America's wealthy class is whining about returning to the pre-Bush tax rates in 2011. They even have the nerve to call it class warfare. The same epithet was hurled at FDR, but it's not class warfare to ask the wealthiest 5% of Americans to pay more. Here's 3 reasons why:
First of all, they are getting 2-yrs notice. Bush tax rates will still be in effect for the 2009 and 2010 tax years. That is waaaay more notice than any of our unemployed workers are getting. So they've got 2 years to strategize with their accountants, plotting out ways to push as much income and dividends and capital gains into 2009 & 2010 as possible. Get busy, you whiners.
Second, the oooh-so-scary soak-the-rich rates that are causing them to piss all over themselves amounts to a mere 4% hike in ordinary income tax rates! Regular people are facing 20% inflation or more for groceries and necessities.
Now it's true the dividend and capital gains tax rates will go up more than 4%. They will probably rise by 13% ... in 2011. If anyone still has any dividends or capital gains to pay tax on by then, they should count themselves fortunate.
Third, the wealthy can afford to pay more. Yes they can! Those with enough discretionary income to buy a yacht can afford to pay a higher tax rate than those who can barely afford to feed, clothe and shelter their families. It doesn't matter if they inherited their wealth or worked their balls off to earn it; if they have it, they can afford to pay a higher tax rate.
The way I see it, the wealthy class of this country got a free ride for the last 8-yrs. In two more years, they will be required to start paying some of it back. In the meantime, they earned unprecedented profits, especially if they were invested in "defense" companies that earned "offensive" profits from the neocon plan for permanent war.
Those profits didn't just materialize out of thin air, either. They came from an extensive war waged on the middle class by the wealthy class, for which the middle class are presenting a bill that starts becoming due in 2-yrs. While the middle class whined about what was happening during the last 8-yrs, it was not too loudly, and in the end, they shut up and accepted their decreased purchasing power. They did not, for instance, follow the route of The Jacquerie who staged a Peasant's Revolt in 1358.
image: Jacquerie by Henri Louvet, click to enlarge
If the wealthy class wants to know what real class warfare looks like, they should consider the following I synthesized from Barbara Tuchman's "A Distant Mirror":
In 1358, a group of peasants who became known as The Jacquerie, tired of their own families going hungry & dying from illness while they labored unceasingly for the upper classes, held an indignation meeting. They blamed the nobles for their miseries. No plan of revolution, but simple hate ignited The Jacquerie. They began burning down manors and killing the nobles. Some of the nobles were burned at the stake. The revolt gathered force as more peasants joined, armed with the weaponry of agriculture, scythes, pitchforks, hatchets and other farming implements. They pursued fleeing nobles, slicing off heads of those captured. Froissart writes of "a knight who was killed and roasted on a spit before the eyes of his wife and children. Then after 10 or 12 of The Jacquerie violated the lady they forced her and her children to eat some of her dead husband's flesh and then they killed them." When asked why they did all these things, The Jacquerie replied that they wished "to rid the world of nobles and then there would be none any more". This theme would recur with renewed vengance in the French Revolution.
Consider that and then consider whining about a lousy 4% tax hike!
When the wealthy wage class warfare against the lower classes, it usually takes the form of the lower classes being heavily taxed, overworked, underpaid, and carrying a disproportionate burden of supporting society.
When the lower classes wage class warfare against the wealthy, it can be a peaceful realignment of shared responsibility ... or it can result in a bloodbath ... in two years.