We are All Waiters Now: Why Higher Taxes Would Make Americans Happier, and Why, Despite This, We Won’t Raise Them

Source: Thomas Geoghegan, In These Times, December 2006, Vol. 30 no. 12

Now that the Democrats run Congress, the question becomes, “What should they do?” Yes, raise the minimum wage. And yes, fix the Medicare drug program. But will this bind a new majority to the party?…

… But what the Democrats don’t have is a serious commitment—the political nerve—to make people happier in the only way they can: by raising people’s taxes. How happy more of us would be if only we could pay higher taxes! More of us at last could joyfully retire.

In May 2005, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) put out a sort of Michelin Guide to the pensions of the world’s 30 wealthiest nations: the United States, Ireland and their ilk. While the United States is rich, comparatively it’s a beggar at the bottom, with a Burger King-type pension, paying on average 39 percent of after-tax income at retirement. Others pay about 70 percent on average. Germany, Sweden: pick a country. Some pay even more.

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