Poor Conceptions

19 Jul , 2015  

When listening to politicians speeches, you almost always hear promises and words like “freedom” and “the American dream” to get listeners engaged and excited. Americans pride themselves on freedom and patriotism and politicians know this. What is not as commonly spoken about is the economic inequality that continues to increase in this country. Sociologist Jay MacLeod stated that “our society is structured to create poverty and extreme economic inequality…The great majority are automatically bound to be disappointed” (239 Croteau, Hoynes). America as a society has a very optimistic viewpoint on making money when the sad fact is that not everyone can be economically rich. That is simply how societies are in any country in the world. But something that can be controlled through laws and action, is economic inequality. I am very concerned with the future of America not because of the growing economic inequality, but because of the “facts” and information that the majority of people in America believe in regards to poverty and the income gap.


In the majority of documentaries and content found in the text books, the issue of employment in the American poor is key. It is commonly claimed that lower class people are working as hard as they can and still cannot make ends meet. Yet looking at actual statistics, “59.7% of poor people aged 18-64 did not work at least one week during the year; only 10.8% worked full time” (U.S. Census Bureau 2013). The 10.8% of people that are working full time and trying their hardest are the people that deserve to receive some benefits because they are trying. But 10.8% is not the majority of poor people, and the conception that the majority of poor people are working their hardest is shattered by the facts proven by data. I’m sure some people will disagree with me, but the facts are stated from unbiased organizations such as the U.S. Census Bureau and its impossible to win an argument without facts.


Next, there are conceptions that the richest 1% of Americans avoid paying capital gains tax. These are the taxes levied on profit from the sale of a property or an investment. The majority of people feel that the top 1% are not paying enough taxes. But on what evidence?FT_15.03.23_taxesInd

All of the facts clearly state that while the top 1% of Americans do make a lot of the national income, they are also paying a huge percent of the taxes. To claim that the top 1% needs to have higher tax rates is simply an opinion based on no facts because the facts clearly state that everyone is paying their fair share of taxes. 414chart


I am very deeply concerned about the growing income inequality because Americans are not aware of the facts that are clearly prevalent with just a little bit of research on sites like irs.gov or cbo.gov. Creating a totally equal society is not the answer to the issue and quite frankly, total equality is not a promise in any country despite our hopes. If I could do one thing to improve the situation, I would focus on education of children. Teaching a child that even if they come from a poor family they can create a decent life for themselves is a single step towards closing the income gap. Teaching a child that hard work pays off and having a job and an education is crucial to making money is a step towards closing the income gap. Convincing everyone that we’re all paying our fair share of taxes would be a miracle, but it is necessary in closing the income gap. Many people choose to focus on money out of greed and concerns. I wish to convey that a piece of paper with Benjamin Franklin across the middle does not control, or should not control our lives. Making money is extremely important, yes, but focusing on family and friends is where true wealth comes from. And though we can’t all be economically rich, we all can be wealthy with friends and family.



3 Responses

  1. bivinsdl says:

    I think the amount of statistics you gave was great. I actually learned a lot that countered what I originally thought, especially about taxes. I think the growth of the wage gap is a huge issue and to troubleshoot it we have to find a solution that is actually possible to obtain. I think using our resources to help find ways to invest tax dollars back into the economy to help create more jobs or more hours for lower income individuals would be a start.

  2. I appreciate your thinking critically about this. You’re right that the federal income tax is progressive, the more you make the more you pay. It was designed to be that way. Two important points, though.

    First, the wealthiest of Americans tend to make most of their money from investments, not salaries. As one of those–Warren Buffett–has famously pointed out, that leaves a billionaire paying a lower percentage of his earnings in taxes than his secretary (and most middle class Americans). http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/opinion/stop-coddling-the-super-rich.html

    Second, the numbers you cite look so skewed because they ignore the other taxes that in some cases are actually regressive; hitting low-income people more heavily than the better off. So if you look at the total tax structure–which is what we experience–it’s a very different picture. Here’s a pretty good summary and overview from a couple years back:

    • gaubatzek says:

      Reading the comments made on both of these articles is quite interesting because of the facts each commenter uses. The truth in this situation is very hard to see because I read the articles and understand that information, but there is more information that points against the information in these articles. I learn a lot about taxes through my dad who is the founder and CEO of a small company in Colorado. His views on taxation are very similar to mine and I suspect this is because he raised me to see things as he does. To say the top 1% of Americans don’t pay enough taxes is incorrect in my opinion because they are paying for the money they make though investments just not as directly as a payroll tax. I’m not as knowledgable about the subject as my dad is, but I’m trying to understand it all more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Privacy Statement