A few days ago, liberal-blogger/America-blamer Bill Quigley over at t r u t h o u t wrote an op-ed about the “Nine Myths About Socialism in the US.” After reading it I felt obligated to tackle each one, because I know nobody else will. I hope you’re able to see where the left is coming from after you read this.
Quigley begins by attacking Glenn Beck by name, as one of the “far-right multi-millionaires” that are claiming the U.S. is headed toward socialism. He even quotes Sen. Patrick Moynihan: “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. But everyone is not entitled to their own facts.”
I couldn’t agree more. Let’s talk about some facts.
Myth No. 1: The US Government Is Involved in Class Warfare, Attacking the Rich to Lift Up the Poor.
“There is a class war going on all right. But it is the rich against the rest of us and the rich are winning. The gap between the rich and everyone else is wider in the US than any of the 30 other countries surveyed. In fact, the top 10 percent in the US have a higher annual income than any other country. And the poorest 10 percent in the US are below the average of the other OECD countries. The rich in the US have been rapidly leaving the middle class and poor behind since the 1980s.”
Is there class warfare in the U.S.? Or course there is. But let’s look at some real facts:
In 2007, the top 1 percent of tax returns paid 40.4 percent of all federal individual income taxes and earned 22.8 percent of adjusted gross income. Simply put: The richest 1% of Americans earned 22.8% of all the individual adjusted gross income in the country. They paid 40.4% of all federal individual income taxes. Does that sound fair to you?
I won’t defend truly greedy individuals, or corporations who exploit workers… but not every wealthy person is evil or greedy, and not every corporation. Furthermore, those “evil rich people” are the ones running businesses, producing goods and services, hiring people to sell or provide those goods and services and keeping our economy going.
Now, look at how liberals view the rich. When they want a new social program like health care reform, what do they do? Increase taxes on the rich. It’s their answer to everything. Why is that? Because it is popular to target the “evil rich people.” They make an easy target since they only represent a few percent of our population, and it sounds great in elections.
Myth No. 2: The US Already Has the Greatest Health Care System in the World.
“Infant mortality in the US is fourth worst among OECD countries – better only than Mexico, Turkey and the Slovak Republic.”
There it is! You can only go so far into a debate with a liberal before they mention the children. “Don’t you care about the children?!”
Fact: Infant mortality is defined as “death before one year of age.”
Fact: Most infant deaths in poor countries are attributed to easily treated infections – something our health care system handles beautifully.
What Quigley chooses not to mention here is WHY the United States has such a high infant mortality rate. Check out this 2006 report, which explains that the number of women using fertility treatments doubled from 1996 to 2002, and over half of those pregnancies are susceptible to premature birth. Premature birth happens to be the leading cause of infant mortality in the U.S.! Go figure. It turns out that messing with the natural biological process is the problem, NOT our horrible health care system. In fact, maybe our health care system is TOO GOOD, in offering these services in the first place. But don’t expect a liberal to agree to lower infant mortality in the U.S. by telling a woman not to go to a fertility clinic.
I won’t even get into the 1 million lives lost “before one year of age” due to abortion.
Myth No. 3: There Is Less Poverty in the US Than Anywhere.
“Child poverty in the US, at over 20 percent or one out of every five kids, is double the average of the 30 OECD countries.”
There is a lot wrong with this assertion. In 2007, forty percent of babies were born to single-mothers. FORTY PERCENT! Do we even have to wonder why child poverty is on the rise in America? Just look at who is having the children! In the same year, 28% of white women, 72% of black women and 51% of Latinas giving birth, did so as single-mothers. Liberals are all too fond of reminding us at how much poorer the black and Hispanic communities are when compared to whites. So, is it a surprise that child poverty is a problem when half of Hispanic children and almost three-quarters of black children are being born into one-income households (in many cases with no income or house)?
We have welfare, food stamps, WIC, Catholic Charities, Medicaid, SCHIP and many other support services to help these children and their parent(s). Should the blame really be placed on the U.S. government? When is someone going to tell people who can’t afford children, to keep their legs closed, or start practicing safe sex? These problems don’t create themselves, and liberals need to start realizing that we need to address the CAUSE, not the RESULT.
Myth No. 4: The US Is Generous in Its Treatment of Families With Children.
“The US ranks in the bottom half of countries in terms of financial benefits for families with children. Over half of the 30 OECD countries pay families with children cash benefits regardless of the income of the family. Some among those countries (e.g. Austria, France and Germany) pay additional benefits if the family is low income or one of the parents is unemployed.”
What is Quigley trying to point out here? We should give cash benefits to people who have children? Is he out of his mind?
Parents already have the ability to claim their children as dependents on their tax returns, which results in a deduction of $3,000 per child. Parents are also eligible to receive an additional $1,000 credit per child. That’s $4,000 per year, per child (provided the credit does not amount to more than the total income earned). So a family of four would be eligible for an $8,000 deduction/credit on their tax return. That’s not a “financial benefit for families with children?”
We’re also supposed to praise countries like Austria, France and Germany for paying additional benefits if the family is low income or one of the parents is unemployed. Do we not have unemployment in this country? Do we not have other social programs to help low income families? Did I not just mention welfare, food stamps, WIC, Medicaid and SCHIP?
Why do liberals think it is the government’s job to pay for your children?
Myth No. 5: The US Is Very Supportive of Its Workers.
“The US gives no paid leave for working mothers having children. Every single one of the other 30 OECD countries has some form of paid leave. The US ranks dead last in this. Over two-thirds of the countries give some form of paid paternity leave. The US also gives no paid leave for fathers.
“In fact, it is only workers in the US who have no guaranteed days of paid leave at all. Korea is the next lowest to the US and it has a minimum of eight paid annual days of leave. Most of the other 30 countries require a minimum of 20 days of annual paid leave for their workers.”
The U.S. gives no paid leave for working mothers having children? What is short-term disability? I believe it is paid leave. This is a flat-out lie. Mothers on maternity leave get 12 weeks un-paid leave, but are able to get paid through short-term disability. As for fathers, they can take time off via the Family Medical Leave Act and supplement that time with sick days and vacation time – also resulting in paid leave.
At the risk of sounding like a heartless bastard, why is it the government’s job to pay you for having a child? You decide to have a child, and then you expect your company or the government to pay you to miss work? And for how long? One year? Five years? I just don’t see how the responsibility falls on the employer or government. This isn’t cancer treatment. It’s not a bypass surgery. It’s a personal choice, not a set of unfortunate circumstances.
In other news, the 4th Quarter 2009 numbers for Youth Unemployment (15-24 year olds) shows the U.S. at 19%, lower than the UK (19.8%), Italy (25.1%), France (25.1%), Ireland (29.1%), the Slovak Republic (31.9%) and Spain (43%). The best way to support a worker is to give him/her a JOB! How’s that working out for you, Europe?
Myth No. 6: Poor People Have More Chance of Becoming Rich in the US Than Anywhere Else.
“Social mobility (how children move up or down the economic ladder in comparison with their parents) in earnings, wages and education tends to be easier in Australia, Canada and Nordic countries like Denmark, Norway and Finland, than in the US. That means more of the rich stay rich and more of the poor stay poor here in the US.”
Ah yes, the poor people! I love this particular argument, because it is so off-base. Here are some facts about America’s “poor,” as defined by the Census Bureau, and taken from various government reports thanks to the Heritage Foundation. Remember, these are statistics for what our government considers “poor households,” from 2007.
43% own their own homes.
74% own a car/truck; 31% own two or more cars/trucks.
80% have air conditioning.
64% own a clothes washer; 57% have a clothes dryer.
37% own a dishwasher.
89% own a microwave.
97% own a color TV; 55% own two or more color TVs; 25% own a large screen TV (2007).
63% have cable or satellite television.
78% own a VCR or DVD player; 25% own two or more VCRs/DVD players.
59% own a stereo.
32.5% own a landline and mobile phone*; 36% own a personal computer.
*It’s worth mentioning that as of 2010, all individuals that qualify for state or federal welfare – food stamps, Medicaid, etc. – and have an income at or below 135% of the poverty level, are eligible to receive a free cell phone, with a limited number of monthly minutes.
Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded; two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.
The typical poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)
So before we start crying over the poor in America, let’s try to identify who is “actually poor” and who is simply “not rich.” There are people in America who are actually poor. People who own their home, a car, and have cable TV are NOT POOR. The poverty line exists somewhere below “Xbox Ownership” For some reason, “poverty” in America has been equated with “not being able to fly to Hawaii once a year.” It’s incredible to see what passes as “poor” in a country that has seen its share of REAL poverty over the years.
Myth No. 7: The US Spends Generously on Public Education.
“In terms of spending for public education, the US is just about average among the 30 countries of the OECD. Educational achievement of US children, however, is seventh worst in the OECD. On public spending for childcare and early education, the US is in the bottom third.”
I have long held the belief that the problem with our education system has nothing to do with money. I’ll explain.
In constant 2006-07 dollars, the U.S. spent $2,670 per pupil in the 1961-62 school year and $9,391 in 2005-06. These are in CONSTANT DOLLARS! That means we’ve almost quadrupled our funding per pupil over 35 years, with NO results to show for it. In fact, our education system was far better in the 1960s than it is today. So what’s the problem?
The problem is that most of the money today goes to bloated salaries for cushy administrative positions throughout the U.S. In Nevada’s Clark County School District (CCSD), there is one administrative position for every three teachers, and eight students. So if our problems are money-based, it’s because the money is going to the wrong people, and the wrong places. In fact, CCSD teacher salary caps out at $70k/year, whereas support staff caps out at $111k/year after 10 years of employment. If you believe teachers should get paid more, as I do, this is where the money should be coming from. In fact, 87% of the CCSD operating budget goes to employee compensation and benefits. So don’t tell me that we need to spend MORE money on education. We just have to spend it correctly.
Now, what about our place in the world?
The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (which Quigley references) issues an annual review of industrialized nations. According to one report, the U.S. spent $10,240 per student from elementary school through college in 2000. The average among more than 25 foreign nations was only $6,361. I’m sorry, is that “just about average,” as Quigley asserts? I think not!
Countries like Turkey, Mexico, the Slovak Republic and Poland are at the bottom of the list, spending less than $3,000 per student, while Denmark, Norway, Austria and Switzerland are at the top with more than $8,000 in per student spending. America spends the most by far, yet its students rank in the middle of the pack in test scores. Go figure.
Myth No. 8: The US Government Is Redistributing Income From the Rich to the Poor.
“There is little redistribution of income by government in the US in part because spending on social benefits like unemployment and family benefits is so low. Of the 30 countries in the OECD, only in Korea is the impact of governmental spending lower.”
If you go by the exact report Quigley is referring to, the U.S. ranks above Turkey, Mexico, Korea and Portugal in percent of GDP spent on social programs. This report only counts money spent on programs like unemployment, health care, family benefits, housing and “other social policy areas.” What it does NOT count, is how our government earns its money.
In 2007, the top 1% of tax returns paid over 40% of all federal income taxes. As I said earlier, this 1% of wage-earners earned 22.8% of the adjusted gross income (AGI) in the U.S. In 2004, the top 1% earned 19% of AGI and paid 36.9% of federal income taxes. Which means the richest Americans earned more in ’07 than ’04, but paid more of the federal tax burden in ’07 than in ’04. In fact 10% of that 1% (.01% of wage-earners = 141,000 tax returns) pays 20% of the federal tax burden. Someone should send them a thank you note.
In contrast, the bottom 50% of wage-earners in America earned 12% of AGI in 2007, but paid only 2.89% of the federal tax burden.
You still think there’s no redistribution of wealth in America? The fact of the matter is, if you are in the bottom 50% of wage earners, you contribute almost NOTHING to the tax burden in this country! The top 10% cover 71% of the burden; The top 25% cover 87% of the burden; The top 50% cover 97% of the burden. So… when we’re computing redistribution of income, let’s not forget how the government rapes the productive in this country, in order to support the unproductive.
And when people like Quigley start saying that the rich keep making more money, and the poor keep making less – he’s right. In 1980, the top 50% of wage-earners had 82.32% of the AGI, while the bottom 50% had 17.68%. In 2007 those numbers were 87.74% and 12.26%. So over the last 27 years the AGI of the top 50% went up 4 points, while it went down 4 points for the bottom 50%. Hardly a staggering shift. BUT… keep in mind the overwhelming number of social programs that now allow more people to make less money COMFORTABLY, compared with 1980! No wonder the bottom 50% are earning slightly less today – they are at far less risk of losing everything thanks to our ever-enlarging government.
Myth No. 9: The US Generously Gives Foreign Aid to Countries Across the World.
The US gives the smallest percentage of aid of any of the developed countries in the OECD. In 2007, the US was tied for last with Greece. In 2008, we were tied for last with Japan.
Despite the opinions of right-wing folks, the facts say the US is not on the path toward socialism.
But if socialism means the US would go down the path of being more generous with our babies, our children, our working families, our pregnant mothers and our sisters and brothers across the world, I think we could all appreciate it.
This is a complete lie. The United States is the largest donor of foreign aid in the world. The reason the OECD report shows the U.S. as ranking lower, is that it does not include private donations. Of the $122.8 billion of foreign aid provided by Americans in 2005, 79% came from private foundations, corporations, voluntary organizations, universities, religious organizations and individuals, according to the annual Index of Global Philanthropy.
“U.S. foundations gave more – in money, time, goods and expertise – than 11 of the 22 developed country governments each gave in 2005. U.S. private voluntary organizations totaled more than the governments of Japan, the UK, Germany and France each.”
So, the better fact to point out is that Americans give more money in foreign aid BY CHOICE than any government on Earth does by FORCE.
What’s the moral of this story? The first is that Bill Quigley has a warped perception of both socialism, and his own country. He lives by the “Blame America First” doctrine. He has spent the majority of 2010 blaming America for the earthquake in Haiti. Last year he sided with ACORN in its battle to receive federal funds after violating voter registration laws in 11 states. While he touts himself as a “human rights attorney,” it is clear he – like most liberals – only care about the rights of certain people. The rest of us are part of the problem, because we work, make money and spend it as we see fit. That’s simply not acceptable to people like Bill Quigley.
Well Bill Quigley, I love my country. I love it because it is a freedom-loving, capitalistic, Democratic Republic. If you want socialism so bad, go live in a socialist country. Those countries include: China, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam…
… oh wait.
Now I see why you live here.
*The views expressed in this blog are the author’s, and do not necessarily represent the views of Right Pride or GOProud.