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Let's get back to admiring 'the rich'

"Class warfare." We've heard the term bandied about a lot lately. "Let's soak the rich," some say. "Teachers and union members are overpaid," others respond. "Half of Americans pay no income tax," some point out.

There has been a lot of finger-pointing lately, and it's distressing, especially since we need to move past this petty and personal argument and get to work on fixing our economy.

Many fingers have been pointed lately at the well-to-do, and very lately, the pointing has been more vigorous and accusatory. There's a lot of anger and resentment toward the upper class, because the gap between the wealthiest 1 percent and the rest of Americans has grown much more pronounced in the last 30 years. Some people are downright furious at the upper class.

Why all the hate? Is it because the rest of us are jealous of the successful?

More than anything, the resentment seems to be that a line has been drawn to say the rich will never have to pay a penny more in taxes, despite seeing the lowest rates they've paid in taxes in many decades. To go from a top tax tier of 35 back to 39 percent (but still well below the 80-90 percent where it has been in the past) is somehow labeled a descent into socialism. We had a government shutdown in Minnesota to protect the rich from a 2 percent tax. We nearly defaulted on our national debt in a showdown mostly involving a small increase on the top federal tax rates.

Is this really worth it for rich people? They'd rather have the 2 percent or 4 percent of their income and they're willing to watch the economy burn to get it? They're willing to endure this over-the-top hatred they're getting?

I doubt it.

If some at the top would stand up as Warren Buffett has and say an extra percent or two -- or give up the tax break that has them paying only 15 percent on hedge fund profits -- then we could move on.

We as Americans don't want to be mad at the upper class -- we want to admire them and celebrate their accomplishments. Think I'm wrong about that? Look at the passing of Steve Jobs, the Apple CEO whose death was mourned by so many and the accolades he received for his amazing business innovations.

No one slammed him for being rich, which he certainly was many times over.

I don't know anyone who is actually jealous of the rich or "hates" them personally. What they hate is the policy of protecting them at all costs. Investment bankers made bad decisions and need $1 trillion? Congress writes the check over the weekend. Americans need the favor returned with a small tax increase to jump start the economy, but Congress is willing to burn the Capitol down before they let that happen. It's the inequity in representation that's an affront to many people, not the rich themselves.

In America, we want to put our best innovators on a pedestal and cheer them. Let's pass this silly 2 or 4 percent increase, target the money to debt retirement and job creation, and get back to the capitalist lovefest we all have in our DNA.

Fomenting class warfare over such a small increase is hurting the psyche and fabric of our country.

The Pioneer Journal editorial represents the collective voice of the paper's editorial board. Today's editorial was written by Steve Schulz, editor and publisher.