Food for thought. When I mention that Sweden has a very high personal income tax rate, the nationalistic American response is, "Ha! In America, it's the land of opportunity. Low taxes, capitalism, and opportunity for everyone!" (chances are, if you read this blog, you're not the typical American, so I'm not counting your responses in this)
I just got my pay stub for this month. Out of every dollar earned, I pay 43 cents to Uncle Sam in the form of Federal and state taxes, Medicare, and Social Security. That gives me 57 cents on the dollar to spend. Then add in
- property tax
- sales tax
- meal tax
- utility tax for electricity
- home energy tax for heating and cooking
- water tax (they call it a fee for service, but face it, it's a tax)
- sewage tax
- telephone tax
- 911 mobile tax
- excise tax on the car I drive
- gasoline tax for the gas I put in the car...
... and I figure that I get to *use* about 14 cents on the dollar on a good day. I'm grateful to my fantastic employer, the Student Loan Network, for providing 100% healthcare coverage, or I'd be dropping another $300 - $600 per month for healthcare.
How, exactly, is this low taxation?
As for opportunities, several people made the statement that America is still the best place for opportunities, to which I'd say in the 20th century, that may well have been true, but with Internet connectivity approaching near ubiquity in some countries (Europe's 3G network puts the US to shame, and South Korea's gigabit to the house is just frighteningly fast) opportunities are increasingly portable. In order to maintain its competitiveness in the 21st century, America has a lot of work to do to reduce government waste and invest in its citizens as other countries are doing.
Food for thought: $447 billion spent so far in Iraq. Regardless of your politics, that would pay for every college student in America to go to a four year public university for free for all four years. It's not that we don't have the resources in America - it's just that we lack the will to do what is necessary to ensure our continued prosperity and to hold those we elect to office accountable for their choices.