2012-03-02 / Letters to the Editor

This Is Still America...

Dear Editor,

It was interesting to read the summary of Congressman Joe Walsh’s remarks in the Evening World. Three of his assertions stood out.

The first that we are “about an inch from the government taking care of everyone” makes me wonder what type of tape measure Mr. Walsh owns. 49.9 million Americans don’t have health insurance and we are within an inch of the government taking care of everyone? Nearly one in four children in Indiana live below the poverty line and we are within an inch of the government taking care of everyone? Millions of part-time and temporary workers ineligible for unemployment insurance and we are within an inch of the government taking care of everyone? That must be one heck of an inch! Thousands of people and families are homeless in Indiana. There are long wait lists for housing assistance programs and food banks are reporting record numbers of clients. College students are graduating with mountains of debt, and the government is with an inch of helping everyone? I don’t think so.

Another assertion is equally disturbing. Mr. Walsh apparently believes that “nearly 50 percent of Americans don’t pay taxes to the government.” This statement is simply false. Everyone with earned income pays payroll taxes that fund Social Security. Why is Mr. Walsh and those who share his ideology so upset with the working and middle class? Do they really think we are leaching off the wealthy? Not doing our share? Working people pay their fair share. Sales taxes are a heavier burden on working people than the wealthy. Payroll (FICA) taxes are not assessed on income over $106,800.00 and so are quite regressive. The wealthy are not enduring an undue burden in the income tax they are asked to pay.

Mr. Walsh is quoted as saying that “the median family income for all of us ... is about $32,000 per year.” This also is not accurate. The median annual household income according to the Census Bureau is $49,445 and the median family income for two parent families in which both are working is over $70,000 per year. If our elected leaders are so blinded by ideology that they cannot correctly identify the problem how can we possibly expect them to come up with sensible solutions?

Many conservatives seem to think that it is schoolteachers, electricians and firefighters who are bankrupting us. They point to working and middle class people who are fortunate enough to have wages that allow them to support a family and provide for their retirement as being the problem. The problem is not that firefighters are making too much money; the problem is that not enough people have the opportunity for jobs that support a family. The money interests in our country have somehow gotten those of us in the middle class fighting with each other rather than looking at who is really at fault for our government’s debt.

Those who say we are broke as a country are wrong. We are the richest nation in the world. This is still America, the country that brought electricity to the entire nation in a generation. In America, when we decided to put a man on the moon, we put a man on the moon. In America, we envisioned, designed and built an interstate system in 20 years.

Over the past 30 years, the wealth in this country has become far more concentrated at the top. Yet the right wing in this country who complain that the middle class are not paying taxes practically have a stroke if it is suggested that those who have benefitted most pay a little more.

Those who pray at the alter of the almighty dollar define success as the acquisition of money. I see success as much more. The successes are the people who take time to coach little league, mentor our youth, serve their churches, and participate in local government and organizations. None of these things pay well, but are immensely rewarding and have great value.

We hear presidential candidates saying that if we raise the income tax on the highest income earners, they will not create jobs. What they don’t get is that WE are the job creators. When we spend our money it creates demand, which creates jobs. Business owners facilitate this process and if they do their part well, they should reap profits and make as much money as their talent and drive allows, but if we don’t have a strong middle class the demand that allows businesses to succeed will be limited.

We need a reasonable approach to the deficit we have as a nation. It must include not only spending reductions but also increased revenues from those who can afford it. We will not accomplish anything if we chose options based only on ideology and we must not tolerate political leaders who either are ignorant of the facts or willing to make things up to advance their political agenda.

Bruce McCallister


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