In case you've forgotten who I am since last week, my name is Joe, and I make exactly $250,000 per year before taxes -- one of the so-called "rich people" whose taxes should be raised in order to redress what many otherwise smart people view as an "income inequality" that threatens the very fabric of American life.
Where does my money go, do you think? To luxury yachts, fancy parties, high-end champagne and other extravagant stuff?
No way, baby.
I live in an affluent suburb of a large, very expensive city. Sometimes I live in that city itself, in a high-rise apartment with a doorperson, because otherwise, I would need to carry an Uzi when taking the garbage down the hall to the incinerator.
Either way, I pay a lot more for things than you do. That mortgage bill each month is a killer, and forget about the property tax increases my town imposes every year so the local kids can have a softball field or an extra music or art class in the schools. Even coffee, groceries and gas are more expensive here than where you probably live.
Yes, I live comfortably, but probably not much better than you do. Because I don't have time to do things around the house (my boss won't like it if I take time off from working 24/7 to mow the lawn), I have to pay people to do them for me -- and guarantee them so many hours of time or else they won't show up.
My kids attend private schools, or public schools in my affluent suburb, because I would never, ever send them to the free public school where I work. They wouldn't survive to adulthood. Sure, I may be able to send them to a good private college, but at $100,000 or more per year for tuition, room and board, I won't have much left over to retire on. How many of you are able to save 40 percent of your income each year?
I also pay a lot more in taxes than you do -- much more than the numbers of people in my income bracket would justify. If I am self-employed, I have to pay Social Security, Medicare and payroll taxes out of my own pocket. If I get the calculations wrong, the IRS comes down on my head with a baseball bat. And don't get me started about estimating my taxes and paying them four times a year -- forgive me, but if you've never written a five-figure check to the Government four times a year you don't know what pain is.
Don't get me wrong -- I'm all in favor of taxing the rich. But I'm not rich, and it galls me when the Government lumps people like me in with the dot-com billionaires, hedge-fund millionaires and people who live on trust funds.