The Bottom One Percent
By David Henderson
I gave a short talk yesterday at a mixer of the Monterey County Libertarian Party, Libertarians for Peace, and Seaside Taxpayers’ Association. I always try to come up wth something a little new that I haven’t said before, so I don’t get stale. Here’s part of what I said. I started with:
The issues today–whether local, state, or national–are our issues. In each of the major issues of the day, the government is the problem, not the solution. And we libertarians and anti-tax groups are the leaders.
I don’t have time for all the issues because I promise to stick to a 10-minute limit. But let me hit a few of them:
The Debt, the Poor, the War.
The new part is about the poor:
We hear a lot about the top 1%. We don’t hear a lot about the bottom 1%. There are about 313 million people in America today. 1% of 313 million is 3,130,000. In our prisons today are 2,200,000 people. So the people in prison are 2/3 of one percent. And their wages are typically about 23 cents an hour. They are, essentially, the bottom 1%.
Many of them are there for violent crimes, theft, fraud, and other such things. But hundreds of thousands of them are there for buying, selling, or producing illegal drugs. The drug war has put them there. And we taxpayers are paying $30,000 a year and more to keep them there.
So let me get this straight: high-income people are paying lots of taxes so that the government can put poor people in prison and keep them poor or put non-poor people in prison and make them poor.
We hear the occupy people advocate taxing the top 1% more. I’ve got a better idea: let’s tax the top 1% less–they’re already paying a disproportionately high share of taxes–and let a few hundred thousand of the bottom one percent out of prison and out of their grinding poverty in prison.