Throughout the fight over extending the Bush tax cuts we've been told numerous times that they should not include the extension of "tax breaks for millionaires" or "tax cuts for the rich". So what is rich in Massachusetts? This is an expensive state where a median income of $64,081, almost $14,000 higher than the national median income of $50,221, just doesn't go as far as some think it does. Our health care and housing costs are some of the highest in the country. Even in the middle of this Great Recession the median cost of a single family home in Massachusetts is still almost $70,000 higher than the rest of the country. In addition to ridiculously high health care and housing costs our tax burden is one of the highest in the nation. This doesn't include higher fuel costs for your car and for winter. So that $64,081 goes away pretty quickly.
$200,000 sounds really nice and it is if you're making $64,081 but is it really considered rich in a state like Massachusetts or New York? I think the answer is no. It's comfortable but not rich and taking away more of their money won't make our economic situation better. Millionaires are commonplace in 2010; we need to stop talking about the rich as if we're still in the Gilded Age.
Geraldine Baum of the Los Angeles Times makes a similar point in her latest piece on the rich and the cost of living in certain cities around the country.
In Manhattan, a monthly parking space goes for $550. A magician for a children's party asks $650 an hour. (A rookie will take $400.) The nanny gets $600 a week. Breakfast for four at a corner diner is $40; a dog walker is $10,000 a year; a plumber who makes emergency calls won't lift the toilet lid for less than $250. ....
Waiting at Grand Central Station to meet a friend for Christmas shopping, Metz, 45, detailed the family's growing expenses: taxes consume about half their income, leaving the rest to cover mortgage payments and fees for a two-bedroom East Side condominium and college savings for two sons, ages 11 and 13. The boys attend public schools, but sometimes have tutors and coaching.
"Did I mention the six grand for each kid to have braces?" she asked. "I can't even discuss this with my parents.... The 310K we live on in Manhattan is like the 70K they raised me and my brother on in Queens. Shouldn't each generation do better?"
If you're paying someone $10,000 annually to walk your dog you probably don't have much to worry about but $250 for a four hour mini from a plumber is steep as is $550 monthly for parking. $6,000 for braces? Ouch.
So, readers, what do you think is rich? Is $200,000 rich? Is a million rich? Let me know in the comments. Oh, and don't forget to vote in the Boston.com poll.
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