Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
You and your friends are playing the game of who can build the most houses in a set amount of time. The rules are simple: Everyone starts out with the same amount of given money. With that given money you can buy supplies to build a house. However, imagine if one of your friends starts out with more money or supplies than the rest of you. Who do you think will have the easier time winning? Normally, all of the players will start out with the same amount of given money and supplies to take away any advantages one may gain to win. However, just like this situation in this game, there are certain people who are given a greater advantage in life. These examples could be either being born into a wealthy family or just being born in a situation in which life becomes easier for you. Certain people in this world start out with advantages and thus are automatically born into a life with greater opportunities. Thus it is only possible for there to be a gap between the rich and poor. The economy of the US is bent so that the rich remain rich and the poor remain poor. Just like how the player who will start with an unfair advantage in winning the game, people from wealthier families will have an unfair advantage of succeeding in life than people from a poorer background. Thus in order for the less advantaged to reach to the same goal as the advantaged, they would have to work more and harder in order to gain the same achievements, in which the advantaged wouldn’t have to work as much in. People in these situations didn’t work hard to be in this kind of privileged environment. The less advantaged also didn’t choose to live in an underprivileged society. No one has a choice.
The phrase “self-made man” coined by Henry Clay, has been prevalent throughout American history, the idea that if you work hard enough, you will gain what you work for. Essentially “what you sow, you reap.” However, throughout the years the rich have had a greater advantage in life. Whether it be that they are able to gain a better education, or they are able to avoid paying taxes. In this society, having money means having an easier life. Thus, although “working hard” is believed to be the solution to all, equal resources and income based taxes may be the only way to solve the problem of closing the gap between the rich and poor, and how the rich gain a greater advantage in life.
Income-based tax is the idea that people that earn more should pay more towards taxes. However, some may say that increasing the tax rates for the wealthier may be a bad idea since the wealthy are the one who creates jobs for the poor. Others also argue that the higher rate is unfair for the rich since it makes them pay fines for their success, which may be seen that success is negative. There are three possible solutions to this problem: There are three types of taxes. The Progressive tax, which is what the US is using right now, flat tax, and fair tax.
The progressive tax is the type of tax the US is using right now. It is when “the rate of tax increases as income…increases” (Erb). Essentially the higher the amount of money you get paid, the higher your tax will be. The pros of this type of tax method would be that it would create a fair system where the people who pay taxes are the ones who can actually afford to pay the taxes, and the ones who cannot and are struggling can have an easier tax put on them. This would essentially “encourage the distribution of wealth” (Erb). The con of this tax, however, is that it segregates the rich and poor. Some people believe that the fact that the wealthy have to pay more “penalizes them for their success” (‘Taxation and Tax Reform’). This goes against the idea that everyone is equal, and essentially discourages success and makes success seem as negative. Therefore, some people may say that the 2nd type of tax method is fairer; the flat tax. The flat tax is when everyone pays the same tax rate, and how much you earn, your job, your money status, it all wouldn’t matter. It would be “a consistent tax rate applied to all tax brackets (Erb). Countries such as Russia use this type of tax method. The pros of this type of tax method as mentioned above would be that everyone pays the same tax rate, thus making everyone equal. However, the cons of this type of tax method would be that it would affect the middle class more than the richer class. (Erb) “Simply put, the rich can afford to pay more taxes, so they should, …most millionaires would not even notice if their taxes went up by the 5.6% rate that congressional Democrats have proposed” (‘Taxing Millionaires’). This is essentially saying that if a person with 100 dollars had to pay 10 dollars in comparison to a person with 1000 dollars had to pay the same 10 dollars, that wouldn’t be fair. That 10 dollars would be more valuable and more costly to the person with the 100 dollars. Also, it’s not like the price of basic living expenses will match up to the tax. Those prices will remain the same. Thus “If basic expenses like food and fuel are relatively inelastic, while a flat tax may be proportionate, the effect of the tax may be disproportionate” (Erb). Thus, the fair tax may be another good option. The fair tax is when taxes based on income is abolished. Instead, you would be taxed based on your purchases, “a 30% tax on purchases of new goods and services” (Erb). The pro’s of this would be that it would essentially “eliminates taxes on payroll and income” (Erb), and since you can control on the items you buy, it would be more controllable. This would also bring fairness to the status of a taxpayer since people with lower income will be prone to buying less, when wealthier people will be prone to be spending more. The cons of this method of taxpaying however are that this method has never been used before. Thus this method of taxpaying could be risky. This would also strain business too since people will start buying lesser things.
Another argument that the opposite side may argue is that this argument is bad since instead of focusing on how the rich needs to pay more, we need to find a solution in creating new jobs to give money to the poor. Instead of downgrading the rich, focus on upgrading the poor (‘Taxing Millionaires’). However, this is one of the ways we can support the poor. To get taxes and funding for them. Where do we get this money? From the rich. Also, in 2001 and 2003, the wealthy got big tax cuts, but it didn’t lead to prosperity for everyone as people thought. According to President Obama,
“At the beginning of the last decade, the wealthiest Americans got two huge tax cuts— 2001, 2003. Meanwhile, insurance companies, financial institutions—they were all allowed to write their own rules, or find their way around rules. We were told the same thing we’re being told now—this is going to lead to faster job growth. This is going to lead to greater prosperity for everybody. Guess what—it didn’t. Yes, the rich got much richer. Corporations made big profits. But we also had the slowest job growth in half a century. The typical American family actually saw their incomes fall by about 6 percent even though the economy was growing, because more and more of that growth was just going to a few, and the average middle-class American wasn’t seeing it in their paychecks. Health care premiums skyrocketed. Financial institutions started making bets with other people’s money that were reckless. And then our entire financial system almost collapsed. Do you remember that? It wasn’t that long ago. I know you guys are young, but it was pretty recent” (Obama).
This proves that lowering taxes for the rich actually did no help to the economy and closing the gap between the rich and poor.
Thus, tax rates should go higher because if you are really rich, taxes don’t really take that much money from you. When taxes are high, people spend less on unimportant things. However, when taxes are low, government don’t have enough money, thus increase in national debt (‘Taxation and Tax Reform’).
Even the idea of fines isn’t fair between the rich and poor. The idea of fines may be different between the rich and poor. The poor may try to follow the laws more than the rich in order to not pay the fines. But the rich, they may see a fine as just a price in order to do something. Their mindset may be that they can break the law because they can just pay the fine. That is why the rich may be able to get away with things easier than the poor. Also with other problems, the rich can just easily pay a fine when the poor may have to maybe even serve a jail sentence.
In order to really get rid of segregation between the rich and the poor, there needs to be an equality in education. What is success in life? In society’s standards, success in life means to be able to get a decent job, earn a decent amount of money, and even be able to do things you love in life. But what do you need in order to achieve these goals? Let’s work backward. In order to do what you love, you need to get hired in a job you want. And to get hired into a job you want, you would need to go to a good college. In order to get accepted into that good college, you would need to have good grades and good experiences that the college wants. In order to get those good grades and good experiences, some may need access to tutors, after-school lessons, or even to internships. What do all of these have in common? The answer is money. All of these require a lot of money in order to gain access to. Thus having a higher education means you have a higher chance of getting a good job, which means that you are more likely to be successful in life.
However, for the underprivileged, their parents probably don’t have enough money to send their children to elite private schools. Thus, the kids must go to free public schools, where the education is not as great as the private education students from richer families receive. With a low education, it is harder for them to achieve the same goal as the rich can easily. This shows how this society is bent so that the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. Students that are wealthier than others may have access to tutors or other learning programs. Therefore they may be able to understand a certain subject more easily and faster. But for a student who doesn’t have access to those, not only do they have to work after school, but it takes them longer to understand the school work.
Thus, There is no such thing as “potential.” Many colleges look at your extracurriculars including your grade. But those extracurriculars cost money. If you want to excel in a certain instrument, you need money to take lessons. If you want to excel in a certain sport, you need money to buy equipment. All of these “hobbies” and “talents” aren’t actually based on skill but really based on your resources. Thus, some students may seem as if they naturally have talent, when in reality they are just good at a certain skill since they are taught it. These lessons take money, therefore richer students may seem to have more “potential” when they don’t. Poorer students won’t have the opportunity to portray this “potential” and may seem less skilled when it’s just because they don’t have the same opportunities as the other students. Developing these “talents” also take time. As a wealthier student, you may have more time. This gives them the advantage of developing multiple skills. However, for the poorer students, some may have to work multiple part-time jobs in order to pay for themselves and their families. This may take time off their extracurriculars, tutors, or even time from studying. Thus, in the end, the richer students may seem well-rounded, while the poorer students don’t seem that much accomplished as the richer student.
However, money isn’t really the solution either. Even things like internships, having many internships also affects your acceptance into colleges. But all these opportunities really depend on the status of your parents. Your parents need to have many connections in order to gain this kind of opportunities. Therefore poorer students may not have access to many of these types of opportunities. Just applying to colleges may be affected because of the status of your family. The question of will your family status affect whether you get admitted or not also emerges. Colleges may not say so, but it definitely does. If you are a really smart student, you may hesitate to apply to certain colleges because they are more expensive to apply to. Or even the tuition maybe really expensive. People with higher grades get more scholarships: however, if you are poor, you may not be able to get the opportunities of education and therefore not have as high grades as their richer peers have. Therefore this system would be flawed too.
Therefore private schools should be abolished. Finland got rid of every private school and focused on improving every school. This eventually helped with the economy too. “inland abolished its fee-paying schools and instituted a nationwide comprehensive system from the early 1970s onwards. Not only did such reforms lead to the closing of the attainment gap between the richest and poorest students, but it also turned Finland into one of the global educational success stories of the modern era” (Benn). Thus, the US, following Finland’s example, should get rid of private schools. “Finland teaches us not only that state education will never be considered truly first-rate until we give all our children the same high-quality schooling, but also that a country that educates its children together has a better chance of being at ease with itself than one that segregates different parts of the population from an early age. On a rawer political note, the greater the spread of families using a public service, the greater the pressure on politicians to commit sufficient funds to support it” (Benn). Thus, if we follow Finland’s example, not only will everyone gets same the high-quality schooling experience and education, but everyone will also be educated together, which will get rid of segregation.
Although some may say that a solution could be that instead of getting rid of all private schools, it’s better to just have the private schools sponsoring them while doing partnerships and combined activities. But what others fail to realize is that this may cause even more segregation and can also lead to the students ‘eating crumbs off your table’ (Benn). Which in other words means, giving the poorer students the leftovers of what the rich use.