A year and a half after graduating from college, I got a job that paid more than I had ever made in my life prior to that point. I had more money than I knew what to do with, even after renting my own apartment and buying a brand-new car. The benefits were also sweet.
On one of my first days at work, a co-worker in a different department (a guy about my age who had been there a year) was showing me some ropes. At some point he said offhandedly, "I'm glad to be here getting a decent paycheck. If I wanted to make only $30,000, I'd go back to delivering pizza."
I was making $26,000 at the time.
Everyone sees money differently. Many, probably more correctly than I do. But I've learned that people on the other side of the Reaganomics equation can be just as skewed as I am.
They have a cartoon depicting how President Obama's tax changes will affect average folks. And by average they mean, your average single parent making $260,000. And the retired couple scraping by on $180,000. The married parents of four coping with $650,000. And, obviously, the single person on a Ramen noodle budget of $230,000. All with massive deductions and investments, because of course they do!
But the real punch line of this cartoon is the look on each person's face. My God! Brother Dickens, can you spare a dime? Baby's awfully mildly inconvenienced here!
|Even the couple whose rate remains static looks forlorn. Man, that Obama is good.|
I would seriously adopt any of these people's incomes and tax rates any day. Hell, just give me any of their investment income or deductions. I'll work for it, unlike them. And I promise not to make an indignant face, because I'll keep a healthy perspective about it.
Is the Wall Street Journal really this out of touch? Maybe. But the depiction of the people in the above cartoon makes it hard to believe the paper isn't to some degree deliberately carrying water for the wealthy.
The interactive timeline attached to the WSJ story confirms both of my suspicions. Out of touch, because its brackets are laughable — it begins at the unemployed, skips to college students and then to married working couples and high-income professionals. It reads like a born-rich person's impression of who exists in America. Single people making $20-30,000 aren't even on it, and neither are non-high-income professionals. I feel slighted twice over. Carrying water for the rich, because it both makes pity of what the rich must pay now and tries to spin the poor numbers as being worse (even though they clearly aren't). It also treats the lapse of the payroll tax as Travesty No. 1, when in my view it was a political sugar high to begin with.
It's articles like this that make the economy so difficult to discuss. How can we even begin to talk about the troubles the poor and middle class face when we have no perspective of what poor and middle class is anymore?
I think most of us, even richer people, get that the WSJ definitions are absurd. I just wish the WSJ got it as well. There's enough intentional comedy out there already.