April 15, 2008

Taking from the Rich

Justin Katz

Over on Kmareka, David Jaffe suggests that, thanks to those awful ultra-rich, working-class Americans have every reason to be bitter. Joins in commenter Miami Mama:

If those ultra-rich would spend just a fraction of their wealth to help the poor and middle-class instead of selfishly splurging on themselves, it would be a much better world.

Don't I know it! If only the rich family on whose summer house my boss’s crew has been working for almost two years would find some way to give its money to the dozens of working-class folks who’ve been employed on the project.

I’ll tell ya: talk about splurging! They’ve been so lavish that they’ve had to hire carpenters, electricians, masons, plumbers, roofers, drywallers, painters, security system technicians, audio/video installers, glass installers, cabinet makers, custom window makers, pool installers, sauna installers, gas & oil technicians, tilers, welders, sheet metal fabricators, excavators, form builders, and concrete pourers. And that doesn’t even include the architects, engineers, landscapers, contractors, construction material suppliers, waste disposal professionals, porta-john suppliers, and professional cleaners! And that doesn't include all of the manufacturers, service providers, and other professionals that all of those companies must bring into the picture at some point.

If only we could come up with a way to encourage the rich to transfer just a fraction of their wealth to working-class people…

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If you need proof that 'statistics don't lie, but liars use statistics,' read Holly Sklar's piece in the Projo today:

"The richest 1 percent of Americans received about $491 billion in tax breaks between 2001 and 2008. That’s nearly the same amount as U.S. debt held by China — $493 billion — in the form of Treasury securities… we are borrowing money with interest to finance tax cuts for Wall Street executives"

The author creatively promotes wealth redistribution by giving the impression that George Bush is borrowing money from China to directly fund tax breaks for the rainmakers in America. Wow.

Posted by: JP at April 15, 2008 8:21 AM

That sounds like it comes from the Pat Crowley School for Incredibly Wild Correlations.

Posted by: Greg at April 15, 2008 8:29 AM

Not to mention it provides an (alleged) differential between what was paid and what would have been paid absent the higher rates (i.e., the reviled "Bush tax cuts) ... but fails to note how much this same reviled group of "rich" actually paid in taxes, which would dwarf this figure several fold.

But why let reality interfere with ideology?

That's just not the collectivist - liberal - progressive way; propaganda is so much more fun for them.

Posted by: Tom W at April 15, 2008 8:30 AM

We should soak the rich. It worked so well, for example, when the 10% luxury tax was applied to boats. The Bristol/Warren boat-building craftsmen benefited, did they not? Actually, not. The rich deferred their boat buying and so did the middle class. If you were truly rich and buying big, you could just buy and register offshore or just limp along with the current tired old 60 footer.

Whether its boats or summer homes, the rich have always participated in the WASP version of Northwest Pacific Indian potlatches. They convert pieces of paper money into worker's mortgage payments, food on the table, etc. via what most people would consider extravagant and senseless purchases.

Posted by: chuckR at April 15, 2008 10:29 AM

Keep the numbers game in mind when it works in your favor as well.

Posted by: michael at April 15, 2008 3:22 PM

Justin -

While I promised myself to never to return to this blog, I have made this exception.

I have seen you write on several occasions about how much you appreciate this rich family's wealth; a wealth that allows you and your coworkers to keep working on their many luxurious projects.

You reason that if this rich family moves or if they stop spending money, then you and your coworkers would be out of a job.

I can understand your concerns about your own job. That is a baseline concern for all of us.

But, doesn't your point limit the opportunities that are facing the 21st century American tradesman? Is your crew truly confined to working for one rich family? Do the presence of rich people define opportunities for carpenters in RI? Are there no entrepreneurs among you who could strike out on your own and work on building green homes and commercial spaces (quite an emerging and lucrative market these days)? Or, you wouldn't rather be rebuilding America's crumbling bridges, roads and infrastructure?

I don't doubt that you want your particular job to continue - we all do. However, there is something to be said for untethering the American entrepreneurial spirit and seeing what can happen- in the construction industry and in all industries.

Relying on the presence of only a few hundred wealthy families for the economic development of our state just seems a tad naive, a bit unrealistic and incredibly hopeless.


Posted by: Matt Jerzyk at April 15, 2008 3:42 PM

You are so right on this one. Justin you should tell the family that is renovating their house, which will also mean going to buy new furnishings, appliances, etc. to stop supporting someone that is willing to work hard to earn a living and take all of their money to Kennedy Plaza and give it to those that chose to sit on their ass all day.

Posted by: David Davis at April 15, 2008 5:09 PM

"Relying on the presence of only a few hundred wealthy families for the economic development of our state just seems a tad naive, a bit unrealistic and incredibly hopeless."

Justin made no representation that they were or should be the only drivers of economic development.

But as you raised the issue, the game plan of too many Democrats on Smith Hill - relying on the presence of wealthy families and employing corporations to carry a substantial tax and economic development burden while simultaneously trying to drive them out of the state with a lousy tax climate and the worst business climate in the country - is, in fact, naive, unrealistic and hopeless.

Posted by: Monique at April 15, 2008 8:47 PM

It's really funny to listen to a snot nosed liberal punk like Jerzyk rant about the rich. He works for a mega-millionaire, his father is an alleged multi-millionaire, he went to elitist Brown and now he is going to tell us what it is like to work for a living. It sounds like a guilt complex to me.

Posted by: Mark Segal at April 16, 2008 1:34 AM
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