JONATHAN CHAIT APRIL 15, 2010
It's Tax Day! Which means it's time for the Wall Street Journal to publish a self-pitying diatribe from a rich man bemoaning the oppression he must endure. This year's contribution, by financial advisor Mike Donahue has all the trappings. You've got the insistence that hard work is solely responsible for his high income:
Since I graduated in 1983, I have been in straight commission sales and have had many 60- to 70-hour work weeks. No secure salary, no big promotions, no pension—just me profiting though helping others while being subject to the swings of the economic cycle. The first 20 years were tough, but it's finally starting to pay off....
I have more than most only because I've worked harder than most and because I am a saver.
Really, hard work is the only reason you earn more than $250,000 a year? (Donahue does not say how much he earns, but he does say "the government" is raising his taxes, which is only true if his income exceeds a quarter million a year.) There's nobody who earns less than you who works harder? No chance that innate talent, upbringing, teachers, publicly-funded education, or any lucky breaks had anything to do with your high income?
Next, you've got the assertions that he supports the poor on his own -- or would, if the government didn't steal his money and give it to, um, the poor:
Why then does the government feel so entitled to take my money and give it to others? Why should I have to carry so many people on my back? Call me cruel. I don't care. I give to whom I choose—but since so much is confiscated (and wasted in the process) I have little left I wish to give.
Right -- he wants to help the poor but can't because there's nothing left over from his >$250,000 salary after taxes. Obviously, after the upper-income tax cuts enacted under George W. Bush, Donahue immediately started cutting large checks to charity. I'm sure that's the case.
Finally, you have the threats to quit his horrible life as a rich man and see how the liberals like it then:
My patience and pocketbook are reaching the breaking point. I am not for equal outcomes regardless of effort. I'm tired of being the mule. Maybe I will quit and live on the dole for awhile. I probably even have enough health issues to join the one in seven adults categorized as disabled. I've been poor and I'm not afraid to go back.
Rich conservatives are obsessed with this idea that they might quit their jobs. Ayn Rand wrote a whole book about this fantasy. Innumerable such threats accompanied Bill Clinton's upper-bracket tax hike, which was promptly followed by an explosion in upper-income growth.
Let me give you a hint, pouting rich people: We're not falling for your bluff. None of you is really going to quit your job and deny the world your precious genius because the Democrats raised your top tax bracket to 39.6%. That's because earning more than a quarter million dollars a year and having to pay a slightly higher tax rate than the average person is not actually such a horrible fate.