That’s right, I am suffering from ignorance fatigue. I am done with people telling me the free market can handle health care and that the minimum wage is a horrible burden on employers. I have heard enough from people who believe churches should handle health care or that taxes and the national deficit are at an all-time high.
For those of you who don’t know how to check such things beyond listening to Fox News and “reading” Andrew Breitbart, perhaps you weren’t alive in the 1950s, when the economy was booming and the top tax rate on regular income was 91 percent (now, remember — and I will use small words here — that rate only applied to income above $200,000, which would be income over $1.78 million today), and the top rate on capital gains was 25 percent (this year it will be 20 percent, after a hike from 15 percent). All this research was done in about two minutes using tax tables and an inflation calculator.
When taxes were so high and oh, so terribly burdensome, our country was enjoying prosperity like it would not see again. People who worked a 40-hour week made enough to live on because workers had unions to protect them from the carnivorous uber-rich.
In 1955, the average wage was $5,610 — more than $48,000 in today’s money. It was enough to buy a small home, own a car, feed your family, even save enough to send a kid or two to college.
But the good manufacturing jobs have been sent to places where big business can pay people $1 a day and keep them locked up in compounds, and Americans are told to be happy there are jobs at Walmart.
Walmart pays its people such low wages that 70 percent of them are eligible for government assistance, and then we criticize them for being “takers” because they want to feed their families. Why aren’t we criticizing the people who won’t even pay subsistence wages while they pocket billions that they can’t possibly even spend?
Do you understand what that means? We, the taxpayers, those of us lucky enough to still have decent jobs, are subsidizing Walmart with our tax money so the owners can amass even more money. That’s right, our tax dollars are going into the Walton family’s pockets, and they want even lower tax rates on their income.
Did you know the national deficit is falling faster than it ever has without a recession going on? According to Investors’ Business Daily, ”…(the Congressional Budget Office) expects the deficit to shrink from 8.7 percent of GDP in fiscal 2011 to 5.3 percent in fiscal 2013 if the sequester takes effect and to 5.5 percent if it doesn’t. Either way, the two-year deficit reduction — equal to 3.4 percent of the economy if automatic budget cuts are triggered and 3.2 percent if not — would stand far above any other fiscal tightening since World War II.” (Read the whole story at: http://news.investors.com/blogs-capital-hill/021213-644063-chart-should-embarrass-deficit-hawks.htm#ixzz2MmyM2D3j).
So, if you get your info from Fox News, Glenn Beck, Andrew Breitbart, Ann Coulter or any of that ilk, please don’t try and “educate” me, OK? I have reached my yearly limit on ignorance and it’s barely March.
Leslie Boyd, a former newspaper reporter, is president of the health care advocacy nonprofit, WNC Health Advocates, founded in memory of her son, who died in 2008 because he couldn't access health care. E-mail her at leslie at lettersfromtheleft dot com or follow her on Twitter @leftyletters1, visit Letters from the Left on Facebook. For more information about WNC Health Advocates or to read Boyd's health care blog, visit wncha.org.