Friday, January 27, 2006

Rich are getting richer; the rest are getting by

A recent study confims that the wealthiest are getting richer faster than everyone else. Here's the Trib article on the subject.

So if you aren't rich now, you're unlikely to become rich. And if you are rich now, you're likely to get even richer.

Why?

Well, largely because we don't spend nearly enough money (wisely) on education. College tuition is ridiculously expensive in the United States and free -- yes, free -- in most of Europe and Japan.

We ought to tax incomes above $100,000 at a higher rate and put that money into education available for everyone.

So instead of the GOP policy of lowering the tax rates on the highest incomes (above $300 grand), which is their basic policy, we should go back to the Clinton rates on the highest incomes.

And in Illinois, we should raise the 3% income tax rate (the lowest income tax rate in the nation) to 6%, and exempt the first $25,000 earned from the state income tax altogether, so that the people who can afford to pay more (the people who are getting richer) do pay more.

Ask around on this one. My sense is that this resonates with people. But ask around. If the money goes to education (with a focus on higher education), ask if people think we should raise the income tax rates on any income above $100,000.

The government -- and basically, tax policy -- creates a middle class. Without a tax policy to invest in education and infrastructure (taxing the people who can most afford to pay), not only does the entire nation suffer from a less vigorous economy, but the middle class in particular shrinks.

Even the right-wingaz agree that we need to invest more money in education. And the people that are getting richer every year should pony it up -- so long as we left-wingaz make sure it is spent well.

7 comments:

Lazerlou said...

But Dan, the teachers unions are corrupt and bloated, the whole public school bureaucracy is a wasteful joke. Kids are promoted who don't deserve to be, resources wated on those nt fit to take advantage of them. In this ownership society we need more choice! The clear answer is to privatize schooling in its entirety and give public money to private schools, espcially ones run by churches and temples (not mosques though). Vocuchers Dan, vocuhers. If we must give money to the uneducatable, lets make sure it is in the form of a voucher they can use to spend on private school tuition.

Bill Baar said...

We need radicals when you talk schools and education. From Extreme Wisdom's suggestions for a Contract with Illinoios:

A Bold Education/Tax Reform Plan

1. Abolition of Local Property tax for schools and education being funded 100% from the State, with an inflation indexed scholarship for each child - chosen by the family

2. Abolition of the School District and conversion of every school to an Independent Charter.

Lazerlou said...

Bill,
I'm all for abolition of property tax based school funding (although I imagine you are for abolition of property taxes, period), but what will converting each school into an independent charter do for anyone, other than continue to punish the poorest communities?

The real answer is to not just abolish property tax based school funding, but to radically increase school funding and equalize it. All schools not just in Illionis, but around the country should be like New Trier, with PhDs making over $100,000 per year.

How to do this? How about an constitutional amendment to gurantee a right to a education? The the 14th amendment would apply across the country, not just within a certain city (if you didn't know, segregated unequal schools only run afoul of the 14th amendment insofar as they exist within the same city/school district - it ends at the suburban border)

What we need is for our federal governemnt to stop enriching evil defense interests and waging bogus wars and taking that money and investing it in education our youth. Hell a 25% cut in defesne spending could easily fund all schools to the level that New Trier enjoys (this is speculation, but I'll be its not far off)

Public schools need more money for better facilities and more importantly better teachers. I went to new trier, and even it could use better teachers. But until some elite scholar can justify going to work as a teacher instead of a anker, we are doomed.

The real point is Dan, thatdepite your almost naive call for justice, the powers that be keep the poor poor for a reason. Our labor and consumption patterns are predicated on fairly severe class differentiation. Bottom line, the republicans have a vested nterest in keeping the poor uneducation and downtrodden - it is more profitable for the ruling class.

CF said...

Higher education is not the problem in America. Our universities are the envy of the world (precisely because they are not free). Access to higher education, like good healthcare, in Europe and Japan is free but much more restricted than in the U.S. That is a key reason why there is less social mobility in Europe, Latin America, Japan, etc. Yes, our state and private universities are too expensive, but that's not because the rich aren't taxed enough. It's because the federal government provides too much money to students. Yes, I'm serious. Because government loans make it possible for a student to repay the cost of tuition over 10-30 years, universities are able to charge far more than they would if there were less access to money. If everyone could borrow money to purchase a home at artifically low rates guaranteed by the federal government, the price of homes would sky-rocket. Universities actually have too much money and compete for students with lavish gyms and spas and film studios, etc. If you reduce the government loans, tuition costs would come down - especially at state schools. As it works now, the government puts poor and middle class kids into debt for decades(which can only be refinanced at better rates once during the term of the loan) and allows university professors to make $300,000. P.S. I agree with every word in Lazerlou's first post, even though I think he was being sarcastic.

dorian said...

I would raise the exemption amount from $25,000 to more like $60,000 which was actually Wesely Clark's number for exempting people for Federal Tax - a level I like better. It does require the tax rate to be progressively tiered, especially for the top 1% and .5% in order to afford those measures that give relief to the poor and low-to-mid middle class.

Lazerlou said...

Higher education isnt the problem. It is early childhood eduaction through highschool that matters the most in reproducing poverty.

Higher education is great, but right now too many people go to college who shouldnt or who should at least be learning practical skills. In our society, college is used both as a resevoir for surplus labor, and a means of almost arbitrary class differentiation (Just because you graduate from western Mich U doesnt mean you work any harder or are any smarter than someone who doesnt go to college - but you probably make more - sorry for my snobbery).

CF, even you should understand that college isnt overpriced based on easily available gov loans. It is just the right price, as it would be if it were cheaper because there was less money to borrow to go. That is price theory in action. Nor Dan, does the high price really preclude people form going if the want to, as it is one of the few thing easy to borrow money for, becasue it does get you 20K more a year once you get out for doing teh same bullshit. By age 18, peoples' fates have been sealed, so the price of University is kind of a non-issue in my book.

Now getting decent teachers and textbooks for 4th graders, that is the issue. And the #1 concern of anybody who isnt a bigot should be equalizing spending between districts and doing away w/ property tax based funding. It is racist, and it proves the myth of equal opprtunity and even playing fields in our country. It is one of our greatest shames.

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