Slate is running an article right now about how deluded many pundits and politicians are about what constitutes rich. But it’s really us Americans who are deluded.
I personally think that rich should be pretty easy to define. If you’re in the top 80% of income earners in the United States my thought is you’re rich. If you’re in the top 90% you’re filthy rich. That’s just based on how I feel about percentages. I think most people would say those numbers seem fair if they don’t see what the median income is for someone in the 80% and 90% brackets.
The Census Bureau earlier this week reported that the median household income was $50,223 in 2007—up slightly from the last year but still below the 1999 peak. So a household that earned $250,000 made five times the median. In fact, as this chart shows, only 2.245 million U.S. households, the top 1.9 percent, had income greater than $250,000 in 2007. (About 20 percent of households make more than $100,000.)
Shocking, eh? So over $100k is rich. But that doesn’t buy a new cellphone every six months, and a lexus for your kid, and a million dollar house, so how is that rich? Amazing how our culture has managed to change wealthy into something so ridiculously unattainable. We feel poor because there’s so much great stuff to spend our money on.
Although we really need to start agreeing that we should be able to tax the hell out of people making more than 5 times the median income. It’s ridiculous that we would think that people can raise a family a 4 on $50k/year and yet howl when it’s suggested that people who make 5 times that be taxed a little more heavily.