The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Community

January 8, 2013

Jim Bailey: What's the difference between rich, middle class?

Class envy takes center stage whenever politicians argue over taxes and spending — which is most of the time. And of course they usually take the easy way out: Never do today what you can put off till tomorrow.

So just what is the definition of a rich person? The simple answer to that one is someone who makes more money than you do. And what about middle class? That’s a guy who has a job that pays the bills but doesn’t leave much for luxuries. He usually makes a little more than you do too.

There’s another definition of a rich person: Someone who hires people to do what a middle-class person has to do for himself. Therein lies the rub, at least where taxes are concerned.

Politicians who claim to cater to the middle class always champion the cause of making sure the rich pay their fair share of taxes. It matters not that 10 percent of a million is more than 13 times what 15 percent of $50,000 is, the millionaire who’s using tax shelters to pay a mere 10 percent isn’t paying his fair share. The solution isn’t to tighten up the tax shelters but to tax more of his earnings, right?

When I was young, the high earners had 91 percent of everything they earned over $200,000 confiscated in taxes. In those days, of course, $200,000 would buy more than a million will today. The natural result was a dampening of enthusiasm among the super-rich to go out and make more money they wouldn’t be able to keep anyway.

The classic image of rich people is the picture in the old Uncle Scrooge comic books of a tycoon swimming and diving in his money bin among coins mixed with bills 100 feet deep. Reality naturally is much different, the wealth being mostly on paper and often varying according to buying and selling on Wall Street.

Even in colonial days it was similar. George Washington was said to be so land poor he had to borrow money to travel to his own inauguration when he was elected president. If you’ve chanced to visit Mount Vernon, you’ve seen the beautiful mansion, elegant even by today’s standards, among beautifully landscaped grounds amid ample farmland. The slave quarters are a different story, amounting to a row of sheds affording the servant class little more than a place to sleep. But I digress.

Were the wealth of America’s well-to-do to be seriously threatened, much of the country’s charitable largesse would suffer. Peyton Manning, for instance, endowed a children’s hospital in Indianapolis. And one of Madison County’s own has spent most of his life quietly giving back to the community in which he grew up.

Rich man, poor man. What’s the answer? If we knew that we’d all be rich. But then nobody would be rich, would they? And we’d all have to pay more taxes.

Jim Bailey’s column appears on Wednesday. He can be reached by email at jameshenrybailey@earthlink.net.

1
Text Only
Community
  • NWS - HB0723 - Fair Food - JC 3 The 'fairest food of all' Rides along the midway and 4-H animals may be a big draw for the county fair, but there's plenty of food people look forward to and indulge in during the Madison County 4-H Fair.

    July 23, 2014 3 Photos

  • Community Briefs: July 23 A compilation of community news items as published in the Wednesday edition of The Herald Bulletin.

    July 23, 2014

  • FEA - HB0722 - SAVI - 1 Staying strong during adversity

    When doctors told Judy Best she had cancer she was shocked, but she never lost hope.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Community Briefs: July 22 A compilation of community news as published in the Tuesday edition of The Herald Bulletin.

    July 22, 2014

  • Community Briefs: July 21

    A compilation of community news as published in the Monday edition of The Herald Bulletin.

    July 21, 2014

  • FEA - HB0721 - Rotary Exchange - JC 1 Foreign exchange program builds lasting friendships Paulina Berger returned to her hometown in Olpe, Germany on Friday, but she left something important behind: part of her heart. The 16-year-old spent a year living with three host families in Anderson as part of the Rotary Youth Exchange program.

    July 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • FEA HB0721 ISU Normal Hall Work underway to restore ISU's Normal Hall The sounds of heavy equipment, impact drills and even a large wrecking ball are evidence of a renovation underway at Normal Hall, Indiana State University's oldest academic building.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • FEA - HB0713 - Fire Rescue Houses - JC 6 Finding the light Life after losing a child is like waking up and seeing a hole in the ground. You spend all day circling around the edge, trying not to fall in. It’s a description one of Frank Caldwell’s friends explained to him, a feeling he’s known all too well since his only son, Eric, died in an auto accident in April 2010.

    July 19, 2014 3 Photos

  • NWS - HB0722 - morris - DP Seven 4-H members vying for 4-H queen title

    The following seven 4-H members will vie for the title of the Madison County 4-H Fair Queen at 7:30 p.m. this evening on the Kiwanis Stage at the fairgrounds at Beulah Park.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Community Briefs: July 20 A compilation of community news items as published in the Sunday edition of The Herald Bulletin.

    July 19, 2014

Reader Pet Photos


We're looking for your best pet photos! Share your photos of your favorite non-human companions in our new photo gallery. Click here to upload your photos

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin