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Who Are the “Working Affluent”?


. . . who earn the $250,000 per year or more that makes them “rich,” and subject to new high rates of taxation? And why is a president who needs them to keep on producing at the prodigious rates both society and the economy require, treating them as if they — not the slackers, the entitled, and the net tax consumers — were the problem?

My friend Tigerhawk, looking wiped from long days at his highly skilled day job, answers these and other questions on the charmingly unslick, intellectually forceful “Tigerhawk TV” episode here. He calls it as he sees it, with intelligence, intensity, and insight into the unrelentingly hard-working lives of the most productive people in America. 

Corner readers, you know he’s right. The doctors, lawyers, engineers, executives, serious small-business owners, top salespeople, and other professionals and entrepreneurs who make this country run work considerably harder than pretty much anyone else (including most of the chattering class, and all politicians). They are not robber barons, or trust-fund babies, or plutocrats, or even celebrities. They are mostly the meritocrats who worked hard in high school and got into the better colleges and grad schools, where they studied while others partied. They pushed through grueling hours and unpleasant “up or out” policies in their twenties and thirties at top law firms, banks, hospitals, and businesses to earn salaries in the solid six figures (or low seven) today — in their peak earning years. Their work ethic is prodigious, and, as Tigerhawk points out, in their spare time they sit on the boards of most of the complex charities and arts institutions that provide aid and pay for culture in America. No group of people contribute more to their community. And now the president, who followed a path sort of like that, and who claims that his wife’s former six-figure income was a result of precisely such qualifications and efforts, is demonizing them. More problematically, he is penalizing their success and giving them very clear incentives to ratchet back on productivity.  

So, what happens when the heart surgeons, dentists, litigators, and people who employ 10 or 20 other people in their mid-size businesses decide that they don’t want to pay for the excessive, pointless spending that the president finds so compelling? Instapundit speculates on people “going John Galt.” I think golf — a time-intensive sport that the hard-working have eschewed for the past decade or two because it took too long — will make a comeback. But while we’re watching, “working affluent” is a far more useful and less loaded moniker than “the rich,” which has overtones of dilettantes, poodles, and yachts. 


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