To those fantasizing about the 1950s and 1960s as a pre-socialist golden era: in 1955, people earning over $2 million in 2006 dollars paid a 49 percent tax rate. In 2006 (the most recent IRS data) the 139,000 taxpayers reporting incomes of $2 million or more paid only 23 percent in taxes.
Does this mean that Dwight Eisenhower was a Marxist?
In 1966 Medicare was established for America's aging retirees. Was Lyndon Johnson a socialist?
In fact the Republican "ideology of freedom" has been nothing but an attack on what makes Americans nostalgic for the 1950s - the vision of a secure, well-educated, healthy and largely middle-class society.
Government programs benefit the wealthy by creating safety and social stability. If America's most vulnerable citizens become solely dependent on personal charity, the next step will be Americans starving in the streets, and all the danger, crime and degradation that follows. Do you want to live in a gated community, fear that your children will be kidnapped for ransom and not be able to walk the streets of the cities unarmed? This is what life is like for the wealthy today in many nations without social safety nets.
It should be clear by now that without the pressure of a democratic government, many people's charitable impulses extend to themselves and themselves alone.
SARAH E. FLANDERS