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The Poor Top Two Percent

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A Newport Beach real estate executive recently wrote a letter to the Wall Street Journal claiming that it wouldn't be fair for President Obama to not extend the Bush tax cuts for those who make over $250,000 a year. Upon reading this letter, I was struck with a sense of gratitude that God did not grant conservatives the capacity to laugh. Now, rather than call out the name of the person who wrote this letter to the WSJ, I will respect this concerned citizen's privacy by referring to him as Vangogo the Peapod.

Vangogo the Peapod writes:

My family isn't wealthy. I have no funded retirement plan save Social Security, if it is there when I need it. I have no guarantee of permanent health care. I am paying off school loans for our three children.

Yet those of us who make $250,000 or more are vilified and held accountable for solving our government's penchant for spending more than it takes in so that politicians can buy votes. We already pay more in taxes than 98% of the population, particularly the nearly 50% of eligible voters who pay no federal income tax. The president wants us to pay more, and he frames it in a way that casts us as not yet carrying our fair share of the burden.

Your story, Vangogo the Peapod, is identical to that of millions of Americans all across the country... Except for the part about making 250K a year.

Let's break this down:

"My family isn't wealthy."

Your family's situation is unfortunate considering the fact that you make a lot of money. You should probably share some of that money with your family; it's kind of a dick move to not.

If you have too many expenses in your life, there are plenty of free money-management programs that you can find on the web... go ahead and check them out after you're done burning your ottoman for internet fuel.

"I have no funded retirement plan save Social Security, if it is there when I need it..."

I'm sorry for being so candid, Vangogo the Peapod, but what the hell have you been doing with your money as a Newport Beach real estate exec?! If you're informed enough to know your tax rate, no one is going to buy that you don't know how to open up an IRA. Or at least get a lemonade stand going, for the love of God.

Also: I would be careful about spreading the whole "no funded retirement plan" around the office. Your co-workers might start regarding you with a rare mix of pathos and fascination usually reserved for viewing a three-headed piglet preserved in a jar. (As for worrying about whether or not Social Security will be there when you need it, just relax and stop worrying... It won't be.)

"I have no guarantee of permanent health care."

This is definitely a problem in our country. I wish someone would step forward and promote some sort of single-payer universal health care policy. I also can't wait to see where this "automobile" fad goes and I'm against women showing their uncovered femurs in public.

"I am paying off school loans for our three children."

Well, lucky for you, you've been enjoying 9 years of free money! With the Bush tax cuts, you had an extra 4.6% of your income! Since 2001, that's at least $100,000 for the education of your offspring! Now, I know that $100,000 hardly makes a dent in the overall expenses, right? It's just a drop in the bucket, right?! Oh, but wait... that's the exact amount of money you're complaining about not having if your tax cut doesn't get extended.

So $100,000 is either:
A) A significant amount of money that you just had the opportunity to save over the last 9 years.
B) Not a significant amount of money, in which case, why are you complaining about missing it?
C) The total amount of money you've invested in your mid-life crisis.

Vandogo the Sweetpod, your income puts you in the top 2% of all Americans; can't you be happy living within a structure built to protect and further your interests? Considering that all financial laws in this country are tilted in your favor, is it too much to ask for the common decency to keep your victory behind closed doors as opposed to crying like a marshmallow Peep en route to the microwave? You're not oppressed, you're damn lucky.

I would take a piece of conscience from Warren Buffet on this if I were you, if only for the fact that here's someone who could make an excellent living, sans bitching, even on a paltry $250,000/year:

Pimp Daddy Warren Buffet Sez: "[We] pay a lower part of our income in taxes than our receptionists do, or our cleaning ladies, for that matter. If you're in the luckiest 1 percent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 percent."

Your perspective, however, Tatonka the Sweetpea, is a little different:

"Yet those of us who make $250,000 or more are vilified and held accountable for solving our government's penchant for spending more than it takes in so that politicians can buy votes."

No, you're not being held accountable for solving anything; don't flatter yourself. I wouldn't be silly enough to hold you accountable for solving a rebus puzzle.

However, it is fair that you are held accountable for paying a reasonable share considering how much you benefit from labor, taxes, and social initiatives, both local and national. Someone paid taxes for you to have an interstate, a fire department, a board that establishes guidelines for sanitary food, a national defense program... all of that stuff comes from people paying in.

If you want to argue that you don't get more by paying in more, let's you and I make a date and go for a walk through downtown Detroit and I'll show you how much more you and your family get just because of the fact that you happen to make a lot of money.

"We already pay more in taxes than 98% of the population, particularly the nearly 50% of eligible voters who pay no federal income tax."

Yeah, you're supposed to pay more.

And if you don't believe that, fine. Regardless, according to a 2008 report by Citizens for Tax Justice you may actually be paying .1% in taxes less than others in the top 10%.

"The president wants us to pay more, and he frames it in a way that casts us as not yet carrying our fair share of the burden."

Can somebody get this guy a tissue? And a spine?

Badonkadonk the Teatime, you're starting to embarrass conservatives with this. If you had a backbone, you would stand up and say, just as several people in your tax bracket have done publicly, "Things are tough now and everyone has to make sacrifices. That 'everyone' doesn't exclude me, and I probably won't miss this money anyway." (PS, I'm sorry you feel that the president frames you unfairly. It was tough on Oswald, too.)

Funkarock the Boostank continues:

"Apparently our president thinks that living in America is so wonderful that we will never leave, despite being directly attacked and held responsible for the political class's inability to constrain its desire to buy votes with our money. "

Are you really feeling directly attacked? You know what was a direct attack? 9/11 was a direct attack. This is you not getting an extension of your tax breaks. Stop being dumb.

Actually, don't stop being dumb, do us all a favor, Shlomo the Fleasnob, take your $250K and leave. Go ahead and leave the culture that has afforded you the opportunity to have a home, a family, and a job that puts you in the top 2% of the richest country in the world... You have dealt with the injustice for too long.

Of course, this isn't just about Tonyromo the Meatrod, this is about all of the Rolygogo the Heehaws out there who can't seem to understand why the U.S. government won't just leave them alone and let them be rich.

Marcopolo the Ramrod's letter is easily an open insult to the 70% of Americans who make less than 25K/year, but beyond that, it beautifully exposes an appalling obliviousness to the state of our country by certain advantaged members of society, as well as an absolute disregard for those who do not share their tax bracket. Such a buffoonish unmasking of this blatant contempt is probably considered social treason even to others who are in favor of extending the tax cuts.

Gorgonzola the Flashmob, you might want to keep the talking that happens inside your head quiet until November when it's time to vote. Just make sure you're able to scrape together enough coins from the change jar to get to the polls; a gallon of gasoline can be as high as .0012% of your yearly income.