Tuesday, February 15, 2005

A Wacko View Of "Fair"

I opened my Star Tribune this morning and found this incredibly offensive statement in the letters to the editor.

Marge Miller wrote "If (school)vouchers do become available, I do not think they should be limited to low-income students only -- that is not at all fair . Vouchers should not be based on your income -- low-income people seem to get all the benefits today."

Marge, who lives in Coon Rapids, has written the Star Tribune before about printing too many liberal letters. (A familiar right-wing rant).

Forget for the moment that school vouchers are generally a bad idea. Marge is displaying a smug ignorance of reality when she talks about fairness.

Surprise Marge! The MN Department of Revenue says low-income Minnesotans are paying more of their income for those increasingly scarce benefits than you are. The poorest Minnesotans pay an effective local and state tax rate of 17.4 % while most Minnesotans pay about 12%. The richest 1% pay just an 8.2% effective tax rate.

You read that correctly, the poorest are taxed at twice the rate of the richest. How can anyone defend that as fair?

Coon Rapids, where Marge lives, is isolated from poverty. The 2000 Census shows the lowest poverty rates in the state are in the Twin Cities suburbs. When you don’t see poverty, it’s easier to be callous about it.

Unfortunately, it’s that sort of isolation and self-centered thinking that is behind many of Governor Pawlenty’s proposals. The “no new tax” cult preserves a low tax rate for the rich at the expense of the poor, while doing little for those in the middle except pushing up your property taxes.

Perhaps when there are more poor people it will be tougher for those in the middle and top to isolate themselves from poverty. Of course at that point it will take years to undo the damage.

UPDATE: The Strib has published my response.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, it is good that a letter of this nature is published. It demonstrates, without a doubt, that wingnuts intend to spread vouchers in order to undermine our excellent public education system.

9:59 PM  

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