American's median income was $51,939.00 in 2013. In 2012 our median income was $51,759.00. In 1999, the pre-recession peak median American income was $56,436.00. Five years ago the United States Treasury took in 2.1 trillion dollars.
Last year our federal government collected a record amount of taxes, just over 3 trillion dollars! (Wikipedia, Household Incomes in America) Struggling Americans sent more money to Washington than ever before in our nation's history. As Americans' incomes have struggled, stagnated and stalled good old Washington is rolling. What is wrong with this picture? Americans are poorer but Washington is richer. Washington is getting more of hard working Americans' money so they can determine our lives. Washington now determines our health care, our retirement and care for all of the people who do not want to work. The average American could not survive in retirement without Social Security.
Americans need more money, not Washington. Americans are spending their money on food, utilities, mortgages, rent, gasoline, car payments and health care. Granted, recent gasoline prices have helped. After these expenses, there is not much money left over for family excursions, clothes and saving for retirement. The American dream used to include owning a house, two cars, sending the kids to college and a two weeks vacation each year. By the age of 62 you retired to do what you wanted to do with your life. That's not happening today because Americans don't have enough money. Go to Walmart or MacDonald's and you'll see lots of seniors working. People who are 75 years old and occasionally even 80 are working minimum wage, 30 hour a week jobs. A few do it because they need something to do. Most Americans are in those jobs because they need the money - desperately.
Here are some stats: 19% of middle-class Americans have zero retirement savings. 34% are not currently saving for retirement. 41% of Americans between the ages of 50-59 are not currently saving for retirement. Based on the numbers, most retirees will be unable to even retire on 70% of their working income. The median savings across all age groups was only $20,000. Housing, healthcare, food and transportation make up about 65% of Americans' spending. (Huffington Post: posted, 10/27/2014) Combine this with falling incomes over the last decade and you have a poorer America - but not Washington. What's wrong with this picture?
Americans could always cut out a few things to save money, but what? Some Americans polled by Daily Finance said they could curtail eating out and buying fewer clothes, taking fewer vacations, giving fewer gifts, buying fewer groceries and cutting back on entertainment. 12% of those polled said they would not make any cuts and are spending like there is no tomorrow.
Americans need better jobs that pay more money. Working at fast food restaurants and retail has never provided us with comfortable incomes. We need progressive industry. We need to continue on our path to being the world's energy provider. However, we must lead the world in clean energy. We can learn how to use fossil fuels cleaner but we are not there yet. We should learn how because we have a lot of oil and coal. However, we must become the world leaders in using wind and solar energy. We are on our way and this is not the time to stop. We must go back to making everything that China makes from clothes, to furniture, to electronics. The auto industry exports our cars to other countries and then brings those earnings back to America.
We have to go back to work in this country. We have to sell our products to the 95% of the world's population who do not live in America. We have to stop penalizing people and corporations for being successful. It is time to cut the corporate tax rate to 15% and lower taxes for all Americans. Washington does not need more money, Americans do.
Dr. Glenn Mollette is a syndicated American columnist and author. He is read in all 50 states. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily representative of any other group, organization or this publication.