Pity the Rich

This image comes via Matt Yglesias. Apparently, The Wall Street Journal is highlighting the plight of those poor souls with six-figure incomes. Because of the Fiscal Cliff deal, they are paying more in taxes. Here is their infographic:

Note here that the single woman and the single mother are paying 1.3% extra in federal taxes. But people making $35,000 are paying 1.4% extra in federal taxes. But you have to put this information in The Wall Street Journal context: those with six-figure incomes matter.

Pity the rich, for in this world they have no voice. Except, you know, every fucking politician and media figure in America.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Pity the Rich

  1. The kids of the top-left mom are great; they look so SAD. "Please, sir, spare a farthing for our gruel?"

    Now, to me, 260K/year is obscenely wealthy (and you don’t make that kind of money unless you do something obscene to earn it, most likely.)

    Still, I’ve known one or two people who went from poor to rich, and an interesting thing happened to them. As part and parcel of their new lifestyle, they entered a new social circle, and it came with new social obligations. That meant more money being spent on living quarters, cars, schools, memberships, restaurants, vacations and the like.

    You can’t, apparently, make 260K a year and live like you make 35K. Part of it is vanity, wanting to impress your new friends. Another large part, I understand, is work-related. You’re expected to socialize with at least some of your co-workers (or you’re an odd duck), and you can’t do so if you don’t value their interests by emulating or aspiring to them (or you’re an odd duck.) And odd ducks don’t last long at lucrative mid-level jobs.

    So, in order to keep making money, you have to be spending it as well. Which can make "Journal" readers feel as though they are truly squeezed by taxes (even though they aren’t.) Hence being able to print an illustration like the one with the "single parent" (making 260K) whose children seem oh, so very sad, and not having gales of laughter blow away your newspaper headquarters.

  2. @JMF – I understand. There is also just the fact that your cost of living naturally goes up with your income. If I were making a lot of money, I would be buying more linen shirts.

    There’s another thing. The more money you make, the more you interact with people who make a lot more. If you are a millionaire, you know billionaires. And it tends to make you think of yourself as poor.

    But here’s the thing: I don’t care. I know that a single mom with two kids can do very well in New York with a quarter million per year. They don’t think themselves poor because they really are. They think of themselves as poor because they’ve forgotten what being poor really feels like. This isn’t about keeping up appearances at work. That might run you ten grand a year. It’s about living the life that you think you deserve.

    I don’t doubt that they [i]feel[/i] like they are just getting by. But that doesn’t mean they [i]are[/i] just getting by.

  3. You know, I recently read a novel called "The Privileges" by Jonathan Dee, which described just that sort of "millionaires meet billionaires" feeling pretty well. I’d forgotten it, since the ending of the book veered off into "we’re all just human" territory — not bad, but not distinguishable from many others. Yet the first two-thirds are very good.

    In a way, I suppose, I get it. When you run into people with the power to belittle you it is gall and wormwood to the spirit. (My landlord makes me feel like that constantly, and I hope he someday contracts Ebola — not within spitting distance of me, naturally.)

    Of course this is one of the things which make America one of the least pleasant wealthy societies to live in, as "The Spirit Level" and other works have shown. Even rich people here tend to have lower quality-of-life scores than rich people in more equal nations. If you are a mid-level bank executive in Sweden, you are living well, but not so much more spectacularly well than a teacher or unionized construction worker that the gulf is insurmountable. This is good for the teacher/construction worker, naturally, but it’s also good for the mental health of the bank executive who has much less farther to fall than his/her American counterpart should something go wrong.

    If the charming people in America feel squeezed by a minute tax hike, all I can say is "Can I Squeeze The Charming (More)?"

  4. @JMF – Also, studies generally find that happiness maxes out at around $100k per year. Once people get to the point where they feel comfortable, getting more money doesn’t make them happier. The major anxiety in my life is the fear that I’m going to end up living in my car next week. Barring that I’m pretty happy.

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