Now that Mark Dayton has proposed to jack the taxes of Minnesotans making over about $150,000 up to 10.95%, and those who earn over $500,000 to an unprecedented 13.95% – one dollar out of every seven they earn – it seems there’s a little ambiguity on who “the rich” are.
Let’s break it down for you.
The Rich Are Not…: DFL uber-donor Vance Opperman, who donates millions to the DFL’s pet causes, and whose income comes largely from dividends and investments. He’s not rich.
The Rich Are…: The guy who runs the small consulting shop that landed you the IT gig with the company that was hiring. He and his wife – who does the accounting – might break $200K for the year. They are “the rich”, in Mark Dayton’s world. Not Vance Opperman, silly reader.
The Rich Are Not…: John Cowles, who donated $2.4 million to help start the Guthrie – in 1960, when that was serious money. Who used to publish the left-leaning Star Tribune, and who ponied up to help found the center-left MinnPost a few years back. He’s also given tens of thousands of dollars to the various groups that funded the epic, toxic sleaze campaign that helped squeedge Mark Dayton into office. Cowles, with his money coming from dividends and trusts and all the usual shelters that the super-wealthy can afford? What, you thought he was “the rich?” Of course not!
The Rich Are…: Grandma’s oncologist. The guy or gal who spent eight years working his or her ass off taking the hard courses in high school and college to get into med school, then more of the same to survive the weeding-out process during four years of education, an internship and three years of brutal residency designed to test his/her mettle for the field, leading to post-doctoral training leading to a board-certification and then a few decades of experience that make him able to help Grandma to turn her cancer into a harrowing cautionary story rather than an early good-bye to the grandkids. After all that, the doctor and his/her spouse – a hospital administrator, as luck would have it – earn a little over $500K, of which about $40,000 currently goes to the state of Minnesota. Since they – not John Cowles – are “rich”, that tab is going to go up to almost $70,000. Doc and spouse, of course, still have options; that place in Prescott is looking mighty nice right now. Which Prescott – Wisconsin or Arizona? I think they’d both love to have an Oncologist for a neighbor, especially since they’re “rich” – don’t you?
The Rich Are Not…: Mark Dayton, whose net worth is somewhere between $3,000,000 and $12,000,000 (or was, back in 2006, the last time he deigned to report his net worth according to the Minnesota Birkeydependant. It’s mostly tax-sheltered, of course, off in tax havens like South Dakota or all those other states where people aren’t so Happy To Pay For more government. Which makes them ideal for trusts, where trust fund babies like The Governor can keep his money! So even though Governor Dayton has Renoirs to sell to finance his gubernatorial campaign, he’s not The Rich. Nosirreebob.
The Rich Are…: You, if you are (to pick an example from my own social circle) a programming consultant who started working as a code jockey right out of college, and spent a decade or so honing your skills as a software enginer. You write good, tight code; you’ve stayed up on all the advances, and are fluent in not only several programming languages but in many of the arcane architectural environments that seem to so completely tribalize software these days. You’ve moved on up; from your first job, making $24K a year as a COBOL programmer for, say, Best Buy back in 1989, you’ve worked your way up to being a pretty indispensible part of some big, business-mission-critical projects. You’re a hired gun, and a good one, and you get paid pretty well for it; you bill $85 an hour or so, and work for six-month stretches on high-profile projects. Tack on the salary from your spouse – a corporate HR benefits administrator who makes about $55K – and that means you make about $$225K on a good year; more during up years, less when the market’s off. Not enough to have Renoirs to sell, but plenty comfortable. Good thing, too – you pay for your own retirement, and write your own checks to Medicare and Social Security. You know better than to complain – but you’re both one layoff or cut contract or downturn away from living on savings until the market turns up again. Oh, yeah – your state tax bill is going to rise from $17K and change to almost $25,000. Because you, you greedy bastard? You are rich!
Unlike Vance Opperman, John Cowles or Mark Dayton.
Hang your head in shame, plutocrat.
CORRECTION – MAYBE: I’ m told that the 13.95% rate only applies to income over $500,000. It changes the math…
…but not the principle. “The Rich”, according to Daytons’ budget proposal, are people who earn income, as opposed to the rich, who make their money from capital gains and dividends and can afford to shelter their income in ways “The Rich” usually can’t.