The wealthy aren't happy:
I, like the president before me, am a law professor at the University of Chicago Law School, and my wife, like the first lady before her, works at the University of Chicago Hospitals, where she is a doctor who treats children with cancer. Our combined income exceeds the $250,000 threshold for the super rich (but not by that much), and the president plans on raising my taxes. After all, we can afford it, and the world we are now living in has that familiar Marxian tone of those who need take and those who can afford it pay. The problem is, we can’t afford it. ...
We pay about $15,000 in property taxes, about half of which goes to fund public education in Chicago. Since we care the education of our three children, this means we also have to pay to send them to private school. My wife has school loans of nearly $250,000 and I do too, although becoming a lawyer is significantly cheaper. We try to invest in our retirement by putting some money in the stock market....
Like most working Americans, insurance, doctors’ bills, utilities, two cars, daycare, groceries, gasoline, cell phones, and cable TV (no movie channels) round out our monthly expenses. We also have someone who cuts our grass, cleans our house, and watches our new baby so we can both work outside the home. At the end of all this, we have less than a few hundred dollars per month of discretionary income. We occasionally eat out but with a baby sitter, these nights take a toll on our budget....His family income exceeds $400,000 a year but it's hard to make ends meet! Letting the Bush tax cuts for the rich expire on schedule will break him! He'll be forced to lay off the servants and sell his house and cars!
If our taxes rise significantly, as they seem likely to, we can cut back on some things. The (legal) immigrant from Mexico who owns the lawn service we employ will suffer, as will the (legal) immigrant from Poland who cleans our house a few times a month. We can cancel our cell phones and some cable channels, as well as take our daughter from her art class at the community art center....
If these cuts don’t work, we will sell our house – into an already spiraling market of declining asset values – and our cars, assuming someone will buy them.
I'm just weeping for him. Aren't you?
The original blog post where the Chicago law professor whined about being oppressed by the confiscatory taxation of the Marxian Obama regime was so thoroughly taken to pieces and mocked by Michael O'Hare, Brad DeLong (here and here), and Paul Krugman (here, here, and here), and others, that it is now Not Found and must be enjoyed in perpetuity only via google cache.
Krugman sums up the problem for the rich very succinctly:
(R)ising inequality at the top — a fatter right tail in the income distribution — makes the objectively rich feel poor....But one thing all these fine commenters on the sorrow and anger of the wealthy fail to do is recommend a remedy for it. Because there is quite an effective one. Tax them until the vast and increasing current income inequality is reduced.
(T)he status anxiety created by high inequality means that the rich-but-not-rich-enough often lead worse lives than their somewhat poorer counterparts did a few decades ago: they work longer hours, take fewer vacations, and spend more on things that don’t give them pleasure but that they hope will impress others.
As even Forbes was recently forced to acknowledge, the five happiest countries in the world are Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands - social democratic nations all. The countries with the least income inequality in the world.
This may seem counterintuitive, that everyone, including the wealthy, is happier (and healthier) in societies where the rich aren't quite so much richer than everyone else the way they are in the current US plutocracy, but Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett described why this would be so last year in their book The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger.
It’s hard to disregard social status because is comes so close to defining our worth and how much we are valued. To do well for yourself or to be successful is almost synonymous with moving up the social ladder. Higher status almost always carries connotations of being better, superior, more successful and more able. ... [T]he further up the social ladder you are, the easier it becomes to feel a sense of pride, dignity and self-confidence. ... Pride is the pleasure and shame the pain through which we are all socialized, so that we learn, from early childhood onwards, to behave in socially acceptable ways....So they may kick and scream a bit being dragged to greater happiness, but stick to your guns, President Obama, and let the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire.
Greater inequality seems to heighten people’s social evaluation anxieties by increasing the importance of social status.... If inequalities are bigger, so that some people seem to count for almost everything, and others for practically nothing, where each of us is placed becomes more important. Greater inequality is likely to be accompanied by increased status competition and increased status anxiety....
Not only do large inequalities produce all of the problems associated with social differences and the divisive class prejudices which go with them, but, as later chapters show, it also weakens community life, reduces trust, and increases violence. (pp. 40-45)
And while you're at it, get Congress to add a few more tax brackets for the millionaires and the billionaires. Bring the super-rich out of the stratosphere and back down into touch with the realities of life for the rest of their fellow citizens.
Even the the rich will thank you for it in the end.