By Rev. Paul N. Papas II
3 October 2011
For some this goes way back. Do you remember learning about homonyms? Homonyms are words that sound alike, spelled differently and have different meanings such as mail and male or witch and which. The elementary teacher would use exercises such as; which witch is which? Then there was a student or two would ask the teacher: “Bet you can’t tell which witch I am using?
The student’s were required to take each word and write the definition on a piece of paper. After finding all the definitions, the student would be required to write a sentence using the word according to its definition. This activity is a way of helping students in their writing. Many of students use the wrong word because it sounds like the word they are wanting, but they often misspell it because of confusion with homonyms. After completing this activity, the student’s in the class were supposed to have a better understanding of homonyms.
Some of these students grew up to hold public office and enjoy playing with words to “explain” what they mean. When I hear some politicians speak I think of the lessons of Which Witch is Which or hear a magician say: “There’s nothing up my sleeve” before he pulls the rabbit out of his hat.
Let’s take the current issue of making millionaires pay their fair share and more taxes. The president says that the rich don’t pay their fair share. Here are the facts according to the IRS:
• Those making more than $1 million pay 24% of income in taxes
• Those making $200,000 to $300,000 pay 17.5%
• Those making $100,000 to $125,000 pay 9.9%
• Those making $50,000 to $60,000 pay 6.3%
• Those making $20,000 to $30,000 pay 2.5%
And what of millionaires who pay no taxes?
There are 1,470 of them. They represent six-tenths of one percent of all those with million dollar incomes in the U.S. If we assume that they make an average income of $2 million a year each, taxing them at the same rate as other millionaires (24.4%) would yield $367 million, which would increase Treasury income tax revenues by 30 one-hundredths of one percent or one-third of one-tenth of one percent!
Overall, the IRS reports that the revenues from the income tax are sharply skewed toward taxes on the rich:
• The top 1% pays 39%
• The top 5% pays 60%
• The top 10% pays 72%
• The bottom half pays 3%
Which Witch is Which? I would think the IRS has a more accurate picture of how much is paid in income taxes and by whom. So what is the agenda of people demonizing the rich in general, probably nothing more than deflecting the public from the real issues by creating a stigma against rich people?
Stigma is one of those things many do not take seriously until it is used against them.
People who happen to have a medical condition of a mental illness are used to being ostracized because of their medical condition. Years ago lepers were required, because of their medical condition, to yell “Unclean” if anyone came near. Lepers were required to live outside the town.
Having a stigma against you is not an easy thing to live with. The stigma of being rich may set up class warfare. The stigma of having a medical condition of a mental illness may also be class warfare. Either way stigma is judgment that each person makes on their own about someone else or group. The list of available stigmas is rather long.
Which witch are you choosing? Which stigma would you like to be saddled with today?