September 20, 2010
The unbearable whininess of rich people
This amazing blog post by a University of Chicago law professor complains how unfair it is to characterize people like him as rich and how his family will be badly hurt by letting the Bush tax cuts expire for those earning over $250,000. Michael O'Hare and Brad De Long deduce that the complaining professor earns around $450,000 and deliver much needed rebukes.
[Update: The law professor Todd Henderson has since deleted his post and given up blogging as a result of the response to his post, and also because he says his wife strongly disagreed with him and did not consent to him posting in the first place.]
As the effort to make the rich even richer gets under full swing this fall, we are going to hear a lot of whining like this as the December 31st expiry deadline draws near. A lot of smoke is going to be blown about what constitutes being rich and so it is good to bear in mind the facts of income distribution in the US.
20% of households earn less than $19,178
20% of households earn between $19,178 and $36,000
20% of households earn between $36,000 and $57,568
20% of households earn between $57,568 and $91,705
20% of households earn over $91,705
The median household income is around $50,000. ('Median' means that half earn below and half above that figure). If we break down even further the people in the very top brackets:
10% of households earn between $100,349 and $138.254
5% of households earn between $138,254 and $329,070
1% of households earn between $329,070 and $482,129
0.5% of households earn between $482,129 and $1,401,635
0.1% of households earn between $1,401,635 and $6,473,710
0.01% of households earn over $6,473,710
So the Chicago law professor's family earns about nine times the median income, is in the top 1% or so of income earners in the country, and yet whines about how tough it is for him to get by. This curious combination of greed and entitlement of the rich seems to be getting worse. In a previous post, I showed how the income share of the top 10% has increased greatly since 1979, a period that is referred to as 'The Great Divergence'. Kevin Drum provides a chart that breaks it down even more.
It is clear that the rich have been making out like bandits and they still want more. Anyone still doubt that we have an oligarchy? How bad must it get before people like the anti-tax zealots among the tea partiers realize that they are being played for suckers by the oligarchy?