Letter to the Editor: Taxing the Rich Is Not a New Concept in America


In a democracy, if you do income taxes at all, you had better make them steeply progressive. A hundred years ago, before World War I, the lowest bracket was at 1%, and the highest was seven times higher, at 7%.

During WWI, when the government needed cash, the highest rate jumped to 77%. The rich paid their share.

Calvin Coolidge, the Republican friend of the roaring rich in the Roaring Twenties, lowered the max rate from 50% to 40%, and then again to 20%.

WWII shot the max rate up to 94% on incomes over $2.5 million in today’s dollars. That rate affected the equivalent not of our 1%, but our one hundredth of 1%. Today, instead of handing over $2.3 million of their $2.5 million to the government like they did then, our .01% often pay effectively zero percent, let alone the top rate of 37%.

The top tax rate in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s never dropped below 70%. But then America’s new oligarchic class called a halt to all the money bleeding, culminating in a top rate of 28% in 1988.

Rich Republicans and Democrats alike today take the Bible verse in Mark 4:25 as their mantra, “For he that hath, to him shall be given; and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.”


Kimball Shinkoskey

Former Lewis County resident