A lot of--very bad--comments on my old posts about University of Chicago Professor Todd Henderson this morning. Apparently there is a--quite bad--article on the New York Times about the issues.
For some perspective, James Fallows sends us to the Global Rich List. If we take Todd Henderson seriously when he says that Obama's proposed failure to reenact the 2001 temporary tax cut on the upper bracket when it expires will raise his taxes "significantly," where "significantly = $10,000/year, then we learn that Professor Henderson and his family are:
UPDATE: And Jonathan Chait says that the New York Times story (to which I won't link: they don't deserve the Google rank) by David Kochienowski is as bad as I had feared:
The Times Wages Class War: The New York Times story about the plight of families in the top 2% of the income distribution who don't "feel" rich seems to be based entirely on a misunderstanding about how the tax code works:
As the political battle drags on, however, [the tax cut debate] has also veered into a more basic matter of fairness, whether a person who earns more than $200,000 a year should be taxed at rates similar to those who make $5 million. President Obama has proposed preserving the cuts for middle-class Americans and letting them expire for the top 2.5 percent of taxpayers — individuals who make more than $200,000 a year and families whose income exceeds $250,000. But others in Congress have questioned why ending what Mr. Obama frequently calls “tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires” should also raise taxes on families making $250,000. With the Senate unlikely to vote on the matter until after the midterm elections, some Democrats are pushing for a compromise that would leave the cuts in place for those higher up the income scale.
The article delves into the question of just who counts as rich. I think it's a silly question. Rich is a relative question. It doesn't mean you can buy everything you want. If you're in the top 2% of the income distribution, then you are, relative to 98% of the population, rich. You are more able to bear the cost of higher taxes. But put that aside. The main problem with the article is that it presupposes that individuals making $200,000, or couples earning $250,000, will pay higher taxes. They won't. The tax hike only applies to income over that threshold. When you go from $250,000 to $250,001, you only pay a higher tax rate on that one extra dollar. Your taxes will go up by a few cents. If you earn $300,000, you will pay a slightly higher tax rate on the last $50,000 of your income -- less than a couple thousand dollars.
Even people making half a million dollars a year won't be "taxed at rates similar to those who make $5 million," because only half their income will be taxes at the top rate....
Newspapers have characterized the Democratic plan as consisting of tax cuts "for the middle class," when in fact... everybody up to and including Bill Gates would get a tax cut under their plan. Part of this is due to reporters not understanding basic facts about the tax code. But I also wonder if the unconscious class bias of the media is at work. While people who earn more than $250,000 are a tiny, tiny proportion of the population, their plight has commanded an inordinate share of attention among reporters, not to mention members of Congress.
And John Scalzi says that enough is enough:
If you make a six-figure income, you are not allowed to argue on the Internets that you are poor.
You are not allowed to argue that you feel poor, which as we all know is just like being poor.
You are not allowed to posit the argument that if you hang around with people who make more than you, then you are allowed to have your wee little heart sing the Poverty Song because, after all, you make less than all of them and your life is sad.
You are not allowed to use your own poor money management skills as evidence of how challenging life is for those, like you, with six-figure incomes.
You are not allowed to use New York City, San Francisco or Los Angeles as an excuse for your piteous cries.
If you do any of the above, individually or severally, when the Internets call you out for being clueless, entitled, ignorant and an embarrassment as a human being — and they will — you will not then complain how your words were misunderstood and/or taken out of context and/or that people missed the real point of your argument.
This rule applies equally to any defending the right of those with six-figure incomes to mewl about their awful lot in life.
Note to the Internets: This new rule is effective immediately. Please feel free to enforce it. Direct all complaints here. They will be dealt with appropriately.