Lame millionaire myths

Well, you know the “5 myths” column in the post has been handed over to a right-wing hack when they feel the need to make up non-existent myths and use the most shoddy of analyses to make a point.  Today’s defense of the oh-so-put-upon millionaires comes from John Steele Gordon.

Myth #1: Millionaires are rich.  Seriously?  Seriously?  Wow, that’s rich.  In a country when some people have to choose between taking needed medication or putting food on the table or whether they can afford to go to the doctor it’s damn insulting to claim that millionaires are not rich.   His main defense of his claim?

Today, $1 million in the bank generates only about $50,000 per year in interest. That isn’t chump change, but it’s roughly equal to the 2010 median household income.

Wow– so not impressive.  For starters, I don’t think as commonly used people think of millionaires solely based on net wealth.  But more notably, if you have $50K/year without lifting a finger in addition to whatever other income you presumably have, you’re doing all right.  Not to mention that you can use some of that million if you actually want.

Myth #2:  Millionaires think they’re rich.  What does that have to do with anything?  Nobody ever thinks they’re rich enough because they always no richer people.  There’s just nothing useful here.

Myth #3. Millionaires pay proportionately less income tax than poorer people.  Nobody is arguing this.  Hello, straw-man!  The problem is that too many millionaires pay much less proportionately in taxes than we would have if our tax system was more genuinely progressive.  And, in some cases, yes, less than poorer people.  Thus Gordon spends a lot of time making an argument that there’s no point in rebutting.

Myth #4. Millionaires share the same political beliefs.    Again, only  a moron would assert this.  The Koch brothers and George Soros have different political beliefs?!   ouch, my head hurts!

And last, we get to the political hackwork: Myth #5. Obama’s “millionaires’ tax” won’t seriously limit investment. The overwhelming evidence?  A 2001 report commissioned by a House Republican committee?  That’s it?  If you’re going to make a claim like this, you really need more and more non-partisan sources for such a claim.  But wait, he’s got history?

Taxes on the rich are taxes on people who create jobs. And jobs are an unalloyed good thing for an economy. Excessively taxing the capital that makes the economy go is poor public policy. And we have a recent example of how the opposite works well: Unemployment declined by a third in the four years after the Bush tax cuts were fully implemented in 2003, dropping to 4.2 percent from 6.2 percent. Meanwhile, federal revenue increased 44 percent in those years.

If I were teaching undergraduate PS research methods, I would give that paragraph to my students to poke full of holes.  Again, I expect more (though, obviously I shouldn’t) from a column prominently featured in the Post. Just pathetic.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

2 Responses to Lame millionaire myths

  1. Jason says:

    Thanks for commenting on the utter inanity of this piece. That the Washington Post would publish something like this is depressing.

  2. Seth says:

    “Millionaires are rich” is a myth? Only a douchebag could argue this.

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