If "the idea the state should take more than half of what you earn as income tax is ludicrous" why was it perfectly acceptable from the early 1950s to the early 1980s ? .
I’m not an economist but I’d hazard a guess that for at least part of that time suppressing earnings and wage growth was a deliberate policy to suppress inflation post-war.
The size of the economy and earning potential for much of that period was such that a much smaller number of people would ever have paid the highest rate of tax compared to now. And I’m fairly certain that we faced some pretty tumultuous economic crisis in that period too.