A Democrat of my acquaintance, who makes something, but not a huge something, over $200,000 a year while living in Manhattan, was recently grousing to me about the surtax. "My taxes on a marginal dollar are going to go up almost 1000 basis points!" said he.(There is some dispute as to what 1000 basis points amounts to in this case; a commenter works it out to about $800, but it could be more.)
This is true, I agreed. And just what, I wondered, had he thought was going to happen if he elected Obama? Not clear. Our subject had listened to Obama talk about taxing people who made more than $250,000, which seemed entirely reasonable; he hadn't realized that being single, his tax hikes would start much lower than that--that he, too, was "the rich". Mentally speaking, the rich don't live in eight hundred moderately roach-infested square feet in an unfashionable neighborhood of New York.By the way, here's what 800 square feet looks like. The "moderately roach-infested" is added, I would guess from precedent, to dog-whistle to the outlanders who seem to comprise most of McArdle's audience that New York real estate is grimy as well as expensive. (And of course it works.) I marvel that she didn't add something about muggers, panhandlers, or people who use their hands when they talk.
I do not come naturally to sympathy with the Democrat of McArdle's acquaintance, as I make a fraction of what he makes and live in a smaller apartment, though my neighborhood, swinging Greenpoint, is very fashionable, or so the magazines tell me. But if the loss of $800, or even a couple of grand, to fees for government services is of such pressing concern to someone who makes over $200,000, he must be an even worse money manager than I am, and my heart goes out to him. Maybe he should fire his accountant, or take a smaller room when he vacations in Cozumel.
McArdle's sympathy, expressed in comments, is much greater:
The problem is, in New York, it's really easy to be so tapped out on $200K that you do, indeed, notice the extra missing money -- his average tax burden is already in the 40-50% range, as mine was when I lived there. It's just not comparable to anywhere else. And it's no good saying that they chose to live in New York -- most people living in New York couldn't earn their "fabulous" income anywhere else.That seems a strange attitude for a libertarian like McArdle to take about it. Isn't this guy supposed to vote with his feet, or Go Galt, or something? That would sure show the rest of us parasites.
Yet she talks about him as if he were a migrant farm worker about to be driven into the barren wastes. I've stopped minding all their jabber about how sorry we'll be all when they've left, but it's really annoying to hear from them how badly they'll suffer if we drive them out.
(By the way, didn't McArdle say she was voting for Obama? Or did she back off that? Like many of my class, I'm too shiftless to look it up.)
UPDATE. The invaluable Susan of Texas demonstrates to us in comments that McArdle didn't vote for Obama because she forgot to register to vote. This makes a great deal of sense. First, it's obvious from McArdle's blog that politics doesn't interest her very much. Second, why would such a Randian superperson as she trifle with voting? The fact that a bum like me gets as many votes as Alan Greenspan proves that voting is a levelers' ruse to promote the Reign of Witch Doctors. When you get as much franchise as your gold bars will buy on the open market, that's when she'll remember to fill out a registration form. And when Detroit makes supercars designed by Howard Roark, that's when she'll learn to register a car.