Why the Middle Class and Rich Need to Support Their Long-term Interests
The issue of social justice often arises when discussing jobs, the role of government, and taxes. Despite the fact public assistance programs for the poor make up only a small sliver of the US Budget, it annoys hard working Americans that their tax dollars support those who have not achieved financial independence. Consequently, all social programs should be part of a more progressive economic plan that supports opportunities and rewards healthy economic behavior. Simply cutting safety nets to balance budgets instead of addressing the underlying failures of our economy, however, creates greater costs that hurt all Americans, including wealthier Americans.
For what they are, social programs do keep people participating in the economy when they would otherwise not. Increased economic activity always benefits the Upper Middle Class and wealthy the most, so social programs do have significant indirect benefits that are often far more favorable than the direct benefits given to recipients. Just as the assault on social programs is eating away at our Country's civil and social infrastructure, far more Americans are relying on these services due to massive job losses, deflating wages brought on by decreased leverage in the job market, and increasing costs.
Americans are among the most productive workers in the world, yet they certainly are not the best compensated. The view of self-proclaimed Reagan Republicans that we need to cut taxes to "starve the beast," so the private sector will take over has only helped create massive government debt and a greater need for social services. In fact, supporting a short-sighted, absolutely-no-growth-in-government agenda has lead to the erosion of American economic sovereignty thanks to policies like untargeted "free trade," which has retooled the mechanisms of our economy so market forces inhibit proper taxation and regulation while undermining the leverage of American workers to pursue Middle Class wages.
As affluent Americans have pushed our leaders to weaken social programs and embrace further tax cuts, they also enact economic views that lead to lower paid workers, i.e. smaller tax and consumer bases, and fewer opportunities in America. When the US made China a preferred trade partner, for example, government did not simply get of the way; it surrendered to communist sponsored industries. In my region, the prospects for a majority of skilled blue collar went from forty or fifty thousand dollars a year in the tool and die industry to food stamps. Bad policies have weakened the tax base, impoverished those who now burden social safety nets, and displaced further burden onto Middle Class individuals as well as businesses that cannot outsource or sell abroad.
Looking at competitiveness in terms of taxes, wealthy individuals and big businesses may buy in bulk, but they do not necessarily create jobs in the US as open ended tax breaks guarantee nothing and current market forces pressure them to outsource. Keeping money in the US is a challenge, yet it is important to remember the US offers more than just tax incentives. A board economic base helps create economic stability and promotes the development of advanced technologies, so they can be propagated throughout our economy as commodities instead of luxuries. Of course, a similar effect can be achieved when there is enough global consumer demand to replace US over consumption.
The problem is that America does far more for the wealthy while most of global consumer demand is directed toward basic staples, especially as commodity prices rise. Meanwhile, in countries where a sharp divide between the haves and have nots means near total destitution, the wealthy are quite literately under siege from the desperate criminal and noncriminal elements of their societies who will do the rich serious harm given the chance. At the same time, the US military, as one example, ensures the stability of global trade by guaranteeing world security at a cumbersome, unsustainable cost to American taxpayers. For their long-term interests, wealthier Americans, therefore, should be willing to support the US economy by paying taxes, investing inside the US, and uplifting poorer Americans.
Moreover, the wealthy may directly pay the most in tax dollars, but they benefit the most from stability and growth due to increased economic activity via consumer spending. This is especially true in a global economy where plenty of socialist governments are more than willing to abuse purist, unchecked "free trade" policies to the benefit of their governments and elites. Where sole individuals, and businesses, doing the "right thing" only leaves them vulnerable to those who abuse the system, changing national economic policies, so they punish harmful behavior instead of rewarding it, is the prudent course. All taxpayers can legitimately complain when their tax dollars are wasted, yet the only viable solution is to improve government in an open and honest way instead of cutting taxes and undermining our economy.