Background of the social hierarchy
Robert Frank, in his article Do the Wealthy Pay Lower Taxes than the Middle Class portrays the issue of social stratification in the United States by examining the tax paying differences between the wealthy and the poor. He states that the poor pay more taxes as compared to the rich especially since the wealthy (upper class) have a flat rate for paying their taxes while the poor (lower class) have their tax charges increased with compliance to an enhancement in their income. This issue has been raised over a period of time whereby an unfair balance was realized between the poor and rich with regards to the local tax charges.
It has been noted that virtually each state’s tax system is significantly unfair whereby a greater portion of income from the middle and low income families is taken as compares to the upper class families. Furthermore, the local and state tax systems indirectly contribute towards the growth of income inequality through taxing the middle and low income households’ considerably higher rates as compared to the rich taxpayers. In simple terms, the tax systems are somewhat upside down where the poor pay more while the rich pay less.
According to Frank (2015), the lower class individuals represent 20 percent of all American citizens and they pay 10.9 percent of their salaries in local and state taxes; the middle class represent 20 percent of the population and pay 9.4 percent while the upper class that represent one percent pay just 5.4 percent of their total income to the local and state taxes. Evidently, the tax policy reflects expressions of power within the U.S; hence, individuals that lack favor or power pay more taxes whereas the others gain from the advantages of lower tax. Therefore, this paper will examine the aspect of social stratification with regards to the differences in taxation among the United States social class structure and how this issue is viewed through the media.
According to the Marxist theory of conflict, the bourgeoisie within capitalist societies usually exploit workers. In other words, the upper class in the American society seeks to reap more benefits by taxing the lower class more than them so that they can maintain greater power. Furthermore, the theory illustrates that the upper class pay the workers just enough to buy food and pay rent so that the lower class may not realize that they are undergoing exploitation. This explains the inequality in tax pay between the poor and the rich; most of the poor population does not realize their high tax rates because they are comfortable enough to afford the basic necessities.
On the other hand, the functionalist theory emphasizes that the wealthy may not just be interested in economic benefits but rather they are driven by their efforts to succeed. This theory explains the difference in tax pay rates by implying that the lower class are taxed more so that they can work harder and somehow reach the upper class; at this point the rich are taxed less because of the hard work they do to earn their income. Therefore, the theory implies that the different tax rates should motivate the middle and lower class to work harder and move up in society.
Davis and Moore theory outlines that social stratification is needed in order to meet the necessities of the complex social systems. This may explain the cause of inequality in the tax charges by dimming it necessary for the society to operate smoothly. This means that if the lower, middle and upper class are taxed equally; society would seize to function effectively. The theory further implies that societal needs may not be met if there is equality because some positions need people that are more skilled than other; however, this is seen as inequality by other individuals.
Durkheim’s theory focused on how the societies managed to maintain their social integration even after the traditional bonds got replaced by the modern economic relations. This could mean that the difference in taxation among American social structure was widely accepted because the society was integrated and such changes may have not have raised conflict in the past. Therefore, this inequality may have been contributed by the fact that Americans may not have fought against it as much as was expected in the past.
The article has expounded on the visible difference in the tax rates among the lower, middle and upper classes but at the same time the author has tried to show evidence that the rich may not be gaining as much advantage as implied through the media. However, he makes the assumption that the difference in tax charges in the American society is as a result of the entire tax system (local, state and federal taxes) which almost equates the amount of tax the low, middle and upper classes pay. Furthermore, he implies that the lower and middle class Americans are taxed more so that they can work harder to earn more income and he also seems to be biased on the upper class individuals by showing that they pay more taxes that the rest.
In conclusion, social stratification takes place whenever there is inequality in the society. The issue of unequal taxation has been widely criticized by the media but it always shows bias on one side making it a difficult issue to examine and understand logically. Moreover, the paper has examined the aspect of social stratification with regards to the differences in taxation among the United States social class structure and how this issue is viewed through the media.
Frank, R. (2015, Jan 15). Do the wealthy pay lower taxes than the middle class? CNBC.
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