Yes we have a higher tax rate but we also have an earnings threshold below which no tax is paid.
The first £11k of income is not taxed and only earnings over that are taxed at 20%.
This may still seem like a lot to you but it's a lot better than just saying we all pay 20% tax.
When you bear in mind that the minimum wage is going up to £7.50 next year and a 40 hour a week job will give an annual income of £15,600 that means only paying tax on £4,600 which is £920 a year.
Again, you can decide what you think about that but that's how it works and that's how I work out my tax.
As for the higher rates of tax this is more an issue of public perception rather than being about facts as there is no right or wrong tax scheme. The UK and Europe as a whole just has a more accepting populace (obviously some would prefer to pay less tax) when it comes to higher tax to pay for better public services.