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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The poor, poor rich of the Wall Street Journal, by @DavidOAtkins

The poor, poor rich of the Wall Street Journal

by David Atkins

So this is apparently a real thing from the Wall Street Journal.



The Onion couldn't top this. Whether it's the sad faces of all these put-upon dejected rich people, or the elderly minority couple who is depressed despite not paying extra taxes (or was that the point?), or the distressed single Asian lady making $230,000 who might not be able to buy that extra designer pantsuit this year, or the "single mother" making $260,000 whose kids presumably have a deadbeat, indigent dad just like any other poor family, or that struggling family of six making $650,000 including $180,000 of pure passive income and wondering how to make ends meet, mockery is almost superfluous. The thing mocks itself. That $650,000 family in particular is bizarre to the point of incredulity: those people could literally stop working entirely, live extremely well on $180,000 while doing nothing but watching television all day and staying home with their kids, and leave their high-salary jobs with their oh-so-onerous tax requirements to people who actually appreciate them.

Beyond mockery, though, that the Wall Street Journal would even dare publish such a thing without irony is indicative of the reality that the wealthy don't live in the same country as the rest of us. Their experience of life, and therefore of public policy, is on an entirely different plane. These are people who take tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars of yearly passive investment income for granted and think they earned that money, deserving to pay very low taxes on it. They're people who see a single individual making $230,000 as struggling to get by, and severely put upon by the loss of a couple thousand dollars to help pay for decrepit infrastructure and basic healthcare for the indigent.

And then we remember that in our tax policy discussions, the only people in this little picture actually being impacted by an increase in the marginal tax rate are that final family of $650,000 paying a nearly irrelevant 4% increase only on every dollar above $400,000. And over this, we have Fox News and the right wing blaring constantly about Stalin, Mao and the advance of Communism.

These folks live in a Versailles bubble, modern day edition. But even they're not the ones with the real money. The real plutocrats outstrip even these jokers by exponential leaps and bounds. And they're the ones who drive public policy in this country.


(h/t Charles Pierce, TBogg and the original find by Xenos)

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79 comments:

  1. You're kidding me, right? So what now of the American dream? Is it to take from people who earn it? The higher income brackets are who hire the middle class. If we punish them for producing, then everyone hurts. People get laid off and hiring is stopped. The solution is to lower everybody's taxes. This will encourage companies/higher brackets to hire more people; the middle class to earn and therefore spend more. This will stimulate the economy and charities more than any handout.

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    Replies
    1. We tried giving the rich people tax breaks already. They kept firing people, moved the jobs overseas for cheap, and pocketed the extra money. It's time to try something else.

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    2. It's not the wealthy that create jobs, it's the people who spend money buying things that generate demand which leads to job growth. Tax breaks for the rich don't increase demand, which is the real driver of employment.

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    3. Surely you're taking the piss?
      You nearly got me... :D

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    4. As a person who lives in a family of business owners, I'll tell you first hand that tax breaks won't make us hire more people. Why would I hire more people if we already meet the demand of our customers with the amount of employees we have? That would be a poor business decision from my stand point. If you cut the taxes of our customers and they are willing to pay more or by more of our product then that's the only time we will expand.

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    5. Rich people don't hire because they get a tax break, They hire because there is demand for their service or product. When you tax the middle claas into oblivion like the right would like to do demand drops and so unemployment rises. This is not a difficult concept to understand. You are either suffering from cognitive dissonance or you are a want to be oligarch.

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    6. Waste of time explaining it to you. Im sure you've already heard all the evidence of why the hasn't and wont work. You are not interested in truth, facts, history, reason, or common sense.
      You are only interested in justifying greed.

      Delete
    7. Don't feed the Trolls, especially anonymous trolls that recite FOX talking points like Trickle Down Economics.

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    8. No. It was you and I who sent the jobs overseas. Hyper-consumerism in this country is destroying our economy. There was a time when people who didn't have a lot of money did without luxuries. They were content to own a modest home and they invested or saved until they had enough to buy a few things for their families. But now, thanks to low-price retailers such as Walmart, the American appetite for STUFF has grown dangerously voracious. Everyone has to have their mammoth flat screen tv, home theatre, shiny new car, etc. they want it now and they want it cheap, cheap, cheap. They demand more money at work so they can get more stuff. So tell me, how does a company drop prices to meet demand while all of their employees are constantly demanding higher wages? They don't. They have to send manufacturing overseas to get prices down. Which means people lose jobs. Which means people buy less or take on unsustainable debt (like our government). Which means the company begins losing money. Which means they either raise prices while maintaining manufacturing overseas because cost to bring It home is too much. Or they shut down altogether. So...you want the country to get back on track? First, We need to quit blaming others. Second, we need to cut back on our need for immediate gratification and get our own house in order. Work down our debt. Save. Invest. Show some discipline

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    9. Are you seriously still trying to defend the useless pile of trash idea that is trickle down economics? The one that has wrecked our economy for the past 30 years? Oh that's cute

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    10. High income W2 and contract workers dont hire people with their personal income (except low awage petsonal servants).. The companies hire people based on demand for their product.

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    11. Income taxes and corporate taxes are two different things.

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    12. So we are still on the myth that only the rich create jobs and only the rich are getting their "hard earned dollars" taken away from them....
      Last I remember, demand creates jobs. Demand that comes from having extra money to buy stuff.
      If the rich want to create more jobs then they need to start paying the workers more. They need to go on spending sprees.
      I would think that by doing both would create far more jobs then paying what they WOULD have been paying in taxes all along.
      Taxes have ZERO to do with the current economic climate.
      Unregulated greed. Criminal activities taken by the very source that created much of the wealthy to be wealthy.

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    13. As a high earner, I've never whined about paying my taxes -- and certainly have never suffered as the result of a minor tax increase. I recognize that, as I hard as I do work, there are many others who work hard as well and make shitty incomes. I do not begrudge paying a higher tax rate, and am glad that I can afford to do so. I feel no compunction for my fellow upper income compatriots.

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    14. Put down your copy of Altas Shrugged and go to an economics class. We've spent the last 40 years lowering taxes on the rich. The main outcome of this has been the gutting of the middle class, and the rich getting *really* rich.

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    15. All the armchair economists can say what they want, but I am a finance manager for a multi-billion dollar private company. We have been asked to find $8 million in savings to offset the tax increases the business owners will experience. The first thing to come off the table was all of the open positions that we were set to begin filling in 2013.

      Furthermore, the article suggests that investment income isn't earned. Ridiculous, the hardest thing to do is have the discipline to not spend, but rather invest money you have siting in the bank account. For most of us, if our ancestors had been disciplined and taught us that same discipline we would all be wealthy from passive inxome.

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    16. Don't forget that at the same the middle class was being told its taxes wouldn't go up, the payroll tax holiday expired, effectively giving everyone under the payroll cap an automatic 2% tax increase. Doesn't matter if it's not federal income tax per se, and never mind for the moment if the 2% holiday was wise policy to begin with (it wasn't); the increase is still felt in every paycheck.

      And please don't repeat this nonsense about how "hard" the fat cats work to earn their passive income. The road crews I see on the way to work and the poor Latinos who clean my office at night work a lot harder than Mitt and his ilk ever did.

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    17. Rich people are NOT job creators. Stop it with the Fox News myths.

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    18. If we raise taxes on the rich, they still have infinitely more disposable income than an average, middle-class family, taxes were the lowest they had been in over forty years under Bush, and so what if the top .01% stop hiring? Sure there will be an immediate decline in jobs but over time, chains that are basically monopolies would be broken and we would see a resurgence in small businesses, and is that not West the conservative party claims to support?

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    19. Reread Adam Smith

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    20. Not much difference between you and the serfs of old that were loyal to the King. Everyone should pay there fair share. The very wealthy have more of the share, use more resources, destroy the infrastructure more, so, therefore, they should pay more in taxes. How anyone would think this isn't right is beyond me.

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    21. Just because you constantly repeat something does not make it true. This idea of decreasing taxes to increase hiring and investment doesn't work. It sounds good but in reality just the opposite happens. In my reality when something doesn't work you move on to another more productive idea, you don't continue to pretend that your getting positive results.

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    22. We tried that in the 80's. It failed. Ever hear of outsourcing? Of $1/day sweatshops in foreign countries, run by American corporations?

      When poor people are given more money, they can finally afford to take care of necessities they've been putting off. When rich people are given more money, they hoard it. Human nature hasn't suddenly and dramatically changed over the last 30 years.

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    23. They don't produce. They send jobs overseas and keep the profits for themselves. End of story.

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    24. Jesus, people! Pick a damn Internet handle already! All these "Anonymous" posts are like listening to a schizophrenic argue with himself when one personality is Robert Reich and the other is Ayn Rand.

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  2. Amazing how entitled people feel to other peoples money

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    Replies
    1. The WSJ is completely ignoring the fact that the average American income is 1/6th or less of what is shown, because upper management keeps a bigger piece of the total income pie every year. The article is dead on, this has nothing to do with entitlement.

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    2. It's not just rich people who don't understand what is going on it is people whose brains don't work very well like the first two comments about how we have to give the rich whatever they want or else everything will fall apart. What a low level understanding of this very complex issue! I hope your children die in a car fire, good day!

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    3. Tanks and planes, roads, schools, and fire departments arent free

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    4. amazing how entitled people feel to money they hired an investor to get for them. hard earned, my ass

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    5. Anybody here ever have a poor person offer them a job?

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    6. Yes. I frequently worked for companies that started out in the red. I'd posit that heavy debt can identify a person as poor.

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  3. It's amazing to me that after three decades of less regulations, tax loopholes, and tax breaks for the wealthy, poeple still spout this trickle down bullshit. You don't grow anything from the top down. Feed the roots already or this redwoods coming down. If the rich continue to starve the rest they will hang from the wall we've built.

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  4. You had me until you brought fox news into the article for no reason.

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    Replies
    1. this is a blog post, not an article, and of you can't figure out that the Fox News line was meant to be hyperbolic, that's your own damn problem.

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  5. The problem with demonizing "the rich" is that the threshold that defines them and us is completely subjective. I'm sure some people would look at me as rich but I'm very middle class. And I look at others and think they're rich. No, we can't tax some people and leave others without responsibility. We need to close the loopholes, simplify our tax code drastically and have each person pay a percentage of what they earn. Some people call it a flat tax but it's really not. If you make 100 dollars and I make 1000 but we both pay the same percentage, you'd pay far less than me. Frankly, I think there are two things that would solve a lot of this. Term limits and a budget. There is no common sense among our leaders anymore. We need to clean house in both chambers of congress. Sweep them all out of there and start fresh.

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    1. About the flat tax though, you're right, it isn't really flat-it forces the poor to bear, proportionately, the greatest burden. This is obvious if you think about it for even a moment. Take a more realistic example: say I make $15,000 a year (actually, I do) and you make $1,500,000. Let's say our flat tax rate is 20%. That means I pay $3,000 a year, while you pay $300,000. Wow! $300,000 is way more than $3,000. But wait, what's the difference between $15,000 and $12,000 in terms of securing necessities? Transportation to work. Any medical expenses. Utilities. Food. It could literally be a life-or-death difference. And the difference between $1.2 and $1.5 million? Fewer luxury goods. A drop in the bucket.

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    2. Every flat/fair tax I've ever seen has a cut off at poverty level. In other words, all the money needed for necessities isn't taxed.

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    3. Every flat/fair tax I've ever seen has a cut off at poverty level. In other words, all the money needed for necessities isn't taxed.

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  6. Wow. The fact that anyone would accept this is blowing my mind. It's greed. Greed. If anyone says otherwise they should look at how us other half lives. Good article and thanks for bringing this laughable wsj thing to light. Greedy people. Greed.

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  7. Except for the retired couple, they all paid at least 28% in taxes, a lot more than the rest of us. Although making great salaries and good investments, they pay more taxes. I wonder about the retired couple as depicted here, only paying 12% in taxes but making $180,000. I believe everyone should pay their fair share based on percentage. First get rid of the loopholes and then let's talk income tax brackets.

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  8. It's greed to not want to pay nearly half of your income in taxes? I say it's greed that you expect someone to pay your way.

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    Replies
    1. Really? $21,000 out of $650,000 is not "half of your income."

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    2. You are a fucking idot.

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    3. Hahaha don't get too angry now.

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    4. And the idea of a single mother somehow managing to earn over $200k/year isn't totally ridiculous to you because...?

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  9. Hahaha, this is bizarro world stuff. Here in Australia we have some of the highest taxes in the world. But we also have a working health system. When i broke my ankle last year, i paid about $400 all up for xrays, appointments and a cast. I gather its not that cheap in America. Why your rich can't fathom paying a bit more is beyond me.
    Also, those income numbers in the picture are stratospheric even here, in the US the difference is even more extreme.

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  10. > those people could literally stop working entirely, live extremely well on $180,000 while doing nothing but watching television all day

    You actually seem to think people are aiming to sit around on the couch all day, like that's an achievement: "I'm so wealthy I can sit around on the couch all day!"

    If you're working to earn enough money so you can do nothing one day, it might explain why you're so quick to feel entitled to other people's money.

    It's not ok to take it just because they have more of it.

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    Replies
    1. In regard to the passive income comment, I struggle to find the reasoning to your argument, it was not your idea to invest on whatever it was that produced that families passive income, so help me understand why you feel that you are entitled to take from another's wise investment?

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    2. Sure it is. Is it OK that millions of homeless people get no roof over their heads while Jim with 4 houses making 400,000 a year is whinning cause he has a small tax hike? Or did all those homeless people aim to be homeless? Food stamps? Welfair? Most wealthy stupidly rich people come from families of money. Its not like they all came out with brilliant buisness plans. There is just no concept sitting up there on their throwns surrounded by money. There should simply be an international swap. A rich person trades a week in the life of a homeless/ very poor person. Mandatory. That's the only way the assholes complaining about the little tax hike will fully be able to get what the fuck the rest of us are talking about. We don't want your fucking money stupid, we want FAIRNESS!!

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    3. What is fairness?

      Seems to me keeping your own money is pretty fair.

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    4. Paying your fair share of tax is pretty fair too!

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    5. Wow, fuck. The single mom makes more than me per year on investments alone.

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  11. Its just time for a revolution. Poor little rich arsholes. These assholes get away with their greed and corruption because we feel too powerless to fight them. Well fuck them and their whiny yaps. Its time the poor and middle class band together for fairness. I don't need to make billions a year , I just want equality.

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    Replies
    1. You are a moron.

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    2. China had a revolution like youre suggesting. they pillaged and raped and sent the rich and educated to their deaths or to the countryside to do manual labor for the rest of your days.

      now who is rich in china? the ones who sent the rich guys to the countryside 50 years ago.

      be careful where your line of thinking ends up.

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  12. The last comment is retarded.

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  13. OK, so how much does the WSJ artist who had to draw this paid? $50,000/year? The self-hate required to work in a place like that for what the help are paid has got to be tremendous. Or maybe the staff all have trust funds. Certainly no journalist who has taken 4 pay cuts and still has a job is making $260,000/year like MOM apparently is.

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  14. There are many people who view these rich people as the people who keep our economy moving forward, while the lower 95% or so are parasites, moochers, looters, not even interested in taking responsibility for their own lives. I don't know how many of them have actually read Atlas Shrugged, but they've obviously absorbed the "talking points". What I'm wondering is how many of these people, who revere the 1% and have contempt for the rest of us, are actually in the 1%, or 5%, or whatever. How many nurses, firefighters, factory workers and secretaries are out there who really believe that they'd be back in the Stone Age if not for the brilliant, blinding insights of the very few?

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  15. I love the fact that I work 38 hrs a week in retail, make $18,000, support a son in college and USED to qualify for the IEC, and because I rent out the other side of my duplex I am dissed on taxes for having "Investment income". No more EIC... although if my REGULAR income had increased by that much, I'd still qualify. ????

    BTW- Anonymous- biggest supporter I ever met for Ayn Rand was a drunk guy cadging beers at a pool hall.

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  16. Some people are missing the most staggering thing about this. Whether or not the rich deserve tax breaks or not, this is the slice of Americans that the Journal chooses to illustrate a point as though it was a representation of America. Sorry, if you're making $260k, another $3k ain't jack, especially when your rates are still lower than historical average. Cry me a frickin' river.

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  17. Wonder why it is that they made the black couple as the only one without a tax increase...

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  18. Anyone who has this much trouble ranking and comparing degrees of hardship between different people has no business running anything in this country.

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  19. They added one too many zeroes.

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  20. I love how the couple is depressed about making 650K a year. With 180K in investment income, which means if they are conservative investors they have a net worth of over 5 million.

    As I get up to go to work to get my children health care and food, my eyes will rain for them.

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  21. My favorite is the brown-skinned, retired couple making an income of $180,000! but having only $52,000 in investment income? Is that like some extraordinary pension given to shiftless government affirmative- action entitled workers who were too irresponsible with their money to save much of anything? And of course they're the only ones to get no increase--because, you know, Obama's black and all.

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  22. Hey assholes: You this in this country and by law you will pay taxes. I do not feel entitled to anyone's money, but the middle class and the poor have had enough of the rich not paying their fair share. You will fucking pay and if you don't fucking like it: Eat a dick!

    -Kenneth D. Sweet

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  23. the point you liberals always seem to miss when you go after other people's money is if you work hard all of your life to make it somewhere you shouldn't be punished by being obligated to help out individuals who didn't do the right thing. If the working class and rich only had to support the disabled, the elderly and veterans the entitlement system would be so much smaller but we are carrying the losers in the dregs of society who are living off of the sweat of other people. You can mock the family of 6 making 600,000 dollars but who are you to say any more of that money should be taken and given to another group of people when it's the family of 6 that are generating that much wealth and should be the first people to benefit from it and not be penalized for being productive.
    this is the liberal problem, you feel the successful work to take care of the people that failed. but when the productive people resent that, you say that they are being greedy and selfish. Yet you never come down on the people that are taking from a system that they could be giving into because they're gaming the system. When you close the book on all of the people leaching from the system I'll be happy to take care of everybody that's left but until you're willing to have this conversation I will fight to keep every dime of my money.

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    Replies
    1. Working hard your whole life doesn't guarantee wealth. We have a country full of very hard workers. As a country we pride ourselves on it. The wealth in the country isn't shifting it self to fewer and richer hands because the rest of the country got lazy. This disgusting idea that the poor and needy are in their situations because of their own folly is reprehensible.

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    2. I like how all of the "right" decisions make you rich. Not everybody can be a business owner. Somebody has to do the grunt work. Is choosing to work with your hands a wrong decision? I'm a technician, and I chose to work with my hands because it is what I excel at. I don't make 600000 a year. Did I make a wrong decision?

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    3. You do realize that millions of people work very hard their whole lives, in jobs that make a big difference in the lives of others, and have no hope of ever getting near that kind of income, right? Not every career path leads to $600K/year nirvana -- but that doesn't mean your society can function well without nurses, teachers, plumbers, barbers, farm labourers, physiotherapists, accountants, sysadmins, sanitation workers, firefighters, etc., etc., etc., etc. Not everybody can be a gazillionaire. Many people choose a career because it allows them earn a living doing something they love, or because it allows them to spend time with their kids, or -- and I think this is the one you probably don't believe in, but it's a reality for many, many people -- because they didn't have all the choices in the world, and they picked what seemed like the best of the lot.


      Sure, people exist who are in a bad situation because they squandered good opportunities. But the idea that that's the *primary* or *typical* way that Americans get into bad financial circumstances ... sorry, but that's just flat-out false.

      Requiring people whose household incomes are ten or fifteen or twenty times the median to contribute more to the general well-being of their society isn't "penaliz[ing them] for being productive" -- they will still have more money than most of us would know what to do with -- so much as asking them to contribute to building *the society they live in* in a way that people who make less would like to, but can't.

      You're also forgetting your history: throughout the past century, the American economy did best, and American society did best, when marginal tax rates on very high incomes were greatest.

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    4. Er...my mother was a public-school teacher for 30 years. Do you know what she was earning, as a full-time, hard-working American with several college degrees? $50,000/year. That is far LESS than any of the B.S. examples in the WSJ's picture.

      I've known people who've worked 2 full-time jobs for YEARS just to make ends meet. I'd be surprised if any of them--even after working 80 hours/week for all that time--make more than $40,000/year.

      Rich people get more from our government; why shouldn't they also put a bit more in to pay for the roads, police forces, fire departments, schools, post offices, roads, state universities, etc. that they've gotten rich off of?

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  24. funny article but your statement about
    "These are people who take tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars of yearly passive investment income for granted and think they earned that money, deserving to pay very low taxes on it. "

    shows your complete ignorance about the issue of double taxation of dividends.

    Go take a finance class.

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  25. Wow. Those income numbers are about 10 times what they should be in order to reflect reality.

    How does a newspaper print such hogwash and stay in business?

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  26. If you are arguing that an additional $3000 in taxes from an annual income of $230,000 is a HARDSHIP, then you cannot truly claim that it is the POOR people who are mismanaging their money.

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    Replies
    1. I can't even begin to think what I'd do with a whopping $200k/year. Even if you added up all the luxuries I've wanted but not purchased over a year, it still only adds up to less than $10k. Granted, I don't have kids yet, but I still don't think I'd know what to do with anywhere near that much money!

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  27. This defies logic and everytime I see it I can't help but feel like this is written in symbolic language and that I'm the butt of a joke i can't understand....

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This is a temporary comment system so I'd appreciate it if you'd save your complaints for now.