A 'Rich Guy' Speaks Out Against Higher Taxes (Part 1 of 2)

Posted: May 14, 2011 12:01 AM

You don't know me. My name is Joe, and I make exactly $250,000 per year before taxes.

I may work for a large company as a midlevel or senior executive. I may run a successful small retail or service business. I may be a professional -- a doctor, lawyer, accountant or architect.

The reason you don't know me is that there hasn't been a good time for us to meet. I live in the suburbs and often have to leave the house at 5 a.m. to get to work on time.

I also don't get home until 8 or 9 p.m. or later.

Oh, you might see me (or, more likely, my spouse) on Saturday afternoons trying frantically to get the household chores done that we can't do during the week. But we have no time for small talk -- we have to get back to work.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not complaining. I've worked very hard to get where I am today. While you were goofing off in college -- getting snoggered at fraternity or sorority parties or chasing each other around the dorms dumping buckets of water on each other while wearing only your underpants (you know who you were), I was in the library knocking my brains out, working a menial part-time job to pay tuition, taking extra classes in order to graduate a little early or move on to graduate school after three years to save my parents money, or networking with alumni, trying to land the entry-level job that would propel me into the upper-middle class.

I did it -- I succeeded. I didn't have much fun getting here, but my sacrifice has gotten results. After years of hard work, I make exactly $250,000 per year, before taxes.

And now you want to raise my taxes so I can pay for YOUR health insurance or the federal budget deficit I had nothing to do with? Excuse me, but why should I pay for your -- ahem -- failure to achieve what I have in life?

Forgive me for suggesting that raising my taxes is not 100 percent fair.

Don't get me wrong -- I think everyone should pay his or her fair share of taxes. Millionaires and billionaires should pay more income tax than average folks because they can afford the "hit" and still live the lives they've become accustomed to.

But that's not me.

I'm not a millionaire or billionaire. I am NOT playing golf every day, having lunch at "the club" or living off of a trust fund. I'm actually having a lot less fun than you are.

If I work for a company, I probably work 70 or 80 hours per week or more and am accessible to my boss 24/7 via BlackBerry. My job could be eliminated at any time, for any reason or no reason. New technologies make me more and more obsolete every month, and I have to fight to stay relevant. And if I do lose my job, I will have a much tougher time finding a new one than you will because my skills are highly specialized. Midlevel CRM infrastructure manager, anyone?

If I run my own business, I work 24/7/365 -- my job is constantly with me. I have to meet payroll, expenses, taxes and probably some debt before I can pay myself anything. I have tough competition, both here and overseas, and my customers' smartphones keep telling them where they can get a better deal than I'm offering, so my profit margin keeps edging closer and closer to zero.

If I am a professional, I live every day with the fear of malpractice or other lawsuits from my patients or clients. I have to make complex decisions in "Internet time," often without having enough time to double-check and make sure I'm doing the right thing. If I let my mind wander for even one second, I could make a mistake that could cost me my entire annual income. Yes, I have insurance for that, but the premiums are a killer. I sometimes have to pay money out of my own pocket to avoid a lawsuit that could double or triple my insurance premiums and put me out of business.

And you know something? I don't get paid one red penny for ANY of those extra hours I put in. Unlike you, I am considered an "exempt" employee under the federal wage and hour laws -- my employer (if I have one) does not have to pay me time-and-a-half for overtime, with double-time for evenings and weekends.

I give those hours to my boss (or my business or my clients) for the privilege of having a job at all. I am the indentured servant of the 21st century. I make exactly $250,000 per year, before taxes.

And where does that money go? Not for luxury yachts, McMansions, sports cars or fancy parties.

I will tell you where that money goes ... next week.

Cliff Ennico (crennico@gmail.com) is a syndicated columnist, author and former host of the PBS television series "Money Hunt." This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state. To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at www.creators.com.



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Ennico: A 'Rich Guy' Speaks Out Against Higher Taxes (Part 1 of 2)
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