Serious Studies

The Lifestyle of the Rich and Needy

Scrooge McDuck

Debate continues to swirl around President Obama's idea of what it means to be rich. Married couples who occupy the top 2% of the populace are now in that lucky position, since they earn about $250,000. Among the honors that attend this status is the right to pay more income taxes. Since that group for the most part already pays about 50% of its annual take in federal, state and local tithings, you can imagine the outcry.

On the one side are the populists who chide them. "Selfish rich people who make over $250,000 per year," they say. "The world is starving. You sit atop the heap. And still you complain! Fie! Cough it up, mean and selfish rich people!"

On the other side are the affluent few, sitting on their tuffets of green. "Really!" they reply, stirring their expensive martinis and downing tasty petit fours, "You wouldn't believe how far my puny hundreds of thousands goes these days!"

It's easy to see who's in the right here. No matter how they cough and whine, those who earn two and a half large are by any estimation swimming in it. Just look at how many things they can enjoy that we cannot.

For this purpose we will take a look at the Forbisher family of New York, NY, although we could most certainly find their counterparts in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami and Boston, not to mention all their outlying suburbs, and many places in the midwest frequented by the plump and shiny.

The Forbisher Family consists of Bob and MaryAnn, and their children, Ned, Fred and Teddy, as well as a turtle named Mr. Bean and a bichon frisee/chihuahua mix named Eduardo. Together, they brought in a massive $254, 540 in calendar 2008. On that income they most certainly should enjoy all the lifestyle benefits that go along with their status as top-tier rich people. And so they do!

On any given day, for instance, they can be assured they will have food. This immediately places them above a majority of the world's population, and already classifies them as rich by many in less fortunate circumstances. The same must be said for the clothing they wear, which is ridiculously expensive but which they purchase anyway, proving they are rich.

Ned, Fred and Teddy go to private school, like all super-wealthy entitled kids do these days, particularly but not exclusively in urban settings for a variety of reasons. They get a deal here, because Teddy is only in Kindergarten, so his tuition and extras only come to $15,000. Ned and Fred, on the other hand, top out at $35,000 each, bringing the cost of eduction for the Forbisher clan to almost $100,000. They are also, like rich people do, planning to go to college, which must be saved for, but they're not worried because they're so rich.

Like all those who earn more than just about everybody else, the Forbishers live in a swanky apartment. On their income, they were able to afford either one tenth of a four bedroom apartment, or half a roomy three-bedroom apartment, but instead they chose to be frugal, as rich people sometimes are, and spent only $1.2 million on a perfectly serviceable two bedroom apartment that is worth $825,000 in the current market.

Living the life of the elegant class to which they belong, the Forbishers drive a fabulous car that would be the envy of many, in this case a 2005 Toyota Camry with 87,000 miles on it. One can only assume that they have chosen such a modest vehicle in order not to shame their less affluent neighbors.  Rich people sometimes do that.

For some reason that is unclear to us at the present writing, the family last vacationed in 2007, a short trip to a theme park in Orlando, Florida, at school break time, which Mr. Forbisher was heard by friends to describe as "a nightmare that will never be repeated." It hasn't been. Several years ago, they rented a modest house in the Hamptons, but inexplicably that luxury, too, has yet to be repeated. And while like many rich people Mr. Forbisher looks at magazines that feature amazing yachts, he has apparently so far failed to purchase one.

Instead, both he and Ms. Forbisher can be seen heading off to work each morning, she on the Fifth Avenue bus and he on the Lexington Avenue subway. We must assume that this is voluntary, since as rich people they don't have to work too hard and never have to worry about money.

And so, while the rest of us working middle-class people scrape and save and work our fingers to the bone, rich people like these go about their cushy, indolent lives. Worst of all, perhaps, is the fact that on their stated income of more than $250,000, the Forbishers last year paid only $110,000 in taxes! Isn't that shameful? Thank goodness that in the days to come we can all look forward to them paying their fair share.

172 Comments Add Comment

Not to mention swim and music lessons, braces, and child care.

Get used to it. You're a revenue stream.

Loved this one! Will everyone "get it" though I wonder.

Follow up question. What happens when the last 3 people who pay taxes decide to stop showing up for work someday in the future?

Good column, Bing. I never really thought about it that way. I guess $250,000 doesn't go very far these days, especially when you live in a place where a small apartment runs over a million. My suggestion to the Forbishers would be to move out of the city, put their kids in public schools, and get rid of that damn chihuahua!

This story seems strange to me... either the Forbishers seem slow for rich people (paying 44% income tax on approx 250k income – no one who makes that much money pays that much in taxes, I’m a tax advisor and know that for a fact), obviously they have not found a good money manager, which by the way they can afford. Also, they CHOOSE to put their kids in private school at 100k per year, this was their choice and a bad one financially for them – though probably good for their kids in the long run. I commend them on their home and car purchases, however, I have to still chime in that at least they went on vacation... how many people can do that now (not including those already out of work)? Bing, you provided a great example of the disconnect between those who are well off and those who are not. Yes, they pay more and yes they probably have just as much in the bank as we do (which is next to nothing when compared to our living expenses). The disconnect here is that they have the means to better their lives and still get away on vacation, put their children in private school, live in a nice area/place, actually own a car (in NY no less), buy something when they want and eat out when they choose. It is not asking much that they sacrifice for the greater good like everyone else. 250K is an incredible sum to most of the world and even most Americans, they should give back some of the good fortune they got from the people for the greater good of the people – pay your share; don’t squander it on excessive luxuries.

Mia, I would like to meet the person who makes that kind of money and doesn't pay nearly half in Federal, State and local taxes. Maybe they pay 40%. Then they're VERY lucky. They even withhold nearly 40% from every one of my paychecks. And I DO have a good tax advisor. And my point isn't that the Forbishers haven't made certain choices that cost them a lot of money. My point is that while they have a nice life, they really aren't rich by any standard I understand. They are middle class people working for everything they have. I don't think they should be viewed as anything less or more than that.

I'll tell you who is rich -- someone who doesn't have to worry they'll be beggared and thrown out on the street because they've developed an expensive medical problem.

Which puts the average Canadian on a par with the average American billionaire.

I'll put up with endless wealthy whining if we can only get that fixed!

$250K p.a. is a lot of scratch but it isn't rich. It's just a convenient tipping point to increase tax dollars while ticking off only a small number of voters. See the payroll tax "donut hole" idea for another example.

Raising a family in NY must be virtually impossible, regardless of income. I used to have a "rich" friend living there with two kids: he was cash flow negative in years when bonuses weren't amazing. The 3% city income tax didn't help.

Seems to me a better definition of rich might be based on net worth (that doesn't require holding on to your job). Then again, that could lead to a dreaded French-style system where you are taxed based on your assets.

EAB, I agree. I think it's a shame that we don't even have decent health care yet. How does Canada afford it? Maybe by not spending every last taxpayer dollar on waging war all over the world. That's my guess.

250K in todays dollars is till quite a good load. Spending $100K on private schools, not needed but their choice. That is still 2.5 times what I make and literally get by. If 250K is after taxes, sorry but your doing pretty dam good.

Here is the problem with only taxing the rich: we are creating a system in which nearly half the population pays little or nothing into the system and consequently lacks any interest in holding government accountable.

Many say the "rich" should suck it up - that the system is fair. Well, how is it nearly half of the working population in this country pays little or nothing in taxes?

Personally, my fed tax bill is 6 figs. I guarantee I already pay my "fair share." And spare me the "I am profiting by the structure of society." I served in the Army, worked for a big corp, and then started my own business. You can too.

Bing here's your problem:

They are middle class people working for everything they have.

While I agree with you that their lifestyle seems middle class (belive me, I fall close to this magic "wealthy" line and don't feel rich in any sort of way) reality is that they are not. They are the upper class. As you said they are in the top 2% of earners. 98% of our nation earns less than them. It's not a matter of "do they feel rich", more a matter of "compared to the rest of the nation they are rich".

Wow. Mia in Charlotte is an idiot. She stated "They should give back some of the good fortune they got from the people for the greater good of the people – pay your share; don’t squander it on excessive luxuries."

Can you even read, Mia? The lifestyle that Bing described is very, very modest when compared with most anyone who works. Take a look at where they live - a million dollar, 2 bedroom apartment is dirt cheap living in NYC. They drive a frigging Camry!! So, with the possible exception of the private school tuition (which, by the way, is only slightly overpriced), they are not wasting $$ anywhere.

And you say "the good fortune they got from the people" WTF??? Which "people" gave them their good fortune? Do tell!!! Mia, wake up, you frump! They worked their asses off for the income they have - what people "gave" them anything? Is there a secret income source I can go apply to that these "people" will give me? The income you have in America is the income you EARN. Got it?

They EARNED what they have...no "people" gave them anything. God, the ignorance of neo-socialists like you just floors me.

You idiot. You don't think $100,000 on private school a year is a luxury?

Conveniently you choose someone just barely over the $250,000 amount AND in th emost expensive city in the United States!

$100,000 on education is definitely not for the middle class.

And until we fix the urban public school systems, Nick, sending your kid to an inner-city public school isn't middle class, either.

Only $140,000 in net pay?!?! What a horrible world we live in! They were only able to rent a home in the Hamptons once?!?! Oh dear lord!

Its interesting that in today's society, likely because of the media, people only consider themselves rich if they have exotic cars, vacation homes, and country clubs. I'm not saying that all of that doesn't sounds like fun, but lets be real here if you aren't concerned about buying some of the extras beyond the basics you are probably doing pretty well. You might not be on cribs anytime soon and aren't ultra wealthy, but I am not sure you deserve much sympathy about paychecks and taxes.

If you're buying the basics and have no luxury, I don't feel sorry for you, Rob. But I don't think you're rich? I think a guy making $260,000 in Manhattan, LA or San Francisco is like a guy make $75,000 in Topeka.

Bing,

I want to say that I agree here, but I am one of those poor fools that will be up for a tax hike very soon. My wife and I have come to the conclusion though that we ARE very wealthy even though we don't bring in more than $260,000 per year. We actually do TONS of work outside the US, we do TONS of work in the DC metro area and we do it all at our cost. We often give more than we use on ourselves and LOVE to share.

I recently gave my car away as a matter of fact. I now work with some rural leaders in Kenya to help stem the tide of hunger.

The catch is that we WILL be paying a higher tax very soon. And we CAN afford it. It won't be fun. But, it will be our lot in life. We will just work a bit harder and possibly start a side-business and see what we can do to make more funds available to help others.

I apologize though. I am en eternal optimist and I know this isn't welcome so much today!

Taxes ARE NOT fun, but neither is being cripple. And we know that me being born into my current situation was NOT my choice, just like my friends in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge didn't choose their birthplace. So, I will share the common pain for the common good.

Paying my share... And sharing their pain...

Interesting article, but I'm with Mia. As a personal financial advisor, I can assure you that the Forbishers are getting a raw deal if they truly pay that much in combined taxes. Perhaps they lack financial know-how, but there are many ways/means available to avoid an effective tax rate of 44%.

Additionally they have not made the most efficient use of their money if they spend nearly 40% of their gross income on private school.

Let us not forget the importance of personal responsibility when it comes to managing money. They chose to have 3 children and 2 pets. They also choose where they live and work. There are several decent US locations in large metro areas where they would not have to pay as much in taxes (for example FL has no state income tax).

Having said all of that… I do not believe $250k per year is rich. Even salaries in excess of $1million pale in comparison to what the truly wealthy earn. By truly wealthy, I mean people like John Paulson and George Soros. These hedge fund guys that pull in billions of dollars in personal compensation every year. Yes, billions. Now that is rich.

Of course in the end it’s not about how much you make, it’s about how much you spend and how much you save. So pinch those pennies!

Okay, everybody. In recognition of the good points that you've made, I have just kicked little Ned Forbisher out of his private school and put Taffy, the bichon/chihuahua mix, to sleep. Perhaps the family will have a little more wiggle room now. But who cares if they do?! They're rich! !@#$ 'em!

If they were to divorce, then perhpas they would not be so rich any more. That might reduce the tax bill. Perhaps the $110K tax figure that was quoted includes payroll taxes, sales taxes, New York state and city income taxes, real estate taxes, automobile taxes
and of course the federal income taxes.

They make $254,540 a year, pay $110,000 in taxes and $85,000 for the private schools for the three young ones.
This leaves $55,000 a year for living expenses in New York City, including the saving for college, expensive clothing, food, bus, subway, gas, insurance on the car and condo, mortgage, if any.
I'm beginning to wonder if the facts relayed in the article are correct.
Perhaps they already have the $835,000 condo paid off. If they are upsidedown on that, they must have one of those fancy interest only loans or still be in the teaser rate portion.
Where can I send them a donation?

Good story. Before Obama was elected, I told plenty of my Obama-supporting friends who are "RICH" to think really hard about what they were going to vote for. Unfortunately, these well-educated "RICH" friends were clueless when it came to politics and taxes. Guess what, these are the same friends who are bitching about paying higher taxes. I told you so, boneheads!

I still say the main problem is that damn chihuahua. I have one and he won't eat anything but steak. Medium rare.

My husband and I are making $250k p.a. We live in Bay Area, California. Our houses cost 3 - 4 times part of the country. But, our public school are ranked in the bottom of the country. So, we're being wasteful to sent our children to private school? We sacrifice quality time (working 50-60 hr/week) with our children to earn $250K and now you're penalizing us because we work hard so that our children have the best. How about the rest of the 95+% work harder to pay their fair share?

Most Americans would consider this to be the lifestyle of the wealthy. If you don't then you are not in middle class America. $85K/year for education of non-college age children???? Most Americans would love to have that much in a college savings for their 3 kids! By the way, in America education is available free. Unless of course you are too good for public education.

@Mia – Charlotte, NC
What is so wrong with them being able to do those things for themselves and their children? Didn't they EARN it? Don't they deserve to reap the benefits of their hard work? I'm not advocating that they don't pay taxes - everyone needs public services like roads, police, and fire - but to take extra from them which will limit the means for them to better themselves only serves to keep everyone down. As a side note - by increasing their taxes, they will be less likely to expensively go out to eat, buy expensive clothes, go to expensive movies, and other expensive things, further depressing the expensive consumer-driven economy in the US. You're a financial planner, you should understand all of this more than most, but it seems that you do not.

They spend $100K/year in after tax money on the kids private schools before they're even in college... Then they pay $110K/year in taxes... They're either complete fools or this is a fake story.

Good thinking, Jay.

Wealthy is having time and money. Rich is just having money. 250K is a lot of money in some states but much less in others such as where the forbusher's live. The more appropriate income level to take a big hit should be over 500K. Of course that still would include the Obama's.

I'm sorry, these people are absolute morons who are living above their means. They certainly are "rich," and the fact that they're too dumb to see this shouldn't inure to their benefit. Nobody living in Manhattan has a car if they're not really, really rich; it's unnecessary and cost prohibitive. Nobody living in Manhattan raises kids here unless they're really, really, really rich, because it's cost prohibitive. If this family just moved out to Nassau County and sucked it up with a little bit of a commute, they could send their kids to public school and save all that money to get them just as good an education, but a large house for what it cost for their two bedroom co-op, buy a nicer car, and not have to pay NYC income taxes. These people are stupid; don't use them as an example of the poor and downtrodden.

They would be considered stupid to pay that much for the private school, even if it is "needed". They should save the $100,000 and then move to any other city and use that money to pay for about 4-5 years of schooling somewhere else. I think the example was purposefully flawed to make so points and generate discussion.

As a "rich" person paying my six figures in taxes some of these comments are amazing. Maybe my $50k on school debt, maybe my wife and I working 70 hour work weeks, maybe our sweat equity in school and a business actually ENTITLE us to enjoy a higher standard of living. Isn't our paying almost 40% in total taxes and receiving little or nothing in government services enough? Just maybe, we should stop hammering the folks that have EARNED wealth in America and start demanding more from those TAKING and NOT EARNING wealth in America. I truly do feel sorry for everyone hurt in this economic crises but pounding the "Rich" isn't the answer. And for the record, $250,000 a year in income is not rich.....not even close.

$250k in Manhattan doesn't go very far... Especially when a two-bed, two bath rental costs $4-5,000 per month. Maybe Obama's "rich" definition should be adjusted for cost of living...

Bing - you just hit on the main problem with Obama's definition of wealthy in your last comment posted... there is no cost-of-living index for federal taxes. I don't understand why no one seems to mention that issue. $250k/yr would certainly be considered a large income for someone living in New Mexico or Texas, but for someone living in NY or CA, it is not.

Mia, They are paying more than their fair share. They pay more in taxes than many households make in a year. That tax money goes straight to poor people and other government programs. These are programs they likely will never need, which is good for them and they have earned it.

Maybe you are considered rich by someone else's standards so how would you feel if they thought you should pay more. It is NOT a fair situation. It is not fair to punish people who worked hard to become successful. True fairness would be to have a standard tax rate (i.e. 15%) that everyone is taxed. Those making $250,000 are clearly paying more than those making $25,000 but at least they are not discriminated against for their success.

Bing,

I have heard the term coined HERNY High earner, not rich yet. It sounds like this may be an example family.

I like that, Bruce. How about HETTMEM? High Earners Trying To Make Ends Meet?

In my view, the real point in this discussion is often missed. How much one earns is determined by the market, i.e. society itself. The role of government, which should reflect society, is to make sure that everyone has an equal oppotunity. If you want to earn as much as the Forbisher's, take another job, work harder, go to school or do whatever they did to command what they earn.

It seems to me that there are far too many people in this country today that believe that anyone who has more than someone else - regardless of how they got it - should be made to hand it over to someone else, through taxes or by some other means.

Who are any of you to say how the Forbishers or anyone else should spend their money? What business is it of yours? If you want to have more money, quit wasting your time tearing down other more successful and harder working people than you and get to work.

Okay, Stanley, if you can posit a hypothetical like that one, then let's also look at it through this lens: Bob and MaryAnn have no kids and live on the estate (inherited by MaryAnn) in the lively little town of Bummfuzzle, Iowa, where the cost of living is nothing like trying to live in downtown NYC. Neither of them work, because they are trust-fund babies. Their entire income of $254,540 consists of tax-advantaged capital gains, interest and dividends. They spend it freely, but still have plenty to pack away, because nothing really costs an arm and a leg in Bummfuzzle.

These folks are "middle class people working for everything they have"? I don't think most of their neighbors would think so.

People who choose to live in ridiculously expensive major metropolitan areas and have more than their allotted 2.5 kids in a place where the public schools should be put out of their misery have chosen to live that life. Arguably, it's still a rich life. Arguably, it's also highly subsidized by the folks out in Bummfuzzle.

$250K income, $100K tuition, $110K
taxes, that leaves about $40K for
food and mortgage and everything
else. Let's say the mortgage is
only 50% of $1.2 million apartment,
which is $600K and then the monthly
payment is a least $3000+. Where
is the money for food and clothing?

Precisely, Barry! What I didn't mention is the Mr. Forbisher is therefore put in the position of borrowing money from his wife's father, which, as befits his station, is RICH with emotional overtones.

Last time I checked the tax rate at $250000 is 33% for federal taxes alone. With no deductions like mortgages, donations and medical expenses I paid $82500 last year in federal taxes.

I look forward to earning $250k a year and paying that tax bracket. I am willing to accept that for all the good things I will be blessed with. Of course, no matter what, anyone in their right mind would prefer to pay less, but so is life.

My biggest complaint is not the high tax rate for the rich, its the non existent tax rate for the poor. I wish there was some sort of floor, even 0% would be better then the welfare state of getting a refund when you didn't pay any taxes to begin with. There are so many opportunities in this country to make something of yourself and just because you failed to take advantage of them should not exclude you from paying for what you do get.

Why don’t all go to resort to stealing.
If someone saves money we should tax 100% and redistribute they must be rich since they have left over’s.
People should not be paid based on their education and job skills. We should have flat pay.
We should make eating out and entertainment a crime because it’s a luxury.
We should ban reproduction for greater good a society. Kids are a sign of lavishness.
We should ban all pets. If you can afford to buy food for your pets. You are being lavish
We should ban home ownership and we should all live in a government supplied house. Paying rent and mortgage is a luxury. (look where mortgages god us)
All income should be banned. Government will take your pay and redistribute.
We should institute ration system to control what people eat. (government scientist know how much food you need to eat) anything extra is a luxury.
Sleep. This is a no no. If you are sleeping more than 4 hours it’s a luxury. You should be working more to pay for the greater good of society.
Spending time away from work. This is a BIG NO NO. You should be working for 20 hours a day to pay for all the non workers.

If government pays for everything there is no incentive for people to work. Even the rich would realize that.... and we won’t have any tax payers. Guess who they will go after next. So we should be careful for what you wish for.

Well written....millions are starving in this world and these rich people are complaining about taxes. Hey rich people...do you have food, shelter, warmth...most don't!!!!! So shut it!!!!!

Perhaps an income of $250,000 does not go that far in NY. However, that is their choice. They could live in a suburb.... much less expensive... one with good schools...save a bundle there.

Poor Forbisher family, no money to go on vacation. How about the gonzalez family in Miami, father works construction, mother is a receptionist. They rent a modest 2 bedroom house in a not so nice neiborhood for $1500 a month. Both kids go to public school (with 40 other kids in the class), they own one car with 187,000 miles. total income $38000...total taxes payed in 2008...$7800...and no medical insurance. Stop complaining and pay your taxes. at the end of the day they have a lifestyle that is better than average.

This is an oft-repeated and absolutely pointless discussion- Are people making $250k rich? It depends so much on geography and circumstances it becomes impossible to pin down. Do you have kids? do you have student loans? do you live in Dallas? Do you live in DC? One thing we know for sure is that in almost every city, town, county or state in the coountry you make more than over 90% of your neighbors. You may be the poorest rich guy in town but you are still decidely better off than almost everyone else. By the way, the tax increase will only be on the portion of your income over $250K so if you make $258k you need to go ahead and calm down.

I'm on the fence on this example. As some have pointed out, they have clearly elected to live in a specific neighborhood where the cost of housing is extremely high. There must certainly be options available to them that would afford them to keep more of their hard-earned money since the public schools may be an option in other neighborhoods and the mortgage costs would be lower.

On the flip side, those people who are going to the other extreme and saying they should move to Florida or some other location with a lower cost of living need to think it through a little more. Last I checked, the country isn't overflowing with available jobs, let alone well-paying jobs, else there'd be no need for this column in the first place. Also, uprooting 3 children while taking on new jobs in an uncertain market is just a flat-out dumb move. The first people thrown out the door during layoffs are the last people in the door.

It took me till the end of the article to wonder if maybe it was written with a bit of sarcasm. I wouldn't call this family rich even tho I don't make 1/4 what they do. Taxes aren't meant to punish the successful and it especially isn't for redistributing wealth to the poor that Obama seems so fond of doing.

I live about 10 miles from NYC, and our town is on a commuter line - we can be in NYC in half an hour. We have a 3-bedroom home in a terrific town with great schools, two cars and two kids, and we live quite happily, vacations and all, on half of their gross. I thought this article was a joke. These people are utter morons. And I've lived in the bay area, too, and I know that city life is for singles, just like NYC. When you want a house and a family, you go to the 'burbs, where your dollars go further, the schools are better, etc.

Canadian health"care"... you've got to be kidding. Socialized healthcare is known to be terrible in many instances. Fix our problems; DON'T make them worse! Speaking from first hand experience, US hospital/healthcare is superior to Canadas in most cases. That would be why Canadians who can afford it come here!

The true definition of "rich" is coming into focus slowly...it seems to be "anyone who makes more than I do."
With that definition, everyone can agree to tax the rich!

Didn't some philosopher say something about how societies unwind when government is willing to take the people's money and use it to maintain their own power?

This article only highlights the insane cost of living in cities such as New York. How about another in this series about another poor family just squeaking by on $250k/year in someplace like Warren, Ind. How much would their dire financial status change if they moved to New Jersey and commuted to the city with the rest of the little people? Considering the disparity in cost of living within the US, there is no good place to draw the line to define "rich" when taking into account places like NYC.

I think tax rates are too high also, but this sophmoric writing doesn't make a very good case for that.

This is stupid.

These people aren't "rich".

The "smartest men in the room" are the rich ones. Those that control the printing presses. Those that control the means of production. This is a shameful "story" meant to ease the anger the "poor" people have towards the rich.

Bad comparison. Terrible.

Talk about the 1% that own 70%. That's why we are all pissed off.

Lovely propaganda buddy.

You should be ashamed with yourself. And everyone else should boycott any advertiser that advertises with CNN.

Sad, sad, sad.

One more thing. A constant refrain I hear from the $250k set is that they work so hard for what they have and that poorer people should work harder if they want to have $250k. I am sure you bust your tail everyday pounding out legal briefs (like I do), or managing money or telling people to bend over and cough. However, it's not very nice to suggest that all the construction workers, and mailmen and nurses and teachers and plumbers and cooks and firemen and police officers and soldiers and factory workers and garbage men need only work as hard as you and they to can enjoy the spoils of this great land. It's absurd and insulting to the overwhelming majority of hardworking Americans. And, more importantly, how you earn your income has no bearing on whether or not you're rich or the thrust of teh article.

This story is an annoying read.
I'm sorry, but $250k is a lot of money. The simple fact that they spend nearly $100k a year on private education for their children shows this to be true. While commendable, in one year they are paying 3.5 times my annual salary on their childrens education. It is quite clear that my 2 year old daughter will have to make due with public education.
They live in a $1.2 million dollar apartment
This "blogger" is clearly not willing to distinguish between the wealthy and the super wealthy.

Oh whine! I can't afford private school for my kids! Get over it, send your kids to public school like the rest of us schmuchs and pay your damn taxes. You disappoint me Bing.

Sounds like they have a bad accountant. There should be significant write offs with the education paid and also the interest on there two bedroom home. Nobody owns cars in New York, having any sort card is a luxury. Maybe it is time to move out of the big apple as most families do.

I find it offensive for Mia to suggest that people in the top 2% of income earners somehow received that good fortune from "the people" (as opposed to themselves) and need to pay their share.

I would venture to say that the vast majority of the people in the top 2% of income earners have either taken on a lot of personal risk to do so (entrepreneurs) or have professional degrees (degrees that have been hard earned, extremely expensive and resulted in YEARS of foregone income). Most people do not have the stomach for risk that the entrepreneurs do nor the discipline to achieve professional degrees. I don't understand why in the United States - where you are supposed to be rewarded for hard work, where it is supposed to be a meritocracy - people who have worked extremely hard for their success have come to be vilified and punished by the populists/socialists/those currently in power.

The top 2% of wage earners are already paying their "fair" share - and much more. The statistics are very clear on this. I am sickened by the government's attempt to take away more money from the most productive members of the economy to redistribute it to the least productive - this is not fairness. Rather it is just an effort to placate the masses and ensure votes.

I'm starting to wonder why I have worked so hard to achieve when our government only wants to encourage us to be mediocre - at least that is what there policies imply to me.

As I understand it, in rough numbers, 'rich' people pay about half of the income taxes, the rest of us pay the rest. I'd like to know if 'rich' people make about half the money and we make the rest, or if they make less or more.

Opportunity exists whether lower or upper income. One just has to identify it and go after it. Its called being committed to making something of yourself, which typically comes out of consistently making the right decisions along the way -- whether professional, social, personal, et cetera. The pervasive approach of shrugging accountability and responsibility for self pity doesn't cut it. Opportunity is there as it always has been.

No one making $250K - $500K and working is handed the money and believe it or not most continue to hold the belief that its our job to put the next generation of our family ahead of the current one (you may be aware of this.....a tenant America was built upon). Its not about a new car, a vacation, a big house, or using a stimulus check to buy a television. Its about thinking bigger than the crap media and politicians cram down your throat and not following those around you because its easy. Those of you investing in the rising socialist reform approach don't know what it means to be an American. Envy is counterproductive and pathetic so why not focus on being a productive member of society and not a bunch of helpless moochers intent on "wealth redistribution". If that's what you want go live in Belgium or Germany.

Agreed, this article is purposely slanting the facts, or it is about hard-earning, self-righteous, stupid people.

1) If they are paying $110,000 in taxes on $250,000 income, they need a new accountant.

2) If they are paying $85,000 on private school for 3 children, they need to look at other private schools.

3) Nobody forced them to buy a $1.2 million overpriced home at the height of the market. They could have done the math and kept renting.

But really, the $110,000 on taxes is simply an outright lie. Or the article leaves out their capital gains but left in the capital gains taxes, in which case they made plenty more than $254,000!

I think its a great idea to penalize the people who do well. Why even bother trying to get ahead? Can't pay for your mortgage, don't worry someone else will. Get laid off because you work in a dying industry, no problems someone else will pay for it. Let's keep taxing people so we can bail out the everyone who over extended themselves. Another step to closer to communism.

If you make over $100K you are very well off, if not rich in my book.

There is a standard saying that most of my friends and I talk about.

'The More you Make, the More you Spend...' and that seems to be logic most Americans live by, when it should be 'The More you Make, the More you Save...'

Everytime I've gone up in salary, from the days I started at 25K to the days now above 60K, my spending habits have barely changed, due to good upbringing. Just because you make more, doesn't mean you have to spend more or blow it.

You don't have to put those kids in private schools (many great people came from the public school system, just find a good city with some good schools), you don't have to have all those luxuries, and live within you means.

Lastly, anyone that thinks you should pay 1.2 million for an apartment is out of their mind. No matter where it is, it's and APARTMENT.

Hopefully over the next few years, logic sets in again and people value their money and think about what they spend it on.

they spend hard earned money for their kids, so they too can enjoy rat race at mid-upper ladder. Thank God I don't live in NYC, otherwise I don't know how I can send my kids to public project (I mean school) or afford Private school like most do. Funny those who complaint are the ones that usually don't pay any taxes.

This debate is clearly leading to one conclusion that was mentioned earlier (cost of living adjustment):

The government should define "rich" regionally. That is, the top 2% of New Yorkers should see a tax hike, so that would probably be anyone making 500G's or above...if you're in Texas, it probably means anyone making $200G's or above, etc.

The larger debate then becomes whether we should tax high earners more than others. I would actually say no; just place higher taxes on luxury items. That way, it doesn't penalize people for being rich, just for showing it off!

I'm guessing the $250,000 did not just fall into their laps one day and said "Hey Forbisher family, here is $250,000/year for the rest of your life, you don't have to lift a finger and do any work, it will magically appear in your account every month, use it wisely"

Whatever they are able to afford, whatever "luxuries" they may enjoy, they worked hard and earned it. The question is why should they be punished for being successful?

I am not close to reaching $250k/year by any means but it is disgusting to know that the government will punish you for working hard and being successful. We should just all sit back, relax, and wait for a handout.

Parents "usually" want their children to have it better than they did. I'm sure they are hoping the better education they are struggling to provide to their children will allow them to grow up and make $400k/year, that way even if they had to pay out $200k in taxes, they would still be pretty comfortable.

Obama should figure out how to fix spending instead of figuring out ways to tax the few and appease the many. If companies ran their businesses the way the government is running, the world will be full of Chryslers!

I'm starting to side with Mia. Forbisher's father-in-law should have adopted Taffy. Now they have the added expense of therapy for the kids.

Having recently transferred for work to a city close to NYC, White Plains, I can see both sides of the coin. I was shocked at how little my money buys in this area in terms of housing. I think it would be appropriate to add a cost of living factor into the base 250K to come up with a "fairer" tax assessement. 250k is a lot, but it is relative to where you live and 250K in or around NYC is like 100k anywhere else. I know I'm getting a 50% cost of living increase for my first three years in this area which is 20 miles from the city and I have no intention of being here past when that stipend runs out.

This article is absolute trash. $250k per year, less $100k needless tuition less $110k taxes (they are complete idiots if they pay that much in taxes), leaves $40k to pay the mortgage and everything else. Rubbish. Bing, if you're going to do parody at least write it as such.

I have made far more than $250k, and paid my taxes at rates higher than todays. Complained like everybody, sure, but I never said "oh, I'm so poor I can't afford to pay this". Bull. $250k, top 2% of earners, is a very reasonable cut off for a higher tax bracket. And given the increasing disparity between middle class and the wealthy, we need higher rates at $500k, $1MM, $5MM and $10MM.

the writer is an idiot to make the number unreasonable. I don't believe this story at all.

Bing, you live in San Francisco, if I remember right?

Here's what you're missing -- you DON'T find this story outside Manhattan, San Francisco, or Silicon Valley, or even in the less-fashionable parts of the metros of those cities. The fact they feel middle class while pulling down more than 98% of us is because they need to spend over $1 million to get a two-bedroom apartment & yet still need to shell out $100,000 for private school because their school district (I'm guessing New York County), despite the intense amount of property tax wealth, doesn't build a decent public school system.

"Oh my god they're getting reamed by taxes". Please. They're getting reamed by the MARKET. Specifically the housing & private education market. This is what all these upper-middle class whiners need to realize -- its not the size of your paycheck, its how far it goes.

My suggestion to this family is to move to Jersey or Long Island. Of course, then you'd get the whining about how the lifestyle isn't as good in suburban locations. SUCK IT UP. You can pay more in taxes, so you should -- your lifestyle shouldn't be the reason our country goes bankrupt.

Better yet, leave the NYC metro. Get your two jobs that each pay about 66% of your current salaries somewhere where the cost of living is 50% of NYC (that includes Chicago, Miami, San Diego, and a lot of other very nice, cosmopolitan places). The lifestyle boost will probably be significant. They'd escape that dreaded tax increase & reduce the demand for these few fashionable niches of the rich world. The reduction in demand will lower the prices for those "who just must stay" as well.

Just because you're rich and vain doesn't mean you're allowed to pretend to be poor. Learn to budget & stretch your dollars just like the rest of us -- it makes the whole system work better.

What is this story supposed to demonstrate? That people who make >$250k are not rich because they can barely scrape by on that salary when they fritter away their income?

What the story demonstrates more clearly is that, contrary to conventional wisdom, rich people aren't all that smart. They're spending $100k for private school for their kids to keep up with the Joneses, not because it's necessary. They own a car in Manhattan ... why? They bought an overpriced apartment at the peak of a housing bubble, and (big surprise) its value fell!

There are valid reasons for curbing taxes, but no one is "rich enough" if they keep making stupid financial decisions. That has nothing to do with tax policy.

Interesting story but somehow it doesn't add up. They make 250k in income and pay 110k in taxes and 100k for their kids school. So they live on 40k??? I think you had better go back and add that up again.

I lived in NYC 20 years ago. I remember then Manhattan was ultra expensive. My only suggestion is this couple can accept there situation or change it. My suggestion is there are plenty of homes in Nassau County in excellent school districts that are priced from 400K to 750K. The private K-12 schools in Long Island are expensive, but not as much as NYC. The public schools, many are ranked by Newsweek's top 1000 High Schools in the nation near the top. Perhaps moving to Long island can get this family a larger home (More Square Feet) with a back yard for the dog and kids, they can enroll the children in one of those top rated public schools and bank the difference into a Colege fund, Vaction fund, more contributions into a 401K which can reduce taxes, newer car fund perhaps a hybrid, and a monthly train pass into the big apple. LIRR can get one into Manhattan in 30 minutes from most communities in Nassau County, enough time to get a jump on work with the iPhone.

I want to reiterate what many people on here have said, personal responsibility and choices. They chose to live in NYC and pay a ridiculous amount for PRIVATE schooling. I would define anyone who can afford private school for their children as wealthy no matter where they live.

I have heard this argument before and laughed just as hard. "After the kids private piano lessons, karate, singing lessons, private swim instructor and tutor, butler, chauffeur etc... we barely make ends meet." Its laughable. Using an argument that they make barely enough to survive is insulting to people who are struggling who don't have the luxury of putting their kids in private schools.

My husband and I make a combined annual income of just a little above the $250k threshold. We consider ourselves blessed to make that much, but we by no means feel rich. We don't live in an area with a high cost of living; we send our kids to public school; we drive previously owned cars; our house is in a nice part of town, but it is not a mansion; we use coupons to buy groceries and closely scope out sales; and we've been known on occasion to buy clothes from consignment stores.

In terms of our disposable income, we certainly have more than most (and according to the statistics nearly all) Americans, so I don't have a huge problem paying a greater percentage of tax. I do have a small problem, however, with people calling us "rich."

This article is a steaming pile of cow-dung. 70% of people in New York don't own a home--it's cheaper and more cost effective to rent, even for families making more than 250k a year. And spending 35k/15k for private school/kindergarten is the high end--they can find private school tuition for half that--maybe the kids have to settle for Yale rather than Oxford, but I think they'll handle the culture shock. If this family actually exists, I commend them for wanting the best for their kids, but they have nothing to complain about. Most people would eat their own cancerous tumors for the opportunity to make 250k a year.

After reading all these comments, you should all be afraid of what Americans are thinking! I have a right to earn as much as the next guy and yet because you don't, you want to grab what ISN'T yours! A flat tax would but everyone on the same field, no matter what you earned! I am waiting for the next person to comment that they believes we should all be told where to live, how much to make, and how to spend it, directions from the government, who know so much more!!! If you want that above lifestyle, go to the Netherlands or Denmark, they know how to let the collective minds and governments work to run your lives ;-) I hope you all remember that taking from the rich will eventually give you a population of ALL poor people. Shame on you Americans!

The author forgot to offer us a clear contrasting vision of the "poor". Picture the Forbishers' "poor" next door neighbor, who works for the city, or for the state.

Earning $125,000 as a janitor and entry level clerk, toiling away (well, not really), 40 or so hours a week. Trying to balance that workload while planning what to do with their 50+ paid vacation, holiday, and sick days per year.

Oh yeah, and while the Forbishers try to squirrel a little away for retirement, Mr. & Mrs. State Worker have a gov't funded pension probably worth (using a net present value calculation) $1 million or more.

One can see why Obama, Pelosi, Reid and company feel we need to "crack down" on these "rich".

Makes me absolutely sick.

I don't necessarily think that people who make $250K/year should be taxed at a punitive rate. But I do think that making 5 times the median income or being in the top 2% of earners does in fact qualify you for being rich. The thing about ``middle class'' is that it implies that you are in fact in the middle of the income pile. Being in the top 2% clearly is not in the middle. It is at the top.

Being rich doesn't mean that life is easy or that you do not still have to make choices about how you spend your money. It just means that you have a lot more income or savings than most other people. It does not imply that you are independently wealthy.

I remember that when I was growing up, sending your children to private schools implied that you were rich. I think that most people would still agree with this.

I'm curious what their savings are and their total net worth. They are also paying a rather sizable sum for private schooling. That's their choice.

I've been over that magic line for quite a few years and while you can live a pretty rich lifestyle on a lot less, the puzzle I've never been able to solve is how to make that much and not live in or near New York, Boston, Washington, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami or LA.

To make the money you need to be in a place where it costs a lot to live even a middle class existence. You can certainly move somewhere less expensive but I have friends who have two hour commutes each way from New Jersey to New York City and they still have a properly tax bill of $20k, private school bills because the school system rots and their three bedrooms, 2.5 baths on a city lot in the suburbs will set you back $700k.

So the choice is often make $100k and live a middle class life or make $250k and live a middle class life somewhere where your kids will get exposed to so much more.

I raised 2 boys who graduated from great colleges by taking out loans while I worked full time, cared for their cancer stricken dad (leukemia, bone marrow transplants, kidney transplant, etl...still doing it 25+ years later). I'm 50, took out loans to get my college degree, have been working full time since I was 13, and still believe IT'S MY JOB to see my commitments til our last breathe. If my tax dollars provides me public transportation and highways and public schools and other conveniences to get to my job to raise and educate my boys...it's still my job. Commitment to the life long cause and doing the right thing until our last breathe. It's what separates us from the animals. Everyone wants to take but, noone wants to give back. When was the last time you served meals at a food kitchen. I squeeze time inbetween my 5 full time jobs..do you ??? The engine eventually will seize when you take out all the parts and never put them back..just look at wall street and our economy...everyone keeps taking and thinks the engine will keep running..I don't think so...xxxooxoxo.....

Just finishing Atlas Shrugged for the second time. Clearly, a "Who Is John Galt" moment.

Parallels between Ms. Rand's writings and phrases coming from POTUS and WDC are striking and chilling.

Tax the fools and the humor-impaired. We seem to have a surplus today.

Bing, I enjoy almost all your stories, but this one misses the mark. I would agree with your sarcasm if they didn't spend ~$100k on private education and live in what sounds to be manhattan. $100k a year on private education is a luxury.

I am sure that Forbisher is thrilled to pay extra taxes so that he can subsidize the "poor" slobs who overspent thenselves into such a deep hole that only soaking the "rich" can pull them and the whole economy out of the current mess. I know I'm ecstatic!

Somthing is missing here. $100k in tuition + $110k in taxes leaves $40k in all other living expenses. No way they could afford a $1.2M morgage on that. Maybe $250k is after taxes? That would put income around $360k with tax burden at 30% . Just guessing here but something is a little out of whack.

My husband and I made slightly over $250k last year, and I've never been so broke in my life.

This article is absurd. The average American family makes around $50,000 a year, the average American home is less than $200,000, and these average Americans send there children to public school. The fact that the author of this article found a family in New York City that makes just above $250,000, has three children, and a car is ridiculous. Most people would never dream of living in a million dollar home, let alone spend $100,000 to send their children to school each year. These people are not middle class, and neither am I, being in similar circumstances in a large city. If people like you do not stop publishing this drivel, whining about paying your fair share in taxes, we are all going to be in trouble when the other 98% of the country wakes up and realizes they are getting screwed.

They choose to live where they do. I consider that a luxery too. They feel obligated to put their kids in private school. 90% of the people in this country are not going to be able to empathise with these expenses (private school... Designer brand cloathing...) because we choose to live practical. If my grandfather, a self made millionare, heard somebody making $250,000 wining that they weren't rich, at 82 he would still kick there ass. However, start talking about how the government is taking too much money from all of our pockets, for wasteful spending and failed programs, and you might make a friend.

Having looked at all the comments, the Forbishers have not only put their little dog down, they have also taken all three children out of private school, sold their apartment (at a $400,000 loss) and moved to Beacon, NY. They are doing better financially, although their tax bill will still be a little less than half of what they make and they now have to commute two hours a day to Manhattan. Also, one of them will clearly have to quit to pay for child-care expenses. The good news is that after one of them does so, they will no longer be "rich" and subject to the new tax rate.

So, why not send the kids to the public schools, and do what needs to be done to make those schools the best?! Use the library extensively, enroll your children in music opportunities, be informed about contests they may enter..get involved with their education..visit zoos, museums etc.

Oh no! The Forbishers can only afford to spend $85,000 per year on private school! Most people have to live on a lot less than that for all their expenses combined.

Yes, if you live in New York and send your kids to private school then an income of $250,000/year won't allow you to be idle rich, but you are a lot better off than most people.

The plan for increasing taxes on incomes starting at $250,000/year means only income above that level will see a higher tax rate. So for the Forbishers with an income of $254, 540 they will pay a few extra percent on the last $4,540. The first $250,000 will be taxed at the same rate as before.

Why don't you write about someone who makes $1 million per year in investment income from an inherited fortune and doesn't live in the most expensive city in America? You picked your "typical" example to be as skewed as possible.

Stop complaining about others who makes more money and spends lavishly. Why do not you make more money? Who stops you? This is capital country and everybody has the same opportunities to better oneself.Live on what you make.Socialism stops the inventions and growth of the country and people living in the country.

35k/yr for tuition in private school is very accurate. that's what it currently costs. The alternative is to send your child to a public school, which will certainly keep them from being one of the 250K/yr future income workers, if they learn to read at all.

I would like to change the subject away from whether this family is "rich". Before one can talk about rich, you would need a generally accepted definition and that is very difficult to do. And besides, people pay taxes at many levels of income, not just over $250K. If the government truly needs the tax revenue, then it may be very appropriate to raise tax rates even more on those making over $250K (which includes me)or $200K or $150K. The REAL issue is how the money will be spent. I am upset not because my taxes will go up but rather because my taxes will go up AND the money will be wasted, with only a few pennies of each one of my tax dollars doing any real good. Some of my tax dollars will go for $250 hammers bought by the Pentagon, some of it will go to bankers on Wall Street (or Charlotte) as a convenient way of saving the banks, some will go for corporate subsidies (e.g. huge farm corporations) and some will go to non-profit organizations (e.g. Acorn) that are in reality political organizations and some will go to Medicare reimbursements that are equivalent to the Pentagon's $250 hammer, and on and on. If the government could demonstrate that they are acting responsibly with tax revenue, I would certainly be more comfortable giving up more of my income knowing it would help others. As it is, I know my tax money is being wasted. And I should be angry whether I am making over $250K or $50K.

For all you "for the greater good" types:

In 1980, the top 5% of wage earners paid 35% of our nation's income taxes. In 2004, the top 5% paid 58%.

In 1980, the top 10% of wage earners paid 48% of the income tax. By 2004, this had risen to 71%.

I'd say they're already giving back for the greater good, and for any other damn thing the government decides to blow money on as well.

At some point, you create a system where some are so heavily taxed that they no longer have an incentive to work, and others receive so many incentives for not working that they have no incentive to start.

BTW - Over 32% of the filers in the US pay no income taxes at all.

Actually, I think the term "rich" does imply that you are independently wealthy. Maybe we should just say the "above-average wage earners." There that fixes it.

Excellent piece!
I can't stand it when others think that if you make six figures (let alone 250K, you are fabulously wealthy).
Let's keep in mind that families like this have most likely invested in higher education, worked their butts off, and still pay higher taxes to subsidize those very complainers who refuse to invest in themselves and would rather live off the taxes that families like these pay (and now they want more).

Take a few seconds out of your life to fix the public education system your children should be attending, and you just saved $100K in your budget. Don't help to fix it, then stop complaining about it.

Lets face it, NYC isn't for the middle class anymore! That is why the middle class sits in traffic or on public transit for an hour or two everyday to get to their Manhattan jobs! I have trouble feeling sorry for this family knowing that many of the people that work in NYC- especially waiters, janitors, tradesman- are just there to serve the lifestyles of the wealthy New Yorkers and pack up every evening to head home to a sub-standard apartment an hour away. New York is a bad example here because it has become an unattainable fairytale for most hardworking Americans. I wish we lived in a time when people could make a good living for themselves and their families doing respectable blue collar jobs, like those that my father and grandfathers did. While I'm all for personal advancement, higher education, and working hard to achieve, it makes me sad to think of the frustration that the real "middle class" must feel today when they hear complaints from the top 2% of Americans.

My family income is about $700 k. I leave with my wife in 1 bedroom 700 sq feet apartment in NYC. This is 2nd year that we make above $500 k. I was not able to accumulate too much wealth at this point. I will have to work for many years to stop worrying about my bills. That means that I am not truly rich. Few observations: I came to US from foreign country. I paid myself for the education while I was working full time (I was able to finish college in 3 yrs. instead of 4). I graduated with honors. It took me 14 yrs since graduation to get to my salary level (I myself make over $500 k). And every employer I have been working for was trying to pay me less that my job is truly worth (I guess one think that we all have in common). In every job I had I skipped levels and I was promoted early, before anyone else. I have very moderate life. No car, one apartment, when going for vacation I stay in average hotels, etc. When I was in college I did not receive any grants (paid little less because of my grades) and I had to take student loans. I went thru a lot of hardship during that period of time. Basically, nobody helped me including federal, state, and city governments. At this point half of my income goes into taxes (which a lot of this is wasted and stolen). I can do my job outside US for the same salary (nature of what I do), effectively cutting my tax substantially (no New York state income tax of 8.97%, no NYC tax of 3.7%) and lowering federal tax (first $80K is not taxable), taking foreign tax credit for reminder. Effectively I can pay no taxes to US government. Obviously most of people will say just f... off and leave. By the way I also took job from American people who could effectively do what I am doing (obviously does not matter that I had to compete against people born in US with all their connections, friends, parents, etc). But I chose to study and work instead of counting on connections and drinking and partying in college. If people like me leave (not than I am that special) than it will be just you left here (98% of population making under $250K). Based on current governmental data 3% of population pays over 50% of taxes in US. If small % of that group leaves, taxes for everyone will increase dramatically (it is much more difficult to tax if someone lives abroad with all the credits and exemptions) meaning that 43% of population that does not pay tax will finally have to start paying. I can't wait to see that group of people to pay their "fair share" (paying nothing is not fair share). It is almost comical to me that I contribute way much more to causes that completely don't bring any benefit to me. How would you feel if you pay for BMW and you get 10 yrs old KIA with no guarantee? That's my medicare tax, my social security (not mention federal, state, and city that go to unions and other crooks who want to be paid more that worth of products and services that they produce). That's exactly what I get for my taxes. Also, I would recommend to find out how much of $250 K can buy in NYC vs. any other place in US. If there was some type of adjustment applied by IRS based on cost of leaving in any specific geographical area, a lot of 98% of population not making $250 K could qualify to pay much more taxes (making $100 K in Kansas gives you much better lifestyle than making $250 in NYC). Maybe that would be fair to implement?
At the end - a lot of people will hate me for what I wrote (which I don't care). One thing to remember, if I am not here you will have much bigger problem.

what people never mention is the fact that millions of americans pay no federal tax at all,due to beign single parent,head of household and not making enough. i wish there was a fair way to make sure everyone at least paid a fair amount,and not oppress the already heavily tax.

Technically Bob, your comment on only the amount over $250,000 will be taxed at the higher rate is not correct. Once the Bush tax cuts expire next year, those making $60,000 /yr can expect to pay an additional $1800 in federal taxes, just like they were under the Clinton Administration. Thos making more will incur a higher tax bill, all the way up to $250,000 when the fun really starts.

I'll agree that the choice to live in Manhattan while you are raising kids is a lifestyle choice, and it's a bad one. It does not reflect careful thought or planning. If I were in that area, I'd get out.

Where I live, you can buy a house with a view of the lake, 3,200 sf of living space, and three choices for high speed Internet for $960 a month. The schools are excellent. I live well below my means and only make 1/4 of what these guys make... and that's about twice the median income of my area.

I make about $170,000 annually and support a family of six. We are well off, but I defnitely do not think of myself as "rich." And I live in Alaska, where the total tax bite is roughly 1/2 of what these people pay, and homes are not nearly as costly. This math isn't working for me - they gross $250k, and pay 44% to taxes and 35% for private school? And they cover the mortgage on a $1.2 M place plus everything else with the remaining 21%? That doesn't add up at all. Even if they put 20% down, their mortgage payment should be at least $6-7,000 per month, with taxes and insurance.

well here is my answer... last year i paid more than 200k in taxes, my effective tax rate below 40% but i still think i paid my fair share in taxes. i don't consider myself rich by any stretch, i'm extremely fortunate and grateful for what i have, but i earned every last red cent. I'e worked 80-100hrs a week for the last 12yrs. i went on 3 vacations during that time, yes they were nice but 3 weeks off out of 624 weeks worked i thought i deserved something nice. does this make me evil, i don't think so.

so here is my plan, i volunteered to be laid off last week, so i'll be collecting my Un-employment check starting this week, i'll be moving into brooklyn next month (kicking out my tenant who probably cant afford to moved but F*$'em) living for nothing since i paid it off my mortgage years ago. I'll be moving out of my penthouse in NYC, and my building will loose the 8k a month rent, and my garage will loose the 1k a month to park 2 of my cars, plus all the little items i'll save on, i can personally say i'm removing 12-15k a month from the NYC economy.

guess living poor with my porsche and range rover in brooklyn is the right move for my wife and son. I'll be bumming around for 26 weeks spending time with my son until the unemployment runs out and than i think i'll become a teacher or something. since working and giving away my income isn't as fun as earning less and spending time with my family. Imagine having an extra 50hrs a week to spend doing something you love instead of working!!!

so the moral is i'm going to work 35hrs a week, make 60k a yr, pay nothing in taxes and just retire now at the ripe age of 34. i'll probably move to florida next year since taxes are cheaper and teh economy is so bad i can get a killer deal in ft myers on a foreclosure.

Bing,
Congratulations. You really know how to stir up the pot. You touched a very hot button with this column and almost started a revolution among your readers. Unfortunately, I guess the humor part went-Whoosh!-right over the majority of heads. Anyway, thanks for putting down the dog. I'm going to read this blog to my chihuahua, just to scare him back into eating his kibble.

After taxing the 'rich', the big surprise will be on the masses (or other 99% of wage earners and non-earners) when inflation kicks in and everyone (all tax brackets) pays through the teeth for everything. Result: the Forbishers at 250k will become the 'lower middle class' even in NJ. Congrats on that Ivy League Diploma and thank you for all your hard work in school and career! Someone needs to pay for those who aren't as fortunate!

I love the 'everyone wins' system. Don't we all deserve the fruits enjoyed by the overachievers? i thought it was our competitive nature and willingness to be different that made this country great. Now, it seems as though we're aiming for mediocrity, which, to most, IS an accomplishment, in and of itself. Welcome to the club, morons. See you in the emergency rooms across America.

Oh yeah, instead of bashing the 'rich', a THANK YOU might be deserved since we're supporting you now, which feels like having a 38yr old son living at home and eating your food while you go work your as** off for it. I guess the idea of a 'free lunch' DOES, in fact, exist.

Here's a thought. Why should people marry when you can simply live together and file taxes as two separate individuals making $125k each? You can still live rich and avoid the additional tax burden imposed on that married couple making 250k.

Bing I feel sorry for those poor people. SURE! As with many opinions here, these people make poor financial choices. Oh - wait! Hasn't most Americans in the last few years made poor financial choices? So yes, these folks are not as rich as we think, but they have opportunities most Americans will never have. Which makes this story of an American upper class family an example of the times to come. Our country is now in another transition of shifting wealth. Every recession in recent decades moves a part of our middle class to a lower standard of living. This shift seems to be permanent as we have lost so many jobs to the global financial expansion. Add to that what we have been told by the media ads of all the new things we need in our lives to make it even better. So debt and health care continues to raise. People like the Forbishers are lucky and will figure it out eventually. But I can't say that for a large percentage of the 98% who have and will continue to have much less.

'I’ll agree that the choice to live in Manhattan while you are raising kids is a lifestyle choice, and it’s a bad one. It does not reflect careful thought or planning. If I were in that area, I’d get out.'

Of course, making $250,000 in NYC is more likely than other places, as salaries already account for the cost of living here. And for the gentleman suggesting that we fix the public school system, it wasn't always broken. Many of my peers also make $250k+ and came from the same public school system I did. It just doesn't exist anymore.

Hmmm. So they make $250k, pay $100k in school tuition, and paid taxes of $110k?

So they pay their $1.2 million mortgage and support five people in NYC on the remaining 40k?

Something doesn't add up.

If your point is that money goes a much shorter distance in NY or San Francisco , my answer is: duh.

You're also ignoring the fact that tax thresholds are progressive. If taxes are increased on the over $250 crowd, they would pay those increased taxes on just $4,540 of their income.

Sounds like their main problem is living somewhere with crappy public schools and private schools which charge way to much. I recommend they move to the suburbs.

The math is all wrong.

You must include as tax the amount they forgoe in public education. Assume public education 'costs' the public treasury $8,000 per child.

Since their 3 children are enrolled in private school the public treasury saves $24,000 per year in cost.

I'd like to add another comment on a subject of great concern to me, OIL.

The US is producing 50% less oil today than we did at the peak in 1970 when we had 50% less population. We can rant and rave about all the small stuff while the REALLY BIG RISK to us is oil starvation due to overpopulation. The overpopulation is being driven by immigration into our country and we DO NOT have the oil supply to support all these 'new' people.

And forget the idea that we can replace oil. Oil does much more than run your car. THINK ABOUT IT!!

You guys who are sitting their with your calculators doing the math really crack me up. Oh. Excuse me. What if they pay only $40,000 for schooling. What if they pay nothing and send their kids to private school? Are they rich? Are they sitting around enjoying the sunshine without a care in the world? That's MY definition of rich. I think this world has been sent straight to hell by people who insist on doing the math and ignoring the underlying facts of whatever situation we're supposed to be addressing. And now I'm going home to kick the dog.

"total income $38000…total taxes payed in 2008…$7800…" (2 kids)

Yeah Right...

I, too, am dumbfounded by some of the comments here. I cannot believe how values have changed so to the point where this sense of ENTITLEMENT has taken such a stronghold.

It's hard work, sweat equity and ambition that EARNS you what you have. Waiting for a handout because "the man" is keeping you down is bull. No one has the power to keep you down, only you.

I live in a town similar to Bummfuzzle, Iowa. My household brings in about $130,000/year, probably equivalent to the $250,000 in other locations. We have 3 kids (more than the ALLOTTED 2.5, how dare we!!) who go to private school because public is full of divorced and meth families. Sorry, not the values I want my kids to model. My husband and I also work more than 40 hours a week each to make a comfortable life for our family. We have a nice house, we vacation, we have toys, and guess what, we have all of it because we DO watch our pennies and budget accordingly, to afford the lifestyle we have chosen, because we work for it and EARNED it. We may never reach that $250,000 threshold, but then, what's our motivation to work that much harder and aspire to more only to have it taken away? Ugh, it's my friggin' hard work, it should stay my friggin' money!

My dad was my role model. He was born into poverty and never let that keep him from aspiring for more. He chose to break the cycle of poverty, worked multiple jobs at once and worked his way up in his career to afford a comfortable life for us. He's proud and has every right to be. And, he raised me to think I could achieve anything I CHOSE. For those out there always screaming for CHOICE, it's all about CHOICE, right?? Well, I CHOSE to go to college. I CHOSE to pursue a career with growth opportunities to be a substantial contributor to our household. We work hard for what we have and we, too, are very proud, because we EARNED IT! And what we value and how we live our life is our CHOICE.

I believe drawing arbitary income lines to establish who is and is not rich is counterproductive. It would be better for everyone to stop trying to drag down those who make more than you and instead focus on improving your own situation. Many of those who make over $250k a year also spent several hundred thousand dollars on the education necessary to attain that level of success. Who would risk that debt level if the resulting income was cut way back? Who would bother trying to be a doctor if all it got you was a bullseye on your back from the IRS? Too many people have become like crabs in a barrel, pulling down anyone who tries to get out. As someone mentioned earlier, at a certain point the wealthy may as well stop working and hide their fortunes elsewhere.

too many posts, and not enough time........

Obama can take his definition and shove it up his *ss. I grew up homeless without any money. I fully expect to push into the >$250k class in the next five years based on hard work and determination; i am the american dream. Who is he to take that away from me? I don't care if I am buying yachts and bentleys, i worked hard for and and should be given the opportunity to do so without the government deciding i can't. My answer to all the deadbeats and lazy riff raff that will say they need their piece of my pie: "Pull yourself out of poverty, don't expect me to do it for you becuase no one did it for me".

Gotta agree with retired at 35, new york. he's hit the nail right on the head. Taxing overachievers will simply force them into early retirement. Hence, no income to tax. It's already happening at the banks. How many multi millionaire bankers have just packed it in cause they can't earn more than 250K / yr if their bank takes tarp money? At some point, its just not worth getting up to go to work, just to pay the government. Now retired can spend the time with his kids he couldn't before and live comfortably for the rest of his life. And he won't pay a penny more in taxes...In fact, he'll pay less at that teaching job.

"insist on doing the math and ignoring the underlying facts"

Some people consider the "math" to be the best represenation of underlying facts. Economists for instance.

Listen Bing, we get that these people aren't living high on the hog, but you're showing a bit of tin ear yourself. Instead of singing a dirge for people in the top 2%, why not a column with the following theme: "If even this family isn't living rich, think of the other 98%."

And all of the you high earners who have ridden in on your high-horses, remember that us poor shlubs earning the median are also net taxpayers. You seem to have the notion that you're supporting everyone under the sun. Ain't so.

Brandon, the rise of math in the realm of human affairs has signaled its destruction. Math is a form of poetry, nothing more.

Oh, New Yorkers are such special people, not like the rest of us slobs! Why should anyone feel sorry for the Forbisher's choice to live in one of the world's most costly cities? Try living across the river and commmuting like the rest of us!

I get the feeling everybody feels that earning $250k makes a person rich...until the moment they earn that much.:-) Some years ago, Money Magazine called people earning over $150k the "ultra middle class" since, unlike the truly rich, they still have to make choices when they spend. In this example, the fictitious family pays for private school and can therefore only afford an old Camry. Is this a wise choice? Perhaps not, but it's better than sending the kids to a terrible public school and driving around in a Ferrari. Of course, people who earn more than 95% of the population are well off and can afford to pay higher taxes than they do now, especially if they wasted less money and moved to a less expensive area with good public schools as the rest of us do, for example. Compared to the "Forbishers," we live here quite well on less than half their income with no debt whatsoever and a well-funded college fund for the kids.

The obvious sarcastic rhetoric expressed in the article seems to have succeeded. It is quite clear that the intent was to:
1. Raise discussionary points
and
2. Emphasize that the $250k/annum threshold is not a gate one passes through to be pronounced wealthy.

Forget the figures mentioned in the article, enough rebuttal has been cast: (i.e., effective tax rate, geography, education choice, etc).

I do not necessarily agree with raising taxes at this bracket, nor am opposed. It could be beneficial to raise tax rates if the "extra" revenue was to be used in some manner other than helping the poor or funding projects with little long-term value. The flat-tax solution does offer the best promise of being fair.

For those that do not make near this income and label $250k earners "rich" are painfully mistaken.

An interesting irony was posted through a combination of comments: "people would do anything to earn this level of income" - this is obviously not true. It is a choice to work in the capacity that you do. If you mop floors, flip burgers, etc., that is a choice, onc that CAN limit your income. It does not matter what you do for living, virtually all work hard - there is nothing insulting about saying that you work hard, regardless of income.

The opportunity to succeed financially is not some elite club, it is available to anyone committed to putting in the effort. For those that rant wishing they were there, think long and hard about what you might think it to be - and once you get there, its doubtful that you will be cooperative in just handing more of it back to the government.

If the government proceeds with this tax change, the effect is that those in this eschelon will either:
1. Find ways to shelter more income.
or worse
2. Collapse goals such that people may prevent themselves to reach this income level - a logical effect when people become dis-incetivised for their effort.

What happens next? Less money for all, especially to those that still wish they were in these shoes...

What no one wants to entertain is perhaps the people who make over $250K actually earn it. For whatever reason, the marketplace for their job description justifies that pay and they are qualified to earn it. No one is "giving" this money to them. Why can't they choose the manner in which they spend what they earn just like the person who makes $60K?

That being said, who says they aren't paying their "fair share" in taxes. If an across the board "flat tax" was applied, even though they make 5 times as much as a person making $50K, they would also be paying 5 times the taxes. If the tax rate is 10%, the Forbishers would pay $20K more in taxes than the person making $50K. Why is that not a fair share?

The redistribution of wealth is only a disincentive to strive for more. What is my incentive to earn more if my government is going to take the money from the guy who does make more and give it to me anyway?

I understand that most people dont make this kind of money and it would take years to make this kind of money. What makes this nation so great is that everybody has the oppurtunity to make it. What drives people to succeed in this nation is that there is a glimmer of hope that you will be successful. But to be successful, what most people dont realize is that it takes a lot of hard work. These people did not just turn 18 and automatically get a well paying job. There was a lot of hard work that led to there high income. They deserve to keep what they earned. I think a big problem that people have is that they are jealous of what other people have. That is the main reason why our economy is in the shape it is. Point blank people bought stuff they couldnt afford. Now those people are drowning in debt. Those same people are asking for the goverment to help them fix their problems. So when the goverment steps in to help these people it is on the shoulders of those who were responsible. How is that fair? According to some people they are saying that this couple is overpaying for education. Who cares what they are paying for their children's education. Isnt their tax money going towards public schools. It is better that their kids dont go to the public schools because it takes away more resources away from the children that actually do go to the public schools.

Bing, you provocateur, you - this has to be one of the funniest posting strings I've seen on this site.

The time has come to grab the shotgun, take the whole Forbisher family out to a field, and put them out of their misery (and their little dog, too !)

...sitting *there*, bing. :-)
Oh, and please don't kick the dog. He probably feels rich if you just give him an extra bone to chew on, lol.

Don't kick the dog or I'm calling PITA

;)

How about to help balance the system and get "rich" people to stop complaining we implement a new rule. For every $1M someone pays in Federal taxes, they are allowed to kill someone on welfare. The new system would slowly balance as the government would save money as tax revenue would not be wasted on people who choose not to work which means they could lower the tax rates for everyone.

Yes, the top 5% of earners pay bigger proportion of taxes than ever. However, their salaries have increased much faster than average worker's salary. For example, average CEO's pay was 71 times the average worker's salary in 1989. In 2007 that ratio was 364.

Next thing: if you live in NY and make well over 300k, chances are you work somewhere in the financial industry. So if you want to change your occupation to teaching, by all means please do. All teachers combined cannot lose as much money as few bankers and traders in NY did.

And BTW, if somebody cracks a joke and almost nobody is laughing, you don't say that the joke went over majority's head. You say that that somebody is not funny.

I think this is all a rouse by Mr. Bing to work us into a mob and break out our torches and pitch forks. Oops, too late!

It is so tiring to read all of these post but what's worse is the irony in all of this! All of these people who come on here and want to point their fingers at people that make more money than them and say that there are people starving and that they should give their "fair share." Ironic as these people are sitting at a computer that cost hundreds of dollars, using an internet service that costs hundreds of more dollars per year, all while watching their flat screen tvs and their digital cable. Hypocrites! Why don't you cut your cable and internet service, sell your computer and tv and send that money somewhere where it could feed these starving people? It amazes me how far America has fallen and how we have lost what made this country great. Socialism and the programs that come along with it will only contribute to the downfall of this society. I long for the days when we kept scores at kids soccer games and parents had to explain that it was okay to lose, that you have to try harder and practice more to become better. Now everybody wins and we are all great, regardless of whether you sat on the bench and never saw the field or if you single-handedly scored 4 goals. I suppose I am this way because I came from a home where my father lost his father when he was only a kid and was forced to work from a young age to help feed his family, where his mother never owned a tv in her life becuase she couldn't afford one and where she has never driven a car, only walked. Walked to work, walked to the grocery story, walked to church. It floors me to see the way people behave now a days and how we, as a country, have lost the work ethic and tenacity that made the US the leading nation in the world. More government intervention will only lead to more wasted money. In fact, could someone please point out a government derived/run program/business that actually adds more to society then it takes away? I will answer that...NO, because one doesn't exist. Not the postal service (which loses BILLIONS of dollars a year), not social security (which will be as alive as a t-rex by the time I could collect some), corn based ethanol (to the tune of BILLIONS of dollars of government subsidies) and the list goes on and on and on. On another note...do you people really think that the Forbishers prefer to spend 100k a year on schooling for their kids? Wouldn't you think they would rather spend that money elsewhere? Of course they would, but they see it as a necessary sacrifice in order to better their kids lives. Not to mention they technically already pay for schooling for their kids in the form of taxes. It is obvious the only reason these people are pointing out the "excess" of this private education is because they would like the Forbishers to appear all that much more "rich" that way they can be further victimized for living so lavishly while "most" of America suffers. Additionally, this debate about whether 250k is "rich" is pointless and tiring. Just because you make 45k doesn't make the person making 250k a year "rich"...there are a lot of factors involved, not just that one person makes more than another, otherwise Michael Bloomberg shouldn't pay taxes because Warren Buffet and Bill Gates make way more money than he does. And please...please stop say that these people should just live someplace else...believe me, if you could just pick-up and move someplace where there were little-to-no-taxes and still make the same amount of money EVERYONE would already live there. Open your eyes and take in the beauty...its called reality, wake-up already.

As a family that makes $250,000 a year, I am sickened that we are in the same catagory as Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet. HOW IS THAT FAIR?

What a provocative piece bing. I noticed that we were only paying attention to one side of the equation and neglected employers. The market sets the price on the value of work, that's why CEO's with MBA's in finance make more then Ph.D's in math who teach those MBA's. Maybe folks should go complain to the employer who can employ people at 250K/yr. These companies really don't value their employees and share the love. Why are they paying the Forbishers dirt minimum to get by on in NYC? The bastards!

Bing, you've only demonstrated that you've been far too long out of touch with the average American. Millions of couples both work hard, make far less, and would find the Frobishers' income level well above what most would consider 'middle-class'....relatively speaking, they are indeed quite rich. Do I worry about some 'redistribution' of that income? Not a bit; in fact, it's about time.

Perhaps they could find time to care about such things as decent public schools if their children weren't beginning their lives of favor at private institutions. The rich will either share, or be drug down into the muck with the rest of us.

My wife and I both work and yes, we make about 250k. Between Fed Taxes, State Taxes and Property Taxes we pay over 100k in taxes per year. There's no way to shield it when you earn a salary. Those are the facts. Yes, we have a comfortable life - working over 10hrs per day each - and yes, we take a vacation each year but we have actually gotten cheaper as our income has increased. Our "date nights" are no longer a night on the town for $300 - dinner, sitter and show - but $50 at our local outback. The last time the entire family ate out was last June (on our vacation). We cut coupons and only buy meat that is on sale. And our kids go to public school. Bottom line is if our taxes go up, we will spend less - cut the date nights and vacations. Yes, we live in a nice house (that we can afford) but that is our only luxury. We may be high earning, but we're certainly not rich. I don't want sympathy but targeting us will make us consider whether it's worth having my wife work. Without her salary, we'd probably be a lot better off - more time with the kids, less time scheduling around work schedules, definitely less taxes and more tax credits and just an easier life in general. My parents both had to work harder for half as much but if every dollar you earn is for someone else, what's the point?

To: White Christmas

I'm dreaming of a quarter million
Just like the one that Daddy knew.
(adjusted for inflation)
Where the servants listen,
And blonde maidens glisten,
All fresh and rosy with the dew.

I'm dreaming of a big payday,
with every deal that I do close,
may your comp be high as a kite
and may all your 1040s be right.

This post serves as a great kick off for good scrimmaging between a good offense and a good defense relinquishing zero points.

The sleeper here is rules that are at the discretion of referees and umpires who control the outcomes of opinions and differences in the scrimmaging taking place.

Of course, there are the company golf, bowling, and soft ball leagues etc. that have access to HRM; or tethers to the Warren Buffets of organization life.

Politicians? Bah, while one gives, the other takes away!

Bing,,,you appear to have touched a nerve.

Not to worry,,,keep your face covered,,meet me in back,,,I have the pickup gased and ready to get you out of town....

How to recognize me ,,,I'll be the guy that doesn't have a pail of tar in his hand and a pillow case full of feathers under his arm.

You can stay over at my place in Canada until this thing blows over.

Well THIS one got 'em going, Bing.

The internet has evolved to the point where more people could be making six-figure incomes from home – say, home on a lake in Minnesota. Thus is the web the solution to global warming, too. Soon, one hopes.

All you people get back to work now. You have bills and taxes to pay.

www.sawyerspeaks.wordpress.com

someone has to spell it out, bing's blog piece is a parody of the people who are writing serious responses complaining about the unfairness of higher taxes.

My problem, Laurel, is that I'm making fun of everybody. That can be annoying, even to me.

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