Please Just Make Sullivan Stop Writing About This

And yet another round about the “successful” from Sully:

Doug J – with his snarl at the rich – proves my point. As a moral matter, I see no reason why people who work hard shouldn’t keep as much of their earnings as possible, and the only reason to tax them is to provide a safety net for the unlucky and sick and poor, and to fund essential functions of government (defense, law and order, public works, education, basic scientific research, etc). But my real point was about making the case for the necessary evil of such taxation in a civil and constructive way. James Joyner gets this right:

    The reason people like Andrew and myself wish the basic fact that most high earners got there through the dint of their own efforts acknowledged in the debate is that it’s crucial to a civil society.

We need a lot of money to fund a lot of public projects. That would be true even if we just funded the ones that 85 percent of Americans agreed absolutely had to be funded. And people with money are, by definition, going to have to pony up most of it. But to confiscate it from the successful without acknowledgment of the sacrifice this entails is to court resentment.

Amen. In turn, James gets attacked for using the term “confiscate” in the passage above.

First things first. Long time readers know that I love James Joyner and think OTB is a great website. I have lots of respect for James, and can’t say the same for many other conservatives out there. But as someone who also had my education paid for in part by the taxpayers via the GI Bill, listening to people who received a premium, many hundred thousand dollar education at West Point go on about the “confiscatory” nature of taxes makes me want to throw up from the chutzpah. Seriously. Should we require all Service Academy graduates like James to write thank you notes to our Galtian producers for their education now? I mean, we are super concerned with the feelings of the rich these days, it appears. And by the way, because of his premium taxpayer funded education, James is INSTANTLY better off than 95-99% of the rest of the nation.

Second, what Sullivan continues to keep missing is that the “snarl” from DougJ wasn’t unprovoked. It was started by Sullivan’s initial nonsense:

Why are so many on the left incapable of acknowledging that many people who are rich – but, of course by no means all of them – earned it the hard way? Until more liberals internalize this, they will fail to persuade America of the occasional need for government because people will rightly suspect that what they are really about is penalizing or diminishing hard work. By the way, I favor an inheritance tax. But I also favor allowing those who work hard to keep as much of their own money as possible.

I’ve already discussed in detail why this statement was so annoying, but let’s go through it again. First off, it is just one ginormous damned strawman. Who “on the left” won’t acknowledge many rich work hard? Name names. Show me some poll data. You’re just making shit up, otherwise. Second, why should liberals have to internalize this? Third, why do you assume you are any different from liberals in regards to people keeping as much of their money as possible. Everyone thinks this.

Sullivan’s problem is he just can’t come to grips with what has happened in this country the last few decades. Not only can he not come to grips with what is going on, but he has it ass-backwards. He thinks there is class warfare going on, and “the left,” liberals, and poor people are the ones waging it. The exact opposite is going on- it is the rich, both individuals and corporations, who are waging class warfare and have been for decades. And they are winning. Let’s look at a few charts. First, income inequality:

Wage stagnation (good piece here, too):

All the while, look what has been happening to income tax rates:

Like I said, Sullivan is right- there is class warfare going on. He just has no clue who is waging it and who is winning it. Over the last three decades, the rich and super-rich have been paying lower and lower taxes (in all areas- capital gains, marginal rates, etc.), getting a bigger and bigger piece of the pie and amassing more wealth concentrated in the fewest hands since the Gilded age, and what really bothers Sullivan is that we aren’t spending enough time fellating the rich for paying their taxes. The horror of it all.

And this doesn’t even go into the greatest heist perpetrated in modern times- the Bush tax cuts (which Sullivan and I both supported). A direct transfer payment to the most well off in the country, and now we are going to have to figure out how to pay for them since the Republicans sure as hell didn’t. And guess what the solution is- gutting social security and other social programs. Dontcha just love it? Give tax breaks to millionaires funded with social security payroll taxes for a decade, and then when the rich don’t want their marginal rates to go up after that ten year period, bend over social security recipients (who paid into the program) for another rogering. Because that is what happened, and it is all the more delicious when you realize that through it all, social security payroll taxes are capped from 80-100+ thousand over the ten year period. It’s as direct a transfer payment to the rich as is humanly possible. The only way it could be more transparent is if we put Tim Geithner signing checks in the Russian Tea Room and then handing them to millionaires.

Even in the latest downturn, when trillions of dollars in wealth were lost due to the greed and incompetence of our betters, guess who made out? Rich bankers caused this financial mess, and who did Republicans spend all their energy trying to destroy? Union autoworkers and ACORN.

And Sullivan is upset because “the Balloon Juice gang” won’t give our “successful betters” like Donald Trump and that whiny professor from Chicago a sloppy blowjob for bearing the horrifying burden of being rich. According to Andrew, unknown numbers of liberals refuse to internalize some bullshit he made up, when he can’t even see what is going on before his very eyes. The fact that the wealthiest in society have managed to convince Sully, the teahadists, and middle and low income Republicans that it is the poor waging class warfare is a greater feat for the Wurlitzer than even the Devil’s greatest trick.

*** Update ***

More here from Robert Reich.






211 replies
  1. 1
    cervantes says:

    The basic assertion that in general, the reason people are rich is because they “work hard” is total horseshit to begin with. Many people are wealthy because they inherited money, or at least enough privilege to go to an Ivy League school. Is GW Bush rich because of “hard work”? He’s rich because his daddy’s friends made sure of it. Other people are rich because they are totally amoral and they decide to go into socially useless but lucrative fields like investment banking. Others just got lucky. Others are thieves.

    Most low and moderate income people work much harder than most rich people. That’s just a fact.

    Wealth, in general, is not “deserved” and having wealth should not be rewarded by giving people more wealth. On the contrary.

  2. 2
    JPL says:

    John, Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    Like I said, Sullivan is right- there is class warfare going on. He just has no clue who is waging it and who is winning it. Over the last three decades, the rich and super-rich have been paying lower and lower taxes (in all areas- capital gains, marginal rates, etc.), getting a bigger and bigger piece of the pie and amassing more wealth concentrated in the fewest hands since the Gilded age, and what really bothers Sullivan is that we aren’t spending enough time fellating the rich for the contributions. The horror of it all.

  3. 3
    fasteddie9318 says:

    Dear Andy,

    If I promise to give both of the Koch brothers big, sloppy tongue kisses right on their mouths, will you stop flogging this bullshit?

    Your friend,
    fasteddie9318

  4. 4
    Ash Can says:

    Psst, Andrew — stop digging.

  5. 5
    Turgidson says:

    Need a cigarette.

  6. 6
    Midnight Marauder says:

    I’m pretty sure you just created a standardized response to Sullivan’s inanity from now on:

    Like I said, Sullivan is right- there is [insert topic of discussion here] going on. He just has no clue who is waging it and who is winning it.

    Rinse and repeat.

  7. 7
    Sad_Dem says:

    Be grateful, peon, that you are still allowed to complain about it in public.

  8. 8
    some other guy says:

    But to confiscate it from the successful without acknowledgment of the sacrifice this entails is to court resentment.

    Why should I, or the other 95% of Americans who are one major illness or accident away from bankruptcy, give two shits whether the rich are resentful or not? In fact, anyone crying about having to pay a couple pennies more on their $250,001st dollar of income can go fuck themselves.

  9. 9
    david mizner says:

    @cervantes:

    Agreed. I disagree with Cole’s premise. Sullivan’s a tiny bit right. Many lefties, this one included, don’t accept that the rich work hard–no harder and quite possibly less hard than the non-rich, who, in addition to working their tails off, have to work in shitty conditions, with crappy health care, etc.

    So Cole — in an otherwise great post — is actually undercutting his point by accepting the silly “rich work hard” myth, which undergirds the class war to which Cole is righteously opposed.

  10. 10
    Crusty Dem says:

    I would argue that the class war is over. The wealthy won. Between FICA, state sales taxes, 15% taxes on capital gains, etc, I haven’t seen any data suggesting that the rich pay a higher tax burden than anyone else in this country. If there’s one group getting the (relative) shaft, it’s the 80k-150k dual income family, paying into FICA, paying a income tax rate only slightly below the maximum, and not getting any of the major breaks and benefits.

    And I’m not arguing that they’re getting screwed, but that the ultra-wealthy and those with inherited wealth are skating by with a relative tax burden of 30-70% less than less wealthy working families..

  11. 11
    Violet says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    John Cole in a fine rant is a beautiful thing to behold.

  12. 12
    Tom Hilton says:

    That’s gonna leave a mark.

    Well done, Mr. Cole.

  13. 13
    wmd says:

    Sullivan does at least acknowledge higher taxes will be needed.

    The Slate series on income/wealth inequality is well worth reading.

    Its conclusion: problems with education is 30% of problem. Corporate boards overpaying upper management is 30% of the problem. Decline of organized labor is 20% of the problem.

    Other factors are not as important – in particular tax policy is only about 5% of the problem.

    The resentment Sullivan feels about not acknowledging how hard rich people work – that feeds into the over paying upper management part of the problem. How do we take away incentives to over pay upper management? higher taxes could be part of the solution, and particularly income brackets for over $500k, $1M, $10M incomes with increased marginal rates at each level – say to have maximum rates of 60%.

    538 looked at this a while back – not a whole lot of additional revenue by doing this (and not because of going Galt, because of basic accounting).

  14. 14
    Jules says:

    Bastard.
    I finally had to send a letter…..which annoys me to no end.

    “You write:
    “And I find the rhetoric demonizing the “rich” to be counter-productive, uncivil, and revealing a mindset of envy not pragmatism.”

    sigh.
    Where does one go after an ending like that.
    If you disagree then you must envy the rich or are engaged in class warfare.

    Andrew, it is not demonizing to suggest that the upper class has already gotten whatever acknowledgment they require in the form of the large compensation they receive for either their hard work or winning the birth lottery.
    What more do they need?
    I’d like an acknowledgment that even if the upper 5% income earners in the country work hard the poor and middle class normally work much, much harder with much less compensation and may even be the ones who do the actual physical labor that produces that which makes the top 5% well off.
    And they do it without being able to send their kids to private school or the ability to go on vacation or have a feeling of security or a sweet retirement when they have worked so long that their body is breaking down.

    Envy…what a load of bullshit and until they are willing to admit that luck and birth and the fact that they live in this country where so much is provided by the taxpayers that allows the top 5% to work hard and be a success no one really cares about their feelings.”

  15. 15
    Cris says:

    Sullivan’s initial nonsense

    And let’s go further back, to Jamelle Bouie’s original point: Sullivan consciously uses the term “the successful” as an equivalent term to “the rich.” And that’s wrong for at least two reasons (not everyone who has worked hard, or even has found success at their craft, is rich; not everyone who is rich got there through their own successes).

    But Sullivan didn’t originally say something as blase as “lots of rich people worked hard to get there.” He says

    And there’s no one’s income left to tax but the successful’s

    This is not a neutral choice of words. He’s trying to pretend otherwise now.

  16. 16
    J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Boy did I pick the wrong week to stop smoking (seriously).

    And, btw, what the fuck does Andrew Sullivan produce? If Andrew Sullivan were to go Galt off in P’town, never to grace the world with his bloggery again, would anyone really give a shit?

  17. 17
    PurpleGirl says:

    @cervantes: You said what I’ve been wanting to say, and said it better than I could have.

  18. 18
    erlking says:

    Slobbering over the rich is the bare minimum for “civil discourse?” I think the pricks should be content with the absolute lack of sans culottes employing Madame Guillotine. When the rabble are performing obscene pantomimes with the headless corpses of artistos…that’s uncivil discourse for you.

  19. 19
    freelancer says:

    …with his snarl at the rich…

    Bark! Bark! Bark! Bark! Grrrrrrrrrrr.

  20. 20
    fasteddie9318 says:

    Oh, and Andy?

    I too am a conservative who can live with higher taxes because of the need to address the mounting and unsustainable debt – but only with serious cuts in entitlements and defense at the same time. And I find the rhetoric demonizing the “rich” to be counter-productive, uncivil, and revealing a mindset of envy not pragmatism.

    I’m dreadfully sorry to have been so envious of my social superiors. You see, I have envied in my heart, Andy. I envy the ability of the top 5% to repeatedly, and without even the basic courtesy of a reach around, fuck me and the other bottom 95% of the country right up the can. I envy their work ethic, the kind of get at it, Protestant ethic to screw your neighbor out of anything he doesn’t have nailed down, misappropriate and outright steal the commons, buy yourself a chunk of the government, and live a high rolling existence off of the backs of the less fortunate among us, while not showing the willingness to so much as piss on one of your social inferiors should it catch fire. (Well, not to put too fine a point on it, I really envy the ethic of the mommies and daddies of today’s rich, since proportionately few of them did anything to make their money but hit the genetic lottery. But I digress.)

    Oh, wait, that’s not envy. I’d just like them to stop fucking the rest of us over.

  21. 21
    Punchy says:

    The links to Sullivan will continue until morale improves.

  22. 22
    numbskull says:

    John, I predict that as you did with the GOP and conservatism in general, you will eventually quit Andy, and eventually, Jimmy. They just aren’t that good.

  23. 23
    kdaug says:

    I’m generally a fan of Sully’s. On this, though, I think he may be letting his British show through. He once said that class is to the English what race is to Americans. I think he may have internalized the lesson, at an early age, that the rich truly are your “betters”.

    To which, most Americans say “bullshit”.

    On the upside, there’s a good chance that with enough pummeling about the head and beard over this, he will change his mind. It’s happened before, on much bigger issues, not unlike some other resident owners of blogs I also frequent.

  24. 24
    FeFiFo says:

    Posts like this one are why I visit Balloon Juice multiple times a day. Thanks for the smackdown.

  25. 25
    DougJ is the business and economics editor for Balloon Juice. says:

    @david mizner:

    Personally, I don’t have much of an opinion about whether the rich work hard or not. It’s just not something I think about I lot.

    It just seems to me that a marginal tax rate in the low 40s for high income people would help balance the budget without putting too much strain on anyone. That’s all. And I think it’s fair, given our tremendous amount of income equality, to tax the very wealthy a bit more than we do now. I’m not making value judgments about the rich. I’m not saying we need to send them to the guillotine, but I’m not saying that we need to blow them 24/7 either.

  26. 26
    ISLM says:

    Nicely put. Channeling Brad DeLong on this topic, to spend is to tax. Sully (partly), Joyner (mostly), and Chicago Prof (fully) supported a president and a party that fought two unfunded wars, created an unfunded Medicare program, while simultaneously enacting two large tax cuts, the overwhelming bulk of which went to individuals in the top five percent of the wealth distribution. The bill has now come due, and the orgy of Republican miscreance shouldn’t fall most heavily on those with median incomes (who have negligible wealth).

  27. 27
    Jody says:

    “[Sullivan] has no clue.”

    That about sums it up.

  28. 28
    CT Voter says:

    I look forward to Sully’s response. And I hope he does, in fact, respond.

  29. 29
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @numbskull:

    Didn’t this place largely quit Politico because of the unending stream of lapdog bullshit emanating from there at all hours of the day? Why doesn’t Sully get the same treatment?

  30. 30
    whetstone says:

    Sullivan’s too busy fellating himself to suck up to the rich:

    But I also favor allowing those who work hard to keep as much of their own money as possible.

    “As much as possible.” SO DO I. Now let’s talk brackets!

  31. 31
    Professor says:

    I have never respected or taken Andrew Sullivan seriously since the time he supported Margaret Thatcher’s Govt. Thus he supported Clause 28 of the Local Govt Act 1988. This made it a sackable offence for a teacher to teach that Homosexuality is normal livestyle,ie, that you are born with it. A number of UK teachers lost their jobs because of this ACT. AND Andrew Sullivan is GAY!

  32. 32
    Paula says:

    He once said that class is to the English what race is to Americans. I think he may have internalized the lesson, at an early age, that the rich truly are your “betters”.

    This is probably it.

  33. 33

    I noted Sully’s penchant for stroking the egos of the rich back in August 2009: Andrew Sullivan is an idiot. Nothing has changed, I see.

  34. 34
    Mnemosyne says:

    You know, if rich people just wanted to say, “I work hard,” then fine. Lots of people work hard. An 80-hour week is exhausting, though I bet seeing $100,000 in your bank account at the end of that week makes it a little more worthwhile than when you only see $1,000 for working the same number of hours.

    But what they’re actually demanding is that we accept their claim that they work harder than anyone else, and that’s so patently bullshit that it’s hard not to laugh right in their faces.

  35. 35
    freelancer says:

    I’m not making value judgments about the rich. I’m not saying we need to send them to the guillotine

    Surely, we could stand to lose a few. I’m not saying they won’t get their hair mussed, but 10-20%, that’s not asking a lot.

  36. 36
    Morbo says:

    Andrew, repeat after me the following mantra:

    Economics is not a morality play.

    I got it in 1. Sully will need to repeat that 1000 times per day.

  37. 37
    Silver says:

    Cole, you give that fuck too much credit. Sullivan knows very well who is waging and winning the class war. All Mr. Fifth Column has to do it look in the mirror in the morning to see…

  38. 38
    cleek says:

    it’s odd how Sullivan fundamentally misunderstands liberalism.

  39. 39
    CT Voter says:

    @Mnemosyne: Yep. The rich are special, doncha know?

  40. 40
    BR says:

    Speaking of transfer payments to the rich…

    We shouldn’t forget what’s going on these days in the banking sector. The Fed is doing its open market operations a few times a week these days – where they electronically imagine up say $10 billion in a single day and then use that ‘money’ to buy treasuries. Of course the treasuries they buy are preannounced (you can find the planned purchases on various finance sites) so the big banks first borrow from the Fed at 0% interest, buy treasuries that yield 3.5% and then sell those same treasuries back to the Fed for a profit. They then pocket that money and give themselves a pat on the back.

    This money the Fed is imagining up is a transfer payment from future American taxpayer receipts to the banks, and it’s happening every week (next scheduled for tomorrow, last one was yesterday).

  41. 41
    Eric S. says:

    Stands. Claps. Claps some more.

  42. 42
    El Tiburon says:

    @Turgidson:

    Need a cigarette.

    That was a right-good pounding for damn sure.

    The visual aids were a nice bonus.

    The real problem with most of the ‘rich’ is their sincere belief that they are God’s Chosen People.

    I have an acquaintance who went from nothing to becoming a millionaire through stock options. He took a chance on a venture and it paid off handsomely. Good for him.

    But he can’t go three steps without discussing his millions and how he feels he is now untouchable; that the rest of us are lazy, shiftless dirtbags.

    This is how they feel: WE owe them. THEY make it run smoothly.

    Like Leona Helmsley said: Taxes are for the poor.

  43. 43
    david mizner says:

    @DougJ is the business and economics editor for Balloon Juice.:

    The guillotine? No, not yet anyway. Let’s try changing the system before we kill the rich, who, after all, are reportedly human beings.

    But the country would be better–and the system more likely changed–if more people stopped seeing wealth as a virtue and accepted that luck, more than other single factor, determines people’s wealth.

  44. 44
    Dennis SGMM says:

    Both Sullivan and Joyner completely ignore the fact that the “successful” owe their success not to just their own efforts but, to the efforts and the taxes (Sometimes at 90% marginal rates) of the generations of Americans who preceded them. It has somehow become an accepted fact that the “successful” suddenly sprang full-blown from the forehead of Zeus and that where and when they were born (Not to mention whose children they might be) had nothing to do with their wealth. They get all butt-hurt and aggrieved when anyone suggests that they should pay one fucking dime to ensure that future generations of Americans have a shot at success.

    To be an apologist for that attitude is despicable

  45. 45
    Warren Terra says:

    The funny thing here is that one way that the Republicans and the Friedmanite Middle propose to fund low taxes on the rich is by reducing Social Security benefits and forcing people to work longer. Wankers like Sullivan see this as more evidence that the rich work hard and are happy to do so. People more connected to reality see that the rich don’t time their retirement according to Social Security, and rich people don’t do the physically demanding work that wears out your body early, work you can’t keep on doing into your late 60s.

  46. 46
    norbizness says:

    @Punchy: Too late, I already Private Pyled myself.

  47. 47
    singfoom says:

    Yeah,

    John Paulson, the hedge fund manager that makes BILLIONS is certainly better than all of us.

    Also, it’s either envy or class warfare if we suggest that he might be taxed more than 15% on those earnings since it’s technically capital gains and not personal income.

    Sully’s line here is bullshit. The super rich have been waging war on the rest of us for the last 30 years and they are winning.

    Their concentration of wealth coupled with Citizens United means they can put enough ads on TV to fool the plebes that it’s the poor that’s fucking up everything for us, and not the rich…..and even before that they had wingnut welfare shit like Cato and AEI and the like to put out bullshit papers about how if we’d only give the superrich another tax cut, stop taxing inheritance on their giant fortunes so they can give all of their money to their new lordling, that they’d all give us jobs.

    Except, oh wait, Voodoo economics is exactly that and has been completely discredited for years now…

    But don’t let the facts bother you…the rich just are better..

  48. 48
    eemom says:

    Why “the Balloon Juice gang” cares so passionately what an overgrown British upper class schoolboy has the arrogance to dictate to citizens of the host nation which tolerates his smug-ass presence within its borders?

    Instead of just telling him to STFU and swim the fuck back across the pond where he came from?

    Discuss.

  49. 49
    Sentient Puddle says:

    Doug J – with his snarl at the rich – proves my point.

    Gah. Doug was constantly asking what the fuck kind of acknowledgement these people want. How is that supposed to be considered snarling? It’s entitlement shit like this that make most people incredibly cynical about the rich. If the money and the personal sense of accomplishment aren’t giving you enough satisfaction that you need the lowly peons to feel grateful for whatever contribution to society that you’re making, you’re in the wrong line of work.

    On an entirely different and unrelated note…

    But my real point was about making the case for the necessary evil of such taxation

    I love it when people use rhetoric like “evils of taxation” or whatever. Did you know that the reason our currency actually has any value is because the government taxes it?

  50. 50
    Mnemosyne says:

    @El Tiburon:

    Like Leona Helmsley said: Taxes are for the poor little people.

    Slight correction, because Helmsley didn’t just restrict herself to the poor. It was all of the “little people” — including the middle class — who were on the hook for taxes, but Helmsley’s millions made her a special snowflake who didn’t have to follow the rules.

  51. 51
    BR says:

    I should add, for a stoner, Sullivan is really pro-establishment.

  52. 52
    Brachiator says:

    As a moral matter, I see no reason why people who work hard shouldn’t keep as much of their earnings as possible, and the only reason to tax them is to provide a safety net for the unlucky and sick and poor, and to fund essential functions of government.

    Make it stop!

    Again, there is this phony conflation of “hard working” with “rich.” Why shouldn’t everyone be able to keep as much of their earnings as possible? I think it pointless to waste a lot of time trying to attach morality or effort to what is a social and economic question.

    And Sullivan tries pointlessly to sneak in a justification for a libertarian vision of economics. Waste of time. As is his hazy notion of “essential functions of government.” Some of the Founders did not see a standing army as essential, for example.

    On the other hand, all of the wailing about income inequality is unconvincing. “National income” is not a bucket of money that belongs to everyone. This is an after-the-fact summary of economic activity. Nor is economy a zero-sum game: that Bill Gates or Oprah rake in tons ‘dough does not by itself take money from someone else.

    But the statistics of stagnating wages, and decline in purchasing power and standard of living are spot on, and indicate a real and growing problem.

  53. 53
    kindness says:

    Dear John,

    Reading Sully is like a slow motion car wreck. It is horrifying and entertaining at the same time. Sometimes fun & meaningful, sometimes utter bullshit. But it isn’t always good for one’s mental well being and general happiness (just like Fox News).

    When I was in High School and started worrying that I was smoking too much pot I instituted a little rule that helped me maintain honors classes & decent grades. I called it weekends & Wednesdays. Yea, I cut back to weekends & Wednesdays and it really did help (well, till I became a Sr & dropped it all together).

    Maybe it’s time for you to be a weekends (when there is really only View from your Window) & Wednesdays Sully reader.

  54. 54
    El Tiburon says:

    @DougJ is the business and economics editor for Balloon Juice.:

    It just seems to me that a marginal tax rate in the low 40s for high income people would help balance the budget without putting too much strain on anyone.

    And 50% for the very, very top. For 10 years.

  55. 55
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Sentient Puddle:

    Doug was constantly asking what the fuck kind of acknowledgement these people want. How is that supposed to be considered snarling?

    Because he didn’t say, “Thank you, sir, may I have another?”

  56. 56
    eemom says:

    @DougJ is the business and economics editor for Balloon Juice.:

    I’m not saying we need to send them to the guillotine

    I beg to differ.

  57. 57
    Stefan says:

    As a moral matter, I see no reason why people who work hard shouldn’t keep as much of their earnings as possible, and the only reason to tax them is to provide a safety net for the unlucky and sick and poor,

    Look how Sullivan unwittingly divides “people who work hard” from “the unlucky and sick and poor.” Back here in reality, many of the unlucky and sick and poor do in fact work incredibly hard, while many of the lucky and healthy and rich are that way not because they work hard but because of, well, luck, of having the right parents or being in the right place at the right time.

  58. 58
    MikeBoyScout says:

    Game. Set. Match.

    Well said JC. Very well said.

  59. 59
    Corner Stone says:

    @BR:

    Of course the treasuries they buy are preannounced (you can find the planned purchases on various finance sites) so the big banks first borrow from the Fed at 0% interest, buy treasuries that yield 3.5% and then sell those same treasuries back to the Fed for a profit. They then pocket that money and give themselves a pat on the back.

    According to Martin in a previous thread this is “the very fucking definition of a bank!”.
    So apparently that’s where we are as a society today.

  60. 60
    Juicebaggers, ho! says:

    PSSST-John: Just don’t look, just don’t look.

    Of course, this would make more sense if you weren’t one of Sully the Pooh’s bestest fluffers, but hey, outrage is your forte.

  61. 61
    Cris says:

    @Stefan: It’s not unwitting. His very use of the phrase “the successful” as a synonym for the more objective “the wealthy” demonstrates that he has an agenda.

  62. 62
    Warren Terra says:

    @whetstone:

    “As much as possible.” SO DO I. Now let’s talk brackets!

    The conservatives tell each other scary campfire stories about those evil nasty liberals, the grinches of the economy, who just want to confiscate all wealth because that’s what the liberals do for fun. They don’t understand that actual existing liberals enjoy living in a prosperous country with opportunity and social justice, and want to tax people according to their ability to pay in order to preserve that. Instead, when shown a 39.6% marginal tax rate, they perceive the elimination of the Kulaks.

  63. 63
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    @Turgidson:

    And I don’t even smoke. Might hafta take it up after this post.

    The tax cuts looting of the Treasury was done precisely to drown the bathtub or as John put it, kill off Soc Sec, Medicaid and everything else standing between the Modern Republican Party and gutting the last vestiges of New Deal Librulism.

    We shouldn’t be debating these people or even acknowledging them. We should be stopping them.

  64. 64
    Corner Stone says:

    @J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford:

    If Andrew Sullivan were to go Galt off in P’town, never to grace the world with his bloggery again, would anyone really give a shit?

    It looks like the answer is yes, at least 3 of the FP’ers at BJ would lose about 70% of their inspiration.

  65. 65
    BR says:

    @Corner Stone:

    According to Martin in a previous thread this is “the very fucking definition of a bank!”.

    Silly me, I thought the job of a bank was to be a safe place to store one’s money.

  66. 66
    hilzoy says:

    Well done.

    My only question is: why did you support the tax cuts? (I’m genuinely curious: I didn’t read you back then, but it seems out of character. This is a compliment.)

  67. 67
    shortstop says:

    You cannot hold the belief that the wealthy are being insufficiently feted for their hard work without simultaneously believing that income/wealth and level of effort are exactly correlated–that the less wealthy are so because they do not work hard enough.

    To actually acknowledge that the vast majority of people work damn hard–and are generally as good at their respective jobs as high earners–requires one to let go of the pretty fantasies that we live in a meritocracy, that luck of birth (here I refer to a supportive and encouraging family/community network, decent schools and other accidental advantages, not necessarily to family wealth) and being in the right place at the right time aren’t major contributors to earning power, and that the unprecedented-since-the-Gilded-Age income disparities aren’t happening.

    Sully and his guys really are incapable of that acknowledgment and of that letting go. And so we go around again with this hoary bullshit about the wealthy being deserving and the not-wealthy being undeserving. It really does come down to that for these boys.

  68. 68
    Stefan says:

    But I also favor allowing those who work hard to keep as much of their own money as possible.

    As do I. So fine — no taxes on hotel maids, cleaning staff, cops, firefighters, farmers, commercial fishermen, migrant farmworkers, long-haul truckers, miners, nurses, etc. Let them keep it all.

    Now let’s talk about taxing those who don’t work nearly as hard in comparison, like CEOs and Atlantic contributors…..

  69. 69
    Corner Stone says:

    @Sentient Puddle: Meh. E.D. Kain did a whole post about the “necessary evil” of taxes.

  70. 70
    EconWatcher says:

    What does “hard work” mean? I’m a lawyer. I often put in long hours, and the work is often confrontational and stressful.

    But does that mean I work hard in the way that a waitress in a diner does? Or how about a worker in a meat-processing plant (work my uncle did for forty years)? Never in a million years would I claim that.

    Anyone who does professional work, but thinks he works as hard as real workers do, is just a jerk. Let some of these “hardworking” rich people bus tables at an IHOP for a week. Then see what they think of hard work.

  71. 71
    gbear says:

    The reason people like Andrew and myself wish the basic fact that most high earners got there through the dint of their own efforts acknowledged in the debate is that it’s crucial to a civil society.

    Shorter: Don’t make us have to pay more than we do to keep our gated communities well maintained yet riff-raff free.

  72. 72
    Punchy says:

    OT:

    Just how the fuck do they think this will pass a single court challenge?

  73. 73

    I eagerly await the documentation showing that “most high earners” got that way through their sweat and hard work. How do we even know that? Has that been proved? James Joyner got it wrong, even Sully in his original post didn’t go that far. He never said MOST high earners, he said SOME. Joyner took it a step further and Sully clapped along.

  74. 74
    John Cole says:

    @hilzoy: Because I was a doctrinaire wingnut. And also, Al Gore sighed a lot in the debates.

  75. 75
    Corner Stone says:

    @BR: Yeah, I had previously believed that a bank held money in trust, paid X% to you for the privilege, and loaned it out to good risk for X+Y% to cover costs and profit.
    But Martin and Ailuridae soon set me straight on that silly notion.

  76. 76
    fasteddie9318 says:

    If Sully is so interested in letting people who work hard keep the fruit of their labors, how about a nice 50% cap gains rate? No hard work involved there.

  77. 77
    Stefan says:

    It’s not unwitting. His very use of the phrase “the successful” as a synonym for the more objective “the wealthy” demonstrates that he has an agenda.

    Actually, I’m not so sure it’s not unwitting. I think at this point he’s internalized this belief so much that he just uses this language unconsciously. He’s not even trying to propagandize — it’s just the way his mind works now.

  78. 78
    Daveboy says:

    I ripped on you earlier for a Bad Post, John, but I’m perfectly willing to gush praise at you for a Great Post. Great post.

  79. 79

    @Punchy:

    Yeesh. Betcha anything ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) is behind this.

  80. 80
    Warren Terra says:

    @Juicebaggers, ho!:

    PSSST-John: Just don’t look, just don’t look.

    Whore is over if you want it?

    @eemom:

    @DougJ is the business and economics editor for Balloon Juice.:

    I’m not saying we need to send them to the guillotine

    I beg to differ.

    So what you’re saying is that when it come to the banksters we need a trial separation … a brief trial, followed by a very major separation? (adapted from an old Jeremy Hardy joke about Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn)

  81. 81
    scav says:

    ditto ditto on the gggggrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr-ROUAFFF!

    Additionally, lickspittle is an appropriate word in the circumstances and, moreover, one that is not nearly used often enough. Toady works too.

  82. 82
    Karmakin says:

    Speaking for myself, I’m all with with the idea that people who work hard should keep as much of it as possible.

    It’s why I support lowering income taxes and raising to the roof taxes on unearned income such as investment, inheritance, etc.

    But the Slate article up above is wrong wrong wrong. Or at least on some of it. The reason why income inequality is going up is that productivity has been rising, and all the benefits of said productivity have been going to the rich, because of the lack of a competitive market for labor.

    Taxes are only a solution to the problem, as much as tax policy/social programs can increase the competitive market for jobs (more public jobs, social programs to “encourage” people to stay out of the workforce longer looking for better terms, like unemployment, etc) or direct influence the flow of money itself. (Raising capital gains taxes to the roof, for example, will favor long-term buy and hold profit over short-term raze and burn modern capital)

    We need to either A. Increase the number of jobs, or B. Lower the amount of labor (in hours) in the marketplace. I think A for a variety of reasons isn’t going to happen, so the only option is B.

    Increase the minimum wage, lower the # of hours per week before overtime kicks in (at 1.5 to 2x pay), a temporary reduction of the retirement age to 60.

    That’s what’s needed right now. Everything else is rearranging deck chairs on the titanic.

  83. 83
    BGinCHI says:

    Reich has a great column over at TPM that gives a bunch of similar stats and is really eloquent on the fuckedupness of it all.

    http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsme.....?ref=fpblg

    This is also what the voter suppression shit is made of in the GOP: can’t have those dirty darkies getting the same amount of votes as the suits.

  84. 84
    Martin says:

    I wrote him an email:

    “As a moral matter, I see no reason why people who work hard shouldn’t keep as much of their earnings as possible, and the only reason to tax them is to provide a safety net for the unlucky and sick and poor, and to fund essential functions of government ”

    No, no, no. Taxation is not a charity.

    One of the viewpoints of liberals on taxation is often lost because it’s difficult to articulate. The rich are the ones that benefit disproportionately from the government. Not so much in a direct way as with entitlement programs, but in more indirect and invisible ways. In one of those discussions at Balloon Juice the question was asked “Why did my parents come to America from India and work so hard only to have their estate tax.” Why indeed? Why not stay in India and build that estate? They came to America because there was a benefit in America that didn’t exist in India. We can’t guess as to what that was, but there clearly was one because they made that choice. You came to America because there was a benefit in America. I don’t know what that was, but you do.

    Among the benefits are generally greater opportunities for entrepreneurs. And that works in many ways – the strongest research university system in the world (often tax supported) that helps to drive US innovation, a strong legal system (tax supported) to resolve I/P claims, an educated, mobile, and generally not-poor populace to buy your product and service (in many respect tax supported), strong infrastructure (tax supported), a generally good police system so you don’t need to employ your own (tax supported), a overly strong military (tax supported) to provide regional security so we don’t generally need to worry about our disgruntled neighbor lobbing rockets into our cities. We have State and Commerce departments (tax supported) that help resolve international trade disputes on behalf of American companies, that oversee the patent system in the US, that provide grants to encourage economic growth, that work to open markets to US companies, that establish national standards so that each automaker doesn’t need to have their own gas stations, or each TV network have it’s own TVs. We have the National Weather Service (tax supported) and NOAA that help ensure that businesses know about environmental threats to shipping, aircraft, and businesses. The state department will help get your employees out of foreign countries that are unstable.

    Don’t get me wrong, everybody in the country benefits from these things to one degree or another. Many people wouldn’t have jobs if not for these things. But the people that *profit* from these services are unquestionably the business and economic leaders and the investors. That’s why so many come to the US, set up shop in the US, and prosper in the US. It’s great – and nobody seriously wants this to change, but if you take the average American in the lower quintile of the income ladder and drop them in any other first world country on earth (ignoring language issues and the like), their lifestyle would hardly change. It might even improve. But I don’t think the same could be said for the top quintile. I think they have a significantly greater benefit to living in the US. Some of that benefit is that the government is ‘hands off’ in many areas. That’s seen as a good, but not one that people are willing to pay for, yet it usually does come at a cost – it might be a legal cost, it might be a lost opportunity to collect taxes, but there’s often some kind of cost there, and that cost needs to be made up.

    Think of taxation in a purely free-market sense. If we taxed people like we charge for products, the equilibrium point on taxes would be where people stop immigrating and start emigrating from the US. The market opportunities, potential to earn, and all the intangibles would be balanced out against the tax cost. That’s hard to gauge for lower incomes (below the median) because emigration requires a country willing to take you and incurs a cost, but on the immigration front quite a few people from nations to our south clearly think there’s a better deal in the US than in Mexico, Nicaragua, etc. and I don’t see a lot of Americans eager to move there. That’s not so clear to our north where Canadians seem to feel they have a pretty good thing going on. If we had an open immigration policy with Canada, my guess is that we’d lose roughly what we gain at the low end of the income spectrum. But for upper incomes (above the median), how many people who certainly can afford the cost to move and who are likely to be invited to another country actually do that? I see tons of people eager to immigrate to the US, like yourself, and I see quite a few upper-income owners buying 2nd homes outside the US, but very few actually leaving. That seems to me to suggest that our tax burdens are far from excessive relative to our benefits, particularly for upper income earners. In fact, we look downright generous.

    “And I find the rhetoric demonizing the “rich” to be counter-productive, uncivil, and revealing a mindset of envy not pragmatism.”

    And so is the rhetoric that progressive taxation is a charity to the lower classes. It’s not. Progressive taxation is exceptional payment for exceptional services from the government. It’s based on a principle that people are not so incredibly exceptional in either inherent genetic gifts or work ethic that they have personally ‘earned’ a wage that is hundreds to thousands of times higher than any other worker. That the hedge fund manager manager risking half a billion of his billion dollars is taking on massively, unquestionably less risk than the fireman who just ran into his burning house to save his cat. Just consider the negative outcome on either of those and ask who you would rather trade with – the guy who burned to death or the guy who only has half a billion dollars to his name? That the Yankees shortstop isn’t 1,000 times more talented or hard working as the guy crawling through the sewer 40 hours per week to make sure his house doesn’t flood literally earning 1,000 times less. These aren’t rewards commensurate with talent or good decision making. They’re rewards magnified through the enabling lens of the American economy made possible by tens of thousands of government regulations, agencies, and decisions. Nobody on the left is claiming that they shouldn’t be rewarded – even handsomely, just that those who find themselves the greater recipient of that economic magnification pay reasonably proportionately more, or do we think that the Derek Jeters of the world will cease to be just because he’s asked to give back half of the enormous salary he can earn thanks to Congress giving MLB an exception on monopoly practices that permit them to artificially keep new participants (teams) from entering the market, increasing the supply of teams to cheer for (and short stop positions), and presumably driving down salaries as earnings by teams flatten out in a broader market? That’s unquestionably a benefit provided by government, and yet higher taxation against that unique benefit is now viewed as ‘charity’.

    Talk about uncivil.

  85. 85
    gg says:

    It’s been more or less implied in earlier comments, but I have to say it anyway:

    Dear Andrew,

    If this whole debate is about poor rich people working so, so hard for their money, could you explain why cuts in capital gains taxes are such a Republican wet dream?

  86. 86
    Larry Bird says:

    100% on point. Well done.

  87. 87

    @Corner Stone:

    Yeah, I had previously believed that a bank held money in trust, paid X% to you for the privilege, and loaned it out to good risk for X+Y% to cover costs and profit.

    Crazy talk! You’re almost saying that a bank should be like a regulated utility, taking moderate risk for a moderate return and growing its asset portfolio with its deposit base.

    All Real Americans know a bank is supposed to be a hedge fund, only backed by the FDIC.

  88. 88
    The Main Gauche of Mild Reason says:

    This whole controversy fits the classic model:

    1) Republican spouts BS “common wisdom” propaganda (“the successful” are taxed!)

    2) Democrat calls him on it in intemperate terms to draw attention to how pernicious it is.

    3) Republican decries the “incivility” of Democrat’s remark, and claims it proves his initial point.

    The only thing we don’t have is

    4) Media outlets focus on Democrats intemperate remark, obsessing “are democrats far left, or really far left? scary!”

  89. 89
    Erik Vanderhoff says:

    I am lucky. I am lucky because my father, who paid for my undergraduate and graduate educations and fronted me the down payment for my house, is very wealthy. My father is very wealthy for two reasons: 1) He worked hard to become a very, very good litigator, the kind of litigator where when other lawyers learn who my father is, they say, “Wow, he’s a very good lawyer.” And second, he was lucky enough that that hard work put a case in his hands that ended up having a nine-figure decision in his clients’ favor.

    My father would be the first to say that he’s lucky. He says he’s lucky because his WWII vet father and his father’s generation decided to pour tax dollars into California’s education system, so that he could go to a very good undergraduate university for peanuts. He was lucky to have taken out loans for law school right before California’s economy skyrocketed, allowing him to make way more money than his loans cost. He was lucky because he made good decisions, didn’t suffer from illness, and because his kids were born without genetic defects that he would have spent every last dime treating. My father acknowledges his luck every damn day.

    My father votes Democrat, and has his entire life.

  90. 90
    licensed to kill time says:

    Is Sully going to be in charge of the Department of Acknowledgment and Internalization Measurement, Liberal Division? Because I’d like to know how these intangibles will be measured and subsequently determined to have reached the proper level.

    Maybe he’ll issue long-form certificates.

  91. 91
    Judas Escargot says:

    Sullivan consciously uses the term “the successful” as an equivalent term to “the rich.”

    This.

    “Success” means “the achievement of some specific goal”, whereas “Rich” means “has a lot of money”.

    Some successful people are rich, and some rich people are successful.

    But some successful people aren’t rich (example: you just got your PhD in History– success! congrats! But you’re still poor until you can score a job); And some rich people cannot be called objectively “successful” (what has, say, Paris Hilton ever achieved in terms of self-earned business success)?

    I have no idea how one can conflate/equivocate such two disparate terms: It reminds me of the similar conflation between the terms “can’t afford” and “doesn’t deserve” with respect to the mortgage debate.

    Maybe there’s something about conservative psychology that makes it necessary to believe that (money == morality)?

  92. 92
    brent says:

    I would say that Sullivan’s whole frame is wrong because it presumes that taxes on the rich are some sort of sacrifice or largesse that they contribute to help the rest of us out. But that is not even close to correct. Their wealth, no matter how hard they work, is dependent upon the functioning of our civil society and their taxes go to pay for that. If we were to perform an experiment and remove all of the infrastructure and services that are funded by government and which makes a capitalist society possible, they would very quickly find that their standard of living would be lowered just as much as anyone else. There are plenty of places on Earth where they can see just how hard work pays off when there are no roads and schools and police.

    Taxes aren’t some sort of charitable gift to society. They are payment for services rendered. Their problem is that, like everyone else, they don’t want to pay the cost for what they have.

  93. 93
    funluvn says:

    Well stated Mr. Cole.

    There is absolutely nothing that you’ve explained in this magnificent take down of the snobby ass that continues to play his Stradivarius violin while America burns that he can possibly refute with any sense of dealing with reality. I mean, sure, he will attempt to do so, but that is something I for one look very forward to reading. Comedy that isn’t planned is quite often more hilarious than that which is painstakingly constructed to pull a guffaw from the reader/listener.

  94. 94
    Warren Terra says:

    @Punchy:

    OT:
    Just how the fuck do they think this will pass a single court challenge?

    They don’t; they just think it will get past the first Tuesday in November. (Alternately, they’ve been learning the Constitution from Christine O’Donnell’s teachers)

    Also, the Teabaggers think an awful lot of Amendements are our evil and illegitimate: birthright citizenship, income taxes, direct lekection of Senators, etcetera. Basically everything after the Bill Of Rights, and there are parts of Amendments 1 and 5 they’re none too keen on.

  95. 95
    BGinCHI says:

    @Martin: This post is The Awesome.

    Please take one million dollars out of petty cash.

  96. 96
    Glenndacious Greenwaldian (formerly tim) says:

    Righteous and awesome post, John. Thank you.

    Topics like this are where Sullivan reassures himself that he is completely and totally a self made man, and deserves every perk he has managed to nab from society.

    He is unself-aware in the extreme.

    And by the way, don’t poor people and middle class people pay taxes too, at much higher rates in many instances. I don’t really get his beef, which is why I’m glad you were in charge of the take down, John, and not me.

  97. 97
    Billy says:

    I could get behind slobbering on the rich if they actually produced something. But can anyone point to the surge of brilliant productivity that accompanied the tax cuts in 2000. I mean, its scientifically proven, or something, that the galtians will withhold some portion of their precious bodily fluids if we let the tax cuts expire. Shouldn’t there have been a corresponding surge in magical refracting mirror cloaking gamma rays circa 2003?

  98. 98
    danimal says:

    My central political hypothesis these days is that conservatives are stuck in the 70’s and 80’s and are always refighting the same fights with the same solutions that they came up with under St. Ronnie. Sully’s just conjuring up a vision of liberalism that has been abandoned for years and hitting that straw man for all its worth. His pride won’t let him call himself a liberal or moderate, or whatever, so he has to distinguish himself from the DFH crowd in whatever way he can.

    Sully’s policy preferences aren’t that different than Cole’s (or mine, for that matter), but his tortured reasoning is maddening. He favors tax hikes on the rich, supports Obamacare, would like to see climate change addressed, Rather than concede that conservatism as he knew it twenty or thirty years ago is dead; he is flogging away at liberal strawmen. etc.

  99. 99

    thank you. all i have to add is this:

    “Let every dirty, lousy tramp arm himself with a revolver or knife on the steps of the palace of the rich and stab or shoot their owners as they come out. Let us kill them without mercy, and let it be a war of extermination and without pity “

  100. 100
    Barb (formerly gex) says:

    A counter argument counts as demonizing the rich. But calling people who are correct about many things a Fifth Column is just civil discourse.

    He always hates the people who are right and call him on his bullshit. It is in this area that he is his most white Christian male demographic. The people who colonized and genocided and slaved their way to the top and have ever since had the advantage of the head start or the correct skin/religion are the true heroes.

  101. 101
    morzer says:

    @kdaug:

    Sorry, but Sullivan’s Britishness (which is, by the way, a pretty fucking stupid idea) has nothing to do with this. In Britain, class has traditionally had very little to do with wealth, much more to do with bloodlines, tradition, membership of an “in” group as opposed to an “out” group.

    As a bonus, I will add that “Britain” has considerable regional diversity even within England, before one considers the variety introduced by the Welsh, Scots, Northern Irish, immigrants from the West Indies, Pakistan, Poland….. etc. There is no one British identity, except for people who know Britain only through the movies.

  102. 102
    Snayke says:

    Sullivan and the rest of the freemarketphiles are a deranged bunch. My goodness, just think of where this country would be if all the whiny liberals stood up and acknowledged that yes, Lloyd Blankfein, is a hard worker!

    Until we send these lunatics to the guillotine, we will forever be trapped by the notion that our overlords who are pulling in six to seven figures a year are being mistreated by the court of public opinion. It’s just insulting to say “hey, Random Middle-Class Worker Bee, you may only make $30,000 a year and work a stressful job, but think about how rough Jamie Dimon’s got it and how he’s paying more in taxes than you.”

    Glibertarians honestly think America is a Horatio Alger novel and that any regular schmuck can make himself a millionaire. That’s why they are tone deaf to middle and lower class problems: you don’t HAVE to be middle class — you CHOOSE to be middle class.

  103. 103
    gbear says:

    @DougJ is the business and economics editor for Balloon Juice.:

    Personally, I don’t have much of an opinion about whether the rich work hard or not.

    Even if they do work harder, they do not work 2,000x harder. It’s the ridiculous overcompensation for their work that makes this so obscene.

  104. 104
    goblue72 says:

    Andrew’s a Tory – he admits it all the time. Its deep in his bones to reflexively defer to the upper classes and favor policies which preference capital over labor. He may be a “modern” Tory in the sense that he doesn’t bray at the moon, deny global warming, borrow the county into penury and want to run around invading countries willy-nilly (those being Teabaggers, not Tories), but he’s still a Tory.

    If he was alive when George Washington was crossing the Delaware he’d be telling us all how John Adams, Ben Franklin and Paul Revere are a bunch of lefists looking to upend God & country and that we should all thank our stars and garters that George III was King.

  105. 105
    morzer says:

    What Sullivan does here is to deliberately misstate the arguments made against his piece. He assumes that all leftists are the same (thank you, you fucking bigoted piece of Reagan worshipping slime), and then assumes that said fictional group thinks all rich people don’t work hard (again, as has been pointed out, many rich people inherited their happy status and have done singularly little to earn it. Mitt Romney, Paris Hilton etc etc.).

  106. 106

    @Judas Escargot:

    Maybe there’s something about conservative psychology that makes it necessary to believe that (money == morality)?

    I’ve been told that is part of the Calvinist streak this country has never been able to shake. Which makes it odd to hear perpetuated by a Catholic.

  107. 107
    Eric S. says:

    @Cris:

    Sullivan consciously uses the term “the successful” as an equivalent term to “the rich.”

    This is a feature of the argument not an error. This is one of the ways to get the non-rich on board. “Hey, I’m successful! What right does the government have to confiscate my money?”

    Never mind the person is making $35K repairing cars.

  108. 108
    Erik Vanderhoff says:

    Let us not forget that Andrew is an English Catholic. Deference to their superiors is practically fucking genetic. Where’s an Oliver Cromwell when you need him?

  109. 109
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @John Cole: A bit off the topic, but how is Tunch, after his ordeal? Has he recovered and is he back to bossing all his minions?

  110. 110
    schrodinger's cat says:

    deleted, double post.

  111. 111
    shortstop says:

    @Stefan: I didn’t see this (or a large chunk of the rest of the thread) until I added my own post. Needless to say, both of us worked harder on our nearly matching posts than anyone else here did on theirs. I demand respect and prizes for my Herculean effort.

  112. 112
    brent says:

    @Martin:

    Obviously I was trying to make a similar point which you made much more thoroughly. It wasn’t up when I was writing mine.

  113. 113
    Mike says:

    One of the best JC posts in a long while!

  114. 114
    Cermet says:

    Never. Never have I read a better take down or a more clear proof of the Ass fucking we the non-millionaires have recieved from the repub-a-thugs. Your take on this should be printed in every paper and you should be interviewed by every major talking head on cable and TV. The DNC should release this for use by all their candidates. Then this post should be put in history books. Thank you!

  115. 115
    Martin says:

    @brent: I had the advantage of just copy/pasting. Glad to see I’m not the only one that views things that way.

  116. 116
    BrklynLibrul says:

    Awesome, awesome, awesome — an instant classic.

  117. 117
    R-Jud says:

    @morzer: I was coming here to reply to kdaug’s comment, but I see you beat me to it. A belief in deference towards one’s “betters”, whether in terms of noble family lines or wealth, certainly isn’t a “British” thing, or even an “English” thing.

    It seems to me after five years of living in the UK that it is, however, a fairly typical Tory attitude, and a Tory is what Sullivan frequently proudly claims to be.

    Or used to. I haven’t read him in a year or so.

  118. 118
    Warren Terra says:

    @Snayke:

    Glibertarians honestly think America is a Horatio Alger novel and that any regular schmuck can make himself a millionaire.

    I’ven ever read any of his books, but I’ve read that this version of the Horatio Alger story (which is also the version I was taught in school) isn’t accurate: instead, in Horatio Alger story a young man works hard, is abstemious and is properly deferential to his betters – and is eventually massively rewarded by some deus ex machina, for example a rich tycoon thinks the young striver is great and so makes the youth his heir. It’s only a story of hard work rewarded if you think that beavering away within your role in society will be rewarded through a Karmic mechanism (albeit within this life), it’s not a story of hard work and fierce competition earning its just reward directly.

  119. 119
    kdaug says:

    @morzer:

    There is no one British identity, except for people who know Britain only through the movies.

    Brilliant! Totally agreed! Would you care to pontificate on the American identity?

    Fucking jackals who know fuck-all about “here”.

    What’s a Mainer? What’s a Texan? What’s the difference between someone who lives Mobile vs. someone in Birmingham? What’s the difference between me and the guy across the street?

    I don’t fucking know. Do you?

  120. 120
    dirk says:

    I’ve long thought Sullivan has too much attention paid to him and he really shouldn’t have lived down that fifth column smear, but Bravo, sir.

    Bravo.

  121. 121
    Fwiffo says:

    The most annoying part of Sullivan’s latest obsession is that he has no policy proposal. He doesn’t even know what he wants, other than having his feelings satisfied.

    OK, let’s just assume we all decide to agree that we need to “acknowledge” the hard work of the wealthy. Is there a public policy they’ll accept in exchange for an increase in marginal tax rates? How do we put that in a bill? How do we write a law that does that? Is he looking for a presidential proclamation, a “Sense of the Senate ” resolution, or something more substantial?

    Do we declare a national holiday in honor of the wealthy? We could close post offices to acknowledge the sacrifices of those brave hedge fund managers, toiling away for our freedom. Hey, make it the Friday before Memorial Day and we can have a four-day weekend.

  122. 122
    shortstop says:

    @Erik Vanderhoff: I once interviewed a phenomenally wealthy guy about his career path and his habits of philanthropy. He spent about half the time telling me how lucky he was to get the breaks of fate he got, emphasizing that plenty of people who are smarter, more talented, braver, more socially skilled and generally harder working than he is are struggling to make ends meet. Well, he was a smart, talented, brave, fairly socially skilled and really hard-working guy, so a big old chunk of his financial success was due to his own effort and talents. But I loved him for saying that stuff and really meaning it–and I was saddened by how rarely I hear from people in similar circumstances who have the same open-eyed view of the elements of financial success that he has.

    Having said that, I’m not sure that it’s the super-wealthy who are the most annoying in this regard. For every hedge fund manager who writes whining WSJ editorials about how he makes our salaries possible and we should be thanking him for working for us, there are approximately a gazillion people who have just enough money to be ahead of the pack and lack just enough humility to see how luck played into that. They’re the ones who make a second profession out of worrying that someone somewhere is buying potato chips with WIC stamps, that some black urban woman is having a baby for profit or that someone with a meth habit is getting a Section 8 voucher.

  123. 123
    Warren Terra says:

    @Fwiffo:

    The most annoying part of Sullivan’s latest every obsession is that he has no policy proposal. He doesn’t even know what he wants, other than having his feelings satisfied.

    Fixt.

  124. 124
    Redshift says:

    @ISLM: Exactly. This is why the perpetual conservative sneer of “it’s your money” is so grating. If you actually believe that taxes are actually “your money” that the government has stolen, then for the past three Republican administrations, the government has borrowed huge amounts from abroad to give you things you couldn’t afford with “your money. Now it’s time to pay the credit card bill, and you’re pissing an moaning over being made to make a minimum payment instead of just rolling it over to next month’s bill.

    Oh, and they’re talking nonstop about how terrible it is that there’s such a big balance on the card, at the same time.

  125. 125
    Eric S. says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: A bit off topic? :) A very important question though. We should get a Tunch update.

  126. 126
    trollhattan says:

    Just because I don’t think the angry mob is quite angry enough, I’d like to bring up bankrupcy reform, which was certainly orchestrated as another way for the plutocracy to keep more of “their” money out of the hands of the undeserving.

    If we get “our” Republican congress, I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more about the magic of tort reform and the evils of “trial lawyers” than we have the last few years.

  127. 127
    Karmakin says:

    @Fergus Wooster: Calvinism, or at least I like to call it neo-Calvinism ‘cos it takes it places where Calvin would fear to tread, is something that’s gaining popularity by leaps and bounds among Catholic conservatives.

    It shouldn’t, but it is.

    Neo-Calvinism is the idea that god chooses winners and losers, and as such the rich and the successful are obviously more pious and moral than the ones who are not. Because of this, there are no moral and ethical considerations to helping the poor..it’s in fact the opposite, the poor deserve to be punished as they’re forsaken by god. (Sometimes unless they “repent” but often just plain old forsaken)

  128. 128
    scav says:

    @Fwiffo: How’s this? “Tomb of the Unknown Successful Better(s)”, only it’s a really a TOMB, not a cenotaph. And to make really really sure on the whole unknown part, we’ll torch a lot of them, mingle their ashes and tranche the hell out of them. CDO of banksters and minions: it’s not only poetic, it’s apt. Lose the paperwork or at least misfile it as a special bonus. We’ll promise faithfully to have a ticker-tape parade past it once a year and strew flowers.

    Can I just mention in passing that, en ce moment-ci, j’adore les français. Aux barricades!

  129. 129
    Shinobi says:

    These whiny rich bastards wont stop trumpeting their own oppression through taxation until the rest of us show up on their lawns with Torches and PItchforks. (At a discount from Wal-Mart, Natch.)

    Every time someone who works in front of a computer tells me how “hard working” they are I want to take their iPhone and shove it in their eyesocket.

  130. 130
    matt says:

    I will happily accept $1,000,000 from any rich person who wants me to say he works hard

  131. 131
    Ryan says:

    I think what this is all about at base, is that Andrew and his ilk feel guilty about their success, because so many now are suffering. What they crave is validation that they are indeed our social betters and that they deserve their comfort, just as others deserve their suffering.

  132. 132
    Crusty Dem says:

    FWIW, this data from the “Tax Foundation” is useful. Unfortunately, it does not include sales, FICA, and other taxes or it would be far more damning to the ultra-wealthy. My main note is that in 2008 (most recent year w/data), the top 0.1% have income above $1.8 million and pay taxes at a rate of 22%.

    If you make that much money, pay 22% income tax, and still feel like you can complain to anyone else, I’d suggest you go eat a jar of salted dicks.

  133. 133
    Bob Loblaw says:

    @Cermet:

    Your take on this should be printed in every paper and you should be interviewed by every major talking head on cable and TV. The DNC should release this for use by all their candidates. Then this post should be put in history books.

    This is one of the goofiest overreactions I’ve seen in a while. Man do BJers ever love authority figures to suck up to.

  134. 134
    Cris says:

    @matt: If we’re formally bidding on this contract, I’ll do the job for a mere $100,000.

  135. 135
    BGinCHI says:

    @Cris: Too late. Haliburton already underbid you for $3 million.

  136. 136
    Cris says:

    @Bob Loblaw: Man do -BJers- human beings ever love authority figures to suck up to.

  137. 137
    Don says:

    Said it in the last thread; I’ll say it here again. They don’t really want this theoretical acknowledgment of hard work and recognition, they want people to state agreement with this principal so they can use it as a cudgel against them later. “You ADMITTED the rich deserve to keep what they earn! How can you turn around and propose this tax, then??”

    Arguing where the line should be drawn with people who completely oppose progressive taxation is pointless. It’s like trying to play football against someone who won’t even accept where the lines are drawn on the field. Trying to teach a pig to sing would be less of a waste of time – at least the pig isn’t negotiating in bad faith.

  138. 138
    Johannes says:

    Booyah, Mr. Cole! I like Sullivan’s more thoughtful writings, but there are times when, as Dorothy Parker would say, “Tonstant Weader fwoed up.” This is such a time.

  139. 139
    kc says:

    Fuck Andrew Sullivan!

    Somebody’s gotta pay for the fucking invasions/occupations he wants the United States to carry out, so he and his hard-working rich buddies just need to shut up and pay already! And stop whining, motherfuckers!

    Nobody likes a whiner, let alone a rich, entitled whiner.

    Jesus!

  140. 140
    Stefan says:

    I didn’t see this (or a large chunk of the rest of the thread) until I added my own post. Needless to say, both of us worked harder on our nearly matching posts than anyone else here did on theirs. I demand respect and prizes for my Herculean effort.

    Those from whom much demand is demanded much is given, or something like that. I read it in the Bible. Or the Constitution. Same thing, really!

  141. 141
    Mark S. says:

    Has Sully ever used anything like a graph or chart to make a point? Has he ever backed up any of his assertions with any data whatsoever? I’m just pointing this out when his rebuttal is a link to McMegan and some quotes from David Brooks.

  142. 142
    BGinCHI says:

    Shorter Sully:

    The Rent is 2 Damn High!

  143. 143
    Juicebaggers, ho! says:

    Anyone who engages with Andrew Sullivan in good faith is an All-Day Sucker.

    But then, on a website that disparages some bloggers as outrage addicts, it turns out that John Cole is the Queen of the Outrage Whores(TM).

  144. 144
    Arclite says:

    Thank you JC, for that total destruction of Sully’s stupidity.

  145. 145
    Comrade Luke says:

    I know this already has a ton of comments and many people have Moved On (hehe), but I just wanted to say: this might be your all-time best post. I’m glad you were able to channel your rage into a fact-filled debunking of AS and the rest of them.

    The entirety of Left Blogistan (except the Professiona Left of course) should be posting “What John Cole said” and linking to this.

  146. 146
    Loneoak says:

    I’m late to the party, but I’ll add an “Amen, brother. A-fucking-men.”

  147. 147
    PeakVT says:

    @Tom Hilton: That’s gonna leave a mark.

    No, it won’t. The Atlantic clearly doesn’t care how much crap goes out under its banner, and Sullivan is just incapable of empathy for anyone who isn’t rich and male. The stupidity will continue unabated.

  148. 148
    Josh James says:

    Sullivan is a wank, and all he cares about are his feelings and the feelings of those he deems like him (white, male, Christian) and he’s no different now than he’s ever been … even tho’ he’s allegedly come out against conservatives, he’s still a wank fudging reality to askew to what he thinks is wrong, as opposed to reality as it actually is.

  149. 149
    Comrade Luke says:

    I doubt we’ll have the same reaction to raising the retirement age as they did today in France.

    Wow.

  150. 150
    Paris says:

    What does Sullivan actually produce that is of value? He acts like he’s in some high salary position that is critical to the economy. I have a hard time believing any of that is true. He lucked into a good job but really, he and Joyner are just fifth column bloggers. Probably works for the Chinese on the side.

  151. 151

    Talk to me about incivility when they start setting up guillotines. On second thought, give it about a month after they start setting them up and then we can talk about it.

  152. 152
    curious says:

    @Martin: very nicely said. thanks for sharing that.

  153. 153

    Reposting Lewis Black’s rant on rich people whining about their taxes. His conclusion: “Whenever I hear a rich person complaining about how much they have to pay in taxes, I like to turn to them and say ‘Hey! Go fuck yourselves!'”

  154. 154
    Corner Stone says:

    @Paris: Fuck Sullivan and fuck Joyner.

  155. 155
    trollhattan says:

    @Mark S.:

    He’ll throw up poll charts but for the most part he seems, if not innumerate at least to have little feel for The Maths. It makes discussing the economy and other number thingies not a good fit, and the continual McMegan links doubly ironic.

  156. 156
    Corner Stone says:

    @Comrade Luke: This was why St. Ronnie and his benefactors worked so hard to disband and demonize unions in the US.
    They knew.

  157. 157
    curious says:

    @licensed to kill time: then who will run the metrics on just how hard everyone is working? this should be a very easy thing to quantitate….

  158. 158
    Corner Stone says:

    Long time readers know that I love James Joyner and think OTB is a great website. I have lots of respect for James

    Let go of this. You can love the man but you don’t have to give his rank bullshit props.

  159. 159
    Alex S. says:

    Sully blogs too much. He should get out more.

  160. 160
    saucy says:

    See, posts like this are why I read and love Balloon Juice. Thanks, John.

  161. 161
    El Cid says:

    Until now I never realized how bad I made billionaires feel by not praising their contributions to society. I’ll strive to do better.

  162. 162
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Long time readers know that I love James Joyner and think OTB is a great website. I have lots of respect for James

    Let go of this. You can love the man but you don’t have to give his rank bullshit props.

    Agreed. It’s a pretty nauseating display.

  163. 163
    Chris says:

    I’m relatively well off, and this is a matter of being a combination of relatively smart and relatively lucky. It’s not due to “hard” work (although I do work a lot), it’s more “smart” work—by which I mean both “I have a job that requires math, logic, and language skills” and “I try to apply these abilities in ways that pay off well”. Having been born in a solidly middle class family (at the time I was born; we fell into poverty levels later after my parents split up, but had rich grandparents on one side, which made things very weird :-) ) was pure chance, though, as have been the vagaries of my health (not the best, but far from the worst), and so on.

    I have no need to be Sullivated for paying my taxes, and would not even if they were to rise (by raising the cap on, or removing the cap from, social security taxes—under the Obama administration plan my Federal income tax would not increase, not unless the stock market suddenly did a lot better anyway).

    I am posting this for another reason, though: I see a pretty strong positive correlation between taxes and the economy, but it is not the one Conventional Wisdom is constantly harping on. It seems to me that the economy generally improves when marginal income tax rates rise, and generally worsens when they drop.

    Certainly there is some element of cause-and-effect: if the economy worsens and Congress immediately passes a temporary tax cut, we will see tax rates and economic performance both go down at the same time. But in fact, tax cuts tend to lag a lot, so if the cuts helped, we would see the economy drop off rapidly, then the tax rates drop, then the economy steady and rise again. This is not what I see: instead, the economy dips a little, and then if tax rates remain the same, it rises, but if marginal tax rates fall, the economy continues to fall, longer and deeper.

    Similarly (or contrariwise), when marginal tax rates go up, the economy booms, often for another 5 years. Where are the jobs losses and the drop in economic output? I do not see them: chart after chart, graph after graph, show tax increases correlating with booming economies. There are some exceptions, e.g., during WW2 tax rates rose tremendously while the domestic economy struggled, but this was obviously due to the war effort: we made lots of military hardware (tanks, airplanes, etc) and sent them off to Europe and Asia to be damaged or destroyed, rather than used productively locally. However, once the war was over, the tax rates remained high … and the economy boomed.

  164. 164
    PIGL says:

    @danimal: that’s not it. He wishes he could be a liberal if only he actually held any liberal positions. But he don’t. Besides, liberals smell bad ly of pooh in his nostrils. Thus, painfully but manfully, and oh-so-sensibly, he finds Republican life much more congenial. Everyone he sees as he cranes his neck upwards from out his sinecure at The Atlantic seems to be much richer than he is, and they’re fer damn sure Republicans. They pat him on the head when he sits up and begs, and keep those mangy Tea Party mutts from biting in his direction. What’s not to like? Besides, liberals are mean to him. For example, case in point, they tell him firmly to stop peeing on the carpet like the neurotic little yap-dog that he is.

  165. 165
    Corner Stone says:

    From the Reich piece:

    Washington says nothing can be done

    I love the lack of agency there.
    “Nothing can be done!”

  166. 166

    It’s hard to get too worked up about this, since the class war has already been won by the rich. However, I wonder how the people that have household incomes above $200,000, but low enough after deductions to fall under $250,000 feel about being called a bunch of losers? I also wonder how one could classify Socrates, Buddha, and Jesus as losers, since they all chose to be poor?

  167. 167
    Corner Stone says:

    @El Cid: Acknowledge me! ACKNOWLEDGE ME!11!

  168. 168
    Corner Stone says:

    @John – A Motley Moose: Let me tell you something, purely anecdotal. Others here have expressed this to some degree or other but I’ll chip in.
    All of my wingnut friends, and I do mean all of them, regard themselves to some degree or other as “better”. And that’s a bad term because they aren’t superior acting, they just identify with the MoTU in a mental kind of way. Like the propaganda makes sense to them.
    Some of them do ok, some make a good living. But even the ones who make $40K a year and work 50+ hours a week to do that somehow have internalized their status as “better”.
    If you ask them if they are “rich” every one of them will say no, even the acquaintances I have that make 7 figures. They will all say no, I am not rich. I am middle class.

    But the policies and slogans and sound bytes they repeat. They are all of them the craziest, most self defeating ideals.
    And they forcefully push and repeat them.

  169. 169
    Chris Andersen says:

    This is why I read this blog. John, your background makes you uniquely qualified to call *bullshit* on other conservative thinkers who are still looking for some way to apologize for the egregious sins your once-fellow travelers committed.

  170. 170
    NobodySpecial says:

    Whenever someone quotes the little racist, I flash back to Steve Bell’s depiction of Tony Blair. That’s what Sullivan reminds me of.

  171. 171
    AhabTRuler says:

    So I guess this is a down week for those with Bipolar Sullivan syndrome.

  172. 172
    honus says:

    @DougJ is the business and economics editor for Balloon Juice.: very reasonable and completely accurate. In fact 40% is historically a discount rate for the rich. But you’ll never get anywhere with any rational sensible policies in the United States in the twenty-first century.

  173. 173
    beergoggles says:

    I really hope Sullivan actually understands John’s schooling. Somehow I think it will all escape his understanding. I think the problem with people like Sullivan is that they are uneducated, not in the literary sense, but in terms of facts. They know little to nothing of economics or science and so end up writing a great deal about gut feelings, acknowledgments and perceptions because they don’t have anything real to write about.

    It’s such a pity because he’s a great writer and I have really enjoyed reading his narratives about his past experiences; mainly because they have some basis in reality. It’s when he gets into religious mumbo jumbo and pseudo-analysis of village talking points that have no basis in reality, he totally loses me.

  174. 174
    Jack Bauer says:

    @kdaug:

    I’m generally a fan of Sully’s. On this, though, I think he may be letting his British show through. He once said that class is to the English what race is to Americans. I think he may have internalized the lesson, at an early age, that the rich truly are your “betters”.
    To which, most Americans say “bullshit”.

    The British left say it too. He’s a fucking Tory boy through and through, he admits it all the time. This means an instinctive ‘respect’ for class/money. Especially true if you’re not from money yourself, yet still fall into the Tory trap.

  175. 175

    […] October 19, 2010 I Agree With Every Word Posted by John O under Political | Tags: Andrew Sullivan, The Rude Pundit | Leave a Comment  Here, and here. […]

  176. 176
    Scamp Dog says:

    @Billy: Hell, we had “job-killing tax increases” at the beginning of the Clinton administration, followed by robust job creation. We had “job-creating tax cuts” at the beginning of the Bush administration, followed by anemic job growth and a financial disaster.

    I think that more-or-less discredits the Republican view of economics, but you’ll never hear it discussed by all those fiery liberals in the mainstream media, will you?

  177. 177
    pika says:

    John, I have read you for years, and I comment occasionally. I have never been more proud and pleased to be a reader of this blog–what a beautiful post. Question is: are you still gonna put Sullivan’s dogs in the Balloon Juice pets calendar?

  178. 178
    mclaren says:

    “I see no reason why people who work hard shouldn’t keep as much of their earnings as possible…”

    I do. If they keep as much of their earnings as possible, they keep 100% of their earnings, and there’s no money for roads, bridges, sewers, stoplights, trash pickup, or anything else. In that case, society breaks down.

  179. 179
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Comrade Luke:

    There’s a reason the Republicans spent 30 years breaking our unions.

  180. 180

    […] say, I’ve been wanting to say something about the left’s infatuation with income disparity, and this exchange between the folks at Balloon Juice, on the one hand, and Andrew Sullivan, on the other, […]

  181. 181
    mclaren says:

    John Cole asked:

    Who “on the left” won’t acknowledge many rich work hard? Name names.

    Me.

    I deny that the rich work hard.

    The rich don’t know what hard work even is. The rich have no concept of the meaning of the words “hard work.”

    You want to know what’s hard work?

    I’ll tell you what hard work is — hard work is picking strawberries for fifty goddamn cents an hour in the hot hot hot hot California sun in the San Joquin Valley. That’s hard fucking work.

    No rich creep I ever met ever did that kind of hard work. No rich asshole I ever heard of would even contemplate doing that kind of hard work.

    Rich people think “hard work” means sitting on their fat lazy lard asses for 14 hours a day. That’s not hard work, that’s easy work, that’s a piece of cake. The hardest goddamn thing about that kind of “work” is getting up ever 45 minutes to stretch your legs and grab a cup of coffee. Rich people would keep over stone dead from a goddamn heart attack if they ever had to work one tenth as hard as the migrant workers they sneer at and ridicule or the poor people who have to work 2 jobs to feed their kids.

  182. 182
    PanurgeATL says:

    It’s simple, folks: Those on top can’t complain.

    Heck, I’d take a 50% tax rate with no deductions if I still wound up with a million bucks at the end of it.

  183. 183

    Dear Mr. Sullivan,

    Shut UP you stupid fucking tw^t!

    Civilly Yours,

    The Entire Universe

  184. 184
    Twisted_Colour says:

    But to confiscate it from the successful without acknowledgment of the sacrifice this entails is to court resentment.

    I can solve this problem of lack of acknowledgement. Everyone in the top tax bracket can have a section of road, a spar on a bridge or even a venetian blind at a government agency named after themselves.

    Even better! When a poor or unemployed person goes to pick up their welfare they receive a little note that says “This free money was brought to you by the generosity of (insert name of high earner). When you are driving your Cadillac or eating your t-bone steak offer that person a prayer of thanks for their benevolence, you moocher!”

    That should make James and Andy happy. Now let’s up those taxes!

  185. 185
    Jrod the Cookie Thief says:

    The jackass @180 thinks that income disparity is no big deal because the poor still have microwaves and VCRs.

    If you’re bored, go spam his comments with some reality. Or just point and laugh here.

    His only good point was that he’s a bad blogger. Too true.

  186. 186
    beergoggles says:

    @Jrod the Cookie Thief: I noticed that and all I could muster was a shake of my head at how facts and figures have a way of completely flying over some people’s heads.

  187. 187
    Karen says:

    Like I said, Sullivan is right- there is class warfare going on. He just has no clue doesn’t care who is waging it and who as long as he and his buddies stay rich.

    Fixed.

  188. 188

    Sully is an eloquent idiot. Yes, he may change his mind about this after having the facts beaten into his head over and over and over again, but who the fuck cares? He’s still a wanker. The successful in what terms? How much money one makes? That’s bullshit. Most of the wealthy are lucky to be in businesses that pay them obscene amounts of money for producing absolutely nothing. I really don’t get the Sully love. Yes, he is a great writer, but he’s full of shit. Just quit him already.

  189. 189

    FYWP.

    @Karen: I like the way you fixed that statement. So true. Willful ignorance in this case.

  190. 190
    SectarianSofa says:

    @mclaren:

    Hmm. Well, I half agree with you [edit — 7/10ths agree], but I have known enough pathologically driven business people (only one though who I would unquestionably call rich beyond upper-middle-class levels) to know that there is hard work going on. To the point of exhaustion, and quite amazing to me. It tends to look like desperation, an attempt to prove worth, or to tell the self that the trajectory is always upward, something like that. I suspect that the extremely wealthy who have started well-off do not realize what hard work really is, however. Also, there are plenty of people living in the suburbs working white-collar jobs who work ridiculous hours, grinding away just like the more well-off, their life force sucked out without the greater rewards that seem to accrue to those in absurdly well-compensated fields like financial consultancy or mergers and acquisitions, or those people who knew what credit default swaps were before the system blew up. Not trying to be glib, but just painting broadly to be brief. I think there are different kinds of hard work, but the big difference is that some have to work unremittingly, with life and family survival at stake. Not for ego, like our captains of industry, or whoever the hell it is we’re supposed to solemnly recognize as the blood and sweat of the capital machine. The extremely wealthy have a choice. Why should I respect their frenetic drive to accumulate and prove themselves? I am sometimes in awe of skill or energy, but if the drive is only for the self, what do I owe them? Rationally, if the effect of the right kind of work, of entrepreneurship, e.g., is to keep the country financially buoyant, driving forward, then there should be structural rewards. These can be legislated or simply effects of the capital system. And etcetera. But as John Cole has shown in his post (and elsewhere, and others too), the rich are already being rewarded out of proportion. The system is out of kilter as it is. I fully agree with DougJ that there is plenty to do and worry about without setting up a church of the Afflicted Rich where we must kneel weekly and offer our thanks and blessings. I like Sullivan most of the time, but goddamn, I really think he needs to drop this, whether or not it pains him to admit to himself that the topic is serious only for those caught in their own narcissistic fever dream. The rich aren’t gladiators in whose victories shine the radiant glory of Rome. I can appreciate the people, the wealthy, as people and individuals, but it is perverse to call out their suffering (that, is, their simple motherfucking butthurt) and compare it to anything the truly needy experience. What would Andrew’s Jesus do? Worry about the feelings of the tiny slice of American humanity who are not recognized as worthy of respect by our demented Liberal hoi polloi? Oh, fie on the hippies, and their crudely drawn justice that has no music for the barons, kings, and lunatic rich. It’s just goddamn ridiculous.

  191. 191
    El Cid says:

    I think we should start a “Flowers for Billionaires” campaign, so that we can all show our appreciation for them getting rich.

  192. 192
    Xenos says:

    @Karmakin:

    We need to either A. Increase the number of jobs, or B. Lower the amount of labor (in hours) in the marketplace. I think A for a variety of reasons isn’t going to happen, so the only option is B.
    Increase the minimum wage, lower the # of hours per week before overtime kicks in (at 1.5 to 2x pay), a temporary reduction of the retirement age to 60.

    This is a very good point, and it applies to salaried workers as well. Part of the productivity revolution has allowed a radical skewing of income within the professional class, so that one corporate lawyer with technology is twice as productive as a corporate lawyer was 20 years ago. The upshot is that the lawyer who was making $100,000 fifteen years ago (in inflation-adjusted dollars) is making $200,000 or more now, but half as many lawyers are employed at the firms as would be had there not been such an improvement in productivity. Fewer employed, but the ‘successful’ are doing much better, although it means that each employed lawyer is working 60+ hours per week, so you could say that they are really working two $100,000 hour jobs, not one $200,000 job.

    There are numerous problems with this scenario, in terms of burnout, maladjusted people being the main survivors of this system, and so on. But who profits from this? The killing being made is not the difference $200,000 between the two associates, but for the partners who are making vastly more that they were 20 years ago. Thus another profession which used to be a respectable route to a good income and standard of living has become a crapshoot where a few are massively overcompensated, a fair number do quite well at the cost of being overworked, and a much larger number are shut out. Like in many businesses and professions, a fractal piece showing the social and economic pattern of the whole of our society and its economy.

    If there is a better way to counteract this pathology than increasing marginal income tax rates, I would love to hear it.

  193. 193
    Xenos says:

    @Warren Terra:

    instead, in Horatio Alger story a young man works hard, is abstemious and is properly deferential to his betters – and is eventually massively rewarded by some deus ex machina, for example a rich tycoon thinks the young striver is great and so makes the youth his heir.

    There is a much creepier undercurrent to the Horatio Alger story structure than that. There is a reason why the NYC Chapter of NAMBLA is named after Horatio Alger, and it has nothing to do with karmic benefits for hard work or loyalty to one’s patrons.

  194. 194
    Egilsson says:

    Yes Yes Yes.

    I can’t believe how stupid smart people can be. Sullivan is a smart person, but he can be amazingly stupid.

    I’ve worked some pretty crappy jobs, and folks who haven’t have no frigging idea how hard people work for so little and get treated like absolute pieces of shit while they do it. Where’s their appreciation?

    It’s outrageous to describe “the left” as Sullivan again does. He just got done apologizing again for that outrageous “fifth column” comment, but then he does it again.

  195. 195
    Tunch says:

    Cole, open me up a can of tunafish or I’ll beat your ass.

    Huggies, Tunch

  196. 196
    Belvoir says:

    Thank you, John Cole.

    And seriously, fuck you, Sullivan. You lost me.

    I grew up in the Hamptons, working on the estates of the very, very rich. Their fucking water bill for their pools and spas and vast lawns was and is a multiple of what I earned every year. The water bill for mansions on the beach they inhabited three months a year was way more than I could earn in a year.

    I’m not speaking of millionaires, I am speaking of billionaires. After 25 years working at the estates of the very very rich, you make friends with the butler. One older aerospace billionaire’s French butler, who is a pal, told me that his Mister took his family to Paris on a private jet, that the mere parking fees for the plane at Orly was $1.5 million a week. Just to park the plane. They stayed three weeks. $4.5 million just to park the plane. Oh well, you can’t take it with you.

    I grew up being a happy serf, working for the very rich in a beautiful place . I knew I was a serf, I knew my place. I worked for seriously rich old families, fortunes old and new, quietly famous names, old New York money and the occasional Kennedy upstart. A flashy celebrity or two.

    What I learned was that..the rich are human too, they grow old and sick and die, money means nothing to them after a while. After many years they were glad to see me, I was a sign of Spring, when i came to work. But I always knew my place. The social contract between the very rich and working-class sorts like myself was strong in that, I did not ever resent them for their wealth. A lot of them seemed unhappy with it, actually. I consider myself lucky to have a mere slice of a view of the very rich in my life, growing up. They had class, then. And my labors allowed me to go to an elite art school and college, in Manhattan, along with generous government grants.
    There was a balance, once. The old-school very rich didn’t begrudge this kid, and I didn’t begrudge them. Some of them cheered me on. Again, there was a social contract then. “All boats” and all that. Class.

    That seems out the window now, in the larger sphere. The new very rich don’t want a thriving working class, they want slaves. They have declared war on the working class, and have already succeeded in decimating it. I am seriously apprehensive about this tension. I think the good relations in my experience between the very rich and the working class is already dead and gone. I don’t think a Latino worker will chat up a delighted heiress about Babe Paley like I did.
    And I did. I never had any problem doing hard physical work growing up, and relating to my “masters” like that. Things have very much changed. The new rich don’t want to talk to the help, and if you are white and educated still doing physical seasonal labor, there must be something wrong with you. There used to be a cordiality between the rich and workers, that has disappeared.

    I’m probably blabbing too much. Just trying to put another angle on the rich/poor divide. The rich used to know that it’s in their interest too for working class Americans to thrive as well as themselves. It made for a stable aspirant and energetic society. Starving the poor and wrecking the middle class does the opposite, to put it lightly.

    And of course Andrew is fucking wrong again, and doubling down on his wrongness. Clueless and stoned and an utterly useless parasite with a team of interns, typing his opinions and fancying that real work. The most spoilt fucker ever, Andrew has never done a hard day’s work in his life. Now he’s asking for some gratitude for the destruction of the American middle class by ghastly financiers. Internalize my fist, Sullivan. You fucking dupe, you clueless debutante to American life. Which you treat as some exotic safari, still. You’re a pot-smoking sybarite with no idea and no stake in how actual Americans live.

  197. 197
    Mr Furious says:

    @Belvoir:

    Internalize my fist, Sullivan. You fucking dupe, you clueless debutante to American life. Which you treat as some exotic safari, still. You’re a pot-smoking sybarite with no idea and no stake in how actual Americans live.

    Awesome. Especially the safari part…

  198. 198
    Lit3Bolt says:

    @Belvoir:

    Internalize my fist, Sullivan. You fucking dupe, you clueless debutante to American life. Which you treat as some exotic safari, still. You’re a pot-smoking sybarite with no idea and no stake in how actual Americans live.

    I’m going to hang this on my wall.

  199. 199
    300baud says:

    Perfect in form and substance, John. Bravo.

    As a business owner, I want to say that I am happy to pay my taxes. I get a fucking bargain. Infrastructure out the wazoo. An educated populace. Courts that work. Enforceable property rights. Useful contract law. A reliable banking system (knock on wood). Police protection. Fire protection. Insurance companies that don’t go under. The internet. And it’s so good I’ll say it twice: the internet. And on, and on.

    High-income people who aren’t grateful for what they get from the government are, in my opinion, mostly self-centered whiners. I have lived in third-world countries, and I am by and large very pleased with our package deal.

    America: fuck yeah I’ll pay for it.

  200. 200
    AB says:

    Same as the damn torture debate. You can mildly oppose torture, but calling people war criminals and torturers is criminalizing a policy difference and not Very Serious and Totally Uncalled For and Uncivil etc. etc. Same themes repeated time and again.

  201. 201
    Nathanael says:

    “the basic fact that most high earners got there through the dint of their own efforts”

    If you consider becoming expert at theft and self-dealing “their own efforts”, then yes, most corporate CEOs got their through “their own efforts”.

    The high “earners” raking in over a million a year (and “earners” isn’t accurate, as unearned income is the main source of income among the richest) are mostly the CEOs, and the heirs.

    The small number who got there through socially useful efforts are a *minority* and are generally happy to pay higher taxes (they’re geniuses, they can always make another billion).

  202. 202
    Xenos says:

    @Belvoir: My grandfather made good money in the 1920s, and managed to hold onto it in the 1930s, and had the house in the Hamptons with the maid, the nanny, and the driver. He treated them all well, as part of the family.

    But when the hurricane of ’38 hit there was only room for the wife and the kids in the car, and the help had the pleasure of riding out the storm. Everybody was OK, but I often wonder how the nanny, the maid, and the driver felt about it. In 1938 they were probably glad enough to have employment still. I am sure they gritted their teeth when the boss would go on his regular tirades against Roosevelt.

  203. 203
    Mum says:

    Great post, Mr. Cole. I’m passing it on to everyone I know.

    (Also, great photos of Tunch in the tub.)

  204. 204
    Linda Blackwelder says:

    I love you John Cole.

  205. 205
    Deb T says:

    Maybe I’m wrong, quite possibly, but I thought the middle class was the backbone of tax income for the government. Don’t we pay most of it (and I’m barely clinging to middle class status)? Or am I confusing it with the fact we pay a higher percentage than the rich?

  206. 206

    […] the last post, I followed John Cole in snorting derisively at Andrew Sullivan and James Joyner for demanding that we honor the rich and […]

  207. 207

    […] John Cole lays it out like a Persian rug: […]

  208. 208

    […] Balloon Juice – Daily Dish spat over the rich, success, tone, envy, and who knows what else is nothing […]

  209. 209
    Belvoir says:

    @Xenos: Ah, that is indeed very interesting Xenos. When I was a teen I looked through the archives at the local library about the hurricane of ’38, and the casualties were all described as, “a colored maid” and the like. For some reason when that hurricane comes up, I always think of that “colored maid”. It was never clear how exactly she died.

  210. 210
    Werdna says:

    At least his blog renders properly on Opera.

  211. 211
    Karadima says:

    “the basic fact that most high earners got there through the dint of their own efforts”

    If you consider becoming expert at theft and self-dealing “their own efforts”, then yes, most corporate CEOs got their through “their own efforts”.

    The high “earners” raking in over a million a year (and “earners” isn’t accurate, as unearned income is the main source of income among the richest) are mostly the CEOs, and the heirs.

    The small number who got there through socially useful efforts are a *minority* and are generally happy to pay higher taxes (they’re geniuses, they can always make another billion).

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Balloon Juice – Daily Dish spat over the rich, success, tone, envy, and who knows what else is nothing […]

  2. […] John Cole lays it out like a Persian rug: […]

  3. […] the last post, I followed John Cole in snorting derisively at Andrew Sullivan and James Joyner for demanding that we honor the rich and […]

  4. […] say, I’ve been wanting to say something about the left’s infatuation with income disparity, and this exchange between the folks at Balloon Juice, on the one hand, and Andrew Sullivan, on the other, […]

  5. […] October 19, 2010 I Agree With Every Word Posted by John O under Political | Tags: Andrew Sullivan, The Rude Pundit | Leave a Comment  Here, and here. […]

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