Rich and lovin’ it

It’s not news when the wealthy of this country embarrass themselves. But lately, a lot of folks in the upper classes have been doing exceptional work in this area, and it’s worth noting.

It’s a bit tiresome to hear many of the rich whine, bleat and moan about the doom that will befall them and, of course, the country, should (a) they be taxed a bit to help cover the costs of a new national health program, and/or (b) they have to suffer the savagely unfair return of tax rates that would be equal to those found back in those frightfully hostile Clinton years, when loads of rich folk were regularly locked in stocks and pelted with rotten pickles. Well, before they swamp sewage treatment plants throughout the country with their torrents of tears, the fearful among the wealthy ought to refresh their memories.

That is to say, it has never … never … been a better time to be a fat cat in this country. I’m making this wild-eyed statement after looking up the tax rates imposed upon Americans in the last 60 years. Beginning with today, when we see that, thanks to W., a married couple with a gross income of $320,000 will be taxed at the top rate of 35 percent. That same married couple making 320k would have been nicked at a 39.1 percent rate in 2001. Going back to the heart of the Clinton reign, had our couple reported an income of $256,000 in ’95, they would have been tagged at the highest rate, a not particularly brutal 39.6 percent. In 1983, that couple making a mere 110 grand would have been nailed by the highest rate, and they would have seen 50 percent of their money go to Uncle Sam—assuming they didn’t set up some dummy corporation in the Caymans. In 1964, our young couple, should they have been fortunate enough to have earned 400,000 bucks that year, would have again incurred the top tax, which would have meant forking over a cool 77 percent to the feds. My. How positively Swiss. And in 1957, our sample Ozzie and Harriet would have seen a jaw-dropping 91 percent of their $400,000 income toodle right on over to the government coffers. 91 percent. That’s a rate that would make even the tax-tolerant Swedes fire up some torches, march on Parliament, and eviscerate at least three or four lawmakers in the street. And yet, that was the rate all the fat cats paid right here in the U.S.A. 52 years ago.

Now, granted, back in the ’50s and ’60s, there were many more deductions that could have helped the wealthy soften the sting of those lofty taxes, but still, those deductions certainly were not gonna chop that 77 percent rate down into anything approaching our current top rate of 35 percent. So, in the final analysis, this would appear to be an excellent time for those in the upper realms of the well-to-do to (1) suck it up and (2) shut up. And make sure the motor for the gated fence is properly lubed.