Friday, October 01, 2010

Anger of the Majority

Brad DeLong catalogs some angry blog posts about the supposed suffering wealthy, largely brought on by law professor Todd Henderson (the link is a snapshot from Google's cache as the original post was deleted).

Yes, Henderson comes off as a complete jerk, insisting the President tax "the-richer-than-me-rich" but not the "rich-as-I-rich." But just as the wealthy lose perspective because they spend all their time around other wealthy, the less well-off lose perspective as well. This quote is one of the more reasonable ones and captures the heart of the criticism:
The sympathy list they always go through are the costs of private schools, elite private universities, large mortgages, and large loans for graduate schools (I note the lack of large loans for undergraduate). This just isn't even a concern for 97% of Americans. And to say life is difficult if you send your kids to a nice public school in a nice suburb, go to a non-Ivy school, live in 10-20% less of a house or live without a graduate degree, is quite simply crazy and just goes to prove all the stats about how happiness doesn't increase with income...
Presumably, Prof. Henderson engaged in the life he did in part so he could live in the bigger house and send his kids to a private school. Presumably, he was willing to take out those loans because he knew he could pay them back. I know times are tough for everyone but can people not at least empathize with someone's frustration that they went the extra mile for decades on end, built a life, achieving specific goals, only to have them taken away because politicians (no, voters) can't manage the government's pocket book? This is not to say that relief for the hardest hit shouldn't happen but when the story becomes about ignoring the wealthy's goals and work as if they're just wallets to take from, as if they aren't people, is a childish thought process.

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