have all the answers. However, I do wonder where our government’s priorities have gone. My simple proposal is this: return tax rates to what they were under President Clinton (39.6% as the highest marginal tax rate), end the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and actually bring the service members home and invest in extremely valuable things like education, jobs programs, infrastructure and science and technology. Poets and authors predicted that the 21st century would be golden. Let’s fulfill their prophecies.