Taxing the Rich
By John D. Turner
1 Mar 2009

Who are the rich? Is it you? Is it me?

It’s curious; I haven’t heard many definitions of exactly who “the rich” are, only that “it ain’t me.” I would expect the definition to be someone who makes more than Congress does; after all, what would it benefit Congress to be lumped in together with the evil rich? Then again, I bet most folks have no idea how much the average congresscritter makes, so they are probably safe anyway. [1]

It wouldn’t even surprise me if most libs out there believe that Republican congresscritters are more highly paid than Democrat congresscritters. After all, the Republicans are the “Party of the Rich” whilst the Democrats are the “Party of the People”. (I know this to be true, because those were the correct answers on one of my son’s multiple choice history tests back in public grade school.) Surely, representatives of the party of the people would insist on being paid more in line with the common folks they represent? [2]

Don’t believe for one minute that liberals really want to eliminate rich folks and usher in classless society where everyone is equal. They need rich folks. If there were no rich folks whom would they tax to provide programs for the poor? And if there were no poor, to whom would they pander to keep themselves in power? Liberals need poor folks too, just like they need the rich.

No, what liberals really want is for rich folks to just sit there and be willing to be milked ad infinitum. And be willing to be the targets of their verbal abuse while they are being milked. As for the poor, they exist to be grateful for all the liberals have done for them. They act as a giant mirror in which the liberal can bask in the reflection of the good deeds they have performed on behalf of humanity.

It’s a balancing act. Don’t quite tax the rich so much that you kill the goose that lays the golden eggs and on the other hand, don’t give the poor quite enough so that they lose their dependency on you and start doing things for themselves.

Still have some money left after paying taxes, food, utilities, housing, fuel, and other basic necessities of life? Congratulations! You have now joined the ranks of the rich! Now you get to support those who have discovered that in America, you can choose to not work and live better than most people who work their tails off in the rest of the world.

America; where poverty is defined as only having a 27 inch TV when everyone else is sporting at least a 42 incher.

When I was young, I remember my mom talking to my dad one day about how someday, when they retired, she wanted to own a “pad”; one of those really nice homes like rich folks live in. At the time, my father was a staff sergeant in the Air Force and we were living in base housing in a small duplex. My mom’s definition of a “pad”? A house costing over $100,000. In her mind, that was how “rich” folks lived.

She had a bit of perspective on this: my dad at the time was making under $300 per month before taxes. Her father was doing considerably better; as a junior executive for International Paper Corp; he was making over $200/week – considerably more than my dad, and was doing quite well. He and my grandmother had recently moved from Omaha, Nebraska to Bay Minette, Alabama to open a new IP plant there. When they arrived, they bought a new home. The price? Around $16,000, so I have been told. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Inflation Calculator, $16K in 1965 dollars had roughly the same buying power as $108K in 2008 dollars.

Now, my mom and dad live in Phoenix, Arizona. My mom has her dream; their current house is valued at over $200,000 now, twice what that “pad” she wanted cost. I wonder if she feels “rich” now.

Not likely, since $100,000 in 1965 had the same buying power then as $674,365 did in 2008. [3] In other words, to have the house of her dreams in 1965, she would need to shop for a house today with a mortgage in the $675,000 range. Despite over 40 years of effort on the part of her and my dad, this is pretty much as far outside her means today as it was in 1965. And $675,000, depending on where you live, may buy you a pretty darned nice house, or an OK one, but it is nowhere close to the price tag for the kind of house where the truly “rich” live.

Are my parents rich? My dad receives three retirement checks; one from the Air Force, where he retired as a Master Sergeant with 22 years of service, one from the Department of Public Safety, where he worked after retiring from the Air Force, and of course, Social Security. My mom receives two; one from the City of Phoenix and one from Social Security. How much do they make? I don’t know. It’s none of my business. Do they consider themselves “rich”? Not hardly.

And yet if you ask them they will tell you that they are being eaten alive by taxes. Why? No exemptions. Their house is paid off, the kids are gone – those things that the conventional wisdom says should result in their having more for themselves. What they have found out though is that as the savings accrue, Uncle Sam is there with his hand in their pockets soaking up the “excess”.

Uncle seems to think they are “rich”, even though I doubt seriously they even come close to making what, say, a junior Senator from Illinois makes. Or a junior Senator from New York.

So am I rich? Apparently so, although the federal government is hard at work to relieve me of that burden; for the first time I owe taxes this year instead of receiving a refund.

Are you rich? Don’t know, are you? Vice-President Biden tells us that it is patriotic to pay taxes. I guess that makes the richest the most patriotic, assuming they are really paying them. Perhaps that’s why the Libs frequently look down their nose at patriotism, except when they need to wrap themselves in the flag to get elected. They don’t seem to like the very rich very much.

The way our government is spending money these days, none of us may qualify as “rich” for much longer.

[1] 2009 Compensation for U.S. Congress Members (not including perks).
[2] The most highly compensated member of congress is the Speaker of the House, who makes $223,500 per year. This position is currently held by Ms. Nancy Pelosi (D - CA).
[3] Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator.