April 21, 2011

Did you know "the rich" mean a cop married to a teacher?

Marc Comtois

Veronique de Rugy helps clarify income redistribution:

Here are some other data points that I find interesting:

Of the top 1 percent of income earners, only 23 percent are millionaires.

A household income above $380,000 puts you in the top 1 percent of income earners.

Of the top 10 percent of income earners, only 2 percent are millionaires.

A household income above $114,000 puts you in the top 10 percent of income earners. That means that a cop making $60K married to a teacher making $60K make it into the top 10 percent. (emphasis added)

If you have ideas for a better chart, De Rugy is taking suggestions.

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Cops make a lot more than 60k.

Posted by: Dan at April 21, 2011 1:32 PM

Or it could mean Peter Asen married to a URI professor.I won't mention her name since she's obviously highly qualified for the job(I googled him and saw the wedding announcement)but he's a parasite rich kid playing at social activism and he got an invented job.That's bullsh*t in today's economic situation.

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 21, 2011 4:18 PM

Does a retired cop ($60k pension) with a state job ($102k) married to a school teacher ($74k) count if they are both still in their 40's?

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at April 21, 2011 4:29 PM

Most "public service" couples in RI are rich at least by my standards.
Why do you think they spend years scheming to get into "public service".

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at April 21, 2011 8:30 PM

Where's Monique when you need her? She is usually there with a pithy comment like these:

Great signs! Love the first one especially
Grab a hat and a hooter, Providence Journal; welcome to the tax-opposing party!
It's for the chhhhiiilllldren.
At which point, what else can we say but:
Yup. The vampire has risen from his grave. Huge problem.
Wow! Love it!
. er, yes
I need some heavy duty drugs ...
Yes. Absolutely. Immediately
Thank you!

Posted by: Phil at April 21, 2011 10:23 PM

Sadly, based on this information, I must conclude that we as a nation are becoming less wealthy and the gap between rich and poor is widening. I say this because IMHO 120K puts a couple squarely in the middle class if they bought a home in Rhode Island in the last 10 years and are currently struggling to keep up at a mere 90K. To suggest that 120K/yr equates wealth is absurd.

I've no problem with the cop and teacher making 60K. It's the defined pension and health care cost that are killing us in our annual tax expenditure.

Posted by: swamper at April 22, 2011 7:37 AM

"Where's Monique when you need her?"

Ah, my audience. Thank you, Phil, you are most kind.

Posted by: Monique at April 22, 2011 8:25 AM

Is the point of this post to bring attention to how little it takes to be in the top 10 percent of earners or to point out that police officers and teachers are overpaid? I'm hoping it is the former, not the latter.

Posted by: michael at April 22, 2011 8:46 AM

This is the NEA plan for success. They want union workers to account for all the income. They fail to understand that the private sector pays their salaries, so by force, they can't make more, however they are. Hence our huge national and state debt. We vote out all NEA politicians and this problem is QUICKLY solved. Remember, not all democrats are NEA, but the ones that are MUST go. NEA took over most of the democrat party.

Posted by: Matthew at April 22, 2011 10:34 AM

It's frightening how I can simultaneously live in a household in the 'top 20%' when a balanced budget requires sacrifices that used to be reserved for the working class. This is what globalization looks like, a long-term stagnation of wages for the richer countries, while the Indias and Chinas of the world catch up.

I'm not saying it's a bad thing, there's plenty of silver lining to the globalization cloud, just that we're not at all prepared for it.

I think conservatives and liberals can both see how bad the wage situation is here. There's no way people making 'median' incomes can live what we consider a normal middle-class lifestyle, pay for medical coverage for their family, and save enough to retire.

Posted by: mangeek at April 22, 2011 10:51 AM

It isn't "globalization" per se that is the problem. It is the onerous tax and regulatory regimes, combined with the poor quality of our education system, while the rest of the world improve their cultures and economies, that makes the US less competitive than it used to be and drives businesses to take their jobs out of the US.

Government is not the solution. Government is the problem.

Posted by: BobN at April 22, 2011 11:54 AM

"onerous tax and regulatory regimes"

OK. This is where I get curious. How 'onerous' is our system compared to others? Would conservatives accept a much SIMPLER tax structure if the overall levy was raised enough to do the stuff we can all agree should be done at a cost we can agree on?

Personally, I like the idea of a low (10%?) flat payroll tax on ALL earnings, and require only folks in the top quintile (which I guess I'm in) to report (file returns), and maybe pay a higher tax rate.

It's not like we're going to be able to get anything substantial from the bottom 50%, they're only making 13% of the income. Everyone should pay taxes, just on the principle of it, though. If everyone is a 'taxpayer', then we all have skin in the game and can advocate for better fiscal stewardship.

So just have a flat 10% income tax on everyone, then tax earnings over the top 80%-mark at 20% and earnings over the 95% mark at 35%, or whatever gets us revenue-neutral. Get rid of the reporting requirements for 80% of us, and eliminate the deductions. Wouldn't that lube-up the economy quite a bit?

Posted by: mangeek at April 22, 2011 1:07 PM

Call it what you like. I just know that when I hear the police/fire/teachers unions cry how they are so concerned for the 'workers" they are a bunch of liars.
The top 10% surely doesn't consist of the "workers" as they'd like us to believe.

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at April 22, 2011 1:57 PM

Mangeek wrote, "if the overall levy was raised enough to do the stuff we can all agree should be done at a cost we can agree on?"

This is the problem that must be solved first. We don't all agree on what should be done. There is a fundamental disagreement between conservatives and Leftists about what government should do in the first place. From the Founding to 1920 government expenditure was steady at around 3% of GDP. Now, thanks to Progressive/socialist income redistribution programs, out-of-control earmark projects, rampant bureaucratic cancer, and reckless fiscal mismanagement, the figure is nearing 30%. In Europe it's over 40%.

Once we get the government corralled back into its Constitutional boundaries, we'll find that the amount of money that has to be raised in taxes is very much smaller than that taken today.

Posted by: BobN at April 22, 2011 3:05 PM

Mike your comments are irrelevant to the post. 60,000 a year is a good paying job, nobody disputes that, but the top 10% of income? Reported income is not actual income anyway in many cases, unless you work for the government and can't hide what you are actually making with deductions and business expenses and loopholes. The top 1 % of income earners have only 23% millionaires? Believe that and you will believe anything.

Posted by: michael at April 22, 2011 3:06 PM

Michael, I know it might be hard to swallow but barring conspiracy theories, a HOUSEHOLD making $55K is in the top 40%, and one making $88K is in the top 20%.

The threshold for a household entering the top 5%? $157K.

Remember that in America, about 58% of people work, so you're obviously going to have a vast swath of households down in the first few quintiles with only one earner or none at all, retirees and such.

This is the odd thing... MY household is in the top quintile, but I forgo cable TV, turn the heat down, and fret if I need to take on two car payments.

You might have a job that feels like it pays you 'middle class' because you have a house, kids, two cars, and a wife that works part-time (just an example, I don't know your situation), but that's actually high-falootin' in 2011. The actual 'middle' quintile is a household making $35-55K.

So I can see how a firefighter/teacher/police officer might be taking in $50-80K with a decent package and a lifestyle that basically fits that of the last generation and wonder what all the fuss is about, but those of us without contracts with the state have seen real wages that have stayed virtually steady for decades, despite our increased productivity.

Sadly, 'taxing the rich' alone won't solve it, there's not enough income to tax above the $200K mark, even if billionaires are dramatically richer than they were a decade ago. It would take a 100% tax of income over about $180K to fix the current budget, fund Medicare, and avoid borrowing from Social Security or foreign nations.*

*(yes yes, I'm aware that we can run a little annual deficit and inflate it away)

Posted by: mangeek at April 22, 2011 3:40 PM

You are right, Mangeek, I don't get it. (copy and paste at will) I've said this before, so here goes; I have two kids, both college graduates who earn more than I do in the private sector. My sister is a salesperson and makes far more than me. I have friends who are electricians making over 100,000. I made a thousand a week tending bar and cleaning houses in the eighties and early nineties. Maybe I surround myself with overachievers, but I don't think so. I do know that because of my wife's illness I put myself in a position where overtime is abundant, not because of some ridiculous sick out scheme, rather not many people want to work a rescue in South Providence in a ridiculously understaffed EMS division.

I see what I see, and I see opportunity for those who go out and get it, even if it means putting in eighty plus hour weeks.

Posted by: michael at April 22, 2011 5:19 PM

Nothing better proves how out of touch the arrogant Leftist Elite is than there belief that $120,000 a year is a modest sum.
To most of us it is a fortune.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at April 23, 2011 9:49 AM

The "arrogant leftist elite" who started with nothing but the desire to succeed, raised a so far successful family, saw an opportunity, shows up for work and does his best, continues to work and improve his lot in life, continues to be productive, taxpaying and motivated is now defined as the "arrogant leftist elite." What a bunch of puke.

$120,000 income for two full time people a fortune? Get off the couch, Tommy, and put your back into it.

Posted by: michael at April 23, 2011 1:27 PM

michael-I don't think you're who people think of when defining the "arrogant leftist elite".Not even close.
I KNOW who I think of and firemen aren't included.
I don't much care for right wing arrogant elitists either.
I respect anyone who worked for what they have and I respect their right not to be robbed for the benefit of lazy scumbags.
OK?Have a nice Easter-not being Christian,but not ignorant either,Idon't think Easter is a "happy"holiday like Thanksgiving.

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 23, 2011 1:54 PM

Hello Joe, Nice Easter to you as well. These Tommy Cranston, Dan BobN's seem to think union membership is synonymous with leftist welfare loving sycophants. They should have met my dad, war vet, conservative, hard working DEMOCRAT!

Posted by: michael at April 23, 2011 2:01 PM

Michael, when you distort and lie about what I have written, you look as dumb as Lefty. I used to think better of you, but you're in that phase of thinking with your emotions again.

Posted by: BobN at April 23, 2011 2:41 PM

Michael-my father was a 30's union guy,a WW2 veteran,way too left wing for us to have a civil political discussion,but the NRA would've loved him.He totally believed in the armed citizen and he was a hellacious good shot.Taught me to shoot at age 10.
I just think there is a sensible medium to reached between public employee unions and the public.
It can't be worked out in sound bytes.Tommy Cranston and Bob N have legitimate points of view to consider.
I just cannot abide the Kate Brocks,Kate Brewsters,Peter Asens,and Linda Katz's.
BTW I mistakenly accused Matt Jerzyk of getting a $100,00/yr job with Taveras while working full time as an attorney.
It turns out he gave up his private practice to take the job.It also seems there is a net savings of $190,000 to the city because he is filling three previous positions.
OK,no shame in admitting I was mistaken.
I really like to disagree with Jerzyk,but I don't look to take unfair advantage based on wrong info.

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 23, 2011 3:16 PM

"You editorially hear what you want to hear about the unions and whatever else you do in life is overshadowed by that."

This is you, Bob at your finest, probably one of the more arrogant things I've read, but other than this I actually have no recollection what you have written so it would be difficult to distort and lie about it. Lumping you in with the Tommy Cranston's of the world was probably a little much, but you and Dan do have some similarities. Anyway, this is a blog, basically a stream of consciousness type of writing, nothing edited or researched on my part anyway, just an exchance of ideas, at times contentious but ultimately rewarding, in some weird way I've yet to figure out.

A nice Easter to yo as well.

Posted by: michael at April 23, 2011 3:34 PM

"Of the top 1 percent of income earners, only 23 percent are millionaires."

What about the 400+ American billionaires and their wealth as a total % of American income?

Posted by: Rich at April 23, 2011 4:45 PM

What about it, Rich? Are you implying that there is something wrong with being financially successful in life?

Posted by: BobN at April 23, 2011 8:08 PM

Seriously BobN?,

Is that really what you glistend from my question?

Ofcourse there is nothing wrong with being financially successful in life... (unless you are a public employee, then ur a pig at the trough, right?)

Im suggesting that this poorly constructed graph and this even more poorly executed article isnt painting a full picture.

Im suggesting that by omitting the 400+ billionaires and their trillions of wealth, you are painting a slanted picture favorable to your argument.

Neither here nor there I suppose as Ive always maintained that anything less than 500K a year shouldnt be considered rich no matter your occupation or political affiliation.

Posted by: Rich at April 24, 2011 3:56 AM

Any comments about leftist and elite couldn't be more off the mark if describing me. Between myself and my wife we manage 4 income sources and our tax return information fills a 2" binder to spine stress.

The point I make is if 114,000K puts a couple in the top 10% of income earners, then the either the middle class has been redefined, or more likely reduced, with those previously in what used to be solid middle class America falling to lower middle class or even "poor" which then enables them to the various government
entitlements AKA my money redistributed.

114 grand isn't what it used to be, and it's going to be worth less and less every year.

I would suggest 120,0000K is a fortune to those that don't have to pay for housing, especially if it's a mortgage with property tax and insurance. Throw in income taxes, transportation costs, food, and utilities and there just isn't much left.

If food, utilities, and a 500/month rental apartment are one's only expense, then yes, I suppose it would appear to be a fortune. Especially if one could stay off the radar screen and pull it off with a modest cash paying job to avoid paying their share of income tax. And to furthur insult injury, our once wonderful nation will assume the role of Robin Hood and provide freebies to those that work the system best. Be careful how rich is defined. Each time the threshold is lowered, it's just more taken from those that work for their money.

Posted by: swamper at April 24, 2011 9:02 AM

"total taxable income in 2008 was $5,488 billion. Taxable income over $100,000 was $1,582 billion, over $200,000 was $1,185 billion, over $500,000 was $820 billion, over $1 million was $616 billion, over $2 million was $460 billion, over $5 million was $302 billion, and over $10 million was $212 billion." - From www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/04/eat-the-rich/237000/

Rich, there's a difference between earning a billion dollars a year and having a billion in the bank. Just the same as there's a difference between ten years of war and a single year's budget hole (which people conflate all the time).

Seems to me that you'd still be in a pretty bad bind if you taxed the billionaires, millionaires, and half-millionaires at 100%.

Posted by: mangeek at April 24, 2011 12:45 PM


Agreed. I wouldnt want to tax anyone anywhere near 100%. I feel we need a top to bottom overhaul of the the tax code. Id like to see a flat 25% or 30% tax of everyone regardless of income. No deductions no credits no nothing. I also dont support how 46% of Americans pay no tax at all. I dont care how little you make, you ought to be paying into society. Obviously, the infirm should be excused but removed from that, I dont really see anyone else who ought to be.

It provides great incentive to work harder and asks no one to shoulder more of the load or make more of the sacrifice.

Ofcourse, its not exactly that simple but the concept could work Im sure.

Posted by: Rich at April 24, 2011 1:20 PM
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