I understand the argument that there are reasonably middle-class people who are worth over a million dollars. I am sympathetic to the notion that their lives are different quite different from those of the Koch brothers or Bill Gates. But Bieber, Mary, and Joseph, this is some unconvincing shit, even for Kaplan:
Though the average American family is rich beyond the wildest dreams of the average family in Bangladesh, where per capita income recently rose above $700, it’s not much compared with those who summer on beachfront properties in the Hamptons. When John D. Rockefeller learned in 1913 that the late J.P. Morgan had left an estate of $60 million, including a fabulous art collection, he reportedly said: “And to think — he wasn’t even rich.”
This what has gone wrong with conservatism: it has been savaged by the soft bigotry of low expectations. Wingers can put the dumbest arguments they want into Kaplan opinion pieces and they’ll get published. Winger candidates can show complete ignorance of any and all issues and they’ll still get elected. Once in, they can lead the country into catastrophic wars and be re-elected.
There is simply no incentive for a winger to be anything other than a complete fuck-up, a blithering drooling idiot whose arguments wouldn’t pass muster with your average 12 year-old.
I don’t really understand the point that piece was trying to make, but I do feel that whoever wrote it (I am not clicking the link) is in dire need of a pitchfork and torches mobs chasing him or her around. Our present-day conservatives are making ancien regime aristocrats seem socially aware and humble in comparison.
And they can say that Obama’s decision not to pursue gun control legislation is “all part of a massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters and destroy the Second Amendment in our country.” NRA [not the Onion] claims ‘massive Obama conspiracy’ not to ban guns
There is a group of people that might be called upper middle class. They aren’t really rich but they are quite comfortable and secure.
I know they are frequently classified as middle class but they don’t really represent the “great middle class.”
Most folks in the middle class actually know what insecurity is. Most families in this category have plans that are attached to several IFs: if they don’t lose their job, if they don’t suffer a debilitating disease, if one of the adults in the family does die or even just walk away. If, if, if.
And when one or more of these ifs don’t pan out, the whole family is plunged into insecurity. That is part of being middle class.
[Below middle class, of course, is even more insecure.]
Yep, they’re dumb and nuts. And it’s subsidised by big money, and unchallenged by a press corps that has learned to reflexively flinch from conflict, no matter how crazy conservatives act, or how reprehensively they behave. But I believe people are slowly getting wise. Whether they will wise up soon enough to make a difference is the only question. It would have been helpful if Obama had drawn up the distinctions, and carried the banner higher, sooner. But slowly, things are changing.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
I’m only surprised at the author. I know the name John Steele Gordon, I think I may have read one of his books a hundred years ago, during my Gilded Age-Robber Baron phase. But I’ve always suspected that people can’t/don’t differentiate between net worth and annual income when they hear people talk about taxes
This is remarkably stupid even as a jokey throw-away line, especially for a professional historian, even for a college sophomore who has taken a semester course that included discussion of the Fr. Revolution.
They’re just taking a page from Ronald “The Great Con Artist” Reagan. Democrats propose taxing people with more than a million dollars in net before-taxes income – so the Republicans twist this into “more than a million dollars in net assets.
There’s a great deal of difference between someone that saved $1,000,000 over the course of a lifetime versus someone who earned that much (net before taxes, NOT gross receipts) in a single year.
Since that’s more or less where they want to take us back to, the point stands.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
Cut and pasted from JSG’s website
Kinda speaks for itself, doesn’t it?
Timing belt on the van went kaput yesterday.
That has to be fixed so people can get to work so my husband cancelled a Doctor’s appointment. He had an MRI (god only knows where the money for that will come from) and our GP wanted to refer him to a specialist based on the MRI for a very painful pinched nerve. We had to say no, at least for now, hopefully the muscle relaxers will keep working so he can sleep at night. Insurance will pay a bit and will lower the cost, but we are still paying for his cancer treatments from 2 years ago and it is killing us financially.
My point is that middle class people who make less then $50,000 like we do live in fear of what has happened to us in the last month (large medical bill and larger car repair) while those in the upper “middle class” just don’t.
Spend all your time among rich people, that’s the standard you start thinking by. Wonder how media coverage would change if the offices of WaPo, Time, and CNN were forcibly moved to Ohio coal country.
@Chris: The rich in pre-revolutionary France were probably more ideologically diverse than their modern-day Galtian counterparts. Most were idiots and reactionaries but some were quite enlightened, radical even. And at least they did not taunt people with the silly pretense that they earned their money through the power of their awesome genius.
Is this Commissioner Gordon… what would bruce wayne think?
@Big Baby DougJ:
If winger arguments wouldn’t pass muster with “average 12 year-old”, then WTF happens as they grow up to voting age to change them into being stupid enough to vote for wingers that wingers can win any elections? Perhaps you have too much faith in the intelligence of too great a percentage of 12-year olds, or else the ones you tend to be personally familiar with are above average.
….to be my girl, ya don’t have to be cooool to rule my world, ain’t no particular SIGN I’m more compatible with, I just want your extra time and yoooouuur……kiss.
Big Baby DougJ
Do you know any 12 year-olds who would believe an argument that began with the supposition that J. P. Morgan wasn’t rich?
As a Dynasty devotee back in my law school days, I was always particularly partial to that line.
and i clapped.
@Big Baby DougJ:
mine sure as hell wouldn’t.
Wow, that’s quite an indictment on modern conservative thought based on the off-hand ramblings of a man that are almost a century old.
Big Baby DougJ
Why do you guys like to call yourselves “pundits”, Vodka Pundit, Viking Pundit? You realize it just makes you sounds stupid, right?
Rockefeller was obviously being snarky but the tool is too dumb to realize it.
Big Baby DougJ
I am lucky you are here to understand my references.
No one got my Iggy reference in the last post.
@Big Baby DougJ: If they don’t call themselves pundits, who will? It’s not like they are going to get an A-list gig, right?
A handy cheatsheet for whom the knowledge wanes.
This is the great deception of Orange County. Here, anyone can become a millionaire. I’m a millionaire. My neighbor who was a rent-a-cop his whole life is a millionaire. Half the people I know are millionaires. None of us actually earned it, mind you – it’s all real-estate, dot-com stock options, shit like that. But those opportunities concentrate in rather small areas, and if you’re not in one of them, forget it – you’re never going to catch one of those breaks.
Of course, for the Hugh Hewitts of the world (who lives not far away) the whole country is like this.
The foolishness if far, far worse in the right wing house organs. Bill Kristol just published a commentary, headlined on Memeorandum, that favorably compared Chris Christy to the Antichrist described in Yeats’ Second Coming.
Is it a joke? Is is monumentally stupid? Must we choose?
@Big Baby DougJ: Do we have to call them all out in the comments? I’ll admit I missed the 1969 one until now, but damn… No one told me this was going to be on the test.
Huh. Gone wrong? Aren’t conservatives successful in winning elections, in spite of or because of poor governing results?
Big Baby DougJ
When I think it’s a good one, it hurts my fee fees if no one seems to notice.
i bet bieber teaches mary and joseph some super sweet dance moves.
also, is it true that you don’t have to watch dynasty to have an attitude?
@Big Baby DougJ: Fine, we will try to give the attention you crave.
@ABL: You just leave it all up to me.
Big Baby DougJ
I think that Bobo and Sully like to think there’s more to it than using Fox to get people to vote for bankrupt policies. Maybe they’re incorrect, but I’m wiling to give the benefit of the doubt to the it’s-all-gone-Pete-Tong theory of conservatism.
@Big Baby DougJ: They’re pretty much always good. I just hate to look like a suck-up passing out compliments. Plus they make me jealous. Plus I don’t comment very often.
@Big Baby DougJ: You need to get over Sully and Bobo. They’re simply minstrel men.
Today’s “conservatism” isn’t about ideas, it’s about obtaining and retaining power to keep taxes and regulations low. If that means invading Iraq, so be it.
Just as “Neo-Conservatism” isn’t about “freedom”, it’s about obtaining and retaining Israeli power in the middle east. If that means getting other countries to invade Iraq, so be it.
All the neo-cons like Mort Zuckerman and David Rubinstein who squawked about “freedom” when invading Iraq were the first ones to oppose “freedom” in Egypt.
Some twit in my Twitter stream recommended (!) the article so I read it. This part sounded fishy:
But he kindly provided a link on “According to the IRS” that leads not to an IRS site but to a WSJ article and this interesting table of AGI (adjusted gross income) vs average tax paid:
AGI ; tax rate
$1,000,000+ ; 23.3%
$500k-1mill ; 24.1%
$200k-500k ; 19.6%
$100k-200k ; 12.7%
$50k-100k ; 8.9%
$30-50k ; 7.2%
So he has deliberately left out the second highest category to give the false impression that the tax rate always goes up with income! I should send him my copy of How to Lie with Statistics so he can try something more sophisticated in his next lying article.
He has also given the usual false false impression by leaving out FICA which adds 7.65% to the lowest two categories here and also to those moochers who “don’t make enough money to pay income taxes at all”. This is, of course, another lie by omission to make things look more progressive than they are.
The biggest distortion is that capital gains are not included in his statistics.
The top hedge fund manager made 4.9 billion dollars last year. Because of a loophole, all of that 4.9 billion dollars is considered capital gains, and is taxed at 15%.
To put 4.9 billion dollars in perspective, let’s say you were born during the time of Christ and were lucky enough to make a million dollars a year. And let’s say you were still alive today (over 2000 years later) and had earned a million dollars each and every year since then. you would still have earned less than half of what this guy made in a single year.
Hedge fund managers are an extreme case, but the ultra rich all earn a substantial portion of their money as capital gains, which were excluded from the math in the article.
Capital gains should be taxed the same as normal income, end of story.
Big Baby DougJ
I don’t think that’s true at all, I think the Iraq War was not good for Israel. If neoconservatism were a serious attempt to obtain and retain Israeli power, instead of a bizarre philosophical experiment, it would advocate very different things.
@Big Baby DougJ: The whole PNAC doctrine of regime change that led to Iraq invasion came from Richard Perle’s “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm”.
It didn’t work out, but they thought it would.
Big Baby DougJ
You are too kind.
Israel itself did not have jack shit to do with invading Iraq.
+1 for the Prince reference in the title.
We should have a contest where you have to guess which song Doug uses in the titles of his threads.
Dammit, you beat me to it.
“Non-Republican” added for clarification and accuracy.
mr. gordon’s piece is full of the standard right-wing tax & economics bs, that ultimately fails the smell test.
marginal tax rates are applied, not on gross income (total income, before adjustments, deductions, personal exemptions), but on taxable income (gross income minus all those items noted above), and income from long-term capital gains is taxed at a max rate of 15%.
there is no tax on savings at all, just any income derived from them, usually interest. if you own municipal bonds, that interest income is exempt from federal tax, and the tax from the issuing state.
“tax uncertainty”, with respect to business and investment, is a fallacy. no one with half a brain stops investing, when they think they can make a decent profit, because the tax rate might increase by a point or two. this was proved concretely during the clinton administration, when taxes were raised early on, to pay down the debt, and profits soared. according to milton friedman, the country should have immediately gone into a recession. it didn’t.
i could go on, but you get the point. whoever mr. gordon is (i never heard of him before, and i spend my life dealing with tax law), he either doesn’t know squat and shouldn’t be taken seriously, or does know squat and simply lies.
@Big Baby DougJ: “I don’t think that’s true at all, I think the Iraq War was not good for Israel. If neoconservatism were a serious attempt to obtain and retain Israeli power, instead of a bizarre philosophical experiment, it would advocate very different things.”
It trashed a major power in the Middle East for a generation, and got the USA deeply involved in a major, long land war in the Middle East. It got most of the people’s of the Middle East to be mad at the USA, reducing the USA’s ability to get things done with diplomacy. It increased the power of the Rapturists.
And I don’t know what Israel was doing in Gaza and the West Bank during that time, but I’m sure that they didn’t pass up the chance to do some evil stuff while the world’s eyes were looking at Iraq.
The JP Morgan thing is a canard. According to Wikipedia, “At the time of his death, he only held 19% of his own net worth, an estate worth $68.3 million ($1.39 billion in today’s dollars based on CPI, or $25.2 billion based on ‘relative share of GDP’), of which about $30 million represented his share in the New York and Philadelphia banks. The value of his art collection was estimated at $50 million.”
Presumably, the rest of the money was safely stashed away in trusts. So JP Morgan’s total wealth as a relative share of the GDP was about 125 billion dollars in today’s dollars. Obviously, Gordon’s attempt to diminsh the number was to try to say, “See, even JP Morgan wasn’t really rich.”
“Myth” 1: Millionaires are rich. He tries to prove this is a myth by saying “Today, $1 million in the bank generates only about $50,000 per year in interest. That isn’t chump change, but it’s roughly equal to the 2010 median household income.” First of all, interest rates are at crazy lows, so that number is lower than usual. But still by sitting around doing nothing, you “only” make about what the median household makes by working all year? And that doesn’t mean you’re rich?
“Myth” 2: Millionaires think they’re rich. Okay, they probably don’t. Millionaires are capable of being grossly misinformed. Shocking.
“Myth” 3: Millionaires pay proportionately less income tax than poorer people. Nobody claimed this was always true. But it is sometimes true. He doesn’t even attempt to disprove this.
“Myth” 4: Millionaires share the same political beliefs. Not sure who is making this claim either. But in showing that it’s a “myth”, he says that Obama won with voters making less than $50k and more than $200k while “McCain carried the middle class.” Is he saying that the “middle class” is defined by making between $50k and $200k? Yet earlier he said that $50k was the median household income. Shouldn’t the “middle class” have $50k as a centerpoint rather than a floor?
“Myth” 5: Obama’s “millionaires’ tax” won’t seriously limit investment. He says “Taxes on the rich are taxes on people who create jobs. And jobs are an unalloyed good thing for an economy.” But the Bush tax cuts have been in effect for over 10 years now. And job growth went nowhere, even before the crash. This idea has been proven false by very recent, very well-known data. How can he spout this nonsense with a straight face?
All the *actual* myths in this piece were those being touted by the author as supporting arguments. Just awful.
Of course. $250K. Half a mil, or a million just isn’t that much anymore. However. a public school teacher earning $45,000 a year with benefits and a small pension is WAY OVERPAID.
Cole’s right, it’s like arguing with a Cargo Cult.