November 12, 2008

"What's the Matter With Greenwich?"

Why did the rich vote against their own economic interests? Slate's Daniel Gross wonders:
I've theorized that people who work in financial services and related fields have become so outraged and alienated by the incompetence, crass social conservatism, and repeated insults to the nation's intelligence of the Bush-era Republican Party that they're voting with their hearts and heads instead of their wallets.

... As the campaign entered its final weeks, Barack Obama, who pledged to unite the country, singled out one group of people for ridicule: those making more than $250,000.... And yet the exit polls show, the rich—and yes, if you make $250,000 or more you're rich—went for Obama by bigger margins than did the merely well-off. If the exit polls are to be believed, those making $200,000 or more (6 percent of the electorate) voted for Obama 52-46, while McCain won the merely well-off ($100,000 to $150,000 by a 51-48 margin and $150,000 to $200,000 by a 50-48 margin)....
Obviously, "What's the Matter With Greenwich?" parallels "What's the Matter With Kansas?," which questions why people in lower-income groups vote conservative.

It seems to me that there are plenty of people who don't think that voting is about pursuing dollars for yourself. I know I don't. I think about what is best the country as a whole (and about the world). Am I a chump, to be puzzled over by newspaper columnists? Shouldn't we public-spirited voters be praised for taking our role seriously and understanding it correctly? Instead we're treated as if we are deluded.

41 comments:

Doyle said...

Public spirited? I remember you whining on Bloggingheads about how the rich shouldn't be taxed more because they work so much harder.

And you are deluded, or you wouldn't have voted for Bush in 2004.

Simon said...

You're not a chump. The people who argue that economic interests are the touchstone for voting are the ones who are advancing a deeply flawed theory (usually packaging it, for good measure, with conclusory assertions about what is in a person's economic interest).

vet66 said...

BDS is an insidious disease that metastasizes in the absence of outside culture influences such as terror attacks on our country.

No surprise here.

The 'rich' crowd have tax breaks unavailable to the rest of us hoi poloi. If T. Boone Pickens and Nancy Pelosi are to be understood, I believe wind energy is a good tax write-off that reduces reportable income.

Zeb Quinn said...

It seems to me that there are plenty of people who don't think that voting is about pursuing dollars for yourself. I know I don't.

It was in all public employees' interest to vote for Obama. If in '04 you really truly did vote for Bush, then you voted against your interest.

Assumpsit said...

Shouldn't we public-spirited voters be praised for taking our role seriously and understanding it correctly?

And who says your understanding of your role is the correct one? It is my understanding that my vote is my vote and that I may use it how I wish, whether self-interestedly or not. It's people that don't look out for their own best interests that complain the most when things don't turn out their way.

Bissage said...

Self-interest should be defined broadly and right at this moment I find it very much in my self-interest to ask that rich dude in the stock photo if he has any Grey Poupon.

dbp said...

Professor Althouse,

You are half right: Rich people should be civic-minded and vote against their economic interests. Poor people should ignore the things they hold dear like guns and religion and other traditional causes and only vote according to their economic interest.

Just ask Tom Frank, he'll tell you the same thing.

LutherM said...

Ann writes, "Am I a chump, to be puzzled over by newspaper columnists?"
"CHUMP" is probably not the correct diagnosis - BUT
With Anne A.
VOTING for Obama,
then writing
"I ♥ Mitt Romney"
(after writing overlong drivel about how John McCain "lost" her),
it's clear that the Professor is suffering from some malady, with the symptom of preferring the phonies to the genuine articles.

The disease seems to be either
faulty judgment, (an ageing problem) or
one of perception.

The Who wrote the song about judgment, (Applicable of LBJ & Nixon), "Won't Get Fooled Again".

It is difficult enough to perceive correctly.
Writing about sane, normal people, St. Paul said, "we know in part, and we prophesy in part.... For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."
Oliver Sacks wrote, "what a narrow ridge of normality we all inhabit, with the abysses of mania and depression yawning to either side."

Ferlinghetti wrote an entire poem about perception and reality.
http://www.boppin.com/poets/ferlinghetti.htm
(The principal character is able to discern phonies)

Prognosis for the Professor may be bleak - progressive irrelevance with only fleeting instances of clarity. However, recovery is possible, but only if she rigorously takes personal inventory and when she is wrong promptly admits it.

Lem said...

Shouldn't we public-spirited voters be praised for taking our role seriously and understanding it correctly? Instead we're treated as if we are deluded.

Higher tax rates be praised, hallelujah.

But then there’s the peculiar pesky fact – when capital gains tax rates are reduced – revenue to the government increases. How is that possible? Don't let the facts get in the way of good feelings.

Tax the rich. Yes we can.

Original George said...

A pundit recently quoted this line from the Federalist Papers:

[The electors in the Electoral College] will not be liable to be deceived by those brilliant appearances of genius and patriotism, which, like transient meteors, sometimes mislead as well as dazzle.

Those smart rich folks in Greenwich got suckered, played, bamboozled.

One of the most amazing things about the charismatic leader is that he is able to lure so many otherwise smart people into his orbit.

The Nutmeggers decided they preferred the illusion of racial harmony and global amity, the audacious hope that an untested machine politician with strange mentors who has no track record of legislative success or bipartisanship, no military experience, or foreign affairs background would be the best man for the job during a period of extreme global financial disarray during which the nation is fighting two wars. Now the rich folks can smile more broadly at the black people on the streets as they pass them in their limousines.

SteveR said...

I don't care what great tax plan, President Obama comes up with, the "rich" will be able to still keep a larger percentage then us normal folks. At a minimum, they will use their resources to make more. You think they are worried?

Gross' premise is fantasy.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Higher tax rates be praised, hallelujah.

Well considering we're already on the hook for the trillion or so we've spent on bailouts with more lining up with hat in hand, I'm really really curious how Obama is going to justify a tax cut for 95% of working Americans.

downtownlad said...

I'm rich and I voted for my economic self-interest.

Trust me - the rich got much richer under Clinton than they did under Bush. Rich people don't mind paying a 39% tax as long as the stock market is rising 18% a year. That's certain preferable to a 35% top tax when incomes are declining and the stock market is dropping.

So Bush cut the capital gains tax. Big woop. The stock market did so bad under Bush that people didn't have capital gains to take.

MayBee said...

those making more than $250,000.... And yet the exit polls show, the rich—and yes, if you make $250,000 or more you're rich—

That bolded bit seems completely unnecessary.

Eli Blake said...

People in several states voted to tax themselves this year. A proposition here in Arizona that would have required that a majority of all registered voters vote 'yes' on any future proposition to raise taxes (which would have set the bar very high in the future to pass such an initiative) went down by an overwhelming margin.

Nobody likes paying taxes, but they do provide things in communities. So people make an informed choice and then decide whether they are willing to pay the tax for what it provides.

In our community we passed a school budget override which will result in higher property taxes. I voted for it. What it does is raise my taxes but then I get to live in a community with better schools. That benefits both my kids and the other kids in the community, some of whom will be providing services to me when I get older.

Incidentally, Barack and Michelle Obama made $4 million last year (mostly from book royalties, which will continue to come in) so he is proposing to raise taxes on himself. He sees an overall benefit to something that will cost him more money.

integrity said...

No, you're not a chump. The writers of the articles are greedy, illogical, self-centered scumbags.

Deregulation and tax cuts for wealthy people have gotten us to this place. The economy has collapsed, now we just wait for the fallout.

The middle and lower classes must have money in order to buy from the wealthy. The greedy dimwits in the republican party forgot that as they created this disaster.

My dad has a neighbor that owns a car dealership in Palm Springs, Ca. He said he can't sell cars, except those selling for over $200,000. Great job repubs, beautiful.

In several months we will all be watching people suffering greatly, like we have never seen. The public will be seeking people to blame. Corporate execs won't be enough, Bush and Co. will end up in rather big trouble by DEMAND of the American people(including and perhaps initiated by republicans). They won't give a shit about disrupting anything or some Bush voter throwing infantile shitfits that their guy is getting blamed, the public won't care, bitch and moan all you want baby. They will want and get the metaphorical heads of these Bush people. Mark my words. Copy and save this post.

I'm going to have to close my company next week, and am just now coming to terms with the horror of the next week. Almost everyone I employ has children. I really can't believe this has happened. Everything has fallen apart.

Bush and Co. will pay. Mark my words again. We are acomin', the arrogant dimwit and his enablers will get the appropriate comeuppance from the people. And Obama won't have jack shit to say about it either, drama is comin' Obama. You'll have to deal.

integrity said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eli Blake said...

What really irks me about taxes and government spending is how many people are against raising taxes and then complain when services are cut. Here in Arizona (where they cut taxes nine years in a row and haven't raised them since) there is a budget crunch going on largely caused by overreliance on sales taxes, which have plummeted during the recession. So they have delayed or canceled several roads projects. And who is squawking the loudest? Mainly far outlying areas from the Valley (exurban Phoenix) where people have voted for legislators who at least up until last year were preaching nothing but more tax cuts.

I observed something similar in another community I lived in. They cut back on trash collection service not long after a municipal bond issue failed, and the people who complained the most were the same people who had been out there with yard signs saying 'no' on the bond.

The mindset this shows is a lot like people who complain about blogger (which is a ***free*** service hosted on google's nickel.) I think it works pretty well for a free service, but some people think they deserve or even expect something for nothing.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Just guessing, but I think there might be an age component here. The yuppies, younger people, in the urban areas like San Francisco tend to make those hefty sums of income that put them in the cross hairs of Obama's tax machine. They don't consider this because they are voting on youth related issues or are, as are most young people at anytime, liberal.

Also, (tee hee) there is a group think thing going on. All of your friends are voting for Obama.

They'll grow out of it.

mcg said...

Well the answer is simple: these rich people were too stupid to understand that Obama was going to raise their taxes.

Sounds preposterous, doesn't it?

The only thing is, that's exactly the reverse of the accusation the Democrats and the MSM made against Joe the Plumber: what's he complaining about, he's actually going to get a tax cut under Obama's plan!

Roost on the Moon said...

In Frank's defense, What's the Matter With Kansas? didn't assert that voting should be about pursuing dollars for oneself. The argument was never that economic self-interest should trump all other considerations.

It was that economic self-interest gets ignored, along with the public spirit and understanding Althouse says should be praised. Ignored in the service of identity politics.

Voting Obama is for yuppies. Of course, urban professionals are the future of the country. More and more, if you don't go to college, you're fucked. Unlike Frank, I'm agnostic on how inevitable the decline of American industry was, but the irony of a republican disliking yuppies is undeniable.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I'm going to have to close my company next week, and am just now coming to terms with the horror of the next week. Almost everyone I employ has children. I really can't believe this has happened. Everything has fallen apart

Oh, the inhumanity. Oh the drama(queen)

Horror. Hardly. Sad yes, that people are losing their jobs and have to look for other jobs. Sad that people might be losing their homes or have to sell their 200K cars. Bummer, that they can't buy that new flat screen for their children's bedroom. We are all living on the financial edge as a nation and it is frightening, scary and times are going to get much harder before it gets better.

Horror....give me a break. You want horror?

Here

Here

and HERE Try telling these people that our financial bump in the road is HORROR.

mcg said...

39% is bad, but it isn't that bad. But if Obama removes the payroll tax cap... then of course there's state income taxes as well (e.g., California's 9.3%, soon to be 12%)... it does start to add up.

Then again, investment income isn't subject to this payroll tax increase---at least, not yet---so not every fat cat is affected by it.

William said...

I'll have to say amen to downtownlad. I have lost more in the stock market than I will ever pay in taxes for the rest of my life. I voted for McCain, but I think many high income voters went for Obama in the belief that he will appoint a smarter Goldman partner than Bush did and that we will return to a Clinton era bull market.....When Bush ran against Gore, there was a certain amount of nostalgia for the happy marriage of Bush's father and revulsion against the sleaze of Clinton. I think this time around we all felt a certain amount of loss for the pure, lost lilies of the Clinton bull market.....I did not vote for Obama but I hope that in the future we do not vote for Jeb Bush because of nostalgia for the current administration and revulsion against the extremes of Obama.

SGT Ted said...

More and more, if you don't go to college, you're fucked.

This is bullshit. All one has to do is be willing to get your hands dirty and you can live better than alot of people with high tech degrees. There is a shortage of trade workers, but yuppies have been sold on the lie that only someone with a 4 year degree makes a good living and have raised their kids to think that being a plumber, mechanic, carpenter or other blue colar trade is beneath them. If anything there are too many people going to college who simply do not belong there.

SGT Ted said...

Can anyone point to specific Clinton policies that led to the financial success that were the opposite of Ws policies, or any republican policy proposals?

By the way, as fond as Democrats are of saying how poorly stocks have performed under George W. Bush, here's a sobering fact: Stocks averaged 14.1% return in those Bush years when Republicans controlled Congress -- and when Democrats got in there and mucked things up, the average has been a loss of 8.9%. That's not even including 2008 year-to-date, which doesn't look so pretty.

When Republicans have controlled the whole government, it blows away anything Democrats can do. Stocks have averaged 17.5%and real GDP growth 3.3%.

Lem said...

The professor seems to be more liberal than I had allowed myself to imagine.

Titusisathug said...

What's the matter with NYC?

Titusisathug said...

What's the matter with San Francisco or Boston?

You know the cities where people make lots of money and will be taxed.

The creative class as they are called.

I think it is because they like the fags. If they didn't like fags they would be republicans.

Smilin' Jack said...

The rich don't care that much about taxes because at that level money isn't really about consumption (you can only eat three meals a day) but about competition. Lower taxes give you more money but that doesn't do you any good, because everyone around you has more too.

Richard Dolan said...

It's not some much against their economic interests as it is a form of buying access -- not to the incoming Administration, but to the social set that the well-to-do in Greenwich (and NYC) want to be a part of. That set thinks of itself as lefty, arty and intellectual (the three can barely be distinguised). You're not going to be invited to join the right charity boards or social clubs, or be included in the right parties and society swirls, if you aren't part of the flow.

Arturius said...

Trust me - the rich got much richer under Clinton than they did under Bush.

I think before we laud the Clinton for America’s prosperity it would be prudent to look at a few other factors that had more to do with the wealth creation of the 1990’s than confiscating money from the productive segment of society.
For starters the end of the Cold War and the peace dividend justified a large reduction in the military which naturally reduced defense spending and the budget overall. Second, a GOP controlled Congress that reigned in spending and actually practiced fiscal conservatism. Third, NAFTA which generated increased trade. Finally and much discounted was the Internet boom which was the greatest tech change that affected everyday people since the invention of the automobile. Huge amounts of capital were thrown in that bubble and a lot of people got rich, the NASDAQ hit 5000 and well, we all know how that turned out. Clinton’s tax cuts were simply offset by the sea change that was the 1990s.

Now we have the 2000s and instead of a Soviet threat there is the Islamic radical one (arguably a more real and dangerous one considering the Soviets were at lease sane) and requiring increased spending for security. Unlike Clinton’s ‘tech bubble’, Bush was unfortunate enough to have the housing bubble collapse while he is still in office. Not to mention the overall tax hit on the ‘rich’ won’t be that painful as the lion’s share of the wealth is well insulated from the IRS. Overall, it wasn't anything actually done by Clinton to create the prosperity other than being smart enough to keep from meddling with it.

They say timing is everything and I will contend that Bill Clinton is the luckiest man in the world to have held office during the most prosperous period in American history and left right before the house of cards came down. The most interesting aspect is the man never got above 50% of the vote. That’s the guy you don’t want to play poker with.

former law student said...

wealth creation of the 1990’s ...the end of the Cold War and the peace dividend justified a large reduction in the military which naturally reduced defense spending and the budget overall....

Which put a lot of Americans out of work. Housing prices in the Bay Area tumbled as people with formerly secure defense contractor jobs had to compete on the commercial market, but were unsuccessful. Bases closed, putting businesses that had long served soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines out of business. The "peace dividend" caused a recession. Housing prices did not recover for five years.

Joe said...

How about the obvious? The rich believe a) Obama was lying and b) he can be bought off.

(The Democrats are about to start handing out money and lots of it to the very people they vilified. Seems that the rich bet right.)

Adam said...

Something that doesn't seem to be mentioned very often is that difference between voter preference and proximity to poverty. It seems like the very wealthy people who actually see the destructive nature of diminished services on society understand the importance of taxation. They understand, it seems, that improving the quality of life for all people will have positive outcomes on their own lives. But, as was pointed out in the article, the further out you went from Greenwich, the more Republican it got. I know this fact could be by choice of lifestyle, but I also think their lack of knowledge of some people's plight allows them to only recognize their own self-interests.

Schorsch said...

You assume that the rich won't be able to take advantage of the tax-shelter and accounting laws that often accompany tax increases. I think that they know the Dems will take care of them. It's those that fall into the middle ground, rich enough to be taxed, not rich enough to afford creative accountants and political connections, who will bear the brunt of the patriotic duty.

Arturius said...

[the peace dividend] Which put a lot of Americans out of work. Housing prices in the Bay Area tumbled as people with formerly secure defense contractor jobs had to compete on the commercial market, but were unsuccessful. Bases closed, putting businesses that had long served soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines out of business. The "peace dividend" caused a recession. Housing prices did not recover for five years.

The peace dividend most certainly did not cause a recession, at least not the 1990-1991 recession which I assume you are referring to. I’m certain that it had a localized effect in some areas but it wasn’t the cause nationwide. The most immediate causes were the aftershocks of the DJI crash in 1987, the S&L failures which resulted in a constriction of the money supply (sound familiar?) and the oil shock over the Iraq invasion of Kuwait which reduced consumer confidence and is arguably what pushed us into a recession.

halojones-fan said...

My dad sells investments and insurance, and his attitude towards this past election was EXACTLY what Daniel Gross describes--outraged by the incompetence of the Bush-era Republican Party.

I can certainly understand that attitude--although I'll point out that financial policy is really not the purview of the Executive Branch. And, as I've said before, if you want to rage-vote then you don't just go out and vote Democratic, because that's not a neutral choice. There's no write-in box for "why you chose this candidate". Your vote will be seen as part of a popular mandate for everything that Obama has said up to this point, and as justification for everything he does over the next four years.

El Presidente said...

Wealth doesn't matter--

Power matters.

former law student said...

I mean the 1991-1993 recession, in which California lost 523,000 jobs.

ricpic said...

The only good greed is gummint greed!