The internet has recently featured some essays by those who might be hit with a tax hike if the Clinton-era tax rates are restored on couples earning more than $250,000 per year (see also here). The complaint–it is unfair to soak them, because they are not rich. James Fallows has a particularly nice response to such complaints.
So the question is: what is rich? As a professor in an economics/finance related field who is married to a primary-care physician, I believe I qualify. Why?
(1) I live in a nice house in a nice neighborhood in a nice city, and I don’t sweat making my mortgage and property tax payments. By OECD standards, my house is quite large for empty-nesters.
(2) My wife and I have perfectly nice cars. If hers, a nine-year old Acura, breaks down, it is not a big deal to pay for fixing it.
(3) My kids go to colleges that they really enjoy, and won’t be strapped with debt when they graduate.
(4) We have no fear of becoming financially distressed because of medical bills.
(5) We take a nice vacation every couple of years.
(6) If I want to buy a book, I buy it (even hard-covers!)
(7) If we want to go out to dinner, we do so.
(8) We max out on tax-exempt retirement savings.
If that isn’t rich, I am not sure what qualifies. For those who are in similar circumstances, perhaps they should talk to the people who clean their house or cut their hair before deciding they are not rich. And if I need to pay higher taxes so that we can pay our soldiers and sailors and marines and airmen well, and help them recover from their wounds, and assure that nearly all our elderly can live at least a lower-middle class life, and make sure that children can grow up in safe neighborhoods with minimally acceptable schools; if I need to pay higher taxes to pay for what has already been spent on two wars and Medicare Part D, I am OK with that.