[T]he issue is ... serious, and has nothing to do with whether one agrees with Henderson's assessment of his reality. Criticizing someone's views is one thing, reaching out and touching him is something else, as are deliberate attempts to damage his reputation based on false or misleading characterizations, which we all know takes place in the blogosphere.Touched him? Where? I have an anatomically correct blogger doll, and maybe you can point to the spot. What does it take to get something specific around here? Henderson's good-bye-to-all-you-mean-people post says "you should see the emails sent to me personally!" and my response is: Okay, show me! Don't just tell me about your feelings: Give me the concrete facts or I don't know what you're talking about. Electronic lynching. Come on. You went on the internet — and from a position of considerable power. You made a good argument, and you got a response, one that you had to know you'd get. All is normal on the web as far as I can see.
The reason I took the very unusual step of deleting them is because my wife, who did not approve of my original post and disagrees vehemently with my opinion, did not consent to the publication of personal details about our family.And there is the real problem. Henderson displayed very personal details about his family without asking his wife's permission. She has reason to be royally angry with him. I'm not going to ask to see a transcript of the dialogue the couple had about the blog post, but I'll bet it hurt a whole hell of a lot more than whatever is in those emails that we also haven't seen. Don't write about your family on the internet unless they consent. That is a basic responsibility that Henderson lost track of. To point to the vigorous pushback of political debate about taxing the most well-off citizens is to distract from that fundamental problem.
Now, I can read the mocking on other blogs. This ABA Journal piece sent me to Michael O'Hare and Brad DeLong. O'Hare digs into the numbers that Henderson himself provided:
Why a couple with a half-million dollars of debts decides it needs a million-dollar house in Chicago, where the Hyde Park average price "near their work" is a third of that, is not entirely clear....That is completely fair and astute comment. If O'Hare is wrong about Obama's taxes, he should be corrected. But I can see why Henderson can't fight with O'Hare: He'd have to have an endless public discussion of how he spends his money on himself and his family. It's humiliating and absurd, and his wife is pissed. (You want expensive? Try divorce.)
This leaves about $90,000, a lousy $245 a day, for food, clothes, vacations, cable TV, and like that...
So how does our third-of-a-million-a-year law prof/doctor couple and their three kids, barely scraping by already and falling before our eyes to the very bottom of the top 1% of US families by income, make out under Obama’s rapacious soak-the-rich commie attack on all that is holy and American and fine?...
His taxes will go down $3700... And this guy is threatening to fire the gardener and the house cleaner, take the kid out of art class, turn off his cell phones, and try to raise competent adults with only basic cable. Prof. Henderson, I’m ashamed to share my profession with you.
Professor Xxxx Xxxxxxxxx's problem is that he thinks that he ought to be able to pay off student loans, contribute to retirement savings vehicles, build equity, drive new cars, live in a big expensive house, send his children to private school, and still have plenty of cash at the end of the month for the $200 restaurant meals, the $1000 a night resort hotel rooms, and the $75,000 automobiles. And even half a million dollars a year cannot be you all of that.
But if he values the high-end consumption so much, why doesn't he rearrange his budget? Why not stop the retirement savings contributions, why not rent rather than buy, why not send the kids to public school? Then the disposable cash at the end of the month would flow like water. His problem is that some of these decisions would strike him as imprudent. And all of them would strike him as degradations--doctor-law professor couples ought to send their kids to private schools, and live in big houses, and contribute to their 401(k)s, and also still have lots of cash for splurges. That is the way things should be.
But why does he think that that is the way things should be?...
Is it pathetic that somebody with nine times the median household income thinks of himself as just another average Joe, just another "working American"? Yes. Do I find it embarrassing that somebody whose income is in the top 1% of American households thinks that he is not rich? Yes.Again, fair and deserved criticism. Henderson had to expect it, but he doesn't want to have to deal with it. He can't really. He just plain lost a fight. He hurt his cause. And I'm still not empathizing.