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Friday, September 30, 2011

 
Richie Rich and the Buffet Rule

by digby

Apparently Rich Lowry makes more than a quarter of a million dollars every year. And like so many of his poor, working class neighbors, he's just barely scraping by. Via Harold Pollack here's Lowry on a recent blogginheads:

He [Buffett] should give all his wealth away. . . . come move to Westchester County. Move to McLean, Virginia. Move to the suburbs of San Francisco with his wife. Adopt a couple of young kids, so he has a young family again. Make arrangements so that he only makes $250,000 every year. And then let's see how he likes being lumped in with millionaires and billionaires, as the President does.

And see how he feels about seeing his taxes increased, when he actually has to worry about expenses!


Brad DeLong explains why Richie Rich is dumb:

If you increase the marginal tax rate on incomes above $250,000 by five percentage point, then you would increase Warren Buffett's taxes in this scenario by… wait for it… wait for it… zero.

People I have surveyed so far have voted 12 for the proposition that Rich Lowry does not know how tax brackets work and 2 for the proposition that he does know but is trying to mislead and confuse his audience.

National Review: embarrassing thoughtful conservatives for 56 years…


(Count me with the 12. The innumeracy among the wealthy on this topic is mind boggling.)

Now I will explain why Richie Rich is a putz:



Indeed, he's such a putz that Richie Rich doesn't even know he's rich. In fact,he thinks he just regular middle class guy trying to make expenses. And having trouble doing it! Indeed, he is the very embodiment of the average American. Well except for the fact that he has a whole lot more money.

This is the primary Village conceit, my friends. Recall:

This is the permanent DC ruling class who have managed to convince themselves that they are simple, puritanical, bourgeois burghers and farmers, even though they are actually celebrity millionaires influencing the most powerful government on earth.

It's about their phoniness, their pretense of speaking for "average Americans" when it's clear they haven't the vaguest clue even about the average Americans who work in their local Starbucks or drive their cabs. (Think Tim Russert, good old boy from Buffalo, lately of Nantucket.)It's about their intolerable sanctimony and hypocritical provincialism, pretending to be shocked about things they all do, creating social rules for others which they themselves ignore.

The village is really "the village" an ersatz small town like something you'd see in Disneyland. And to those who argue that Versailles is the far better metaphor, I would just say that it is Versailles --- a very particular part:




A Picturesque Little Village

Part of the grounds near the Trianon were chosen by Marie-Antoinette as the site of a lakeside village, a crucial feature of picturesque landscape gardens then so fashionable among Europe's aristocracy. In 1783, Richard Mique built this amusement village where the queen played at being a shepherdess.

In 1784, Marie-Antoinette had a farm built, where she installed a farming couple from the Touraine region, along with their two children. They were charged with supplying the queen with eggs, butter, cream and cheese, for which they disposed of cows, goats, farmyard animals.

The Village is a metaphor for the faux "middle class values" the wealthy, insular, privileged, hypocritical political celebrities (and their hangers-on and wannabes) present to the nation


Now evidence that this delusion exists in the upper 3% all across the nation. But "journalists" are the only ones charged specifically with disseminating the facts, so this misconception of their economic status is particularly problematic in a democracy. If anyone in society needs to have some grasp of economic reality it should be journalists --- and politicians.

Pollack has a good idea about how Rich Lowry could fix this problem:

Rich Lowry should give his money away, move beyond the Washington beltway. He should make arrangements so that he is a laid-off teacher with a young family trying to make his mortgage payments, or he is a factory worker whose COBRA benefits have just run out. Maybe he should make arrangements so that he's one of the many, many sick and uninsured Americans who rely upon safety-net providers and public hospitals. Maybe he should arrange to be a disabled person whose Medicaid benefits, because of the recession, no longer cover dental fillings or hospice care. Maybe he should arrange to be a working-class parent whose local school cut back on enrichment programs and shrank the school year.

And see how he feels about having to watch painful cuts to public employment, social services, and education when he actually has to worry about expenses!


Like that could ever happen to someone like Lowry ...


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