September 24, 2010

"The electronic lynch mob that has attacked and harassed me—you should see the emails sent to me personally!—has made my family feel threatened and insecure."

Cries U Chi lawprof Todd Henderson, whom I'm accused of being insufficiently empathetic toward. Ah! I love the smell of irony in the morning. A libertarian demands that the community coalesce and feel for the poor rich-but-not-that-rich man. Last night, I tweaked Professor Jacobson for babying Henderson, and this morning I see his update:
[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.

Henderson admits:
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....

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.
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.)

DeLong said:
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.

103 comments:

traditionalguy said...

I can empathize with a hard working family raising man that struggles to pay his bills and the taxes given out to free loaders galore who suck away his needed income for their nonsense. I have been their and done that for many years. The public schools are now trash dumps so if you love your children you have to pay half of your after tax income on Private Academy tuition. Evey thing that haqs been touched by our Criminal Politician Class has been trashed. And now they want to trash the remaining middle class ASAP. This is a war. The current government's apparatchicks are the enemy soldiers trying to exterminate our way of life. We should ship them all down to Cuba so that they can enjoy the system that bthey bare designing for us.

Scrutineer said...

...Cries U Chi lawprof Todd Henderson, whom I'm accused of being insufficiently empathetic toward.

Sympathy would do.

MadisonMan said...

Not all Public schools are trash dumps. You have to choose where you live, however. What you choose to do -- there are consequences to those choices.

traditionalguy said...

Sorry for not spell checking my last comment in a moment of sincere anger. When do they hold the next election?

Ann Althouse said...

@traditionalguy We're being asked to empathize with a man whose opinion, written on the web, was attacked, in writing, by people who disagreed with it because of the meanness of the way they criticized him and how much that hurt his feelings.

The way empathy plays out in tax policy analysis is an entirely different matter.

1jpb said...

Technically, it is probably true that the BHO plan would result in a net tax cut for this guy, compared to existing law.

Existing law has his taxes going up to pre-W rates for his income under 250M, but BHO's plan is to bring that number down to the current rate. So, this guy will get a technical tax cut (when compared to what will happen sans the BHO tax plan) for every dollar he's making below $250M. And, really, the first target for blame regarding the 4% (or so) tax increase that he'll experience for the dollars above $250M should be the Rs who crafted this policy that required gimmickry to hide it's long term fiscal consequences.

There may be some other explanation (e.g. added deduction?) for the $3,700 number.

george said...

A lot of us small business guys work our entire lives to have a payday like this family brings home every year. When taxes go up they take from everything we have built with the hopes of having a nice payday in the end when we sell the business or when we finally have that banner year.

When you remove the payday you remove the incentive to create the hundreds of jobs a business like mine creates over the decades.

It doesn't really matter now with Obamacare enacted. We are all getting out anyway since there will be no way to make money anymore. But it would have been nice if the country could have remained free for just a few more years before tumbling down the socialist rabbit hole.

Also, I don't think this guy's wife is worth much. When your family is under attack you pull together. If she made a mistake and walked down a dangerous street and got mugged it would be callous for him to berate her for her poor judgment. The same applies in reverse. He is the victim here and the people threatening him are the criminals. She needs to realize that and act accordingly.

The two of them need to sack up and present a united front and push back instead of acting like a couple of whiny academics. Had the country been founded by people with as little gumption as these two it would still be uninhabited from sea to shining sea.

T J Sawyer said...

A big problem for people in the top 1% of anything:

income earners

blog page hits

hoop shooters

is their firm belief that they are just like everyone else! So everyone must think like they do.

slarrow said...

Again, I never read his piece as asking for sympathy. He wasn't listing his expenses and assets to ask for advice on how he could cut back. I'm sure he knows that he could make different choices to save money if the president targeted his class to draw more money out of.

But two things: first of all, why the hell should he? Why should he change his life because the government wants more of his money? And where do people get off telling him how he should live his life because they want more of his money (which is what people advocating tax hikes on the rich are really doing)?

Second point: to my view, he did it in the first place to personalize an anonymous class. But he wasn't prepared for the onslaught in public, and he didn't get his wife on board, so he got what he deserved, sniffs a tough-as-nails Althouse. Fine. So I want the next person with the guts to share like this to finish with, "and screw all you envious bastards who don't like it. You want to declare war on the rich, then we get to declare war on you." Because, of course, that's oh-so-better for the country. But at least it's not asking for empathy.

traditionalguy said...

Mad man...You are onto a small truth, that the Public Schools in distant communities outside Metropolitan areas that are Parent policed Charter Schools do a fine job. But to hell with the rest of the schmucks, I suppose. And the Dems are coming for the Charter schools.

Pogo said...

Obama sez I drink your milkshake!

Get used to it law professor with doctor wife and preemie kid.

You ain't rich and you're not gonna be rich.

You're a cow to be milked. So moo already godammit, and show us those teats.

AllenS said...

Lawprof Todd Henderson should have deleted the comments that he didn't like.

Thomas said...

Fair and astute comment? Are you reading the same posts from O'Hare and DeLong that I read? Because the ones I read simply made up "facts" about Henderson and then used those to attack him. From O'Hare we get a massive increase in income, and then an imaginary budget. And then DeLong invents some political opinions to go along with O'Hare's fictional budget. What's fair and astute about lying? Are you saying that if you tell people something about yourself that relates to a controverted public policy, you should expect academics commenting on it to lie about your personal life in response? Maybe I'll buy that--I have a low opinion of most academics too. But that still doesn't get us to "fair and astute."

Ann Althouse said...

"Again, I never read his piece as asking for sympathy."

It's Jacobson and Instapundit who asked us to rally around him in sympathy. That's the main thing I'm reacting to.

But Henderson does assert that he and his family felt "threatened and insecure," which implicitly requests sympathy -- or perhaps only tolerance for his deletion of a post. Henderson also says we should see the emails but doesn't show them. So we're asked to imagine them. We're being drawn into something. Why?

GMay said...

Strong response Professor. Spot on.

I despise whining at all levels - from my 10 year old to couples who bring in that much money and complain about it. I'm currently in a decent apartment supporting a family of 4 on <22k a year. While I'm trying to improve that situation, I'm thankful for what I have and have no complaints. And this guy's panties are in a wad because he received some unkind e-mails to boot???

Do I think the guy deserves a tax increase? Nope. A perspective check? Hell yes.

traditionalguy said...

OK, Professor. I agree with you that the guy's surprise at being just mildly slimed is not an empathizable category. You of all people are entitled to say that. But his giving witness of his financial reality was a bold free speech that was a needed add on to what has been an unreal debate. He will just have to man-up. I empathize with him anyway.

Thomas said...

ijbp, the reason O'Hare says there would be a tax cut for the Hendersons as a result of the Obama tax increase is that the tax calculator he was using assumed that only under the Obama proposal would we have a AMT fix. You know, because Congress hasn't ever passed an AMT fix before. Except for every other year, I mean. It's just a software bug, which TPC (the provider of the software) has admitted and which they are apparently going to address. O'Hare was informed of this, and declined to correct his post. "Fair and astute" commentary doesn't have to be accurate.

Bryan C said...

Fine, so maybe he miscalculated his potential tax burden. Maybe he's using Tim Geithner's copy of Turbo Tax. Or maybe his critics are assuming too much from his capsule summary of his finances.

What really bugs me about these responses is the implication that he's somehow betrayed his country by wanting to keep his own money. I don't care if he buys new diamond-studded horseshoes for his polo ponies every other Thursday. It's his money, and even the most extravagant spending habits are not a justification for taking away one penny and giving it to the government instead. The only "whining" I hear is from folks who think they're entitled to spend your income for you.

Pogo said...

GMAy, I don't get it.
Is there some income level above which one should not bitch about taxes?

Big Mike said...

Henderson had to expect it ...

I don't think he did. It's the cocoon effect. As GMay says, the guy needs a perspective check.

Allison W. said...

The issue is less that Henderson posted private family information (not a good thing to do), but rather that she [the wife] "disagrees vehemently with my opinion."

traditionalguy said...

Gmay...The Cultural revolution was Mao's attempt to reach the same goals that you expressed at 9:39. The idea of justice somehow requiring government police to smash those better off than you is the original slippery slope. Castro in Cuba has a similar plan available to you there. He has perfected it, and it is a disaster, as it always will be.

Fred4Pres said...

Liberals feeding frenzies are scary to behold.

Goju said...

Prof Hendersen was pretty clear he had to complaints with those who disagreed with him based on his position of tax policy. His issue was with the attacks on his person, employment and family. I, too, would like to see the emails to verify the claims. Not because I don't believe him - but its always better to hace actual proof when possible.

Ann, part of your response seems to be that ...what the hell do you expect when blogging... While vicious personal attacks may be expected - are you suggesting we simply accecpt them?

Lem said...

Quentin Crisp said...

Keeping up with the Joneses was a full-time job with my mother and father. It was not until many years later when I lived alone that I realized how much cheaper it was to drag the Joneses down to my level.

If you cant keep up with the Joneses don't be surprised when people don't just give you their empathy.

slarrow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex said...

He doeth protest too much.

slarrow said...

Why in the world would Henderson mention he's got terrible e-mails and that he feels threatened and insecure? Well, perhaps because that's true, and he's giving reasons about why he's not going to blog anymore. Why wouldn't he share them with us? Well, perhaps because he's made the judgment that, to put it crudely, "talking to you people isn't worth all this crap." If that's the case, no reason to prolong the exit.

Couple of ways to respond to this. One is "good riddance, pansy." Another is, "why are we letting the crapweasels run the mild-mannered out of public discourse?" I see which one you've chosen.

Jim_J said...

Perhaps Henderson should just publicly speculate about bringing a defamation suit against those who are now attacking him:

"If I were to bring a defamation suit based on Ezra Klein's lie "Ann Althouse sure has a lot of anti-semitic commenters," I would seek access to the Journolist archive, and I believe I would get it. There is no privilege that would shield this information from discovery. Lawyers, argue with me if you think I'm wrong."

AllenS said...

Goju said...
While vicious personal attacks may be expected - are you suggesting we simply accecpt them?

No, if the blog owner doesn't like a comment, you can just delete it. If a commenter bothers you, you can then ban them and if they persist you threaten to sue them. This is a policy that Henderson didn't use.

Michael said...

The comments on this guy's original posting were disturbing if not expected. Most were pissed that he had what they had not and then was whining about the prospect of paying more taxes.

But the thrust of his whine was that $250,000 did not put him into the "rich" category either in terms of what he possessed or his level of security. Had he not descended into the silliness of having to dump his gardener and his cell phones and cable his point might have stuck.

The comments are worth a read to get a sense of the envy that animates many.

The Crack Emcee said...

I recently cut a deal with a man who makes $200,000 a month.

I shook his hand in congratulations for his success.

Leftists (on the web) will attack you for anything - believe me:

I know.

GMay said...

Pogo asked: "Is there some income level above which one should not bitch about taxes?"

Nope. Never said there was. The guy said he doesn't think he's rich and that his misery is compounded by some strongly worded e-mails. He needs a perspective check.

But he can bitch about taxes till the cows come home for all I care.

Almost Ali said...

Cross-post, edited:

Prof. Henderson [also] caught hell from his wife, which seems to be the main reason he's backed out. And I don't blame him.

Still, I'm wondering and worrying about his postpartum wife, and the appearance of her great expectations.

GMay said...

tradguy warned: "The Cultural revolution was Mao's attempt to reach the same goals that you expressed at 9:39."

Oh shut the fuck up or spare the hyperbole. Or both.

Big Mike said...

The thought crosses my mind that perhaps Henderson could have sent his kids to public schools, if only some guy named Obama hadn't wasted the millions of dollars provided by the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, not to mention having someone more competent than Arne Duncan as Chief Executive Officer (his actual title -- whatever happened to "superintendent"?) of the Chicago Public Schools.

Allison said...

I think two different ideas got wedged together, even if you ignore the specifics of posting without his wife/family agreeing.

It is perfectly reasonable to say "I make $500k and pay over $200k in taxes to the FEDS and STATE. That's TOO DAMN MUCH." It certainly is a reasonable starting point for arguing that the progressivity is bad for families and for society. When my family makes $100k and pays less than 13k in fed and state income taxes, and they pay over 200k, there's precious little incentive to work that hard at all, to have dual incomes, to create capital, start businesses, etc.

I can certainly have sympathy and empathy for someone who can't believe how little they get for earning 500k, especially when they see what percentage they bring home.

But instead, he didn't talk about his taxes as a percentage of his income--he talked about his spending. Everyone critiques other people's spending values. I don't think these are valid or invalid critiques, because as long as you aren't asking for a handout, where's the moral problem? There isn't one.

but he shot himself in the foot by making that the issue--my giving people the opportunity to critique his spending. If he had stuck with "regardless of my money priorities, I should get to keep more of what I make" I think the conversation could have been fruitful.

holdfast said...

I hope there are lots of high school and college kids who are reading this, along with some similar threads on Megan McArdle's site and others, and drawing the correct conclusion:

DO NOT BECOME A HIGHLY CREDENTIALED PROCESSIONAL. DO NOT SPEND AN ASSLOAD OF MONEY TO BECOME A DOCTOR, LAWYER, ACCOUNTANT, ETC.

Either become an I-Banker, a coke-head movie star or a gold-digger, and make a sh*t-pot of money or just stay a working stiff in a job where you can do a lot of work off the books and untaxed. Anything in the middle - the so-called upper middle class- is a mug's game. You'll have to "defer your gratification" during a decade of school, only to find out the government has a more pressing need for it.

Maguro said...

What are all these liberal douchebags upset about? This guy's whining isn't any worse than Michelle Obama's. Go send FLOTUS some threatening emails, cocksuckers, and see what happens after that.

Goju said...

Allen, my impression (which may be incorrect) was that the emails and posts were not restricted to those sent to his Blog. It appears there were numerous emails/comments sent to/blogged on other sites.

Again, more details would be appreciated.

MayBee said...

But the thrust of his whine was that $250,000 did not put him into the "rich" category either in terms of what he possessed or his level of security. Had he not descended into the silliness of having to dump his gardener and his cell phones and cable his point might have stuck.

His commenters wanted him to live the life they are living. Have the same size house, the same public school, the same lawnmower, the same kind of car. How dare he not be willing to give that up for them?
They didn't like the idea that someone with more money might spend it on himself. They want it spent on them.

We don't empathize with him, they said. We just want his money.

He made his choices, they said. All those people who had also made choices.

And one of the choices they made was to get nasty about it, and that's ok. Nobody expects anything from that group of people anyway. They don't owe anybody anything. They are owed.

AllenS said...

Goju,

My last comment was directed at Althouse, who deleted one of my comments on this thread.

KLDAVIS said...

Dan Ellis (Tampa Bay Lightning Goalie, $1.5M/yr salary) just got run off of Twitter for complaining about money problems...his main gripe was the 18% "escrow" that the league takes up front and only pays back to players if certain profitability levels are obtained by the various franchises. The vitriol was intense.

The reaction to people who speak this truth, "I deserve what I earn more than you or anyone else deserves it," is profoundly illuminating.

Shanna said...

I'm not sure if it's true, but it sounded like he got threats. For giving his opinion, yes that is too far. Now if all he got was advice/rudeness, well thems the breaks. And I dont' blame his wife for not wanting their personal info out there.

However, some of his information, and the suggestions/replys on the finance part of it sound a whole lot like another board I go to about finance so I'm not too sympathetic on that point.

Hagar said...

This law professor may be a horse's rear end, and Althouse presumably knows more about being a law prof at a prestige University than I do, but I do think that all this hoorawing from the Administration and the MSM about the over- and under $250,000 as a magic line separating "the rich" and "the great American middle class" is a lot of hooey.

For the record, though I thought I have at least done OK in life, I apparently never even made up into this "middle class" the way these clowns are talking, but must be one of the downtrodden "poor" that Mr. Obama says he wants to help so badly.

Anyway, my point was going to be that an income of $250,000 per annum might be a lot of money for a family in one situation, but not so much for one in a different place and line of work. Its a phony line.

At that, and speaking of Chicago professors, why not ask Bill and Bernardine Ayers? Their combined salaries are well above $250,000, not to metion income from their books and speaking engagements.

J said...

deliberate attempts to damage his reputation based on false or misleading characterizations

Henderson's a Uni. of Chicago law professor: prima facie, that's evidence of his swineish, bourgeois-capitalist nature. TO the tumbrils!

MayBee said...

Barack Obama's best friend still works at UC Hospital. I can imagine "feeling threatened" was not only due to what was going on in the internet world.

Medical Center Officers
ERIC E. WHITAKER, M.D., M.P.H.
Executive Vice President for Strategic
Affiliations and Associate Dean for
Community-Based Research

Bruce Hayden said...

At that, and speaking of Chicago professors, why not ask Bill and Bernardine Ayers? Their combined salaries are well above $250,000, not to metion income from their books and speaking engagements.

If I remember right, there is, or at least was, some family money there, which is why at least he didn't do any jail time. And, yes, why he was so involved in the revolution.

AJ Lynch said...

Our cultural divide goes like this:

Some of us go to college, go to grad school, get a prof license, pay our own college costs, our own day care, select to invest in private schools for our kids, pay our mortgages, pay our taxes and save for our future.

Others choose to stop at a high school diploma level. Many of them depend on the govt to provide them with all the things they can't afford.

Liberals like Brad Delong choose to defend the latter group as deserving to be subsidized by the govt so they can have many of the extras the first group had to work hard to achieve.

Big Mike said...

Either become an I-Banker, a coke-head movie star or a gold-digger, and make a sh*t-pot of money or just stay a working stiff in a job where you can do a lot of work off the books and untaxed.

Or figure out how to run fast holding a football under your arm.

AJ Lynch said...

Bruce:
Bill Ayers' father was president of the electric company in Chicago. So you are correct in assuming he had big bucks.

Bruce Hayden said...

I see both sides of this quite well. On the one hand, I think that it is very hard to define fair in such a way that would lead to such a highly progressive income tax rate, with a very large minority not paying any federal income taxes, and people like this, with legitimate after-tax desires, and 45 or so combined years of education between them, paying such a large chunk of their income. After all, are they really getting all that more from the government that they are supporting than those paying nothing?

On the other hand, I don't think that it is good for most people not to feel some real need in their life. Not to at least have to make the choices that this family does.

I made a similar education choice that they made for their kids, and as a result, knew double doctor families that were prioritizing like this couple were, but doing so without as much complaint, but also families with so much money that money was never an issue, at least as the kids saw. And the kids tended to not come out as well. (And, yes, I know kids whose parents were filthy rich, but didn't pamper their kids, and they tended to turn out just fine).

Maybe it is part of my Puritan heritage, but life is not meant to be all roses. Some struggle through life is good for the soul. BUT, I think that they are paying way to much in taxes already.

aronamos said...

Here's my deal: Married couple, last kid finally graduated and on her own, now planning to save like crazy for retirement so they can travel. Husband makes about 150K, wife 120K. Obama will tax them at the top bracket because they're "rich." Funny, they don't feel rich. Funnier still, they are considering divorcing, because Obama rules will implement the higher tax on INDIVIDUALS making over 200K, but COUPLES making over 250.

AJ Lynch said...

Liberals like Brad Delong can never tell you when enough is enough in terms of govt largesse. Free day care, subsidized public housing, spending $15,000 or more per student in many public school districts, covering your 'children' til age 26 on your health insurance, Pell grants, food stamps, free cell phones, mortgage assistance programs. The social programs and cost to the taxpayers are almost never ending. Many of the taxeaters are overdue for a rude awakening IMO.

wv = spletem = and I just did

slarrow said...

Bruce Hayden: I agree about the importance of adversity in life. Indeed, I think many of us (myself included) have children whose environment has been so tamed that we need to introduce adversity into their lives, both for the general good it does and as a hedge against things going downhill in the next decade or two.

That said, how fair is it for people to look at a family from the outside and declare, "You have too much. You deserve more adversity. We will inflict it on you through tax policy. And it's okay, because you're not really people, you're The Rich, and we want your stuff anyway"? Baldly stated, that's a pretty ugly attitude. Yet people take it all the time and count themselves noble for doing so. It's a funny old world.

slarrow said...

Indeed, here's the attitude among many.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Funnier still, they are considering divorcing, because Obama rules will implement the higher tax on INDIVIDUALS making over 200K, but COUPLES making over 250

Funny in a very sad and ironic way.

Divorce for upper end earners is actually a good financial plan. Expect to see more of it.

William said...

The difference between pride and arrogance is that a proud man asks for what he deserves and an arrogant man asks for what he does not deserve. As a general rule, those with the most lively sense of entitlement also have the most lively sense of grievance....There are no social or cultural restraints on the criticism of upper middle class WASPs. My guess is that he attracted more vitriol from respectable people than the founders of the WTC mosque.

downtownlad said...

Good post.

I'm in the top 1% of income and I consider myself rich, although I don't act much differently than I did when I made less money. Besides living in a more expensive place and a nice meal once every two weeks or so. For vacations, I do both the nice hotel thing and the $30 a night motel - more to suit the budget of whoever I am traveling with. I think that's true of a lot of rich people. I think that most people that flaunt their money actually don't have that much saved up - as they are too busy spending it. To each his own.

I will also add that I don't feel rich, as I know a tremendous amount of people who are making many multiples of what I make. So Brad Delong's post speaks the truth to me. But just because I don't feel rich, I still KNOW I am rich.

Anyway, I will also add that I'm not concerned about the tax hike next year in the least. It's miniscule. And we all have to sacrifice to help the economy. And I won't change my spending habits at all as a result of the tax hike, I'll just save a little less. With my home already paid off and no kids - it is not like I need the savings desperately anyway - more for a rainy day in case I get laid off and ultimately for retirement. And I'm already paying AMT, so even the tax hike won't be as much as it looks like if you just compare the headline tax rates.

But when the Republicans win their election and cut Medicare and Social Security for old people, just so I can keep me low tax rate - well I will have to take a very expensive vacation, have a very expensive meal, and with a very expensive bottle of wine - give a toast to Sarah Palin.

Roger Sweeny said...

Of course, one reason he thinks he deserves lots of money is that he spent 19 years in school and his wife spent 20.

Many people think the simple act of going to school and passing courses entitles them to a comfortable existence--and the more courses passed the more comfortable the existence.

downtownlad said...

Aranamos - Your example of the couple making a combined $270K is silly. Are you telling me that they have ZERO deductions? Not mortgage deduction? No state income tax? No charitable deductions? Heck - you can even deduct yourself.

After deductions, they will easily be under $250K and therefore no tax hike. In fact, the Bush tax hikes are due to expire - so they are actually getting a tax cut - since Obama will re-lower tax hikes for everyone making less than $250K.

But even if someone's income after deductions is $270K, they'll only be paying 3% more on anything above $250K (33% rate going to 36%). Or a whopping $600 more. Less than $2 a day more.

Boo hoo.

Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)
is that he spent 19 years in school and his wife spent 20.

Many people think the simple act of going to school and passing courses entitles them to a comfortable existence--and the more courses passed the more comfortable the existence.

I agree, especially about the wife, I mean she only had to have great HS grades, great college grades, great MCAT scores, then labour for 4 years in Medical school, be an intern and then a resident…I mean who does she think she is? All she did was take a lot of courses an’ stuff…shoot anywun coudda dun it…Please tell me you were being sarcastic, and trolling and that I just swallowed the bait whole. Please, please tell me that….because otherwise that was one of the silliest things posted, here, today.

Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)
since Obama will re-lower tax hikes for everyone making less than $250K.
Oh yeah, that’s going to happen. Of course not before Election Day, and then once they’ve been drubbed at the polls, why would Obama and the Democrats enact this in the Lame Duck Session? Dood/Doodette tell stories small enough you’ll believe them.

MayBee said...

With my home already paid off and no kids - it is not like I need the savings desperately anyway -

That's a big difference. Your money is all for you. Which is great.

But kids add a whole different dimension to your focus. You look down the road and you know you'll have to pay for college (and none of it will be tax deductible), you have to make sure they're taken care of if something happens to you, you know you'll be paying for their auto insurance, their activities, their medical expenses.

Kids are expensive, and the natural instinct is to want to take care of your own children more than you want to see your money go toward helping the government produce 55 jobs with millions of dollars in LA.

Ann Althouse said...

"I'm not sure if it's true, but it sounded like he got threats."

I think when a lawprof uses the locution it "made my family feel threatened" that means that it was not actually a threat. If it were a real threat, I think he'd have said that directly.

Alex said...

Brad DeLong is a Commie, 'nuff said.

downtownlad said...

I make way more money than my brother. His wife is a part-time teacher. They make way less than $250K a year.

My brother has two kids in grade school.

Anyway - my brother has paid off his mortgage several years ago and he is saving up for their education. He has a nice house in a good neighborhood and sends his kids to a very well rated public schools. He takes two vacations a year with them - to Disney World, etc.

And he's way under the threshold of what Obama considers rich.

The point is that he's not living an extravagant lifestyle. And by doing that - he's actually quite comfortable financial wise. But he is still living very comfortably.

I'm sorry - but for anyone to say that they are making over a $250K a year and are struggling to make ends meet - that is just a joke. (OK - maybe Octomom gets a pass). And yes - they are just asking to be made fun of.

And this guy is making $450K a year.

I'm rich and I can't afford a yacht. I can't afford a second house in the South of France. I can't afford $2000 bottles of wine with all of my meals. I'm sooooooo poor!

AJ Lynch said...

Maybe he is not a commie. But Delong certainly advocates we allow the govt to choose who is a winner vs who is a loser in a country with 300 million people.

MayBee said...

And this guy is making $450K a year.

Where does this come from? He never said it.

MayBee said...

The point is that he's not living an extravagant lifestyle. And by doing that - he's actually quite comfortable financial wise. But he is still living very comfortably.

So your point is....anybody living a more extravagant lifestyle than your brother should be happy to see the government take yet more of their money?

c3 said...

Now children, lets calm down and stop fighting.

You know, if you play in the public sandbox, someone is bound to get hurt.

traditionalguy said...

It seems to be Crab Bucket Day at Althouse. No single crab should try to climb out of the bucket because when he tries the others will pull him back down. The best money that I ever spent was on a private school for my son. The attitudes and the life skills he recieved there were immense. And when he went to college, the tuition costs went down. Now my son wants to do the same for his children. But Obama and a cadre of political thieves are stealing that priviledge from him. The economy is now in a depression. Obama and Pelosi's remedy is supposed to be huge income tax increases plus huge Energy Taxes to shut down the remaining American industrial output. Wake up out there and quit being crabs in a bucket!

rcocean said...

It must be tough making only $250,000 in Chicago, especially as a law prof - a tough dirty job, that creates jobs for all, and keeps the economy going.

How does one do it? The Servant problem alone must be horrendous.

HDHouse said...

There are points to be made at times in your life. This was not the time nor the apropos point.

When the vainglorious 2% piss up a storm about "just workin' folk", I'm not sure they fully understand how upsetting that is to the rest of us.

no one should every resort to threatening..that isn't good every, but with the "tax stuff" in full bloom..well he should have seen it coming.

Ari Tai said...

I think thing this is all a plot to distract us from Ms. O saying much the same thing before the election - about how hard it is to make ends meet when you're trying to stay up with the in crowd. :-)

I'm sympathetic to a complaint that "I can't plan if I can't make conservative straight line projections." If salaries aren't increasing because regulation is syphoning off an incremental 1 or 2% every year of a good business’s generally increasing revenue stream, then there's no money for higher salaries (and since Congress is currently spending 10B$ a day and directing the spending of another 10B$ a day there's little hope middle class salaries will ever recover, all their efforts increasing productivity are being consumed by regulation, “pre-made” purchasing decisions made for consumers – I hope we value our betters being so helpful).

So now someone who hasn't seen salaries increase has what was a comfortable budget get tight, through no action of his own, other than those he elected deciding they know better. Yep, that's worth a blog post explaining that (even the arguably rich) are feeling the pain, and ignore them as a voting block at your peril. And of course, heat meet kitchen.

I favor something much more radical. I think it's time for the federal government (and most of the state governments) to remove themselves from all things domestic (declare the Left has won and we no longer need any central authority to tell local communities what to do, or insolate them from the consequences of their decisions). So I wish the 'pubs pledge read more like this:

http://pajamasmedia.com/victordavishanson/obama-made-us-do-it/#comment-56306

Well, I can dream. George Washington gave back the crown, what are the odds the city named in his honor will do the same? Small and nil since it really is all about power. And there are no George Washington-s in sight – yet.

Shane said...

You're absolutely right Ann - let's get the government to take all his money and show him how it' supposed to be spent!

Hang the rich!

Sixty Grit said...

hdidiot wrote "no one should every resort to threatening..that isn't good every"

What? Even for you, hdh, that is some illiterate shit. You do know that there are three periods in an ellipsis, right, just like in a hockey game. You know hockey right? Y*nkee flat ball. You are one stupid motherfucker, but you are wrong on every subject.

WV: floom - the stench of feculence that surrounds hdhouse is like unto a floom.

Cedarford said...

I've always thought that the fair thing would be to structure taxes so that you subtract necessities, have certain deductions like kids in there....then have the taxes set so that each person doesn't pay the same taxes but has each dollar they get have the same percentage of disposable income left. Or, disposable at least before state and local taxes...then you get the part of each dollar you make that is truly yours to spend as you want.

Meaning after necessities - base rent, base food, basic utilities (NOT HBO) - the percentage of pre state and local tax disposable income left for a gal making 39K a year is the same percent of disposable income left as some 500K a year couple that pay FICA off in April.

A tax code that had that as the end result would be a good one. Fair. Everyone has the same deal after bare necessities are paid for.
And of course it could only work on the Fed level with state and local taxes coming out of "disposable" income because both vary so much across the country. And of course people could argue food costs more in Hawaii and rent & electricity more in NYC...but that would be a slight flaw.

Far better than the 15% Flat Tax and other measures the very rich want that would rape the rest of the country by giving the rich a far greater percentage of each dollar as theirs to spend....Or the liberals thing that everything the lower middle class and poor want should be untaxed and free to them...including scads more government entitlements, programs, and helpful bureaucrats

Sixty Grit said...

Shorter C-fudd - from each according to their ability, etc.

Thomas said...

If someone emailed Henderson to say, you scumsucking maggott, we know what to do with your kind. I see your type ever day here in Hyde Park and you make me sick. Hope you and your disgusting kids enjoy the walk to school tomorrow, that's not a threat. And though it may make Henderson feel threatened, the fact that it's not a threat is what we should focus on.

rcocean said...

New definition of 'destroying the rich'
Increasing the top tax rate from 36% to 39%

When did the RICH become such whiny little crybabies? I know that Big Bad Tax increase means Caviar only twice a week - but man up.

downtownlad said...

Did you even read Henderson's piece. It reads as "boo hoo. woe is me. I am only making $450,000 a year and I can barely make ends meet. If they raise my taxes by a couple of thousand dollars a year, I will have to stop all of my spending and fire my gardner, etc."

He sounds like a whiny, spoiled brat.

If he wants to make an argument that his taxes shouldn't go up - it's very simple - say "It's my money and not the governments, end of story."

But no - that doesn't fit in with the Republican talking points - which is that tax hikes on the rich will destroy the economy.

So he wrote this pathetic post instead. And rightly gets blasted for it.

MayBee said...

I am only making $450,000

Yes, I read it. He said only that he made not much over the $250,000. I have no idea where the $450,000 came from, except that it has been used by his critics.

Synova said...

"Not all Public schools are trash dumps. You have to choose where you live, however. What you choose to do -- there are consequences to those choices."

And you can't just unmake them.

You can't just decide to live in a smaller house or rent now because you made a mistake.

It is no more legitimate to fret at Henderson for buying the nice home in the historic neighborhood instead of the "starter" home or renting, than it is to fret at the blue collar dude who get's a double wide instead of a single wide or even that instead of renting and finds that he's $50 short every month. EVERYONE can live down a little bit more than they do.

And you can't give your kids back if they turn out to be expensive or you lose your job or the economy tanks. And you can't just move somewhere with decent public schools just because you decide you want to.

David said...

If Professor Henderson values consumption so much, he should go where the real dollars are--big law firm partner. The partners at Sidley, Kirkland and numerous other firms in Chicago are still raking it in. He's probably just as smart as these guys and gals, though a tad short on judgment perhaps.

So give up the tenure, and go knocking on some doors. Someone might hire you. Then all you have to do is develop or sustain millions of dollars worth of business a year in a cutthroat environment for the rest of your life.

And remember: no tenure.

rcocean said...

If he wants to make an argument that his taxes shouldn't go up - it's very simple - say "It's my money and not the governments, end of story."

The problem is his money *is* the governments, since he and his wife get their salary from the State of Illinois.

One of the dirty little secrets is that a lot Taxpayer money goes to the rich.

Synova said...

"The way empathy plays out in tax policy analysis is an entirely different matter."

Is it?

If a person sympathizes with Henderson's financial situation, or sympathizes with the fallout from him talking about it or *not*... is it really separate from policy discussions?

I don't think it is.

Because policy discussions may well rest on just how justified people feel in demonizing the upwardly mobile and "wealthy" middle class.

Does Henderson really OWE us? Does he owe us more than the significant amount of taxes he's already paying? Is he supposed to live in a smaller house, chose not to have children, do his own lawn care and cleaning, and put himself in debt (and his wife as well) in order to make the "big bucks" for the purpose of being a good citizen and paying his "fair share" of taxes?

Really?

I do think that the extreme hostility directed at him is far more important than his reaction to it or failure to anticipate it.

(I'm also not at *all* certain that he is the only one who caught fall-out at work or received threats.)

Allison W. said...

I continue to think that there is something not quite right about this story. Don't get me wrong, I support the substance of Henderson's original post 100% and am appalled but not surprised by the brown shirt response.

Still, I was struck by several statements from Henderson:

"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."

"You have caused untold damage to me personally."

"This episode has had a profoundly negative impact on me."

"I cannot begin to undo the problems this has caused."

". . . and the consequences are devastating for me personally."

"I am sad to leave, but my family has to come first, and my blogging has caused them incalculable damage."

I guess I'm wondering if there isn't a relationship between the first quotation and the others that follow?

MayBee said...

The problem is his money *is* the governments, since he and his wife get their salary from the State of Illinois.

The University of Chicago is a private university.

rcocean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rcocean said...

"The University of Chicago is a private university".

71 percent of the undergrads received state/Federal aid - Further the U of C received $356 million in government grants/contracts. Not mention that donations to the college are tax deductible and U of C's investment revenue is tax exempt.

He's NOT part of the free market.

AST said...

I was on his side until I realized that he had just quit blogging, not lost his job.

I do agree that one shouldn't have to put up with threats of violence to himself or his family or attempts to get him fired. That's why a lot of bloggers don't use their real names. Right, "Ann?" (Wink, wink)

wv: weban - an official order prohibiting specified material from being posted on the internet.

Roger Sweeny said...

Joe,

We both agree that it is very difficult to become a doctor. It takes a lot of effort and a lot of time.

But I don't see why that means doctors deserve to make a lot of money. If people could go to med school straight from high school, would doctors deserve a major pay cut?

Roger Sweeny said...

It takes almost as much time (and for some people as much effort) to get a PhD as to get an MD. Does that mean they both should make the same amount of money?

holdfast said...

Depends on the Phd - Pharma research or applied physics, maybe.

Phd in 18th century gay Chinese midget literature, not so much.

Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)
But I don't see why that means doctors deserve to make a lot of money. If people could go to med school straight from high school, would doctors deserve a major pay cut?

Roger if you aren’t trolling, you are an idiot. You only have to take advanced chemistry, math, and biology in college. And then pass four years of grueling medical school.

I guess if people could go from high school to a PhD in Electrical Engineering, they’d have been a genius, because it can’t be done otherwise! So too Medical School…what are you really that stupid?

jamboree said...

@AJ Lynch: Not really. Not until the entire country could reach grad school and be guaranteed an upper middle class/low rich job - and we don't have that kind of economy. Nobody does. Until then there will always be a lowest - somebody has to do the shit work - and a way of separating them. The question is what will be the lower limit.

Personal initiative is fine and dandy, but it's largely a game of musical chairs when looked at from the larger perspective.

If you go to African countries with rich western aid workers everywhere -you will find native Phds driving them around - because it pays more. Their economies can't support their education.

Anglelyne said...

Pogo: Is there some income level above which one should not bitch about taxes?

No.

But there's also no level above or below which undertaking a million dollar house mortgage and presenting it as a noble selfless "investment in the community" doesn't invite and deserve the almighty school-yard thrashing that Henderson received.

From all the libertarian warm-fuzzies the guy is getting you'd think he'd said something utterly innocuous like: "Yes, we earn a fine income and it's our bloody business if we want to put it into houses, cars, servants, and private schools for our children. And socialist dirtbags who want even more of our hard-earned money for their punitive redistribution projects can stuff it."

But he didn't. Instead, he produced a smelly yuppie whinge that managed to be both groveling ("see, here's why I personally deserve not to be taxed out the wazoo") and greasily self-flattering.

Synova: Because policy discussions may well rest on just how justified people feel in demonizing the upwardly mobile and "wealthy" middle class.

So it's a arguably a bad idea to encourage that sort of attitude among voters who go with their resentments rather than reason and principle. Note to Henderson: successful people will always be to some degree demonized by the less-successful envious and their politcal enablers. No need to take the trouble to self-demonize.

Does Henderson really OWE us?

I'd bet that the ratio of Americans who think Henderson OWES them, to Americans who would just think he's a sniveling douchebag if they'd ever heard of him, is pretty small.

nobody said...

As with the Shirley Sherrod situation, I do not like seeing people publicly vilified like this. Though I certainly think he was wrong to disclose personal information without his wife's approval, that doesn't have anything to do with how he's being attacked.

I don't know what his situation is and maybe Hyde Park has not witnessed a decline in housing prices on the scale of parts of the country like the one I live in, but there are tens of millions of people out there who did not anticipate the collapse in housing prices and are now underwater. Saying that somebody should just go rent is not so simple.

Second, this family's net worth is negative and they have hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. What if the wife decides she wants to devote herself to nonprofit work? She does not have that freedom. I am impoverished but my net worth is not nearly as low as theirs and from what I can tell it will be a good long while before their net worth rises to zero.

And if your kids have already started in a school, there can be some very strong arguments against the idea of cutting family spending by switching to private schools. What if a child has difficulty forming social attachments? For some kids, pulling them out of a school and putting them in another one can be pretty traumatic.

You are rich if you can afford not to work. These people are not rich. They are middle class.

It's not 90% against a rich 10%, nor is it 99% against 1%. It's more like 0.5% or maybe 0.3% against the rest of us, a group that includes probably everybody commenting here. Divide and conquer never gets old.

BTW there is a bit in Bobos in Paradise (David Brooks) about an imaginary couple of professors at the U of C who make more than $200K a year but also have basically no disposable income after the mortgage, the private schooling, and the basic expenses. Same story.

Roger Sweeny said...

Joe,

Let us assume that it takes 20 years of hard work to get an M.D. Let us also assume it takes 20 years of hard work to get holdfast's "Phd in 18th century gay Chinese midget literature."

I do not see why that morally entitles either of them to make a lot of money.

Perhaps you can tell me why I am idiotic to think that.

Shalom Patrick Hamou said...

_______________________________


Our economy is slowly dying, your job, lifestyle are dominated by anxiety.

No one is proposing a solution because no one has the slightest idea of why it is happening and many have vested interest in the present system.

However an objective observation of the phenomenon can help us understand it and provide us with an innovative solution.

Of course we can't solve the problem with the tools that brought us there in the first place and we need a new ideology.



- Do you feel that your ideology pushed you to make decisions that you wish you had not made?

- Well, remember that what an ideology is, is a conceptual framework with the way people deal with reality. Everyone has one. You have to -- to exist, you need an ideology. The question is whether it is accurate or not. And what I'm saying to you is, yes, I found a flaw. I don't know how significant or permanent it is, but I've been very distressed by that fact.

- You found a flaw in the reality...(!!!???)

- Flaw in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works, so to speak.

- In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right, it was not working?



_______________________________


In order to alleviate those economic woes wee need to create, as fast as possible, a new credit free currency that will solve the credit crunch and bring incremental jobs, consumption and investments to the present system.


An Innovative Credit Free, Free Market, Post Crash Economy

A Tract on Monetary Reform



It is urgent if we want to limit social, political and military chaos.


_______________________________



Is the fulfilment of these ideas a visionary hope? Have they insufficient roots in the motives which govern the evolution of political society? Are the interests which they will thwart stronger and more obvious than those which they will serve?

I do not attempt an answer in this place. It would need a volume of a different character from this one to indicate even in outline the practical measures in which they might be gradually clothed. But if the ideas are correct — an hypothesis on which the author himself must necessarily base what he writes — it would be a mistake, I predict, to dispute their potency over a period of time. At the present moment people are unusually expectant of a more fundamental diagnosis; more particularly ready to receive it; eager to try it out, if it should be even plausible.

But apart from this contemporary mood, the ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.

Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas.

Not, indeed, immediately, but after a certain interval; for in the field of economic and political philosophy there are not many who are influenced by new theories after they are twenty-five or thirty years of age, so that the ideas which civil servants and politicians and even agitators apply to current events are not likely to be the newest. But, soon or late, it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil.


_______________________________

Credit Free Economy
More Jobs, No Debt, No Fear.
Prosperous, Fair and Stable.
_______________________________

Synova said...

"Let us assume that it takes 20 years of hard work to get an M.D. Let us also assume it takes 20 years of hard work to get holdfast's "Phd in 18th century gay Chinese midget literature."

I do not see why that morally entitles either of them to make a lot of money.

Perhaps you can tell me why I am idiotic to think that.
"

The amount of time and effort really is only important compared to how much the rest of us want someone to go through it.

The guy with the PhD in gay Chinese midget literature doesn't have what people want to pay for. End of story.

The neurosurgeon does.

The variable is the time, effort and difficulty... the *constant* is that the skill set has high value to the community.

So if you want to make comparisons to prove or disprove the concept of paying people more because they've undertaken long, arduous, and difficult training, compare the variable element... the difficulty in training... in situations where there actually is demand.

Nichevo said...

The medical doctor - say as a surgeon - can earn at max perhaps tens of thousands of dollars a day, 250 days a year, as an operating machine, in most times and places where people can afford to pay to have their lives saved. Expenses, fees and other personnel are additional.

The scholar of gay dwarf Chinese can do two things: write about Chinese dwarf porn, or earn a third of the Hoo Flung Dung treasure in the next Indiana Jones movie. In the rare instance where part or all of his expertise is useful to you, you will ensure that he is:

TW: tratedli

that he is tratedli a king. A Chinese gay dwarf king, to be sure, but a king nonetheless.