The Earth would be a much better place if we would stop trying to prove we were right and actually look for solutions to problems.
There are a lot of false and contradictory arguments presented by both progressives and conservatives as truth in this world. Using past historical results to “prove” the relevance of a model only makes sense if past and present circumstances are similar. Using past results to garner support for a future course of action is nonsensical if our examples of past success are dated to the point of irrelevancy. Even people who understand that changes in times and circumstances make many events from the past irrelevant as guide lines to behavior still use historical data to “prove” their point: A having one’s cake and eating it too model commonly used in discussion.
As examples of using history to prove one’s point I will be exploring arguments put forth concerning Trump’s US Mexico boarder wall and the historical “proof” that a graduated income tax that taxes income for the top wage earners at a rate of 70% is the answer to many of the problems that plague the USA.
Let me begin by acknowledging my personal predilections.
Concerning US Immigration
1- The United States has an immigration problem.
2- A wall on the USA’s southern border would be expensive and ineffective.
3- Much of our immigration debate is thinly disguised racism against our brown siblings to the south and Islamophobia for those from the east.
1- The United States should have a simplified income tax structure.
2- The United States should have a Graduated Income Tax where higher wage earners pay a larger percentage of income than do lower wage earners.
The United States’ immigration policy can be compared to the combined scribblings of multiple toddlers over many years on a single page. Lot’s of color, some glimpses of recognizable features but no obvious theme or structure. Throw in the Politics of Race that conman Donald Trump likes to bandy about with his blatantly racist and Islamophobic rhetoric as he trumpets the USA’s great need for a boarder wall as a solution to the US’s abysmal immigration policy and we have the US Toddler In Chief’s “Masterpiece” drawing beautifully displayed in a very expensive steel and concrete frame.
A southern boarder wall does nothing to create a coherent US immigration policy, is expensive, does not solve the problem of economic refugees fleeing northward to the US but does provide great optics for the US’s “Great Leader” to show exactly what his plan is for the future- none. I have compared Trump’s Wall to ancient China’s, a wall that may have proven somewhat effective two-thousand or even six-hundred years ago but in the end China’s wall proved more pipe-dream than protection.
To show my disdain for Trump’s Wall I have uttered the words, “Trump’s wall? Yeah, great Tenth Century solution to a Twenty-first Century problem,” because we know that his wall is a boondoggle designed to show Trump’s might rather than any type of solution to our lack of an immigration policy. The US needs an immigration policy, not a wall, but Donny’s dead set on delivering his monument to imbecility.
While conservatives love to tout Donny’s Wall as a solution to our lack of an immigration policy progressives have a tendency to look back to Dwight Eisenhower’s USA as PROOF that high taxation for top earners is the answer to the USA’s infrastructure and other economic woes. The problem is 1953 was 66 years ago and the world has changed a lot in three generations.
Dwight D. Eisenhower became world famous during World War II, the same era that found the USA’s top earners taxed at the still unsurpassed rate of 94% of taxable income. Ninety-four percent. The previous high for America’s most wealthy had occurred during World War One when tax rates jumped from 15 to 77%. Taxes rose to address defense spending and those tax rates were designed to be temporary. BTW- taxes were also sky high, 63%, for the wealthy during the Great Depression, another “temporary” tax hike.
I get a little uncomfortable when progressives tout the 1950’s as a template for taxation. After World War Two’s six years of global conflict the USA found itself with a mostly intact infrastructure. This post-war era was a unique time in history that made the US the only World Power easily capable of mass production. The US economy did well because there was a need for production and the USA had the means. High taxes work better when people are flying high and are working, two conditions that held mostly true during Ike’s tenure as CIC following WW Two.
When demand for products decreased and there were more global competitors producing products republicans decided a reexamination of tax rules was warranted and said reexamination of old tax rules occurred in the early 1980’s. In 1981 the US cut it’s highest tax bracket from 70 to 50 percent and in 1986 to 28%. The eighties brought us the era of “Trickle Down” economics, a theory that proved somewhat successful in the short term and for the next twenty years the US’s top rate floated around 35%. Since 2013 the US’s highest tax rate has been in the low forties.
The success of trickle down economics is best examined by comparing wages, tax rates and buying power for average Americans prior to the 1980’s and after. Economic factors show the tax restructuring has not been beneficial for most Americans as more medium and low wage workers have lost buying power while extremely high levels of wealth have accumulated in fewer American’s portfolios.
Bottom line? Comparing the US economy and tax structure of post World War Two America to that of the present day world is a picture that lacks a lot of relevant details and nuance but is an example where progressives have chosen a topic where comparing and contrasting historical to present day situations provides us with a clear picture that demonstrates that even though times change some ideals are classic. One classic notion, the idea that the uber rich who have gained so much from the USA, should likewise provide for the nation that helped them achieve and retain their wealth at rates proportionate to the wealth they have achieved, is an idea that holds true regardless of the alt-facts provided by either flat-Earthers or flat-taxers.