America’s Death by Debt and Taxes

By:  Selwyn Duke
America’s Death by Debt and Taxes

How bad are America's fiscal woes? Evaluating our taxation, budgeting, and debt by the numbers paints a very bleak picture, indeed.

While the United States put a man on the moon in 1969, it took a bit longer to get there with our spending. But we finally made it with our profligate ways, as 3.9 trillion (our estimated 2013 budget) one-dollar bills stacked up would reach all the way to the moon — and beyond. The question is, can we reach the moon with taxes, too? Since many Americans seem to think so — and continue voting for politicians who spend like drunken sailors — let’s place the issue of taxes and spending in perspective.

Many people believe Americans are under-taxed, even though 2013 federal tax revenue will be $2.9 trillion. So mull over the following examples pertaining to this figure (taken from Rob Bluey at The Foundry and updated):

It is 2,900 billion.

At $45.8 million per year, LeBron James would need to work 63,318.8 years to earn it.

Average life in the U.S. lasts 2.4 billion seconds.

2.9 billion seconds ago take us back to the year Benito Mussolini seized power in Italy: 1922.

2.9 trillion seconds ago woolly mammoths and saber-toothed cats walked the Earth. It was 89,944 B.C.

But while $2.9 trillion is a big figure, how much of this comes from the rich? Are they paying their “fair share”? Consider the following 2010 data from the Internal Revenue Service:

The top one percent of wage-earners paid 37.38 percent of all federal individual income taxes (FIIT) despite earning only 18.87 percent of all adjusted gross income (AGI).

The top five percent of wage-earners paid 59.07 percent of all FIIT despite earning only 33.78 percent of all AGI.

The top 10 percent of wage-earners paid 70.62 percent of all FIIT despite earning only 45.17 percent of all AGI.

The bottom 50 percent of wage-earners paid only 2.4 percent of all FIIT taxes despite earning 11.7 percent of all AGI

To place matters in further perspective, however, taxpayer handouts must be factored into the equation. As wrote, using 2010 figures from a Congressional Budget Office report:

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