Confessions of a Rich Person

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.

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About Richard K. Green 103 Articles

Affiliation: University of Southern California

Richard K. Green, Ph.D., is the Director of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate. He holds the Lusk Chair in Real Estate and is Professor in the School of Policy, Planning, and Development and the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California.

Prior to joining the USC faculty, Dr. Green spent four years as the Oliver T. Carr, Jr., Chair of Real Estate Finance at The George Washington University School of Business. He was Director of the Center for Washington Area Studies and the Center for Real Estate and Urban Studies at that institution. Dr. Green also taught real estate finance and economics courses for 12 years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he was Wangard Faculty Scholar and Chair of Real Estate and Urban Land Economics. He also has been principal economist and director of financial strategy and policy analysis at Freddie Mac.

His research addresses housing markets, housing policy, tax policy, transportation, mortgage finance and urban growth. He is a member of two academic journal editorial boards, and a reviewer for several others.

His work is published in a number of journals including the American Economic Review, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Journal of Urban Economics, Land Economics, Regional Science and Urban Economics, Real Estate Economics, Housing Policy Debate, Journal of Housing Economics, and Urban Studies.

His book with Stephen Malpezzi, A Primer on U.S. Housing Markets and Housing Policy, is used at universities throughout the country. His work has been cited or he has been quoted in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsweek and the Economist, as well as other outlets.

Dr. Green earned his Ph.D. and M.S. in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He earned his A.B. in economics from Harvard University.

Visit: Real Estate and Urban Economics Blog

2 Comments on Confessions of a Rich Person

  1. while i note some scarcasm in the statements…you have fallen for the myth that the “rich” (and the the idea that by paying a 36% vs 39% marginal rate) are the problem with the budget — the reality is the problem is spending

    if the government took 100% of the income of the “rich” that wouldn’t cover the operating deficit (much less the total debt)…

    very little of your taxes are paying for the war — its paying for the “stimulus” — the stimulus (at $2 million per job) “costs” more than the Iraq war…and the 47%+ of the population that depends upon federal/state expenditures

  2. You already do pay extra for all of those programs. Now you’ll pay for programs that nobody wants and are amazingly to expensive. Thanks for selling out since in reality it will be the middle income people that will suffer by getting poor government health care… among other things.

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