“CORPORATE JET OWNERS” – SWATTING POLITICAL JARGON
One sign that election year is getting closer is the swarming of political jargons and clichés. It reminds me of the Gnat line in the Carolinas and Georgia. You know you have crossed it when a cloud of gnats start circling your head and buzzing in your ears. If that is not annoying enough, these pests start aiming for your eyes, nose and mouth. Instinctively, you start the human windshield wiper by waving your hands from left to right in front of your face. My mother-in-law calls it the ‘Georgia wave.’
Political catch-phrases are just as annoying. They start buzzing all around as we get closer to the elections. No amount of swatting will drive them away permanently but not doing anything can be miserable. Let’sswat at a few of the popular ones. Here’s one that has buzzed lately – “Corporate jet owners.” What comes to mind when we hear that? We picture money hoarding corporate executives arriving in their swanky limousines and striding across the red carpet to their multi-million dollar jets. On board they are greeted by attendants serving the finest champagnes. As they puff their Cuban cigars, their cronies whisper in their ears of yet another way to avoid paying their “fair share of taxes.” We can almost hear their sinister laughs as the plane leaves the runaway.
Is all that really true? Here are just a couple of problems with this gnat. First, who are these elites who would rather have their own jets than fly with the rest of us commoners? Does their $250,000 salary qualify them to be upgraded from first class to “jet owner” status? Reality check – a private jet can cost anywhere from five to fifty million dollars. This does not include hangar charges, maintenance costs, fuel, and pilot fees. The point is that we have way more jet-fliers than jet owners. Any revenue generated from taxing those who can afford a jet is negligible in light of the debt. As columnist Charles Krauthammer remarked: “I did the math on this. If you collect the corporate jet tax every year for the next 5,000 years, you will cover
one year of the debt . . .”
Second, are the rich paying their fair share? According to the SOI (Statistics of Income) tax stats available on the IRS website, the top one percent of the wealthiest Americans paid 38.02 percent of the total income tax. If you still think that it’s not enough, here is one statistic that will blow your mind. The top 50 percent of the tax payers pay 97% of the total income tax. This means that half of all Americans pay only 3% of the revenue! Do we still think that these wealthy “fat cats” are not paying their fair share? In fact, they are the small business owners who are the heart of American business. Seems to me that they are being penalized enough already.
Finally, the third point goes to the heart of the problem. We need to stop thinking of economy as a zero sum game. This idea assumes that the economy is a fixed pie where the rich get richer at the expense of the poor. Think of a hard-working and law-abiding farmer. He sweats all day under the hot sun. He hires laborers and pays them their fair wages. After the harvest, he sells his produce and gains a profit. Who did he rob? Or, how about the athlete who works hard and stays clean? Who did he rob to get that contract? Or, that talented girl who makes it big in the music industry through hard work and focus. Who did she rob?
Should we punish people for working hard and doing more than their fair share? It’s time we swat that gnat.