Sunday, September 26, 2010

Scraping By On A Quarter-Mil

by Dick Mac

Thirty-odd years ago a family I knew lived on the Gold Coast in Chicago. One of the behind-the-back jokes made about them was that they couldn't make ends meet on their meager $250,000 annual income. Now, in the late-1970s, a quarter-million dollars was a lot of money, even if you had a city apartment, two country homes, a condo in a foreign country, and three kids in school.

A quarter-million today isn't anywhere near as valuable.

Using the calculator, $250,000.00 in 1980 had the same buying power as $703,875.49 in 2010. Annual inflation over this period was 3.51%. So, a person complaining about $250,000 in 1980 was being pretty vulgar! It's like someone today complaining about almost three-quarters of a million dollars!

Still, $250,000 in 2010 is nothing to sneeze at, and is an annual income that puts you in a very small percentage of the American public living at the top of the food chain. A segment of the population that enjoys hard-earned amenities and is expected to pay hard-earned taxes: just like everyone else.

I find people who complain about taxes are the people who expect the government to provide them with the services they demand while insisting that all other services are immoral, unconstitutional, or unfair.

Tell a Republican earning a quarter-mil that the government is no longer going to maintain roads and airports because it is too expensive, and he'll tell you that's ridiculous. Tell him it will cost more to run schools and he will tell you the teachers' unions are not teaching our children and have to be destroyed.

Tell him we are going to give tax-incentives to insurance companies and he will tell you that this is the only way to stimulate the economy. Tell him we are going to guarantee minimum health care standards for all Americans and he will tell you the government has to get out of the way of business.

Tell him we are going to bailout a billionaire and he will explain to you exactly how that will help America in the long-run. Tell him we are going to renegotiate the mortgages of working people who are underwater and he will complain that this interferes with the free market.

In some perverse and immoral way, all the arguments Republicans make about taxes, economics, and laws are completely accurate. The way it is accurate to say that Jesus intends us to treat homosexuals as second-class citizens because of 5,000 year-old writings. Technically, it is accurate; but morally, it is wrong.

Recently, a poor unfortunate professional soul in Chicago posted a blog entry explaining why he and his professional wife are struggling to make ends meet and that expiration of the Bush tax cuts would mean doom for them and their little slice of the American dream.

I know a lot of people who are hurting right now. The economy is a shambles. George W Bush promised us, as did Reagan before him, that if we reduce the tax burden on the wealthiest Americans they would use that money to build the economy. The rich would use their gain to start more companies and hire more people.

When this notion was first implemented in 1980, I said it was a recipe for disaster. It was. It still is. The rich, the upper-middle-class, and the middle-class are just like everyone else: give them a little extra money and they are going to spend it on themselves. This is perfectly legitimate: I earn my money and I will spend it as I choose. it's ludicrous to think that those at the top of the food chain feel some moral obligation to build a better world. In fact, it seems that those on the top of the economic food chain actually feel the exact opposite.

So, back to our friend in Chicago. He lives in a nice neighborhood and sends his kids to nice schools. He has two cars, and probably takes nice vacations -- all of which is lovely. I am certain his parents are proud of his success.

He doesn't think he should have to pay any more than 40% of his income for taxes.

It would be lovely if we could maintain a government for less than what it costs. This man obviously doesn't grasp the expense of supporting the wealthy, propping-up a failed economic system, maintaining a military-industrial complex, and also allowing the richest to pay less for all of it.

This is typically Republican: let's prop-up the rich, and the businesses that bring the least benefits, let our infrastructure and education systems deteriorate, then insist that we need to pay lower taxes.

Still, they haven't figured-out that this just won't work!

Here is the unfortunate disclosure by the poor, suffering Chicago man and his family: We are the Super Rich

Another article for your perusal: Advice for the 'Poor Rich'

1 comment:

J.K. Mangold said...

Your paragraph #9 or so. "In some perverse and immoral way..".

No, the argumaents made my Repbulicans are not even technically accurate. They are bad business and worse policy.

The same holds true for the Jesus thing too.

But otherwise, right on !