From the Wall St. Journal:
It’s not as easy to be rich as it used to be.
Once upon a time, America’s most wealthy people barely felt the ups and downs of the economy. Over the past few decades, though, the roller-coaster ride has become more extreme for them than for any other income group, according to a new paper by two Northwestern University economists.
Overall, since 1982, the income of the top 1% of earners has been about 2.4 times as volatile as the average for everyone, the paper’s authors find. That’s a big change from the years 1947 to 1982, when the income of the top 1% fluctuated about 30% less than average.
To be sure, the greater volatility doesn’t mean poorer folks should feel sorry for the rich. On average, households in the top 1% had a pre-tax income of about $1.4 million in 2006, so they were well able to absorb big losses.
Whew - that's a relief. I don't have to go dig under the couch cushions for change, so that I can go buy a box of tissues to use as I weep for the plight of the wealthy.
According to Paul Krugman in the NY Times, the rich are angry:
These are terrible times for many people in this country. Poverty, especially acute poverty, has soared in the economic slump; millions of people have lost their homes. Young people can’t find jobs; laid-off 50-somethings fear that they’ll never work again.
Yet if you want to find real political rage — the kind of rage that makes people compare President Obama to Hitler, or accuse him of treason — you won’t find it among these suffering Americans. You’ll find it instead among the very privileged, people who don’t have to worry about losing their jobs, their homes, or their health insurance, but who are outraged, outraged, at the thought of paying modestly higher taxes.
These days, however, tax-cutters are hardly even trying to make the trickle-down case. Yes, Republicans are pushing the line that raising taxes at the top would hurt small businesses, but their hearts don’t really seem in it. Instead, it has become common to hear vehement denials that people making $400,000 or $500,000 a year are rich. I mean, look at the expenses of people in that income class — the property taxes they have to pay on their expensive houses, the cost of sending their kids to elite private schools, and so on. Why, they can barely make ends meet.
Uh-oh, I may have to go back to the couch cushions.... but wait. Krugman points out that the rich have political power and influence, and so a number of politicians from both sides of the aisle are fighting to keep the tax cuts for the wealthy in place, in spite of the price tag.
NOW it's time for the tissues:
And when the tax fight is over, one way or another, you can be sure that the people currently defending the incomes of the elite will go back to demanding cuts in Social Security and aid to the unemployed. America must make hard choices, they’ll say; we all have to be willing to make sacrifices.
But when they say “we,” they mean “you.” Sacrifice is for the little people.
cross posted at MainSt/workingamerica.org