9 thoughts on “Not Rich

  1. The article leads off with a dentist sadly contemplating “cutting back” her practice so as to make just under $250,000, instead of her $320K per annum. (Of course, nothing is said about whether these numbers are before or after the deductions, adjustments, and everything else a well-trained accountant can do to make the taxable bottom line as small as legally possible … I’d bet a cookie, which is about all I can afford, that they’re before, not after.)

    Nine grafs later it notes that Colorado median income is $57K and if she were to limit herself to $250K the poor dentist would still be in the top 2.5% for the state (and nationally).

    Then way down in graf 25 we learn that the cost of living is low in Colorado — about 20% cheaper than in SoCal — and “executives and professionals may well find Colorado a bargain.” And in the 27th graf comes another dreadful fact:

    “Taxpayers in the $200,000 to $500,000 range of income would pay an average of $800 more in taxes under the Obama proposal, according to the Tax Policy Center in Washington, D.C.”

    Eight hundred dollars more. Poor dears, however will they manage? Turns out the poor dentist decides to keep the additional $70K — even though it may cost her EIGHT HUNDRED EXTRA BUCKOLAS — and the paper finds room for her comments about feeling victimized anyway.

    Professional Journalism™ — gotta love it!

    With kind regards,
    Dog, etc.
    searching for home

  2. What constitutes wealth in this country is having a roof over your head, lights on, heat, and food and a job. If you have those things, or access to those things, you are wealty. Are the f’n kidding with the 250k???

  3. When this topic comes up I always think the problem is that we don’t have enough words for all the gradations. Yes, $250,000/yr is very, very comfortable, and I don’t think anyone making that much should ever complain about anything, but it is a different world than the truly wealthy.

    My husband has a friend from high school who made millions being the first to write some sort of software application, and I think that in the end, he is still more upper-middle class, more like the dentist in this article, than rich. That’s because he can’t influence anything to his benefit.

    Really rich to me is having the means to change laws for yourself — to get China most favored nation status (the Waltons), or to convince way too many people that there shouldn’t be an estate tax (the Waltons again, the Mars family, and a handful of others, I believe it’s 18 all together). As jealous as I am of people who make in the three figures, I think they are in some important ways, more like me than not.

    I can only imagine the comments that are going to follow…

  4. Susie, you know damn well that in the region of the country you live in, $250K is by no means well off, especially if you live in NJ. Yes, people at that level have a lot more disposable income than the rest of us but they’re not rich.
    And when you think about single people who make less than half of that but still get taxed at an incredibly high rate, it sure *looks* like a great salary but in reality, we’re kinda worse off. If we get laid off, our incomes make it difficult to qualify for SCHIP and the like. We pay an extraordinary amount in taxes every year but we are excluded from benefiting from the measly social safety net that’s left. We make too much money to get a lot of tax deductions, our living expenses are the same as everyone elses, we have to save for our retirements, and if we’re divorced or have kids, we need to provide for them and pay for tuition. We don’t get ANY financial aid. For some reason, people like Krugman think we can just cough up some more.
    UNCLE!
    I’m no libertarian but our tax law is incredibly unfair depending on your marital status and where you live. It needs serious reform.

  5. Thanks PurpleGirl, I must have been thinking, three numerals to the left of the comma.

    And I think riverdaughter’s comment supports mine. It’s a bit of divide-and-conquering when we focus our disgust on dentists and the like, rather than the top-top-top. Of course, we see the dentists all the time; the really wealthy are invisible to us because they like it that way. The newspaper could have filled that space with an article carefully explaining how much the really wealthy made off with the last few years.

  6. “The newspaper could have filled that space with an article carefully explaining how much the really wealthy made off with the last few years.”

    And they chose not to. In fact, the story pretty much buried things that didn’t highlight The Sad Plight Of The Poor Well-To-Do (call them whatever you will — at $250K a year and more, their incomes are over 5X the national median).

    I know the Denver Post isn’t the NYT, and I’m not familiar with its reporting, but the people in the upper tax brackets seem to be the only “poor” that the Times is concerned about, and it sure looks as if the Post had the same concerns in this story.

    Costs of living vary widely, and a COLA to income tax, based on local costs, would probably help equalize things. But the Post eventually noted — buried near the end of its story — that it takes less to live well in Denver, and “in general, someone in the $250,000 income bracket could look at homes in the $750,000-to-$1 million range, according to George Leonard, a managing broker at Your Castle Real Estate.”

    The most recent four Craigslist ads for Denver homes in that price range ranged from 2300 SF to 5000 SF and from 3 to 5 beds and baths.

    If I lived in a 5BR 5000 SF house and cried poor, everyone I know would laugh themselves sick. I guess it’s different for some people, but still, I’d probably prefer that set of problems to my current ones. (Hell, if I made enough money, my problems might even include finding my local paper shedding tears on my behalf.)

    With kind regards,
    Dog, etc.
    searching for home

  7. If the dentist is in the top 2% of income at $320K per year ($250K = top 2.5%), how can she be anything but rich?

    Obama should go after the super-rich, and tax any income over $500K at at least an 80% rate. (And capital gains at the same graduated rate, albeit adjusted for inflation.) The Wall Street crooks should start giving back some of the money that they stole from society.

  8. I used to make this magic figure for sometime (not anymore) and felt quite well off. Living in an area as expensive as NJ, my feeling was and is that $250K is comfortable unless you eat pate and caviar 4 times a day and drive a fancy car you need to replace annually.

    I sent a kid to a private university for $200K (4 years), drove a fancy car (although had it for 8 years), bought a new house, etc.

    $250K is plenty unless you are less.

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