Reading The Financial Page in this week’s New Yorker on the subway this morning got me so fired up that I was tempted to turn to the guy standing next to me to express my outrage. Knowing nothing about him, I was sure he’d agree.
James Surowieki, arguing for a millionaire tax bracket, writes that currently:
[S]omeone making two hundred thousand dollars a year and someone making two hundred million dollars a year pay at similar tax rates. LeBron James and LeBron James’s dentist: same difference.
But it’s the numbers he cites about the concentration of wealth in this country that really make the blood boil:
Between 2002 and 2007… the bottom ninety-nine per cent of incomes grew 1.3 percent a year in real terms—while the incomes of the top one per cent grew ten percent a year…. Even within the top one percent, income is getting more concentrated: the top 0.1 percent of earners have seen their share of national income triple over the same period. All by themselves, they now earn as much as the bottom hundred and twenty million people. So at the same time that the rich have been pulling away from the middle class, the very rich have been pulling away from the pretty rich, and the very, very rich have been pulling away from the very rich.
The bastards! I wanted to tell the guy standing next to me. For a check on my knee-jerk reaction, I called my dad, not quite a life-long Republican, but a Republican since he cast his first ballot (for Richard Nixon — which, he admits, didn’t work out so well), and a member of:
what the commentator Matt Miller has called a “lower upper class”— doctors, lawyers, accountants, even some journalists, who make very good livings but enjoy nothing like the rewards that come to their peers in finance or in the executive suite.
My dad took issue with my reference to the Bush tax cuts — ”there have been plenty of tax cut programs over the course of our history, but the press loves to call these the “Bush” tax cuts so that the general populace will view them as evil and cry out for their reversal/elimination” — but agreed that we should look at adding brackets.
Still, he said to bear in mind that “even though a guy who makes $250,000 per year is in the same 35% tax bracket as the guy who makes $10 million per year, in absolute dollars the former guy would pay federal taxes of $87,500 while the latter would pay $3,500,000.”