Ralph Kramden Could Teach Us Much
In one of the great TV comedy episodes of all time, Ralph Kramden visited the IRS.
Played by Jackie Gleason in “The Honeymooners” of 1956, bus driver Kramden failed to report as income a prize he won, a horse with a clock in its stomach. In a comedic but sincere confession to the local revenue agent, Ralph agreed to pay the tax he owed. By paying his taxes voluntarily, this lower-middle-class blue-collar worker was showcased as a “true American.”
There are still American Ralph Kramdens doing the work that many of us went to school to avoid. Indeed, they are still great citizens. But, as the Obama administration knows, today, very few of them pay income tax. President Obama’s campaign theme is to assure today’s Kramdens that someone else will pay. That is what his “class warfare” is all about.
In the mid-20th century, everyone from Ralph Kramden to David Rockefeller paid income tax. Ralph, at the lower end of the income scale but certainly not in poverty, paid 20 percent. He had no deductions.
Today, due to tax cuts from both Republicans and Democrats, 45 percent of American households, many of which have two voters, pay no income tax at all. In fact, according to CNN Money, 62 million voters who pay no income tax and whose households earn under $50,000 per year represent a number equal to 93 percent of the 67 million popular votes Barack Obama needed to win the presidency in 2008.
Many describe America as a country of “haves” and “have-nots.” In truth, we are a country of “taxed and taxed nots.” And, those “taxed not,” equaling close to a majority of presidential votes, are totally unburdened with America’s need to finance government with tax instead of debt.
Ralph Kramden might have been in favor of new nuclear bombers or the Interstate highway system — or not. But today’s Kramdens and Nortons can be as generous as they want simply because federal governance is given to them free of charge.
Currently, we have half of the country that does not pay taxes and the other half that does not want to pay. Those who do not pay want government to spend more on welfare. Those who do not want to pay want government to spend more on defense. And the politicians are happy to oblige both groups by borrowing money from China, sending the bill America’s grandchildren.
The reality is that either Ron Paul is right and we need to make Washington, D.C., into a ghost town of former government offices abandoned like Chernobyl after the meltdown, or we have to raise taxes from everyone — and I do mean everyone!
Personally, I would like to see a fair tax not only taxing goods at retail so that the rich, profligate spenders pay more, but also making the working class pay something. Everything from the sale of stocks to socks could be taxed, but the income tax would be totally eliminated.
Even a flat, universal tax of 20 percent with no deductions, the percentage of income tax paid by the Ralph Kramdens of 1956, would be better than the current “hodgepodge” of rates that result in secretaries paying a percentage of income sometimes greater than their billionaire employers but, what Obama never reveals, mostly paying nothing at all.
Both the Romney plan to tinker with rates and the Obama plan to soak the rich are little more than “rearranging deck chairs on a sinking Titanic.” Neither man has what elder George H.W. Bush chided himself for lacking: “that vision thing”.
If we are to be a united country once again, we must all do things together, including the payment of income taxes as opposed to the accumulation of debt. Only then can today’s Kramdens and Rockefellers exercise true democracy across the financial divide.
Each should have a financial stake so that they can jointly decide whether their purchase of a nuclear bomber or a Head Start textbook is so important they, not their kids, should pay for it.
Robert M. Levy is chairman of the Moore County Republican Party. Contact him at Law52@prodigy.net.
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