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If you're like most Americans, you classify yourself as "middle class." But as the debate over...

If you're like most Americans, you classify yourself as "middle class." But as the debate over tax cuts shows, nobody can agree on exactly what middle class means. A family earning $250,000 in a high-cost location like Manhattan, for example, probably doesn't consider themselves rich.
Comments (135)
  • davidbdc
    , contributor
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    Since you can take public transportation to/from other NYC locales 250K is at least upper middle class. Quite frankly anyone earning that amount of money that doesn't consider themselves doing well has a huge personal finance issue.

     

    Let me spell it out for folks. We have a 1.3 TRILLION dollar deficit and a 13 Trillion dollar debt, with unfunded liabilities in the tens of trillions. We have to severely cut spending. And we are all going to pay more taxes (which ideally will go directly towards paying the debt). Anyone that tells you otherwise is just lying to you.
    14 Sep 2010, 06:25 PM Reply Like
  • cash
    , contributor
    Comments (442) | Send Message
     
    >>(which ideally will go directly towards paying the debt)

     

    well that would be a dream. No such thing will ever happen. It did not when we had some operational surplus, and it will not now with everybody and his brother looking for a bailout. Better limit the money available to govt to spend, and let the law makers fight tooth & nail to get things funded. That's when all slush funds, pork barrel spending, and wastage will come to light.
    14 Sep 2010, 06:46 PM Reply Like
  • Paul H. M.
    , contributor
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    Reagan lowered taxes (on the rich, he raised them on the poor), and the government just spent more.

     

    Bush lowered taxes (especially for the rich), and the government just spent more.

     

    Lowering taxes does not make sense when you have two expensive wars. The Bush tax cuts were a huge mistake, and part of the reason we're in this mess.

     

    If we want to fight wars, we have to raise taxes, just like we did during WWII. This gives the government the necessary capital to expend enough to fight the wars, and maintain infrastructure at home.

     

    As for the highest bracket, how about one million? Would that be enough that we all agree is "rich" enough to warrant contributing more than the average man to pay for our wars and debt?
    14 Sep 2010, 07:34 PM Reply Like
  • davesnothere
    , contributor
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    The less taxes the better. The less government the better.
    14 Sep 2010, 07:40 PM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
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    But to what point? Therein lies the problem. 0 taxes and 0 government?
    14 Sep 2010, 08:02 PM Reply Like
  • The Patriot
    , contributor
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    Hit the nail on the head. Its a moving target and so complex that any black and white or one size fits all type tax policy is unjust. Targeting ANY specific demographic is dangerous. There has been no meaningful discussion from either party on reducing spending. Cut spending BEFORE raising taxes. Create a list of ALL govt spending and its rate of growth. Give this list to the voters and let them decide where to spend the money.
    The Fair Tax would eliminate this growing class warfare.
    14 Sep 2010, 08:29 PM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
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    Oh, it's not easy! Do we pay for National Parks, or sell them to developers? Public libraries?
    14 Sep 2010, 08:41 PM Reply Like
  • pharmainsider1
    , contributor
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    Considering the National parks require you to BUY A PASS to get in, I don't consider them funded by my income taxes. They are paid for by the user fees and concessions.
    14 Sep 2010, 10:54 PM Reply Like
  • ajibaji
    , contributor
    Comments (2) | Send Message
     
    THE government. Last time I looked we were a democracy and we ARE the government. As a social compact we all agree to fund public highways, transportation, public schools, police, firefighters, the military, the people's pension plan called social security which we pay into our whole lives in order to afford to live when we retire. These are OUR benefits. Last time I looked we still voted every two years. What dictatorship are you living in?
    14 Sep 2010, 11:08 PM Reply Like
  • radicall
    , contributor
    Comments (534) | Send Message
     
    Fair tax steals from the poor to give to the "Well Off". Screw Rich.. anyone making more than 250k after deductions is at least well off.

     

    The bottom line is you have to balance the budget sometime rather than kick the can down the road. I am not against eventually reducing government spending, I just don't want to see it done right now. If you are raising the taxes on those who are well off, you have to increase taxes on the poor and lower middle class.

     

    With 17% unemployment and no signs of hiring, people don't have money to buy food for their family (see reports from grocery retailers like WMT, SVU and Kroger). They probably are depending on family members who themselves don't make a whole lot to support them, feel like taxing them more is "fair"?
    14 Sep 2010, 11:32 PM Reply Like
  • Alex T
    , contributor
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    Paul h m: I thought reagan increased taxes on the rich. If I remember the corp taxes went from 36 to 39%. Please correct me.
    14 Sep 2010, 11:57 PM Reply Like
  • Volatile
    , contributor
    Comments (29) | Send Message
     
    I live in Manhattan, and there is a huge difference between living here and anywhere else in the US. Rent on a 1,200 sq ft apartment in my area is $60,000-$85,000, parking a car will cost you more than $7,000. The local income tax will run you about $10,000. $250,000 in Manhattan is probably equivalent to about $60,000 in most other parts of the country.
    15 Sep 2010, 12:22 AM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
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    Passes do not wholly pay for the parks.
    15 Sep 2010, 12:30 PM Reply Like
  • john s. gordon
    , contributor
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    anyone earning 100K or more annually in manhattan can probably squeak by economically.
    the rest of us have to commute in from NJ.
    > jack
    15 Sep 2010, 12:33 PM Reply Like
  • john s. gordon
    , contributor
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    the problem with the bush taxcuts (which were in place before the criminal iraq invasion) was that there was never any intent to pay for the iraq war, we'll just let our grandchildren pay for it.
    > jack
    15 Sep 2010, 12:37 PM Reply Like
  • MimiBlues
    , contributor
    Comments (4) | Send Message
     
    What middle class means is not the same as we thought we should be. I just bumped into Janet Tavakoli's blog and though not being able to endorse all her points. She is right on the target. Also, she mentioned Arianna Huffington's new book, Third World America: How Our Politicians are Abandoning the Middle Class and Betraying the American Dream speaks for the disenfranchised middle class: Americans that have lost wages, lost jobs, lost value in homes, and lost substantial value in investments and retirement funds. The U.S. middle class is being scammed out of existence. Wall Street and large corporate special interests -- including energy companies, large financial institutions, drug companies, and the large military industrial complex -- effectively bought Washington.

     

    For most Americans, the Great Recession never ended, and for many of the 14.9 million unemployed Americans, it's a 21st century Depression. Yet in December 2009, Larry Summers, director of the White House National Economic Council, told ABC news: "Today, everybody agrees that the recession is over, and the question is what the pace of the expansion is going to be."

     

    The recession was over for bailed-out banks paying billions in bonuses. Taxpayers fund Wall Street with nearly zero-cost loans, and Congress changed accounting rules in April 2009 so that Wall Street firms could hide losses to create the illusion of "big profits," as they try to fill the gaping holes in their balance sheets.
    16 Sep 2010, 10:07 AM Reply Like
  • NYNJ
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
     
    I make about 100k in Manhattan and live a far better life than most of my friends in Houston, TX that make 50-60k. The reason is, I know how to shop for bargins and never pay retail. Yes, my rent is $2,500/month but I dont NEED a car so I use public transit. My friends in TX pay $1,200 for rent but HAVE to have a car and end up paying another $1,200 total for car payments, insurance, gas, etc (for two cars if they are married). It's all about being smart with your money, and the average american isnt.
    20 Sep 2010, 05:52 PM Reply Like
  • Alex T
    , contributor
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    For $2500 monthly rent in Houston you can own equity and in a nice area like Clear Lake, can't do that in NY city.
    20 Sep 2010, 06:34 PM Reply Like
  • MimiBlues
    , contributor
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    It occurs to me that you maybe not reside in nyc. It is not AT LEAST upper middle - It is AT MOST upper middle.
    14 Sep 2010, 06:29 PM Reply Like
  • Rhianni32
    , contributor
    Comments (1995) | Send Message
     
    Ok so going off the average household income of $60,000 the $250k person is making over x4 more.
    Are you saying that gas in NY costs over $12 a gallon, a 12 pack of soda costs $16, a fast food value meal costs $20, and a subscription to Direct TV runs $400 a month?
    Because that would be the equivalent difference to where I live if the standard of living in NYC was so high that $250k was middle class.

     

    Just because a person has little money left over after they are done spending it that doesnt bump them down to middle class.
    14 Sep 2010, 06:45 PM Reply Like
  • 7footMoose
    , contributor
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    No but housing is a heck of a lot more than in the middle of the country, probably 5 to 10 times more.
    14 Sep 2010, 07:19 PM Reply Like
  • Trader DMA
    , contributor
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    why ? how much is a hamburger and some french fries in Manhattan ?
    14 Sep 2010, 06:30 PM Reply Like
  • Bozerdog
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    Well said.
    14 Sep 2010, 07:37 PM Reply Like
  • Rhianni32
    , contributor
    Comments (1995) | Send Message
     
    According to the article an income of $250,000 a year is the top 3%. If that isnt a definition of rich I am not sure what is.
    If one with that income does not feel rich they may need to look at what they are spending their money on or perhaps look at how many extra non-necessities they have more above the average person.
    14 Sep 2010, 06:36 PM Reply Like
  • dwcbuckeye
    , contributor
    Comments (19) | Send Message
     
    Well, it depends on where you live and when you were fortunate enough to buy a house if you actually own. And it also depends on if you have children. The people that consider $250K rich must live in a fly-over state. I was "lucky" enough to buy my home in San Francisco at the peak or close to it in 2005. My mortgage is "only" $6,200 a month. Day care for the two kids (because we both work) is approximately $2,900 month. After taxes, that doesn't leave a whole lot left over now does it? Please, that is not rich, its barely getting by. Do yourself a favor and stay in the middle part of the country, you'll be able to afford alot of things and you won't get dinked with extra taxes.
    14 Sep 2010, 07:43 PM Reply Like
  • davidbdc
    , contributor
    Comments (3141) | Send Message
     
    If you CHOSE to pay 6200 per month just for your mortgage then you need to go look in the mirror. 250K per year is doing well irregardless of WHERE you live in the USA. Its HOW you live that determines whether or not you CHOOSE to save money.

     

    No one forced you to spend 6200/month for shelter for your family.

     

    Lets put 250K in perspective. Its 20K per month. And if your making that much its likely you also receive things like company match in your 401K, health care package that is above average, etc, etc. 20K per MONTH!!! Heck, my first year of working I earned LESS than that for the entire YEAR!!!

     

    We all make choices and there is no justification for people earning 250K crying the poorhouse because they pay 6200/month on a house. If you choose to borrow 800K for a roof over your head, then you'll have to sacrifice elsewhere I guess.

     

    Americans have seemingly lost the ability to differentiate between a want and a need. Million dollar homes are not needs.
    14 Sep 2010, 08:04 PM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
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    I'm an empty nester - don't have the tax breaks you have - you make well over 100K more than me, and I think I lead a very comfortable life. Must be the many great restaurants in SF area (used to live there) killing your budget.
    14 Sep 2010, 08:11 PM Reply Like
  • talbano
    , contributor
    Comments (324) | Send Message
     
    I remember those daycare bills, they are brutal. Especially when you're starting out.
    I was so happy when that was over. Then came sports fees, summer camp and after school care. Now we are paying for car insurance (3000/yr for a new driver) and college next year. 55k/yr Funny, now I will be missing the daycare bills.
    Enjoy your kids now, as I have learned they grow fast and cost more.
    14 Sep 2010, 08:30 PM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
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    That's why my wife stayed home with kids. Did without a few things, but home-life was very sane. Would have switched places if she made more than me (but I can't fold clothes neatly).
    14 Sep 2010, 08:36 PM Reply Like
  • talbano
    , contributor
    Comments (324) | Send Message
     
    LOL.... 18 years later.....my husband still can't fold the clothes
    I stayed home for a year or so after each child and literally was just breaking even when I went back to work after daycare & taxes. We thought that eventually I would earn more and the kids would be in school so the years of volunteering for taxes was ultimately worth it but it is challenging no matter how you do it.
    14 Sep 2010, 09:02 PM Reply Like
  • Rhianni32
    , contributor
    Comments (1995) | Send Message
     
    Yeah well around here daycare is $300+ a week. So going back to the x4 example unless you are paying $1,200 a week, $4800 a month then you are still way ahead.
    14 Sep 2010, 09:26 PM Reply Like
  • billybubb
    , contributor
    Comments (14) | Send Message
     
    So right on!
    14 Sep 2010, 09:28 PM Reply Like
  • talbano
    , contributor
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    no idea what you are talking about -
    14 Sep 2010, 09:31 PM Reply Like
  • Rhianni32
    , contributor
    Comments (1995) | Send Message
     
    The reply order is really weird here. I was referring to dwcbuckeye's comment that $2,900 child support on a $250k salary is high.
    Its been a long crazy thread and it did look like it was replying to you. Sorry about that Talbano.
    14 Sep 2010, 09:37 PM Reply Like
  • Rhianni32
    , contributor
    Comments (1995) | Send Message
     
    Reply to davidbdc's comment about choices.... I think that really hits the head on the nail for me. People make choices with their money. If its paying for your kids college in cash or $6,000 on a mortgage thats a choice and again, what you have left over doesnt bump you down to a lower economic class.
    Not that being in that position is bad or anything.

     

    Heck on the other hand why is there such a hang up with class. Its like we are in late 1700s France.
    14 Sep 2010, 09:40 PM Reply Like
  • talbano
    , contributor
    Comments (324) | Send Message
     
    As far as paying for college in cash is being a choice, I don't get that unless I don't want my kids to go. I understand a house being a choice but college?
    Since I am very much anti debt, I will not borrow and pay interest.
    Open for suggestions.

     

    Just a thought.....
    Saying that 250k income is a straight multiplier of 4 on the average 60k is somewhat misleading.
    I do not know what is the tax rate for a family of four making 60k is but a family of 4 making 250k is taxed federally I think around 35% that's 80k or so off the top; leaving much less than this 20k/month estimate. - more like 12k/mo.
    14 Sep 2010, 10:17 PM Reply Like
  • dwcbuckeye
    , contributor
    Comments (19) | Send Message
     
    You don't get it! Location is the key. This is a average 1700 square foot home in the outer burbs. It is what it is. Those were the choices. Wake up and understand the coast is not the same as your fly over states. Bottom line.
    14 Sep 2010, 11:07 PM Reply Like
  • dwcbuckeye
    , contributor
    Comments (19) | Send Message
     
    As for daycare, we paid what we had to. Its very difficult to actually "get in" to ANY daycare in the City. We were on the waiting list since our son was in the womb and it took 2+years.

     

    Anyways, we made a difficult choice regarding the taxes and one of decided to just stay home. Income was cut, but so were the taxes, no more AMT. Child care was eliminated. Net/Net it is somewhat less, but the feeling of not being robbed blind by the Government makes up for it. Plus, I spend more time with the kids. It all works out.
    14 Sep 2010, 11:12 PM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
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    You can borrow for college, but you can't borrow for retirement. Smart companies use debt wisely, you can to.
    15 Sep 2010, 07:57 AM Reply Like
  • Rhianni32
    , contributor
    Comments (1995) | Send Message
     
    True Talbano the x4 is not exact and is going to be wrong but its "should" be a rough estimate.

     

    Now I am not saying that one should not send their kids to college if they can afford it. And if you can do it in cash that is the best choice to avoid debt. But in the end it is still a choice.
    1: Kids can work/earn through scholarship their own way through college.
    2: Kids can debt their own way through college.
    3: Parents can debt their kids way through college.
    4: Parents can pay it in cash.

     

    Very few people even have choice 4. I would say even having the option to pick number 4 would make someone rich.
    15 Sep 2010, 08:11 AM Reply Like
  • talbano
    , contributor
    Comments (324) | Send Message
     
    Yeah - but why borrow for 6-8% interest
    Believe me I would rather borrow.
    Maybe I could float debt in the market?
    I am not going to get 6-8% back anywhere

     

    My son cannot borrow, it is based on his parents income.
    15 Sep 2010, 10:03 AM Reply Like
  • talbano
    , contributor
    Comments (324) | Send Message
     
    Ri- So if someone saves for college - that makes them rich?
    I disagree.
    15 Sep 2010, 10:04 AM Reply Like
  • talbano
    , contributor
    Comments (324) | Send Message
     
    Also why do we encourage people taking on debt instead of rewarding responsible people?
    I wonder why there are not any tax breaks for higher ed?
    We are one of the most undereducated societies in the world.
    I just think the system is backwards -
    I always thought that my son could take a student loan - defer it and my husband I could pay it over time.
    You cannot get student loans if you work hard or have saved.
    The only option is to get a parent loan.
    Makes me a little crazy when the interest is 6-8% and the government will loan to people underwater on their mortgage at 0.
    My son will work in the summer but I will not require him to work as long as his studies are challenging and he is getting good grades.
    I would rather suck it up now so that he has a shot at a future.
    Plus the School he is looking at will require and externship every year.
    I surely do not want him to start out with all kinds of debt and nothing- Like me and my husband - that is a though way to start your life. My husband was paying student loans into his 30s and when we got married, I was making 20k and he was making 30k.
    15 Sep 2010, 10:16 AM Reply Like
  • Rhianni32
    , contributor
    Comments (1995) | Send Message
     
    No. I think you are misunderstanding me.

     

    Having the ability to pay $55k a year in cash for your children's education is a good indicator of being rich. Most middle class dont make that in a year total let alone have the option to do that.

     

    If I was in your position I would definitely do that. Don't get me wrong i am not saying you should not heh. taking on debt that you dont need or making your kids take on that debt necessarily would be silly.
    15 Sep 2010, 11:07 AM Reply Like
  • fxmaven
    , contributor
    Comments (1455) | Send Message
     
    Because the state is technically bankrupt from excess war & social spending, just like the Bourbons in 18th century France.

     

    Same sh*t, different century.
    15 Sep 2010, 11:22 AM Reply Like
  • talbano
    , contributor
    Comments (324) | Send Message
     
    You seem like a nice person and I have always been a proud american that has worked hard to provide for my family and give back to our community.
    I guess I just resent being classified as "rich" when in the end, it's been hard work and going without for many years to have a more secure future.
    My husband drives a car with 230k miles on it.
    Now because people over leverage and our government cannot come up with a solid plan - They look towards the responsible people to pay more, while everyone else gets handouts.
    Where is the incentive to do more?
    Paying for college is and has always been a priority for our kids, as that opportunity was not available to me.
    We are creating a society of people that will want more for less and less and people that have resources will be will be more reluctant to lend a hand.
    It's sad.
    This give from the people that have to the people that don't will never work.
    Why is that people cannot create their own opportunities? Why isn't that behavior rewarded?
    This is a sad sad path we are on. I think the people that sit there and say it no big deal to pay more are people that are not effected.
    It is always easy to spend other peoples money but when does it end? I am sure by the time all is said an done the average family making 250k probably pays close to 50% in taxes.
    So I guess, if everyone just decides not to make more money than where would that leave our country.
    I am tired of paying more and more to bailout people.
    15 Sep 2010, 11:33 AM Reply Like
  • Rhianni32
    , contributor
    Comments (1995) | Send Message
     
    I honestly fully agree with you there Talbano. Your tax points you make though are a separate discussion on how much people need to be taxed vs (what I thought was the topic) if a $250k income person is "rich" or "middle class". I use the quotes because they are just labels that for some reason some what to fight to the death to note be labeled rich. Instead they want to be called middle class...

     

    You've told a bit about yourself. I will do the same: I make $37.5k a year and I honestly consider myself rich. I've had to make some tough choices of things I want and have to pass on in life to get to the point where I have a comfortable amount of money left over after bills and expenses each month. I dont say that to brag or to ask for a tax to get your money. Thats your money not mine.
    I say it so you and others have a reference from where i am coming from as some of the comments in this thread (not necessarily from you) really urked me personally.
    That I don't live in NYC so I don't know how rough it is surviving on only $250k a year.
    Or In 1.5 months of a 250k income family is what I make all year.
    Or 1.5 years of my wages is what is being paid for 1 single year of college. I believe you said that $800k is the total amount you are going to pay. That would absolutely destroy me. I'd have to take on that $55k as debt for total 4 year local college would mean to be paid off over what is it, 20 years?

     

    I dont want handouts or bailouts or for you to be taxed into oblivion as some stupid "punishment" that you don't deserve.
    I guess all I am asking is that you and the other $250k+ people don't talk and act like you have it rough as a middle class family when clearly you are not middle class. You are in the top 3% of the entire country as far as income. You have choices that most are never in a position to even dream about making. You are a nice person and I respect your posts and comments on a variety of threads and articles but we are not the same economic class.
    15 Sep 2010, 12:34 PM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
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    My parent plus loan is only around 4%, but that damn thing has shifted from one company to another that I have a hard time keeping up on what password to use when I go to pay it. I really have to agree with a lot of your comments, even though you would consider me a "liberal", but I am very pragmatic. It is easy to be torn in this on-going conversation. The people working for me are lower middle class, some because of bad choices, most because they literally do not have the smarts to get ahead. Don't blame the school system, blame genetics, trust me you are probably a lot smarter than I am, and I consider myself an Einstein compared to some of the people working for me. It is just the way things are, and the old altar boy in me just feels that some of these people need a break. But, your hard work and dedication should not be penalized, it is just wrong. Do you see the dilemma? If this was all cut and dry we wouldn't be having this conversation.
    15 Sep 2010, 12:40 PM Reply Like
  • talbano
    , contributor
    Comments (324) | Send Message
     
    I get that but I do believe you make your own luck or at the very least you more often than not effect change in your life.
    My brother has never had more than a dollar his whole life and is always looking for a hand out(he's older than me) Just last week he asked me for 5k, the loving side me wants to give it to him but the practical side says no. He has always gotten handouts and now always expects them.
    Sometimes it is hard to believe we came from the same house.
    My mom catered to him and made me do everything on my own.
    I would bike 5 miles at 9 yrs old to go babysit at 5am on Sat morn,
    I hated her then but appreciate it now......because her handouts to my brother made him think he was owed something. I realized if I wanted something I had to go after it and work hard.
    I think some people are just in a yucky situation but I also think that some people just expect handouts and that is scary. Our country will never survive if we hate on people that do well and enable people that CHOOSE not to improve.
    My mom worked really hard w/4 kids, no money, went to night school so that she could improve her life. She is 66, has her own business and will be able to retire comfortably.
    I just think if our society keeps going down this path it is a loose loose.
    We will become a country nobody is proud of.
    I guess I question too is why doesn't the government modify fed employee benefits?
    Why should we the tax payer fully fund pensions and pay for their healthcare?

     

    15 Sep 2010, 01:27 PM Reply Like
  • Alex T
    , contributor
    Comments (266) | Send Message
     
    You have to remember something just because you make $250,000 does not make you rich. Live in Manhattan or SF and that is nothing when you consider taxes and cost of living.
    15 Sep 2010, 03:31 PM Reply Like
  • Alex T
    , contributor
    Comments (266) | Send Message
     
    What if your job put you there in SF or you grew up in that area? There are still many major corporation that have there home base there. Betchel, Del Monte,Levi, and I believe Transamerica.
    Some years back National Geographic had a article on Silcon Valley and people making $250,000 were homeless.
    15 Sep 2010, 03:36 PM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
    Comments (3304) | Send Message
     
    All good points. I think that part of this class problem is exec's compensation going from 40 times the standard hourly wage to 200 times. Highest paid (not he $250K) can easily reward themselves, they have the power to do so. I have women working whose husband's have left them, they are here for the excellent health benefits we provide, but they are unable to get ahead like you describe above, the scrape by. Hey, we all can't be rich, or even very well off, we just can't. But the ones who work really hard without a hand sticking out wanting more than they think they deserve, can we, the ones with the bucks, turn our backs on them, not offer a little relief?
    I have no patience for people like your brother. Though far from being a "social Christian", I do try to live my life according to the teachings, I try to walk in the path of Christ, it is a moral thing for me. Hey, I'm on the path maybe 10% of the time, but I try. So, the one's who deserve help should get it, but in my mind, not the ones who do not help themselves.
    16 Sep 2010, 09:39 AM Reply Like
  • radicall
    , contributor
    Comments (534) | Send Message
     
    Yeah .. why should we pay for healthcare of the baby boomers? Let them just die from disease and make TV shows about them instead.

     

    Nobody likes to be taxed, we feel entitled to money we have earned. But if you were to see millions of people dying around you because they don't have any income and no access to healthcare, Yes it is their fault or misfortune whatever you call it, but do we not need people working in grocery stores and retail stores? When you are paying someone 12 bucks an hour to work in Manhattan - how will they manage if you can't manage with 250k?

     

    Longer term we can and should bring down some deficit and spending and THEN lower taxes responsibly, not by adding it to the deficit.

     

    I feel for Obama - he is providing student tax credit, small business tax credits for providing healthcare as well as hiring, stimulus (I bought new washer, furnace, windows, insulation for the attic - got rebates for everything). Nobody recognizes that.

     

    The CARD act keeps credit card companies and banks from screwing us over (increasing rates on existing balances, unreasonable overdraft fees and other predatory practices).. most people don't even know about it.

     

    Realize that having some security to fall back on allows consumers to spend and allows everyone to prosper. If you take away those safety nets, we will all suffer.
    23 Sep 2010, 12:10 PM Reply Like
  • bob adamson
    , contributor
    Comments (4555) | Send Message
     
    US society has had an ambivalent attitude to social class, especially since WW II. Put somewhat unfairly in the mouth of a typical person, it might be summed up as
    “Class doesn’t exist in America. We’re all middle class. I and my family will rise to be more middle class than the others.”
    George Orwell would have had great fun with the arc of this logic.

     

    Arguably “the way to move up in America was to earn a college degree and become a homeowner” did mark (at least as a mantra) the two generations following WW II. The increased stratification of the quality and prestige of post secondary education, the decreasing economic advantage gained by following these steps and the increasing cost of acquiring both such an education and a family home have, however, made these two goals increasingly a mirage for a growing segment of upward aspiring Americans. Arguably the mirage nature of these aspirations was becoming increasingly apparent by the 1990s but the illusion was maintained and even temporarily enhanced by the ready availability of easy credit and the two income family unit. Life post the 2008 economic meltdown (i.e. poor employment prospects and tighter credit) has made that illusion harder to believe in except for those who refuse to recognize their real circumstances.

     

    Besides the disillusion of many middle income persons and fear among those at the lower end of this ‘middle class’ income range, this focus on ‘being middle class’ obscures for many the fact that a new strata of extreme wealth and personal power is rapidly emerging beyond the limits of any logical definition of middle class. I am not arguing that many of the individuals in the top 2% that owns 25% of the wealth in the US are not, as individuals, fine people who have done and continue to do great things. I only ask whether the social, economic and political wellbeing of a country is best served by such concentrations of wealth and power.

     

    Arguably US society needs to reconsider the role class plays in that society and what, if any, measures should be taken to change the growing concentration of wealth and power in a small stratum of that society. Part of this reconsideration needs to focus on the need to recognize the dignity of those who lead constructive lives in economically modest circumstances
    14 Sep 2010, 06:41 PM Reply Like
  • Josh ODonnell
    , contributor
    Comments (229) | Send Message
     
    Most Americans who live in NYC are paying about 60% of there net income to rent or mortage. That leaves 40% left for everything else. If your making $250,000 minus 30% in taxes, your pulling in @ 175,000. 175K divided into 12 months is: 14,500/month. Your not rich, that is damn sure....but your doing better then just getting by...that is if your debt free...which I highly doubt.
    14 Sep 2010, 06:49 PM Reply Like
  • Truth-hurts
    , contributor
    Comments (148) | Send Message
     
    30% in taxes seems low, don't both the State of NY and the City of NY have income taxes as well?
    14 Sep 2010, 07:07 PM Reply Like
  • themackattack
    , contributor
    Comments (83) | Send Message
     
    effective tax rate will be much closer to 45% once you include payroll taxes, fed, local, and state...It is the excessively progressive taxes that make $250k "not rich" already. At least, anywhere in the northeast.
    14 Sep 2010, 07:14 PM Reply Like
  • talbano
    , contributor
    Comments (324) | Send Message
     
    thank you!
    14 Sep 2010, 08:32 PM Reply Like
  • kirk otis
    , contributor
    Comments (277) | Send Message
     
    And those that live in NYC don't need as many cars for the family which is a huge savings.
    14 Sep 2010, 09:57 PM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
    Comments (3304) | Send Message
     
    Especially when you end up with a car for each member. Unfortunately, if you want your kid to have a job, and every kid should (during the summer), they need a car in most parts of the country.
    15 Sep 2010, 08:02 AM Reply Like
  • Wyatt Junker
    , contributor
    Comments (4503) | Send Message
     
    And this is absolutely the way Obama wants the dialogue to go as seen here in these comments. He sets an arbitrary number as 'rich' and then everyone chimes in how 'that's not rich', 'yes that is rich', etc. etc. A sad day in the Republic for sure.

     

    The fact is, there should be no definition at all of rich because once you settle on what that is, you do your best to raid it and belittle it.

     

    Instead, 'the rich' should be not only celebrated, but rewarded. Incentivized, applauded, made into heroes, copied by all.

     

    I think the poor should be paying more in taxes and the 'richer' you get, the less you pay in taxes. Turn the IRS pyramid upside down. At least that would keep government in its box.

     

    But as long as we're willing to engage in their debate, the one they just made up to game votes, we'll never be the great nation we were intended to be.

     

    I want to be rich. And not just rich, but evil RRRRICH!

     

    And dammit, if the government wants to paint me as some kind of rapist for it.

     

    People, the problem is government itself. Nothing more, nothing less. Please do not entertain yourself in their propaganda games. It demeans you and makes you look petty, like the typical democrat voter.
    14 Sep 2010, 07:13 PM Reply Like
  • talbano
    , contributor
    Comments (324) | Send Message
     
    I live in MA, I do not consider 250k rich. By the time you pay ALL your taxes, healthcare insurance 20-25k for self-employed not pre-tax money, save for retirement, college, pay for braces, and raise kids...... It's hardly rich.
    14 Sep 2010, 07:14 PM Reply Like
  • themackattack
    , contributor
    Comments (83) | Send Message
     
    damn straight....

     

    listen, if you were GUARANTEED to make 250K+ for life, you would be pretty well off. But just because you might earn 250k for a few years, doesn't make you rich.

     

    Having lots of assets and equity makes you rich....with the current tax policies, less yet more oppressive ones, no one making 250k per year will EVER be rich.
    14 Sep 2010, 07:22 PM Reply Like
  • Zigg
    , contributor
    Comments (55) | Send Message
     
    Don't forget the Mercedes and house in the Hamptons!
    14 Sep 2010, 07:38 PM Reply Like
  • talbano
    , contributor
    Comments (324) | Send Message
     
    I think what people miss is if you make 250k you may end up paying out more and more.
    I sometimes think my husband and I would be better off working for 80/90k at ABC company and get all our benefits funded Healthcare/Dental/Life Insurance- and fall below any predetermined "rich" zone and qualify for financial aid for college. We would pay less in taxes and get more from the government.
    What a friggin backwards model.
    14 Sep 2010, 07:39 PM Reply Like
  • Truth-hurts
    , contributor
    Comments (148) | Send Message
     
    Don't forget the new taxes on "Cadillac" health care benefits. Your goals are too high; my goal is to become one of the "47 percenters".
    14 Sep 2010, 07:46 PM Reply Like
  • talbano
    , contributor
    Comments (324) | Send Message
     
    We don't even have cadillac HC plan - can't imagine what that would cost our PPO is going to cost 20-25k next year.
    I just found out that if we want to borrow any money for college - it's around 8% interest! Insane.
    14 Sep 2010, 08:01 PM Reply Like
  • davidbdc
    , contributor
    Comments (3141) | Send Message
     
    listen, if you were GUARANTEED to make 250K+ for life, you would be pretty well off. But just because you might earn 250k for a few years, doesn't make you rich.
    ----------------------...

     

    If you can pull down more than 250K for say 5 years you should be fairly well off for the rest of your life. The problem people have is that they upgrade their lifestyles even more than their pay. I did the opposite. I kept my lifestyle the same for several years. That meant that in addition to my salary, I started to earn investment income. And over time that starts to compound and grow. THEN I started to enjoy the finer things (at least what I identify as finer :)) in life. Do it the other way around and you'll never be rich!!!
    14 Sep 2010, 08:10 PM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
    Comments (3304) | Send Message
     
    Trust me, at 90K you get a 3% loan for college, that's it. And no other gov't help than a 250K earner.
    14 Sep 2010, 08:21 PM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
    Comments (3304) | Send Message
     
    Yeah, look at all the broke ex-NFL players.
    14 Sep 2010, 08:38 PM Reply Like
  • talbano
    , contributor
    Comments (324) | Send Message
     
    Really it's not need blind?
    I thought all the awards and financial aid was based on your assets and income. Many of the colleges say they provide X amount of money based on need and financial aid is based on household worth.
    Obviously, I am new to this process and just stepping through it and I am sure I will learn more but my husband has said we more than likely have to pay out of pocket.
    14 Sep 2010, 09:13 PM Reply Like
  • Rhianni32
    , contributor
    Comments (1995) | Send Message
     
    I think a lot of those are for if you are below the poverty line, certainly not $90k a year or even the national average which I believe is $60k. I didnt qualify for jack squat apart from lower rated student loans that take forever to pay off. It ceratinly wasnt free money.
    14 Sep 2010, 09:46 PM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
    Comments (3304) | Send Message
     
    Private colleges will give you money, but not the government. Our income when I had the fun time of doing the FAFSA was well below 90K, kids qualified for just gov't loans. My son was given a scholarship to a private school, but opted for Miami of Ohio (state school) where he didn't receive any help. College costs are so high now, starting with $500 to $800 a semester for books. Good luck to you, i suppose you are just starting this whole routine.
    15 Sep 2010, 08:10 AM Reply Like
  • talbano
    , contributor
    Comments (324) | Send Message
     
    Thanks - for the good luck- I am just starting -
    55k a year - it's scary.
    15 Sep 2010, 10:06 AM Reply Like
  • randomjack
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
     
    Talbano - place yourself in a position of making 40K/year (with a Ph.D.). You need a humbling reality check: saving for retirement, having multiple children, paying for college, paying for your kids braces, and being able to pay for your health insurance are all luxuries. I hear so-called conservatives bitching and moaning day and night about entitlements and you speak of these luxuries that you have as if they were necessities (entitlements if you will) whose costs render you and your family in such desperate straits. Pretend for a moment you and your husband make 40K/year, and consider how much harder living would be. Shame on you for your greed - 250K/yr is quite rich indeed.

     

    I live in MA, I do not consider 250k rich. By the time you pay ALL your taxes, healthcare insurance 20-25k for self-employed not pre-tax money, save for retirement, college, pay for braces, and raise kids...... It's hardly rich.
    21 Sep 2010, 01:06 AM Reply Like
  • talbano
    , contributor
    Comments (324) | Send Message
     
    Random-
    Thanks but I do not need you telling me what I need.
    As I started with nothing and have worked very hard for everything I have, so I do not feel guilty at all.
    Why is that such a shame to work hard and be able to provide for your family? Give me a frickin break.
    I am so sick and tired of listening to people like you sit there and preach about what's right, what's wrong.
    It's laughable -
    If you have a PHD then why don't you have a better paying job? Maybe by choice, I don't know and really don't care.
    Funding retirement retirement, HC, braces and college are not luxuries - They are priorities.
    You have an odd sense of what luxuries are. I remember the days where I didn't have more than 5 dollars.....so please know of the subject in which you choose to speak of.
    If you are making 40k with a PHD and have a couple of kids than that is too bad. If I had a PHD and was making 40K I would be upset.
    If you have multiple kids and are making 40k then you are not paying taxes and are probably getting Healthcare, braces and college probably for free or next to nothing.
    It also doesn't mean that I should feel compelled to offer up my hard earned money to be wastefully spent by our government.
    I am a firm believer everyone for the most part is in charge of their own destiny and if you don't like your situation then change it.
    Don't preach to me about greed. You have know idea of who I am and I do not apologize for wanting to provide my kids a nice life.......That is so greedy I can't even stand it. I should be ashamed.
    Living responsible, providing for my family......oh it's a disgrace.
    The reality is more people DECIDE to do less and want to get more and It's old.
    Everything is relative, 250k may seems rich to you but I would rather pay for my kids college than fund some government employees 100% pension. Call me crazy.
    NO REALITY CHECK NEEDED BUT SO DO APPRECIATE YOUR CONCERN
    21 Sep 2010, 01:54 AM Reply Like
  • 7footMoose
    , contributor
    Comments (2266) | Send Message
     
    This discussion is precisely why the article talks about the lack of agreement on just what constitutes "rich" in this country. I do not live in NYC but I assure you $250,000 in annual income does not constitute rich in NYC. Your level of income and your level of "well off" are relative to the cost of living where ever you reside.
    14 Sep 2010, 07:24 PM Reply Like
  • Truth-hurts
    , contributor
    Comments (148) | Send Message
     
    I've got it! I've got it! First Comrade Obama (FCO) could decide where the "rich" threshold was depending on where you live! Maybe $400K in NY, $100K in SD. Think of the possibilities! Make the limit $1M in Detroit, to entice people to move there. Make the limit $10K in Red States, so that the people will move to Blue States where their votes won't count, while everyone left in the Red States is on welfare, so the Red States turn Blue! What brilliance! All Praise FCO!
    14 Sep 2010, 07:25 PM Reply Like
  • talbano
    , contributor
    Comments (324) | Send Message
     
    Too funny :) Needed that
    14 Sep 2010, 07:31 PM Reply Like
  • dw57
    , contributor
    Comments (507) | Send Message
     
    not sure. Here in Texas 250K would be considered extremely upper class. in almost 90 % of the state you would be rich
    14 Sep 2010, 07:32 PM Reply Like
  • Paul H. M.
    , contributor
    Comments (1035) | Send Message
     
    As a person who's family earns under 100k, and we can still save, it's absolutely RIDICULOUS that people are saying 250k is not enough!

     

    If you can't live on 250k/year, you've got serious mental problem with no self control when it comes to spending.
    14 Sep 2010, 07:37 PM Reply Like
  • Good Captain
    , contributor
    Comments (454) | Send Message
     
    I get your point Paul. Still I take issue w/ it. Who are you (and for that matter who is anybody) to define what someone should make or be allowed to make. Most individuals on this path implicitly assume that someone else's ox will get gored while they themselves can gather a rather sanctimonious and peaceful moment while condemning the choices of others.

     

    If you continue on the premise, then ultimately the true decision-making authority almost certainly vests in that wonderful manmade creation called bureaucracy. Who the heck knows what these nameless and faceless denizens residing in marble facades will think on the topic of wealth in 2012 much less 2015. Still not swayed; remember the President has periodically made comments that the US owes the world billions in $ (for you name it). What do you think classifies as rich in a world scale? $25K/year probably gains you admittance into this "prestigious" club.

     

    My point is that this kind of talk is more than a little slippery and more importantly seems to negate the opportunity that have traditionally been afforded the citizens of this country. For the record, I agree w/ you that I could more than comfortably live on $250K/year. Different people have different needs and desires and I'm just tired of this country increasing tendency of attempting to micromanage everybody else's business.
    14 Sep 2010, 08:08 PM Reply Like
  • Venerability
    , contributor
    Comments (3048) | Send Message
     
    The really relevant concept to keep in mind is that EVERYONE in America is supposed to be middle class.

     

    That's the real Conservative priciple which drove our country's formation.

     

    That's the real Progressive principle which drove our country's formation.

     

    No one in America should be very rich.

     

    No one in America should be very poor.

     

    This was - and is - and will always be the first truly bourgeois democracy.

     

    When other countries strive to be like us, that's what they're striving to be.
    14 Sep 2010, 07:40 PM Reply Like
  • 7footMoose
    , contributor
    Comments (2266) | Send Message
     
    With comments like yours, I'm thinking you must have the United States of America confused with some other country. The Founding Fathers were not Socialists and no where in the Constitution will you find any reference to what you are describing. What you will find is reference to an opportunity for all Americans to work and to retain the fruits of their labor without undo concern for excessive taxation by government. You may have been reading Marx.
    14 Sep 2010, 07:50 PM Reply Like
  • fxmaven
    , contributor
    Comments (1455) | Send Message
     
    stop watching and believing Glenn Beck, America never was and will never be the country you thought it was.

     

    USA's big mistake was to ignore Eisenhower's warning about the military industrial complex - now its too late.

     

    Enjoy your failed Empire.
    14 Sep 2010, 09:00 PM Reply Like
  • nyuszika45
    , contributor
    Comments (633) | Send Message
     
    Spot on!
    14 Sep 2010, 10:34 PM Reply Like
  • fxmaven
    , contributor
    Comments (1455) | Send Message
     
    cheers!
    15 Sep 2010, 11:32 PM Reply Like
  • Alex T
    , contributor
    Comments (266) | Send Message
     
    Stop listening to Obama, Reid, Overmann, Schlutz and rest of the these inexperience individuals that have never had a job in the private sectors with the exceptions of the two clowns Overman and Schlutz.
    16 Sep 2010, 08:28 AM Reply Like
  • Bozerdog
    , contributor
    Comments (464) | Send Message
     
    Ta hell with it. Let's cut taxes on the rich. Let's go to war and not pay for it. While were at it let's smoke em outta their caves. I know they have countless weapons of mass destruction. Drill baby. Hopey changey thing is stupid. Roll baby roll. Let's also kill hundreds of thousands of people. Let the horses run. V8 motor getting 8 miles to the gallon. Ride the lightning lets get it on.

     

    God love the GOP.
    14 Sep 2010, 07:44 PM Reply Like
  • 1980XLS
    , contributor
    Comments (3314) | Send Message
     
    I don't care where you live. If $250K per year is not well off you are living in the same dreamworld that government spending has gotten us to.

     

    I-Pads and I phones are not necessities, let alone entitlements for quality of life.
    Anybody that cannot live well on those numbers, just like government, has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.
    Try living on $75K per year like the average american family.
    It does not matter that one's housing costs are higher.
    Even if they are 5X one still has 10X the disposable income.
    14 Sep 2010, 07:48 PM Reply Like
  • Venerability
    , contributor
    Comments (3048) | Send Message
     
    Bozer, I'm a lifelong Republican - a real Republican, in the tradition of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Nelson Rockefeller.

     

    The Tea Partiers are not real Republicans. They're Libertarian Nihilists, founded, funded, and manipulated by Birchers.

     

    They're a danger to America, comic opera clones of Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate.

     

    (And of course, on Seeking Alpha and other websites, they're primarily script bots - and not particularly cleverly-scripted ones at that.)
    14 Sep 2010, 08:13 PM Reply Like
  • Bozerdog
    , contributor
    Comments (464) | Send Message
     
    I hear you, but you gotta admit...
    14 Sep 2010, 08:24 PM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
    Comments (3304) | Send Message
     
    I would be a Republican except for their social issues, my God is the real God attitude.
    14 Sep 2010, 08:26 PM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
    Comments (3304) | Send Message
     
    Teddy R. was the first prez to push for universal health-care.
    14 Sep 2010, 08:42 PM Reply Like
  • The Patriot
    , contributor
    Comments (320) | Send Message
     
    Wow, I never knew that. You must be really smart.
    14 Sep 2010, 09:14 PM Reply Like
  • nyuszika45
    , contributor
    Comments (633) | Send Message
     
    Given your examples, some of us might characterise your affinities as an Establishment supporter. Which if that is what you like, your choice.

     

    What is the phrase? Saying I'm a Republican no more makes me a Republican than standing in a garage makes me a car. The "Republican" gentleman defeated tonight in Delaware typifies this argument.
    14 Sep 2010, 09:41 PM Reply Like
  • Michael Cohen
    , contributor
    Comments (72) | Send Message
     
    Tea Partiers aren't libertarians...they're Christian fundamentalists. Witness Delaware.

     

    If they were libertarian, I'd be the first to joint them. But part of being libertarian means a clear separation of church/state and not having the state intervene in social issues (such as telling people no abortion).
    14 Sep 2010, 11:10 PM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
    Comments (3304) | Send Message
     
    My wife would disagree with you on that.
    15 Sep 2010, 08:14 AM Reply Like
  • fxmaven
    , contributor
    Comments (1455) | Send Message
     
    what a pathetic nation of whiners.

     

    you cheer Bush, you cheer for war, you cheer cheap petrol. you cheer unemployment, social security, medicare, welfare benefits, illegal aliens in schools and hospitals - and expect someone else to pay for it.

     

    now the whole world knows your phoney monetary & fiscal policies don't work- the rich avoid taxes, the poor defraud the state, the middle class gets wiped out, while the deficit and unfunded liabilities grow.

     

    better buck up, cut spending and start paying taxes - otherwise the US, Californina, New Jersey, Illinois bankruptcy will make Greece look like a tiny little country on the mediterranean.
    14 Sep 2010, 08:56 PM Reply Like
  • nyuszika45
    , contributor
    Comments (633) | Send Message
     
    Perusing the arguments above, one can readily see why "socialism" just doesn't work.

     

    One man's need for "Five-bucks" is another's satisfaction with Dunkin Donuts. I've been moved around to places through work where $250K is not quite enough and other places where $100K is too much (though that was a while ago). The current need for things such as DayCare and such typify the drive to maximise household income or offset the lower earnings of what used to be the main "bread winner".

     

    Your self-defined needs and your location define what is enough to live for you - without judgement of whether that is right and proper or not - and the illusory populism of a politician seeking to define a threshold that applies across the USA is more than naive - it seeks to divide the people and create an almost class warfare situation from which it is always only the politicians who profit.

     

    We wheedle and moan and get defensive when we're being twirled around the fingers of politicians who will do what they want without any input from us. In fact, as has been proven over the last couple of years, they'll act against what the people appear to want if they desire to do so.

     

    Our challenge is to look beyond the smoke, step back, and understand that we are being played for fools, jumping up and down all over each other as the politicians pull our strings.
    14 Sep 2010, 09:15 PM Reply Like
  • Ohrama
    , contributor
    Comments (505) | Send Message
     
    Let me add some wrinkle to all these comments. It is not just how much money you (or the family) makes, but how much effort you put in to make it and how the government / regulations distort the picture. As an example, take a physician / Ph.D. couple who might be in the 300K camp (when they are already in their 30's) after perhaps 10 years of college, hard work, postponing other worldly pleasures (I know of many such kids who forgo dating, postpone marriage, children etc.). Is that too much compared to a real estate person walking away with 6% (well, I know how that gets split - so bear with me) of the housing price regardless of how much the house costs, the bankers who end up with all the bounties of the endless refinancing, the title lawyers who make money a number of times on the same property --- all thanks to our government / regulations distorting the economic picture. Why do we have so many lawyers in this country? Why the one previous group which used to the in the medical field a lot has moved to law, MBA etc.? And what kind of effect all these going to have on the country (and we already know that. In countries like Japan, Korea, engineers are respected and paid a lot. here they are equated to the sanitary engineers!)? We need some regulations to function as a society, but the purpose should be to remove such distortions and not introduce more.
    Also, there is nothing wrong in having a progressive tax (what ever the rates are) since a person earning more is probably using the common resources much more (instead of having a 50 ft. road in front of the house, perhaps 300 ft, of road or wanting an air strip for their toy). But why should the progressivity of the tax stop at 375K? Is it because the folks who run the country are multimillionaires? It was a joke that Bush came up with the temporary - 8 year (?) special estate tax rule. perhaps he knew many of his well wishers were supposed to take off during that time!
    14 Sep 2010, 09:20 PM Reply Like
  • Rhianni32
    , contributor
    Comments (1995) | Send Message
     
    One thought that kept coming up while reading all the comments.... since when did being called "rich" be an evil negative thing?
    I hear a lot of reasons (some I do agree with) on why $250k might not be rich. However I have to ask, why are people so against being labeled rich when that is the goal? To make as much money as possible?

     

    I'm certainly not saying that a person making $250k is a bad person. Heck I would love to make that much. I would love to be in a high tax bracket.
    14 Sep 2010, 09:29 PM Reply Like
  • nyuszika45
    , contributor
    Comments (633) | Send Message
     
    You're on to the deception. Knowing a lot of small business owners, none of them (generally) minded paying the taxes that were justly due from their success, as long as they had the perception that they were not being disadvantaged.

     

    Acquiring wealth and position used to be the "American Dream", but the media (who are no real slouches in earnings, mind you) and politicians (who don't have it so bad, either), want to paint the rest of the country that aspires to more and better as virtual traitors to their chosen social engineering agenda; while they continue to draw down salaries and benefits in embarrassing figures.

     

    Then there was Harry Reid who showed up to a clean energy summit in and with a fleet of SUV's.

     

    Some might say it is evidence of the corrupting hypocrisy at the heart of the "ruling class" and others would say he did because he could. I guess if you're in the "ruling class" you can afford to be insensitive. But I don't think that is an example of the "American Dream", as I learned it decades ago.
    14 Sep 2010, 09:49 PM Reply Like
  • fxmaven
    , contributor
    Comments (1455) | Send Message
     
    The "American Dream" is gone. In short it was about hard work (at school and in industry), education, loyalty, frugality, and family.It disappeared in the 60's, when personal pleasure and greed became the overriding objective for Americans. Hence the rich of today who refuse to contribute to the well being of society.

     

    Asians are the now best "Americans" - they work, respect their families, save, and lead frugal, dedicated lives.

     

    The Anglos have lost their "Protestant" work ethic, the "Confucian" ethic is now in ascendance.
    14 Sep 2010, 10:03 PM Reply Like
  • nyuszika45
    , contributor
    Comments (633) | Send Message
     
    More than people succumbing to the seductive dark side forces, fxmaven, it was a cultural turning in 1963 when they saw as graphically as possible that the good guys weren't going to survive the onslaught of the money masters. As I remember it, there was a sea change in public and private attitudes after the Kennedy murder - and given the last gasp of the responsible American Dream going out with his last gasp, people turned to the alternatives. The idealism of the country also died that day.

     

    An example of change? While the drug culture, for example, was limited to the coasts and the "beat" generation before the killing, within 3 years it went mainstream. that might have happened anyway, some say, but not in the holdover, continuing culture from the 50's.

     

    Admittedly this is no more than a large sense of perception, reading the changes in tone, demeanour, and culture in the broadest sense as reflected in the media of the time. But accompanying this was also a huge change in the broadcast media, primarily driven from the discovery that "news" was a potential revenue generator, not simply a public service function. That discovery over time transmogrified into the social engineering function of television that developed in the late 60's and continues unabated today in television and many films.

     

    Kennedy's murder, though no one put it in those terms at the time, was the first graphic proof that Eisenhower's warning over 2 years earlier went unheeded. How can I assert that? Look at the data, the actions following the event. The decisions taken by Johnson in the weeks and months following the event were a reversal of Kennedy's positions. Suddenly, the MIB had their war and all was right with the world. (MIB= Military, Industrial, Banking Complex, Eisenhower wisely left the bankers out of his speech, though they are the drivers for much of this, I believe.)

     

    It was just as much an action to stop Kennedy as it was a message to all future presidents as to who is in charge. And look at the results.
    14 Sep 2010, 10:53 PM Reply Like
  • fxmaven
    , contributor
    Comments (1455) | Send Message
     
    Sure. I agree, see my earlier post. From my experience, only former communist countries of eastern europe still remember totalitarianism, and insist on preserving their freedoms.

     

    Seemingly everyone else is willing to trade it all in for a subsidized mortgage, cheap low quality food and booze, and plenty of overpriced , second rate entertainment.

     

    a sad state of affairs, indeed.
    15 Sep 2010, 01:01 AM Reply Like
  • jaygee
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
     
    I am looking at retirement in a few years; have had my life's savings and investments seriously depleted in the last few years because of the financial mess that many "well-off" Americans now find themselves facing. Retirement has been moved back at least five years. Played by "the rules", saved and invested for my retirement. Am I to be considered wealthy at this point in my financial life?
    14 Sep 2010, 09:40 PM Reply Like
  • Wyatt Junker
    , contributor
    Comments (4503) | Send Message
     
    The government will tell you if you're wealthy. If you are, they will take care of that problem.

     

    The foundation for all modern civilized societies is based on the concept of basic property rights. Taxes are, by and large, (along with inflation) the subterfuge of those rights, and by extension, society as well.

     

    But keep arguing about who's rich. I enjoy the asinine bickering. Watching government drop a fiver into the center of several squatting hobos. Then filming another installment of bumfights.com

     

    The national discussion has devolved right on cue into the government's incessant campaign paradigm, instead of actual ideas.

     

    Who's rich? Who's poor?

     

    Thanks Marx.

     

    Thanks Obama.

     

    Thank you 50% of the voters for being conveniently dumb.
    14 Sep 2010, 10:22 PM Reply Like
  • davidingeorgia
    , contributor
    Comments (2713) | Send Message
     
    >>A family earning $250,000 in a high-cost location like Manhattan, for example, probably doesn't consider themselves rich.<<

     

    This has to be one of more moronic memes in the long history of moronic memes. No one *forces* you to live in Manhattan - at least, not yet. It's a choice that you get to make, and you have to deal with all the consequences that come with that choice.
    14 Sep 2010, 10:23 PM Reply Like
  • bob adamson
    , contributor
    Comments (4555) | Send Message
     
    Many of the comments in this discussion focus on the “family earning $250,000 in a high-cost location like Manhattan” referred to in the Reuters’ article and debate what quality of life such a family income in such a location entails. As the Reuters’ article illustrates, there are many factors besides annual income that serve to identify one’s relative standing in the community (occupation, security of status, friends and associates and lifestyle being among the factors that could be mentioned).

     

    That said, a family annual income of $250, 000 is five times the US national average and high-cost locations like Manhattan tend to become enclaves for the quite well-to-do. Clearly many significant aspects of the lives of members of such families differ markedly from corresponding aspects of the lives of, say, a family in a suburb somewhere in the Mid West headed by an Elementary School teacher and a Secretary with a combined annual income of, say, $55, 000. Further, these two examples by no means define the upper and lower limits of what Americans loosely refer to as middle class.

     

    The point being made is that Americans persist in speaking about the ‘middle class’ but, baring the exclusion of the billionaires and the destitute, the term as used has no meaning. However, given the implied importance Americans give to middle class status, doesn’t confusion ensue from this lack of focus and clarity?
    14 Sep 2010, 10:41 PM Reply Like
  • greenzulu
    , contributor
    Comments (217) | Send Message
     
    Wow. Lots of heat, not much light. Lots of decent people on this thread bashing each other. Almost all of the comments contain some truth.

     

    I would like to see those same people joining together to force down the massive government spending on stupid wars. Yes, that's what they are. We all like to wave the flag, but the fact remains that all that flag waving has led Americans to support ultra-expensive war after ultra-expensive war -- from Vietnam to Iraq I to Iraq II to Afghanistan, with no apparent benefit to the American people other than casket manufacturers and defense contractors.

     

    Are Americans aware that we spend more on defense than all other countries in the world combined? Are we so "patriotic" that we are willing to sacrifice our economic health, our children's futures and perhaps our ultimate survival as a society in order to "defend" a country that no one has actually attacked since Pearl Harbor?

     

    9/11 was a terrible tragedy, but it was a tragedy that killed far fewer Americans than the country's death toll from traffic accidents. A war on "terrorism"? On an idea? That Iraq, as we all found out, had nothing to do with? Are we really that dumb?

     

    I find the foregoing debate heartbreaking, because it pits citizen against citizen, all well-meaning Americans. The U.S. government borrowed the entire cost of the Iraq war -- in the end, a gift to China, who happily lent us the money to do it. When we talk about cutting government spending, maybe we should reevaluate what it would really cost to provide adequate defense for our country, which is, in essence, an island nation far from the hazard of Eurasia.

     

    Unpatriotic? I think speaking the truth about our endless and unproductive foreign wars would be the most courageous and patriotic thing we could do for future generations.
    14 Sep 2010, 11:28 PM Reply Like
  • pharmainsider1
    , contributor
    Comments (42) | Send Message
     
    "Rich" is a person that makes more than you (and you would like to see taxed instead). That is why the politicians use it to divide.
    14 Sep 2010, 10:57 PM Reply Like
  • nyuszika45
    , contributor
    Comments (633) | Send Message
     
    Right. Class warfare is an excellent draw for those who think "rich" is somebody else and somebody promises to "get me some". In the UK, this has been the main staple of political divisiveness since WW II - and it persists as it plays well to the base of certain parties.

     

    The more the people are divided against each other, the more the politicians can do as they wish without having to be accountable.
    14 Sep 2010, 11:06 PM Reply Like
  • fxmaven
    , contributor
    Comments (1455) | Send Message
     
    Because UK is a class society, like USA, with centuries old divisions and prejudices. Continental Europe has a fairly balanced, and successful social model, that everyone values and is happy to pay for, to maintain a very high standard of economic, political and cultural life.

     

    500 hundred years of sending the Plebs to fight in some god awful foreign war tends to create just a little resentment of one's 'betters'.
    15 Sep 2010, 01:22 AM Reply Like
  • nyuszika45
    , contributor
    Comments (633) | Send Message
     
    Actually, at one time, fxmaven, fighting in a foreign war for the nobility could get you moved out of serf class and upward as there was a sharing level, depending on the greediness of the Lord, of the spoils, the purchase/return price of the prisoners if you got any good ones, and a general chance to get a dirt-level title out of it if you survived.

     

    Since the mid-18th century or so, though, the class and noble aspect was swept away when it was discovered that wars can be great little profit machines. I mean, if they weren't do you really think the US would have been in 'Nam, Iraq, the Balkans, the 'stans, and too many small incursions to count?

     

    There is a line of thought that maintains that the WW's were both designed as money makers - as certain parties could do because they controlled many country's banking and money supply, thereby leveraging control of national policies and decisions that were almost always made behind closed doors.

     

    Remember, too, that the Jews and Muslims worked very well together during the entire Caliphate period - as most folks forget. Violence didn't really begin creeping into that equation until politicians got into the mix in the mid-19th century and far more active in the early 20th century. Yassar Arafat didn't acquire a billion dollar plus Swiss bank account from saving his shekels, you know. And cadging UN money is not nearly enough graft to establish that kind of wealth. Where do you think it came from, then? He was paid for something. And all the Islamist crazies directing the real crazies are getting paid from somewhere...you think they are collecting on the corners of the streets in Gaza?

     

    The class war merely benefits those who wish to manipulate it to their advantage. It is, yet, another red herring in this sea of disinformation in which we are swimming; merely a tool, not a reality except for those who like to be jerked around by the string.
    15 Sep 2010, 09:44 PM Reply Like
  • greenzulu
    , contributor
    Comments (217) | Send Message
     
    Continental Europe does not have a balanced social model, Scandinavia does. Continental Europe has a cradle-to-grave employment model with which it bought social peace after the horrors of WW II, precipitated by German unemployment, 1918-1938. That social model is in the process of falling to pieces as GDP growth moves to Asia and other emerging markets, and will likely lead in the same direction as the Euro maintains an artificial level of buying power for the European periphery. People forget that Nazi is a contraction of National SOCIALISM, in which "capitalists" were vilified, and Jews, associated with banking and better off than most, became easy targets. The Euro is doomed.
    15 Sep 2010, 11:18 PM Reply Like
  • fxmaven
    , contributor
    Comments (1455) | Send Message
     
    bollocks. France, Germany,Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Czech Republic, Poland, Austria all have strong economies.

     

    Scandinavia is also doing well.

     

    Club Med is the disaster, soon they will be out. The Euro is not "doomed" - Greece, Hungary and Portugal are. Spain may yet survive.
    15 Sep 2010, 11:23 PM Reply Like
  • fxmaven
    , contributor
    Comments (1455) | Send Message
     
    Whatever USA earned financially through cheaper oil and foreign contributions in Desert Storm was lost 10X over in Iraqi Freedom.
    I do agree for the majority of Americans, military service is their best career option, when working at McDonalds is the only alternative. The problem comes, when the State can't pay them or pay for wars anymore.

     

    Great Britian, France, Spain, Portugal all lost their fortunes and empires due to overreach and poor management. USA is just the latest example to grace the headlines.

     

    But what do I know, living over 15 years outside USA, and newly relocated to Singapore ??
    15 Sep 2010, 11:30 PM Reply Like
  • greenzulu
    , contributor
    Comments (217) | Send Message
     
    True. The countries you listed are doing pretty well. How does that prevent the Euro from being abandoned if Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Italy cannot recovery from their astronomical unemployment at current Euro levels -- which they won't. If you re-define the Euro as "not needing them, they'll be out" [along with Latvia & Lithuania, also in the 17-20% unemployment club] then we're just talking semantics.
    15 Sep 2010, 11:31 PM Reply Like
  • greenzulu
    , contributor
    Comments (217) | Send Message
     
    I've lived over 20 years outside the U.S., most of it in Europe, and I agree with you, hence my comments, elsewhere on this thread, regarding Vietnam, Iraq I, Iraq II and Afghanistan. Maybe you have a different perspective from a distance, away from all the patriotic noise.
    15 Sep 2010, 11:52 PM Reply Like
  • nyuszika45
    , contributor
    Comments (633) | Send Message
     
    Where's this "me too" train taking us? I, as well, haven't lived in the US for over 20 years. It gives us a larger perspective if we live locally, but most of my former colleagues in the UK tended to live in communities of similar ex-pats, so little adaptation was needed or made. I lived in the shires, small village... and have done similarly in the other countries. In doing so, one is exposed to more local views of the US's actions and the local rationales for policies that may seem daft to someone in Omaha.

     

    And, actually, the European social model (and US education, interestingly) evolved from a totalitarian-progressive Bismarkian model established in the latter half of the 19th century in Germany. Thusly, and for other reasons, I'd watch Germany for signs of what will happen with the Euro as German politics will abandon allegiances easily if they feel that maintaining them will (1) harm Germany and (2) crucify them at the polls. The courage to act in defiance comes out of the capital / labour model adopted while throwing off the Marshall Plan constraints after WWII.
    16 Sep 2010, 09:56 AM Reply Like
  • lford
    , contributor
    Comments (11) | Send Message
     
    The other night Obama said that we have to raise taxes on people who make $250,000 or more because "we can't afford to give people money who don't need it." Where did he get the concept that it is appropriate for him or anyone to judge what we DESERVE TO KEEP out of the money we EARN? Who is he or any of us to say how much someone NEEDS out of what they EARN. Remember: "from each acording to their ability to each according to their need." Is that what we have become?
    14 Sep 2010, 11:14 PM Reply Like
  • talbano
    , contributor
    Comments (324) | Send Message
     
    Well said - During one of his speeches, it was the last Friday one.
    Obama also said the middle class deserves handouts.
    That floored me-
    14 Sep 2010, 11:31 PM Reply Like
  • suomimama
    , contributor
    Comments (63) | Send Message
     
    "Obama also said the middle class deserves handouts.":
    He didn't say anything like that. The top 3% earners in this country who have over $250K TAXABLE income have been getting Bush tax cuts to the tune of up to $100K or so. Is that not a handout??? The truth is that the rich are getting tax free income that is not available to middle class. People who have over $250K TAXABLE income have another $250K or more of tax free income and that is not how it is supposed to be.
    15 Sep 2010, 01:55 AM Reply Like
  • radicall
    , contributor
    Comments (534) | Send Message
     
    While 250k for a household is definitely not rich (my "household income" not personal is pretty close to that mark), that being said I think resetting taxes to pre-Bush levels is fair.

     

    Just the Iraq war cost us $1 TRILLION/year on top of the base defense budget. Did you support it? Did you put on a "I Support the troops" sticker? Well, how can you support the troops without paying for them?

     

    Say you make 300k, your first 250k is still taxed at the same rate as before. On the additional 50k you maybe you pay 2500 more in the worst case with a 5% tax hike. That is about $200 bucks a month. Less than the price of a nice dinner/drinks for two in Manhattan. Do you complain when you drop a hundred bucks on your girlfriend or wife?

     

    People living in Manhattan are by definition rich. Of course if you are making over 250k after deductions, you either need to quit whining or get a new accountant.
    14 Sep 2010, 11:20 PM Reply Like
  • ajibaji
    , contributor
    Comments (2) | Send Message
     
    in my senior center, half the people are living solely on social security. War vets are lucky enough to get very inexpensive health care. Anyone on Medicare has lots of co pays, out-of-pockets, plus deductibles and premiums paid out of social security checks. For many the one meal a day, weekdays for $1.50 is the ONLY meal of the day and many take half of it home. So don't give that bull about everyone being middle class. Get out and look around one of these days.
    14 Sep 2010, 11:27 PM Reply Like
  • lford
    , contributor
    Comments (11) | Send Message
     
    Certainly taxes are going to have to go up. It seems to me that we should have a progressive tax rates all the way up and get rid of the alternative minimum, which has to be patched every year to keep greater and greater segments of the very middle class from being affected by a tax that was designed to keep the very rich from paying no tax at all. Perhaps we should move towards a flat tax and away from deductions and social engineering via tax policy that make it easier for the ultra rich to avoid taxes in the first place. And tax policy is what we are not discussing while we are bickering about how much income it takes to be rich.
    14 Sep 2010, 11:56 PM Reply Like
  • trobler
    , contributor
    Comments (3) | Send Message
     
    Paying more than 20% of what you earn (State and Federal - all in) is unfair and creates a myriad of distortions. Billy Bob from Nowhereville Iowa and Frugal Fred from Cheapskate Indiana HAVE no clue what it costs to live in a coastal area. Asking one citizen to pay more freight because they are more productive or live in a higher cost area is simply unconstitutional and would make the founding fathers heads spin.
    15 Sep 2010, 12:38 AM Reply Like
  • fxmaven
    , contributor
    Comments (1455) | Send Message
     
    Fine. Let's eliminate taxes, because no one can agree on a fair taxation schedule, and a basic social welfare system to prevent hunger, starvation, and an equitable education system.

     

    getting rid of many govt programs will be beneficial, subsidies to agriculture, banks, oil cos.,etc.

     

    so amis can then pay the world price for oil, adding in the new private security firms needed to ensure supply.

     

    then you can pay for private fire and police, private roads (to stay away from the hungry and sick in the streets).

     

    pay for private education, and even pay for internships so offspring can acquire elite positions.

     

    Trust me, it won't be a pretty society or a pleasant place to live - something like Brasil, South Africa or Pakistan.

     

    It is abhorrent that rather than maintaining a functioning government, equitably sharing the burdens of a society, USA has now become a polarized, declining empire, where 80% of the folks live hand to mouth and have little hope for the children's future, while government and unions spend, and start wars with no restraint, and those who benefit the most from the system spend a large part of their time contributing as little as possible (that which doesn't earn them extra media attention, but a real sacrifice of time, effort and money).

     

    It's not over yet, but USA has been clearly going in the wrong direction for far too long. Time is running out before the tipping point.
    15 Sep 2010, 01:16 AM Reply Like
  • nyuszika45
    , contributor
    Comments (633) | Send Message
     
    fxmaven, "eliminate the taxes". Good idea.

     

    To see how it is possible, go here: cafr1.com/ and about 3/4 of the way down the page is a reference to the TFR - tax free retirement.

     

    Walter's page is a bit disorganised, but he has more information in there showing the extent of the deception than you can possibly imagine.
    15 Sep 2010, 09:53 PM Reply Like
  • suomimama
    , contributor
    Comments (63) | Send Message
     
    What actually is that magical $250,000?? I understand that this limit is not just income but TAXABLE income - two different things. According to IRS data, less than 3% of tax filers have that much or more taxable income. I would think they can be called rich.
    15 Sep 2010, 01:39 AM Reply Like
  • Rhianni32
    , contributor
    Comments (1995) | Send Message
     
    Thats a good point if its TAXABLE income and not total. Because the tax deductions are ridiculous the more you make and the more sources you have.

     

    I learned that when I became a landlord. Living in my house I only had the interest on my loan. As soon as I rented it out I thought I would have tax problems because the rent is considered income.
    But the HOA fees, repairs on my home, and the value of the house annualized are all now tax deductions because they are business expenses not living expenses. All my rent will be tax free and I will get carry over deductions into my job's income.

     

    It really sickened me because here I thought I would make more and pay more but I made more and paid less.
    15 Sep 2010, 08:20 AM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
    Comments (3304) | Send Message
     
    I had a house with a little in-law unit in the back that I rented out. The house had doubled in value when I sold it, but I didn't have to pay any tax on the proceeds because of the rental unit.
    15 Sep 2010, 02:57 PM Reply Like
  • talbano
    , contributor
    Comments (324) | Send Message
     
    Why didn't you have to pay taxes on it? Because it was a rental?
    Just curious?
    I have to get better at these tax benefits:)
    The one thing I leave my husband to do.
    15 Sep 2010, 03:22 PM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
    Comments (3304) | Send Message
     
    OK, let me be honest here. The year I moved I gave my taxes to someone else to do. His main job was on the bottling line, he did taxes on the side. I was surprised that I got $150 back in fed taxes. I thought I would pay through the nose. I did not ask any questions. That was 22 years ago (my God, that long!), I don't think I will face jail time if there was something dubious about my return.

     

    Just being honest, don't want you and your hubby shopping for rental units this weekend because of a seeking alpha nerd.
    15 Sep 2010, 06:15 PM Reply Like
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