EDITOR’S NOTE: This continues our 2012-13 Speak Out Loud installment. Throughout the school year, the Denton Record-Chronicle will publish photos, opinions, features, news stories and more from high school student journalists and yearbook staffers in and around Denton. Speak Out Loud allows high school students to share their news and views with the Denton community and beyond.
Success is inarguably vital to the “American Dream.” The concept that one man, born into complete poverty with no prospects and little to no hope, can rise above all obstacles and become something great is what makes our country unique. America is every man’s land. It is the harbor of dreamers, the army of the brave and the system of the people.
The measuring of our successes has been what drives this nation. From the moment the Declaration of Independence was signed, we knew that we would not be satisfied with the ordinary. We pushed forward. We created an individual system of government, and we made it work. We have fought through barriers of prejudice and strived for equal rights. We have put a man on the moon and a robot on Mars. What can stop us?
Unfortunately, the answer is ourselves. The American idea of success is celebrated in the accomplishments of the government but not in those of the people.
Think about it.
With the division of the wealthy, middle and lower classes, there is bound to be conflict. However, the amount of animosity toward those of the “wealthy” sect of America is astounding. Instead of respecting the achievements of others, Americans respond with jealousy, demanding higher taxes while the common man gets the break. The question must be asked: is it right for Americans, who supposedly value success, to push all of our country’s burdens onto the shoulders of a few men?
Here are some numbers. The top 1 percent of our country currently pays 22.3 percent of all our taxes despite only making approximately 13.4 percent of all pre-tax income. According to a study by the Congressional Budget Office mentioned in an article from The Washington Times in July, the top 20 percent pays approximately 70 percent of all taxes. Contrast this with the fact that the lowest 20 percent pays only three-tenths of a percent of the taxes. Out of the 300 million people in America, only 63 million pay more than half of our taxes while another 63 million pay less than one percent.
There is a clear problem in the distribution here. Since when did America start punishing those who “made it?” What we are seeing today is a shift towards a country where the richer you are, the more burdens you have. If that is where success leads us, then there is almost no point in trying to become successful. Americans might as well stay where they are, since the cost of reaching the top does not outweigh the benefit of being there in this case.
Is it the wealthy’s fault that there are poor people? Is it their fault that there are people that sit for years on welfare — money which is mostly provided, conveniently enough, by federal taxes? Of course it is not. Most of the time, it is nobody’s fault.
There will never be a solution to poverty. In a capitalistic economy, different income levels are inevitable; otherwise there would be no purpose to the system. America will always have poor people but will also always have rich people. We should all strive to help those in need and build a relationship of mutual respect. Acknowledge that others are in hardship, but also acknowledge that it is not because someone else is richer.
The beauty of America’s economy is that there is a circulation of wealth. Money never stays in one person’s hands forever. That is why the opportunity for success is open to everyone. That is why instead of crying out against the wealthy, we should work with them. In a time when our economy is suffering, Americans must come together to work toward a solution rather than continuing to drive the wedge between the classes even deeper.
MADDIE BELL is a senior at Ryan High School and a participant in the Denton Record-Chronicle’s “Speak Out Loud” writing program for student journalists.