Monday, December 13, 2010

Millionaire in New York? You're Not Rich

But don't tell that to the arsonist up the coast a bit, "Message from Cape Cod Arsonist – F the Rich," and "Arsonist Strikes on Cape Cod, Leaves Calling Card: 'F--k the Rich'."

From LAT:


Reporting from New York - It's just not the same on this island as anywhere else.

In Manhattan, a monthly parking space goes for $550. A magician for a children's party asks $650 an hour. (A rookie will take $400.) The nanny gets $600 a week. Breakfast for four at a corner diner is $40; a dog walker is $10,000 a year; a plumber who makes emergency calls won't lift the toilet lid for less than $250.

Occasional spa treatments?

"Did you have to ask?" said Ricky Metz, a Manhattan hairdresser who boasted about the combined $310,000 she and her husband earn a year but became embarrassed trying to explain how it is spent. "I know, I know I shouldn't whine, but in New York unless you're a millionaire you don't feel rich. We feel middle-class."

Really, they're not. They're among the 2.5% of Americans — couples who annually earn more than $250,000 and individuals who earn $200,000-plus — whom the Obama administration and the Democrats have considered wealthy enough to pay higher taxes starting next month.

Last week President Obama reluctantly accepted a two-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for all income levels, including those at $250,000 and above, but the fragile compromise remains the subject of debate in Congress — and elsewhere.

Certainly, many citizens of this expensive city, run by a billionaire mayor, could make a case for taxpayers in the lower end of the higher-income bracket continuing to get tax relief.

Metz and others said they liked New York Democratic Sen. Charles E. Schumer's suggestion that only people who earn more than $1 million should have to ante up.

"Millionaires, now — they're the people who should pay more, not the likes of us raising a family in a crazy city where everything goes up but our incomes," Metz said. She is a hairdresser at a fancy salon who charges $150 a cut, and her husband is a lawyer at a beleaguered bank. Neither has had a raise in years.

Waiting at Grand Central Station to meet a friend for Christmas shopping, Metz, 45, detailed the family's growing expenses: taxes consume about half their income, leaving the rest to cover mortgage payments and fees for a two-bedroom East Side condominium and college savings for two sons, ages 11 and 13. The boys attend public schools, but sometimes have tutors and coaching.

"Did I mention the six grand for each kid to have braces?" she asked. "I can't even discuss this with my parents.... The 310K we live on in Manhattan is like the 70K they raised me and my brother on in Queens. Shouldn't each generation do better?"

She needn't ask. When it comes to evaluating where she stands in the pecking order among her deep-pocketed neighbors, Metz is probably as good a judge as academics or politicians.

"There is nothing in sociology or economics that defines what income you need to be rich," said Joel Slemrod, a University of Michigan economics professor and tax policy expert.

Survey data have helped economists understand popular views — and perceptions vary widely. Slemrod cited one survey showing that Americans, on average, believe an income of $122,000 is enough to be rich. "The higher your income," he said, "the more money you think you need to be rich."

I guess I'm rich?

And I don't doubt some crazed progressive wants to burn my house down.


fap fap said...

Oooh, those ding dang dingbat pwogwessives!! They have so much power now, and they're gonna ruin EVERYTHING!!!!11!

Anonymous said...

Yes. You're rich. See, it's not such a hard question.

Anonymous said...

First they want to burn your house down, now homicide (as of the most recent post). Getting a little paranoid aren't we Don?