I think of him as the Taxophobe Next Door, a neighbor of sorts, one of the clueless, thoughtless 1% of the place I call Suburgatory. That's the title of my new satire compilation (and ABC sitcom), which springs from life in three affluent suburbs since having my son and abruptly leaving my job as a CNN head writer.
Surely, Taxophobe is in his Great Room somewhere, watching the young Occupiers and yelling, "Get off your asses and iPhones and get a J-O-B, dirty hippies!" Easier said than done, Taxophobe: a New York Times Sunday editorial noted the 9.6% unemployment rate for college grads under 25 and a jaw-dropping 21.6% for high school grads.
I say "neighbor of sorts" because thankfully I only had to share a road with Taxophobe, not an actual property line. He appears in Suburgatory as "Eric Sellers" in an attack piece called Mercedes Driving-Dad Dreams of Easier Life for His Children. The impossibly delusional character has a bumper sticker that says "Had Enough?" My whip-smart copy editor shot back on this one, saying roughly, "now, this just isn't at all realistic." But in the grand cliche of fact being stranger than fiction, that was 100 percent true, or nearly so.
It wasn't a Mercedes, but another one of those "I have a teeny tiny penis so why don't you look at my humongous tacky car instead" kind of cars. (I don't know cars - my own cars are old enough to be studying for the PSAT's.) Now, I'm not knocking political difference - my own deeply-missed parents were hard-core Reagan Republicans. But I couldn't help thinking what those guys out on the commercial drag, frantically waving "Going Out Of Business" signs for hours on end, often in the rain and cold, must feel when they see that behemoth and that sticker idling at the lights.
"Had enough" of what? Inherited wealth? Profound luck? My guess, of course, is that this anti-Obama sticker was signalling that he's had enough of his "high" taxes. Here's a bit of the piece, in which "Eric Sellers" tries to explain the tyranny of marginal tax rates to the mostly Latino guys earning shit per hour detailing his Mercedes.
"You know, I'm just a regular Joe, a suburban small-business man. We are the backbone of this economy! And yet I'm expected to pay more than 40 percent of my income to the government. Money that should be going to my kids, who are suffering in this terrible recession. Thank God I have a whiz-bang accountant who can get that 40 percent down to about 10 percent, but that's still highway robbery."
At a 40 percent tax rate, this would put Sellers in the top 1 percent of America's wealthiest individuals. Sellers scoffs at this notion. "Oh please, do I look like Donald Trump? I may be 'technically' in the top 1 percent, but with prices these days I'm really just average like everyone else. Right, guys?" He gestured to the men working, who murmured their approval.
"You know, America used to be great. Everyone had a fair shot. But I don't know anymore, I just don't know. I just hope and pray life is easier when my kids are grown up than it's been for me these last few years. And for them."
He then goes on to detail the hardship he's had to endure, like telling his wife "no more Nordstrom. Nordstrom Rack only" and the usual skiing would be in Vermont, no more Vail.
As you can tell, I've had enough of Taxophobe, and the rest of America's luckiest whining about taxes and somehow - unbelievably, unconscionably - getting so many lower income people to believe it's in their interest to hate taxes too. My response bumper sticker would be two words as well, and they start with an F and a U.
I look at so many of the young faces among those Occupiers - the Times calls them the "generation of lost opportunity" - and think, is it any wonder they are finally saying they've "had enough" too?
Readers, feel free to friend me on Facebook, Linda Erin Keenan.