More for a few, and less for you!

(First in a series)

“We have to do more with less.” Republicans are using this phrase a lot, and I roll my eyes and struggle to keep a straight face. But the problem is, it’s no laughing matter. I wish they’d say what they mean instead of harkening back to the old ’70s phrase ‘less is more.’. Even they didn’t believe it then, and it’s less credible now. What Republicans mean when they say ‘more with less’ is that most of us should do less with less so that some can have more – more for a few and less for you!

Republicans say they are protecting hard working employees from having to pay more in taxes. Democrats recognize that hard working middle class people pay more than their fair share in taxes and that wealthy people who can afford more pay less, and this is why the DFL House and Senate budget plans protected the middle class and poor from necessary tax increases. In March, the Minnesota Department of Revenue published its seventh “tax incidence study“, which looks at who is really paying taxes. They found that the state’s 2.32 million households had total income of $132.1 billion in 2000. These taxpayers coughed up $14.8 billion, or 11.2 percent of that amount, in state and local taxes.

According to Dave Beal of the Pioneer Press, “The researchers divided the households into 10 groups, each of which made a tenth of the total income. They found that the highest-income group was taxed at a much lower rate, 7.7 percent, than each of the other nine groups.

“However, the top ten percent of income accounted for just 0.3 percent, of all the households, just 5,831. These few taxpayers had average income of $2.3 million – a figure pulled way up by the $42.8 million average income for the 31 households that made up the top 1 percent. And on average, the top 10 percent paid taxes of $177,000 – $3.1 million for the top 1 percent.

“Meanwhile, at the bottom, it took 906,500 households to bring in as much as the 5,831 in the top tenth. These taxpayers paid taxes at a higher rate, 11.3 percent, than those at the top. Their average tax tab was $1,647 on income of $14,575.”

Who pays more, who pays less? Who gets more, who gets less?

Avg. Income…$2.300,000…………$14,575
Tax/Dollars……$177,000…………..$ 1,647
Tax %…………….7.7%……………….11.3 %


“For all households, the overall tax rate fell from 12.9 percent in 1994 to 11.2 percent in 2000. It’s been falling more for the top earners, mainly for two reasons: as their income grows, a smaller percentage of their income goes to buy taxable goods and taxable property ; (also, Minnesota caps their marginal state income tax rate at 7.85 percent.”

So in Minnesota, we’re doing with less so that we protect these high income groups more. Republicans believe that it is their money so they should be able to keep more of it. But in most cases they got that money from some where, often your pocket — by keeping workers’ wages low, passive income from investments while the rest of us work for our income, or by making investments with high profits that means someone is paying too much for something (like Xcel’s NRG with 300% profits off of California consumers 300% price increases for electricity!) All this happens because the economic and political systems support the inequity They owe their wealth to the system and to hard working individuals who are continually coerced and extorted into giving more for less.

My fiscally conservative parents always told me you can’t get more with less. There’s always a price to pay. You get out what you put in. That’s the basis for our family tradition of investment in community. And investment in community is the exact opposite of Republican policy, which is to suck the resources from those least able to pay, and preserve and expand the wealth of those taking advantage of all our society provides.

My parents always said, “If someone is trying to sell you something for nothing, or ‘more with less’, he’s probably the Flimflam man.”

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