Look at all the poor people

The Wall Street Journal ran an article on the effect that the proposed tax plan would have on real people — you know, not just the rich people, but also the working poor. And they illustrated it with a picture of what they consider the poor.

poorpeople
Look how sad they all are!

So…a single mother with two children makes $260,000 per year. A retired couple living on a measly $180,000 per year.

Jebus. These people are completely out of touch with reality. The article is supposed to be talking about the effects on “affluent and poor”, but apparently they never heard of anyone making less than $100K.

Comments

  1. says

    Oh, dear. They’ll all be dining on cold gruel and sitting in the dark! (Isn’t it a little early for WSJ’s April Fool issue?)

  2. says

    the only thing they mention that might affect poor people is the social security thing. and that might not affect the poorest either, since those poorest that even have incomes at all often receive the EIC in reimbursement of social security payments.

    so, yeah….

  3. says

    They all make more in investment income alone than a minimum-wage worker working full-time.
    Which just goes to show you: poverty is the fault of the poor people themselves, for not investing their income rather than wasting it on food and such.

  4. says

    also that picture above is labeled as an “interactive graphic”. maybe it’s just my computer, but i can’t find the interactive part on it.

  5. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Poor people making six figure incomes? What fuckwit thinks that is common? If you think that, I have a several bridges that charge tolls for sale….

  6. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    @Jadehawk

    It’s making me yell at my computer. that’s interactive!

  7. pascale68 says

    “Look how sad they all are!” This is exactly what struck me the most – their expressions make it look like they are going to starve or lose their homes. And it is all due to that evil Obama! (OK, I added that last part, but that must be what the WSJ crowd thinks.”

  8. Azuma Hazuki says

    I make less than 20K a year. In a good year. Looking for more? Certainly, but not getting much. As Ing/#7 said, the only thing interactive about this is it’s making me swear at the computer screen.

    Why are we not taking more action against greedheads? Why are we not getting violent? They murder us slowly by numbers, they poison the very foundations of humanist thought, they close down avenues to improvements, and we sit here and take it. Just bloody set Wall Street on fire and be done with it.

  9. Francisco Bacopa says

    My heart bleeds for them. It bleeds with RAGE.

    Oh you sad six figure income people. How I wish I could force you to mine Zenite with your bare hands.

  10. says

    also that picture above is labeled as an “interactive graphic”. maybe it’s just my computer, but i can’t find the interactive part on it

    Did you have your sound turned up? Maybe if you click on a figure, his/her stomach growls from the hunger.

  11. pascale68 says

    Another thing – the WSJ says taxes are going up for rich and poor, yet in the picture the retired couple making $180K does not have their taxes go up. Does this mean they are so poor they are sub-poor?

  12. says

    To be fair to the WSJ that is only one of a number of graphics for the article. One depicting the tax changes for people of different income appears in the article. Unfortunately, whenever I tried to capture the link, the result keeps leading to the same graphic (as above)

    If you click here then scroll down to the part of the article where you see the “thumbnail” for the graphic labeled “How the tax law might affect you” click on that graphic then the link takes you to a slide show that covers incomes from $10K to $1 million. Given the context it does not look like the graphic PZ posted above represents some strange, distorted view of what constitutes poor. It does show the people the WSJ considers its readership.

  13. cm's changeable moniker says

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ed14fc70-fc51-11e1-aef9-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz2I6t0qPoT

    US median income lowest since 1995 (By James Politi in Washington)

    The median income of American households dropped to its lowest level since 1995 last year, extending its decline during President Barack Obama’s tenure and highlighting the depth of the damage to the middle class inflicted by the recession and weak recovery.

    According to annual data from the Census Bureau, median income adjusted for inflation – a closely watched measure of the financial health of average Americans – fell to $50,054 in 2011, or 1.5 per cent below its 2010 level and 4.1 per cent below its score when Mr Obama took office in 2009.

    I know that 200+k-ers don’t feel rich. But they are.

  14. Akira MacKenzie says

    … but apparently they never heard of anyone making less than $100K.

    Actually, many of my Republican aquaIntances have, but any mention of them is usually followed by the phrase “someone has to clean out the toilets.”

    Meanwhile, I’m a 38-year-old single person making $11/hr with crap for benefits. I would give my left testicle to make $230,000 a year, even if it meant paying an extra $3000/year in taxes. I got a feeling I could fucking afford it!

  15. says

    what they have to say about college students in the other graphics:

    College Student
    Income: $10,000-$20,000
    This person, with part-time earnings, also loses from expiration of the payroll tax break. The percentage increase in average federal tax bills for this income group is one of the highest, but that’s partly because they typically don’t pay much – if any – income tax.

    Average tax rate under new law: 6.4%

    Average federal tax change: Up $123, or 14.7%

    whom do I have to kill to make $20000 with part-time work as a student?
    Also, people with such low income get the EIC, which usually covers all of social security, so it remains to be seen whether these increases affect anyone making that little money.

  16. demonhype says

    http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2013/01/15/1448801/utah-smoothie-shop-charges-liberals-more-donates-surcharge-to-conservative-causes/

    Off topic, but this is a pretty gutsy bullshit this guy is pulling, charging liberals more and donating the money to places like the Heritage foundation, both to make an example of liberals and to force liberals to subsidize right wing anti-human agendas.

    On topic, I have often said there is a point of wealth you can reach where your humanity is eradicated–in that you no longer have the ability to identify with the vast majority of other human beings, having lived as a god without a real care in the world for too long. I think our aristocracy (let’s not bullshit ourselves, we have an honest-to-goodness aristocracy now) has reached that point.

  17. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    @Caine

    Correction he found three who were either dumb or pissed off enough and dumb enough they wanted to make their ideology known.

    There are probably give and the two smart ones lie.

  18. John Morales says

    Sez Wikipedia:

    The annual salary of each senator, as of 2009, is $174,000;[32] the president pro tempore and party leaders receive $193,400.[33] In June 2003, at least 40 of the then-senators were millionaires.[34]

    Along with earning salaries, senators receive retirement and health benefits that are identical to other federal employees, and are fully vested after five years of service.[33] Senators are covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) or Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). As it is for federal employees, congressional retirement is funded through taxes and the participants’ contributions. Under FERS, senators contribute 1.3% of their salary into the FERS retirement plan and pay 6.2% of their salary in Social Security taxes. The amount of a senator’s pension depends on the years of service and the average of the highest 3 years of their salary. The starting amount of a senator’s retirement annuity may not exceed 80% of their final salary. In 2006, the average annual pension for retired senators and representatives under CSRS was $60,972, while those who retired under FERS, or in combination with CSRS, was $35,952.[33]

  19. robro says

    Which one is supposed to be the school teacher? I know several “well paid” teachers here in San Francisco, an expensive city, who have barely seen $50k…and most are significantly lower. Bet they would gladly trade for one of those $200k+ positions.

    And my mom, who is retired, is getting no where near $180k. Of course, that $180k figure is not Social Security. Social Security max’s at $2500/month or so (if you’re retiring at 66 this year), which is $36k/year. Those people had some tidy investments. And isn’t it nice to have that diversity thing going.

    As for the married couple with four kids and $680k/year, what can you saw…Four kids. Four!? Who are these people? And oddly, they seem to all be boys.

    Clearly Rupert Murdoch’s mouth pieces are at it again, but this time through the august pages of the Wall Street Journal. Of course, many of the WSJ’s readers would just nod in agreement…”Yes, yes, it’s just horrible what those awful Demon-crats are doing to the hard working people of this country. They’re taking money from makers and giving it to takers.”

  20. GodotIsWaiting4U says

    These people HAVE investment income.

    Man I was lucky enough to grow up in friggin’ Orange County and my parents didn’t have investment income. We had some Avon stock my mom inherited from her dad, but that was all sold when we filed for bankruptcy after my dad lost his job. They’re living on his unemployment benefits and my mom’s salary as a bank teller.

    My dad never made more than $85k a year in his life, and made substantially less in his last job. My mom never made that much. Neither one ever owned their own home; they rent the house they’re in now. They’re in no danger of losing what they’ve got, but they’re not high on the hog either; my dad’s had to call in favors from his rich (left-wing, fortunately; he knows where he came from and he’s not a heartless bastard) brother in the weaker years. He just recently retired once he turned old enough to get social security.

    What the hell is this bullshit the WSJ’s spewing?

  21. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    They all pay more in taxes than I’ve ever made in a year… several times more.

    Another ditto from me. Including the retired couple, FFS.

    whom do I have to kill to make $20000 with part-time work as a student?

    Hell, I’d kill for 10k from part time work as a student. Full time work when I was a student and I made a whooping 8k, which is my highest earning year sadly.

  22. says

    $230,000! I’m single, 40ish, and that’s more than I’ve made in my whole life all added up! I have been unemployed for periods of time where I lived off my savings and I’ve never collected unemployment or any other benefits. $230,000! A year?

  23. Tapetum, Raddled Harridan says

    I used to work for American City Business Journals – the WSJ’s parent company. As a department head (the position I held when I left), I made about $40,000 a year. The receptionist’s position (where I started), paid $12,000. The WSJ’s numbers are BS, and they have every reason to know it, just based on how they pay most of their own people.

  24. says

    $10k a year here.

    Is this like an old video game that loops the score beyond a certain point? Because I think I may be getting near the point where the score flips and I’m a billionaire.

  25. says

    Wut?

    I have several degrees and I’ve been teaching college for five years and I’ve NEVER made $20k. Some of the part time faculty don’t make $20k.

    I have dependents, and if I’m EVER in a position to make $600k+, I’ll probably die of shock.

  26. says

    Every single one of these people have more in deductions than I make in a year. All but the retired couple have a monthly income higher than my yearly income (before taxes, after taxes… well lets just say self-employment taxes hit you especially hard when you’re making less than $20k a year).

  27. coyotenose says

    Jesus Christ but this is despicable. Are they even so out of touch that they think people fall for this? For the sad faces on the mediocre art of people who earn more than all of my local friends and family put together?

    That last fake-ass example: four kids and $180,000 in investment income. Four kids and they had millions to invest? Well gosh, they must be winners in life! And by that I mean that Grandma and Grandpa were rich and died early.

  28. says

    Jesus, if you find the info-graphic depressing, check out the comments attached to it.

    That is no exaggeration. I had a look and my jaw literally dropped. A sample:

    My CA state takes alone will go up tens of THOUSANDS this year, while the majority of Americans whine about their temporary payroll tax cut going away. Boo Hoo.

  29. says

    Coyotenose:

    For the sad faces on the mediocre art of people

    While I’m ever so sure you could, of course, do a much better bit of art work, you seem to be happily oblivious that the person in the art room who got stuck with doing that bit of work is more than likely paid very little for doing so.

  30. says

    Apart from the whole thing about the incredible unrealistically high incomes, are we really supposed to feel sorry for people earning this sort of money having to pay 28% or 30% in federal income taxes? Yes, I know that there are also state taxes etc., but as a person who (gladly) pays more than half my income in taxes, and 61% on my last earned income, and who lives in a country with a 25% sales tax, I have a hard time taking such complaints seriously.

  31. trina says

    Chiming in to agree that I have never earned the amount in those graphics and probably never will.

    I do have to wonder though- how do you work full-time and still only earn 10k?
    I think you could earn more than that standing on a street corner dancing for change full-time.
    That’s only, what, $208 a week (4 weeks off), $41/day for 5 days.

  32. Robert B. says

    Why is the retired couple sad? Nothing’s changing for them. Shouldn’t they look indifferent? Like, maybe looking up in the middle of doing something else, surprised that they’re supposed to care.

    Also, yeah. I just finally got to the point, a few months ago, where I make more than that inexplicably sad retired couple pays in taxes every year. I consider it a good job. (The student loans still give me grief, though.)

    Is there some reason the Wall Street Journal doesn’t know how to google “United States median household income”? I mean, I’m not an economist, and there’s apparently a few different ways to calculate such things, each with a slightly different name, but even I can tell they’re at the wrong order of magnitude. Best I can tell on 300 seconds of research, a more representative spread might have gone, $20K, $43K, $70K, $103K. (I was aiming at 20th, 40th, 60th, and 80th percentiles based on this graph, which is dated 2010.)

  33. deoridhe says

    Man, sign me up for being poor and single and making 230K! Hell, I’ll take the retired couple; 180K sound slike luxury. Meanwhile, I feel pretty rich at around 35k, and I help people who live on 12k.

  34. mandrellian says

    180K a year for a retired couple? Fuck me backwards. This 30-something and his student wife (and their 2 year-old daughter) would love to be that kind of poor. So, for that matter, would my retired pensioner parents who worked their entire lives only to have their superannuation smushed into paste by the 2008 Global Financial Clusterfuck.

    Seriously, in what fucking universe is 180K poor? Fuck you, Wall Street Journal.

  35. Lofty says

    A copy editor musta shifted the decimal point one space to the right. Editor must be paid way too much for this level of exaggeration.

  36. says

    Wait, we don’t make it near any of those people over here in socialist commie Europe, we are firmly middle class and we pay a much higher tax rate than any of those people (and don’t forget 7-19% VAT on everything we buy) and I don’t see my kids starving.

  37. says

    Chiming in to agree that I have never earned the amount in those graphics and probably never will.

    I do have to wonder though- how do you work full-time and still only earn 10k?
    I think you could earn more than that standing on a street corner dancing for change full-time.
    That’s only, what, $208 a week (4 weeks off), $41/day for 5 days.

    Minimum wage is $7.15 an hour, for a 35 hour work week (because many employers keep minimum wage workers at that level so they don’t have to pay the benefits they would if they worked 40 hours) that’s $253.75 BEFORE any taxes are taken out, after taxes you’re looking at closer to $200. And keep in mind this is work that comes without any benefits, sick days, etc.

  38. says

    Wait, we don’t make it near any of those people over here in socialist commie Europe, we are firmly middle class and we pay a much higher tax rate than any of those people (and don’t forget 7-19% VAT on everything we buy) and I don’t see my kids starving.

    Well a lot of those taxes are going to fund a social safety net and medical care and don’t you know that it’s a horrible thing to make sure people have enough to eat and don’t die from easily treated medical problems? What are you some kind of communist?
    /end average WSJ reader impersonation

  39. wholething says

    Maybe that’s what people will be making after inflation if they start minting coins to pay the national debt.

    If I could get $180, 000/yr in retirement, I would have taken the raise. I’ve made $80K once or twice but that was with maximum overtime.

  40. Kevin Anthoney says

    Make you wonder what the average wage is at the Wall Street Journal. It’s either astronomical, or there’ll be lots of requests for pay raises shortly. “See this “poor” person on $200k? Well, you pay me a tenth of that…”

  41. DLC says

    Wait. . . Married couple making 630,000 ? and I’m supposed to feel empathy for them, for their having to pay as much as 21000 more in taxes ? I made less than 21000 in 2012 !
    Don’t get me wrong here. I applaud their luck, hard work and being able to inherit from daddy. But I don’t feel the least bit sorry for you having to pay 21000 more in taxes.

  42. says

    I used to have a six-figure income (in pounds, after tax) from 1995 to 2002.

    Then I switched jobs, and found that you aren’t supposed to include the pence.

  43. Krazinsky, The Red Menace says

    How out of touch are these bastards? The comments section is even worse. “Sickeningly higher taxes” my ass.

    This is the kind of shit that makes me sympathize with the revolutionary socialists.

  44. Pteryxx says

    I do have to wonder though- how do you work full-time and still only earn 10k?
    I think you could earn more than that standing on a street corner dancing for change full-time.
    That’s only, what, $208 a week (4 weeks off), $41/day for 5 days.

    Besides Noadi’s #53 above, see also sub-minimum wage.

    Workers who rely on tips are subject to a special tipped worker minimum wage, which has remained frozen since 1991 at a meager $2.13 per hour. The result has been to drag down pay for tipped workers in many of our nation’s fast-growing service industries, such as restaurants, hotels, nail salons, and car washes, where millions today spend their careers. When it was created by Congress, the tipped minimum wage provided tipped workers an economic cushion and brought their pay closer to a living wage—something our economy badly needs more of today.

    A 2009 report by the National Employment Law Project finds that the stagnant minimum wage for tipped workers is a key factor behind falling living standards and growing economic insecurity for workers in tipped industries. Since the tipped worker minimum wage was frozen at $2.13 in 1991, its value has fallen by 36% in real terms. As a result, waitresses and waiters—the largest group of tipped workers—have three times the poverty rate of the workforce as a whole.

    http://raisetheminimumwage.org/pages/tipped-workers

    The pay of tipped workers has languished because an obscure federal provision, called the tip credit, has established a sub-minimum wage for tipped workers: $2.15 per hour or $4,333 a year for a full-time worker. The federal full minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, or about $15,000 a year for a 40-hour workweek.

    Raising the minimum wage may alleviate what researcher Sylvia A. Allegretto calls an under-appreciated factor in the poverty of women.

    “The sub-minimum wage hits women hard because 72.9 percent of tipped workers are women compared to less than half the overall labor force,” says Allegretto, co-chair of the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics at the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment of the University of California, Berkeley. “The federal tipped minimum wage was originally 50 percent of the regular minimum wage, but it has eroded over time to just 29.4 percent of the current minimum wage for all workers because it has been frozen since 1991 unlike the federal minimum wage, which was raised in 2007.”

    http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2012/02/06/Tipped-workers-hope-for-hike-in-sub-minimum-wage/WEN-2791328548523/

  45. Robert B. says

    Oops, there’s Pteryxx, having more facts than me. I looked at that question and ran the numbers (minimum wage forty hours a week all year is definitely more than $10K) and went “hm, probably a waiter/ress or something, they’re an exception to minimum-wage” but I couldn’t have pulled those links out. (I didn’t think of the technically-not-full-time scam, even though that’s what they did to me at my last job.) Maybe I should research things for more than 300 seconds…

    The other way to do it is contract work. I have a writer friend who gets screwed this way. Pay by the task, not by the hour, and you can get someone working full time for surprisingly little money, no benefits, no unemployment insurance.

  46. demonhype says

    Caine @ 27:

    I know. I’m sure a lot of people are just lying to the jackass. But it’s the fact that he’s even trying to do such a thing. It’s reminiscent of that gelato asshat who put that “I don’t serve atheists” sign on his door. It’s the fact that people like them even try to get away with things like that, and the implications if they’re allowed to.

  47. w00dview says

    I really wonder do I have some empathy failure when I cannot imagine what actual hardship the people in that figure above will go through. Will their kids starve? Will they not afford healthcare? Not pay off mortgage? What horrendous misery will a tax increase unleash on someone who makes 250K a year? I think when you make that much, living becomes quite easy. Could the WSJ or any conservative think-tank give me solid proof of the unbearable hardship suffered by the rich if their taxes increase a little that is not bullshit libertarian “YOU’RE PUNISHING SUCCESS BAAWW!!” whining? Because otherwise why should I or anyone who earns way less than they do give a single fuck? Because if you have no real reason to oppose paying taxes well it is awfully hard to not assume you are just being a spoiled, entitled greedy asshole and that does not sound as noble as “job creator”, does it?

  48. says

    The combined salaries of my wife and I amount to about what the poor downtrodden single person will pay in taxes in 2013, and we have two kids too boot.

    “Out of touch” doesn’t really describe what that graphic shows. In fact, I am lost for an accurate description. Is it someone’s idea of a shit joke?

  49. trina says

    No, I don’t live in the US…but 10k seems too low for anything. I’m guessing that prices are lower, equivalently? because minimum wage here is (I think) in the order of $580/week.

  50. trina says

    @63 : I would rather not work, than work for $2 an hour.

    (I know that sounds very privileged of me and awful but it was my honest reaction.)

  51. carlie says

    At first I saw the pictures, and thought “Oh great, another article that lumps all the poor together into great unwashed sad masses… and then I saw the income numbers, and then my brain ground to a halt and went on strike.

  52. Beatrice says

    I already complained about how much I earn as a trainee, working 40 hours a week, so I won’t turn this into another MEMEME saga, but damn. I am lucky enough to have parents to support me and I would say that we live quite comfortably. Neither of my parents is earning as much as the retired couple pays in federal tax.

    I’m from socialist commie Europe, like Giliell.

  53. carlie says

    I’m employed in a full-time job that requires a Ph.D., I’m in a closed-union state and it’s a damned strong union… and I make about the same as what that single person in the graphic pays in taxes. As for “investment income” – it’s laughable to think that I would ever in my life have made enough to make investments.

  54. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    No, I don’t live in the US…but 10k seems too low for anything.

    No kidding. Just not only living with less but supporting a child as well.

    I’m guessing that prices are lower, equivalently? because minimum wage here is (I think) in the order of $580/week.

    Doubtful. More like our country just sucks in many, many ways.

  55. carlie says

    I’m guessing that prices are lower, equivalently? because minimum wage here is (I think) in the order of $580/week.

    There’s a decent amount of variation across the country, but a few rounded benchmark prices in a suburban area of the northeastern US that is not absurdly overinflated:

    Milk: $3-4/gallon
    Gas: $3.75/gallon
    Bread: $2.50/loaf
    Ground beef: $4/pound
    3 bedroom house, ~1000 sq. feet: $80-130k, depending on school district

  56. Alex the Pretty Good says

    *Looks at the graph* “Wooo – hooo! There’s hope after all!” *Looks at the comments in the this thread* … Wait … are you seriously telling me that those numbers aren’t realistic? Well … I guess I won’t give up my measly € 35K in this socialist European hell-hole to pursue the American Dream then.

    Seriously though … the only reasonable explanation I can find for this … thing … is that the author of that article either doesn’t know the difference beween 10,000 and 100,000 or made a one-on-one translation of an article that was originally drafted in Norwegian or Danish Krone.

    I seriously wonder whether there was anybody who was involved in the publication of that article (with the possible exception of the newspaper’s owner) who looked at those figures without immediately thinking “Yeah … I wish!”

  57. kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith says

    Has anybody seen the world’s smallest violin?

    I has a sad for those poor, poor people and I want to compose à fitting tribute to them.

  58. Jo York says

    Did anyone bother to read the article PZ linked to? Specifically the section entitled “How Much Will Your Taxes Jump?”

    There it lists several examples, starting from Single Unemployed Person earning $10,000, through Lower-Income Working Couple earning $20,000 – $30,000 all the way up to Higher-Income Professional ($150,000) and High-Income Couple ($350,000).

    I don’t see anywhere in the graphic PZ showed indicating the WSJ regard these people as “poor”.

  59. coragyps says

    That graphic, with attribution of the source, needs to show up in every inbox in the US. It also needs to be posted on every company bulletin board (the physical kind – with forest products). My coworkers that aren’t yet to $25000 income (but vote Republican) may not be too amused.

  60. Alex the Pretty Good says

    @ Jo York, # 80

    Have you seen their faces? They look as if somebody just ran over their puppy and they now realise they won’t be able to afford to give poor Rover a decent funeral.

  61. michaelpowers says

    Good grief! I’m lucky if I pull in 15% of the lowest wage pictured. Apparently, those making less are of no consequence.

  62. Anri says

    Did anyone bother to read the article PZ linked to? Specifically the section entitled “How Much Will Your Taxes Jump?”

    Did anyone bother to read the comments mentioning the additional graph in the article?
    I’m thinking… no.

    There it lists several examples, starting from Single Unemployed Person earning $10,000, through Lower-Income Working Couple earning $20,000 – $30,000 all the way up to Higher-Income Professional ($150,000) and High-Income Couple ($350,000).

    I don’t see anywhere in the graphic PZ showed indicating the WSJ regard these people as “poor”.

    True.
    Of course, they said that people both affluent and poor would be effected by the tax increase, and then showed 4 example of income. They could, I suppose, have shown both affluent and poor folks, as the title of their article – which I presume they themselves wrote – said.
    Instead, they showed people both… what? Affluent and somewhat more affluent?

    Let me put it this way: if The Onion or Cracked had produced this graphic and attached it to a reporting of this story, people would be arguing that it was grossly unfair to the WSJ. That a competent financial mag would never be so clearly over-the-moon stupid as to only include examples making between 3 and 12 times the national mean income in an article about rising taxes.
    And until today, I would have agreed with them.

  63. itkovian says

    What the heck… is the world of high finance subject to Poe’s Law these days?

    Because I’d totally say this was a Poe if that were the case. :)

    …. or as Anri (#84) aptly put it, this could have sprung from the Onion.

  64. says

    Jo York

    Did anyone bother to read the article PZ linked to? Specifically the section entitled “How Much Will Your Taxes Jump?”

    I did. The sorta mention people of low income, but only as an aside. Roughly 90% of that article, including all interactive and non-interactive graphics – is whining about how unfairly high taxes will the rich and Richie Rich rich pay.

    I am so glad I live in Germany and earn my modestly good, average wage. Only slightly more than american student that is (according to that article).

    I was working in US, six months, as a student full time at that, and two jobs, twelve years ago. Even so I would not make $20K per year and I do not expect the situation changed drastically since then. Therefore I call the whole article in the light of commenters from US who wrote here for what it is – bullshit.

  65. sundiver says

    Anybody making > $100,000 sniveling to me about “their awful tax burden” and looking for sympathy gets told “You want sympathy? You can find it between shit and syphilis”.

  66. frog says

    I can’t figure out how to get at the graphic of the lower earning people (from unemployed to the “professional” earning 150K), but I saw it last night as part of a twitter discussion. One person pointed out that that graphic showed the people as faceless silhouettes, with no mouths. Apparently the WSJ missed the irony of them having no voices.

    That graphic also annoyed me because it leapt from a married couple with a combined income of 40K to the single professional earning 150K. They left out 75% of the country! That gap covers the 22%-98% brackets. (Calculations of income bracket done with this tool.)

    Wow, that’s some blatant, fucked-up statistical “analysis.”

  67. WharGarbl says

    @frog
    #90
    Just decided to read the comment section of WSJ…
    Big mistake.
    It’s like reading a bunch of rich pricks jacking off and bukkakeing over each other on the thought of fucking the poor and needy over.

  68. gussnarp says

    Is this absurd? Hell yes. Are they completely out of touch? Hell yes. But in their defense, they all live in Manhattan. If you’re trying to live in New York, or San Francisco, the raising a family of four on $260,000 a year can probably be damn hard. Harder than it is for my family of four on considerably less in my mid sized mid western city.

    But it’s still sure as hell not poor. There’s still sure as hell families getting by on far less in those cities by either doubling and tripling up in apartments and/or making two hour commutes on the train. Not to mention that there, and most anywhere in America, you can find plenty of whole families that are homeless, even though the parents work. These families often don’t end up being counted in statistics on homelessness, partly because they may not even think of themselves as homeless. Maybe it’s temporary and they’re couch surfing, or living in a car, just until they scrape up enough for a deposit, and they usually don’t end up in shelters…

    Crap, I started out with a mild defense, then I almost went completely off into homeless policy.

    So, not poor, out of touch, but also not as rich as they appear to most of the rest of America, if you consider how New York centric the Journal is. So they’re more like middle class maybe? Still, how clueless and tone deaf can you be to publish this when you’re read internationally without actually looking in to how people live outside your city and your income class. If this strikes midwesterners and southerners as completely absurd, imagine what someone reading this from Eastern Europe thinks? Let alone a lot of the rest of the world.

  69. marilove says

    Maybe I am just a poor idiot but I am not even sure what investment income even means…

  70. Paul W., OM says

    Jo York,

    It took me three times through the article before I figured out what the heck you’re talking about.

    What you’re talking about is not in a section of the article entitled “How Much Will Your Taxes Jump?”

    That’s the name of the whole article, and what you’re talking about doesn’t occur anywhere in the main text of the article—it’s a supplementary graphic on another page, linked from a blurb inset on the left side of the actual article. (An “interactive” graphic, meaning that it’s a tabbed page.)

    Reading the article itself beginning to end, I did notice a distortion in how it’s being discussed here and in the article that PZ linked to (which in turn linked to the actual WSJ article).

    It doesn’t make it sound like nobody of interest makes less than $100K. It makes it sound like nobody of interest makes more than $180K. It’s not just the graphic, but the article itself, which is worse.

    Especially sense the introductory of the main body has these as its second and third paragraphs:

    Even so, millions of people soon will feel something less than relief from the new law.

    While the top 1% of taxpayers will bear the biggest burden, many other families, affluent and poor, will pay more as well.

    The article then proceeds to discuss people making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, pretty much stopping with a couple that doesn’t pay higher taxes, on around 180K of income in retirement.

    The article itself starts out talking about “many families,” “affluent and poor,” that will pay more taxes, but then talks exclusively about people in the top 4 or 5 percent in terms of household income, ignoring about 96 percent of the population.

    Yes, millions of very high income people will take a significant monetary hit, but IMO not actually a big one, or as nearly much as they should, given their very high incomes and even greater wealth relative to the rest of us. (People with low incomes typically have around zero wealth.)

    And millions of people just isn’t all that many people when you’re talking about a nation with hundreds of millions of people in it. We’re talking about the very rich, by any reasonable standard, even after we exclude the ultra-rich and discuss “other people.”

    If you do find the supplementary graphic, you do find more reasonable and representative examples—even the top example income is lower than the ones discussed in the article itself. In only that top example ($150K) will taxes go up by more than three hundred dollars; all the others go up by less, and half of them by a less than a hundred.

    The main body of the article spins things so that it sounds like taxes are going up significantly not just on the rich, but on lots of us, so we should all be worried about this shocking increase in taxes.

    It fails to mention that the burden is mainly on the richest twenty fifth of us, and that makes it worth slight increase on most of the rest of us.

    They’re doing their damnedest to conceal the fact that they really just complaining about a modest and reasonable increase on taxes on the richest twenty fifth of us.

    And notice that instead of talking about taxes on even average income families, it goes on to talk about things like estate taxes and even deductions for people whose deductions are twice the average household income. No doubt about it, the article is almost entirely about how terribly the very-rich-but-not-super-rich are going to suffer—not the top 1 percent, but next three or so.

    That is, people who have more than three times the income and likely more than ten times as much accumulated wealth. Poor pitiful them… if only they were super-rich like the 1 percenters and could afford to pay significantly more in taxes.

    They’re trying to make it sound like we should be worried about taxes going up for us, with us on the rich people’s side, when in fact we should be delighted that taxes are going up for them, i.e., the ones who can afford it.

    They fail to mention relevant context, like historical tax rates in the US and tax rates in other developed countries. Many Americans are crazily taxphobic, and think raising taxes even modestly will do terrible things to the economy, and do not realize that it clearly isn’t true—other countries have higher taxes with apparently good results, and we ourselves have had higher taxes in the past, even when we came out of the depression, and even during the Republicans’ romanticized golden age of the 50′s, and even under their sainted Ronald Reagan.

    And the WSJ clearly wants us not to think of any that, and to just go “Oh no! Our taxes are going up! What will become of us?”

    Fuck the lying shits. The 180K-and-up graphic isn’t the worst thing about the article. It’s entirely appropriate to put that graphic in the article and, relegate the graphic with lower-income people to a supplement. The article itself really is that bad, in very much that way.

  71. samihawkins says

    I’ve seen conservatives seriously argue that a single parent making only 20k a year actually makes well over 10k when you add in their government benefits.

    Of course after an hour of arguing he still refused to go into any detail whatsoever about these juicy benefits, but he left the merssage board confidently asserting that they existed.

  72. carlie says

    The people in that illustration don’t look sad so much as accusatory. “How DARE you take more money from me? Don’t you see what you’re doing to us?”

    Yes, we do. No, we don’t care. I’d much rather see a rich person look a bit sad than to watch a 70something year old painfully bag my groceries because that minimum-wage job is the only thing keeping them from being homeless.

  73. gussnarp says

    @Paul W. – Thanks for that analysis, glad somebody did it. But I’m a little confused by a possible typo here:

    It doesn’t make it sound like nobody of interest makes less than $100K. It makes it sound like nobody of interest makes more than $180K. It’s not just the graphic, but the article itself, which is worse.

    From the rest of your comment, I feel like you meant less than $180K, but maybe I’m just confused…

  74. Paul W., OM says

    Maybe I am just a poor idiot but I am not even sure what investment income even means…

    It’s money you make without having to work for it, because you already have money and have used it to buy things that make your more money, e.g., shares of stock in companies.

    Rich people get lots of it. Poor people generally don’t accumulate any wealth that will make them more money without having to work for it. Middle-income people get some, e.g., from retirement plans that invest their money in stocks.

  75. gussnarp says

    For the record, I make a good bit less than the retired couple in this graphic, and I feel strongly that my tax rates should be raised to enable our government to continue to operate while taking care of the poor, educating children, ensuring access to healthcare, including contraception, and funding good science.

    I’m not OK with my taxes going up to pay for more drone strikes, but unlike the Tea Party, I realize that democracy does not include picking and choosing ala carte where my taxes are used and I’ll seek other ways to end those policies I disagree with.

    Honestly, my annoyance with this whole debate has been that the only thing that was settled in the last battle over the “fiscal cliff” was exactly the wrong thing settled exactly the wrong way. We should have let the rates go back to the Clinton rates for everyone.

  76. Paul W., OM says

    gussnarp,

    Aargh, you’re right. It should say “less than $180K” (not more). And I meant to italicize the $180K, but italicized the typo instead, so it reads like I really mean it; an unfortunate compound brainfart, that was.

    It should say:

    It doesn’t make it sound like nobody of interest makes less than $100K. It makes it sound like nobody of interest makes less than $180K. It’s not just the graphic, but the article itself, which is worse.

  77. gussnarp says

    @Paul W. – Don’t worry, your italics were right, I changed them to point out the typo in my quote, should have noted “emphasis mine”. You only made the one mistake! :)

  78. johnniefurious says

    NOTE: The only fake family that has no increase in taxes is the black couple. This is hidden language to the white and affluent, not an info-graphic.

  79. truthspeaker says

    trina

    16 January 2013 at 5:50 am (UTC -6)

    No, I don’t live in the US…but 10k seems too low for anything. I’m guessing that prices are lower, equivalently?

    Nope. Minimum wage isn’t determined by what people need to survive, it’s determined by what employers claim they can afford to pay.

  80. kreativekaos says

    Why are we not taking more action against greedheads? Why are we not getting violent? They murder us slowly by numbers, they poison the very foundations of humanist thought, they close down avenues to improvements, and we sit here and take it. Just bloody set Wall Street on fire and be done with it. –Azuma Hazuki@12

    Exactly. Been asking myself that 64 thousand dollar question for years. As a society, the wealth and corporate cultures seem to have deftly manipulated the society and its wealth in their favor over the past 30 odd years, since a segment of the culture politically agrees and defends this socio-economic outrage, and the other more enlightened segments merely get angry and grumble about it. It seems the Occupy movements are stagnant, while the wing-nut Tea baggers are still solid, if not thriving. It’s truly like being locked into a bizarre episode of The Twilight Zone.*

    *(Which was one the iconic fantasy/scifi TV shows of the 1960′s that dealt many times with social issues. Perhaps we need a new show that would take its social commentary to another level; not just the evils of war (conventional and nuclear), isolation, totalitarianism, racism, etc., from the 50′s and 60′s, but of the sexism, classism, economic inequalities, rabid commercialism and consumption, pollution, environmental degradation, etc., of the 21st century.)

  81. d.f.manno says

    At least when it was owned by Dow Jones, the Wall St. Journal confined the insanity to its editorial page. Under Murdoch, all bets are off.

    But then reality is an alien concept to a Murdoch organ.

  82. coyotenose says

    While I’m ever so sure you could, of course, do a much better bit of art work, you seem to be happily oblivious that the person in the art room who got stuck with doing that bit of work is more than likely paid very little for doing so.

    I’m ever so sure that you can find things this morning to be a pissy ass about that don’t also require you to make up things about people.

  83. Rip Steakface says

    I do have to wonder though- how do you work full-time and still only earn 10k?

    You don’t work full-time, that’s how. If you have a full time job, you’re considered lucky – many, many people are given 35 hours of work a week because the employer doesn’t want to give them benefits associated with full time employment (mostly having to do with insurance).

    I think you could earn more than that standing on a street corner dancing for change full-time.
    That’s only, what, $208 a week (4 weeks off), $41/day for 5 days.

    No one gets 4 weeks off here. We have NO legally required vacation days or paid sick leave. When you get sick, a relatively benevolent employer will just chastise you for missing work, if you decide to stay home. A less understanding one will just fire you.

    And yes, $200 a week is actually incredibly normal for minimum wagers. The situation is seriously fucked.

  84. kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith says

    whom do I have to kill to make $20000 with part-time work as a student?

    Actually, I do make a bit more than that.

    But I’m very aware that I’m extraordinarily lucky.

    I work for one of the top-5 employer in Canada, where I am allowed to plan my schedule, get a pension and a 5 to 10% yearly bonus according to performance, even as a temporary employee. Also, they paid me to get the 1 month training it took to do my job, which means that they are quite interested in keeping me aboard.

    I have held several so-called “unskilled” minimum-wage jobs before getting that one and know just how crappy they are.

    @63 : I would rather not work, than work for $2 an hour.

    (I know that sounds very privileged of me and awful but it was my honest reaction.)

    I wouldn’t, and wouldn’t expect anyone else to do so.

    That this is accepted is a disgrace for a country as rich as the US.

  85. spamamander, internet amphibian says

    Say what you will about Bill Gates, I ended up with a great deal of respect for his attempt to pass a state income tax here in Washington that would only affect people that made something like $250k a year or more, his reasoning being that he didn’t feel like he himself paid nearly enough into the system. Of course it didn’t pass, we all get nailed by a pretty nasty sales tax (8.5 to 10% depending on here you live). I am fortunate that the minimum wage here is the highest of anywhere in the country at $9.15 an hour.

    Doesn’t change the fact that employers don’t want to pay benefits so you tend to be stuck part-time at that wage. Here’s to $16k a year!

  86. says

    I’m still trying to imagine what I’d do with that kind of money. I literally cannot imagine what it would be like to make more than $1500/month (my top earning ever, 10 months out of the year only.)

    The incomes they’re discussing in that graphic start at what I made a year at my best job: $15k. The ONLY thing I could think to do with it is to buy a lot of students lunch or give to local schools. I mean, at $180,000 per year from investment income, there’s nothing to worry about.

    And to answer the question ‘how do you live’ from our European cousins, you skip meals and eat beans. You don’t turn the AC or heater on, unless the temp is above 90 C or under 10C. And you live in a two bedroom apartment in a shitty neighborhood with 5 people.

  87. Michael says

    An earlier comment, and a comment on the site, suggested they added an extra zero by accident. However that explanation doesn’t work for the numbers that don’t end in zero…

  88. moulton says

    A URL which should work to read the article is:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323689604578220132665726040.html#articleTabs%3Darticle%26project%3DWEALTH0105
    or if this is easier
    http://tinyurl.com/bkrwjpd

    It is important to remember that most of the text of the article is about income tax and how the increases apply to incomes above specific thresholds which vary depending on a variety of factors such as marital status. That is what the graphic is attempting to show because it is more complicated that just a simple percentage change. There is nothing in the graphic or the surrounding text which says the graphic relates to “working poor” or any similar group; the graphic is about the people who might be directly impacted by the higher income tax rates.

    The article also mentions briefly the changes in Social Security which will impact most workers including the working poor. But this is not as complicated as the income tax changes since marital status and other factors do not change what Social Security tax is due therefore an explanatory graphic was not needed.

    So my recommendation is when discussing the graphic do not refer to it as a “working poor” graphic instead refer to it as a “graphic of higher income earners impacted by the tax changes”. And I also recommend when commenting on the WSJ article to explicitly indicate if your comment is about income taxes or Social Security taxes.

    WSJ is written by humans and as far as I can tell each of humans sometimes makes mistakes and those mistakes should be discussed but we need to be careful that what we attribute to someone is actually what they wrote.

  89. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    One more vote for “I have nontrivial but longish-shot prospects for making as much as the retired couple in that graphic some day and would happily pay a higher tax rate on it.”

  90. Esteleth, Ultra-PC Feminist Harpy Out To Destroy Secularism says

    *blink blink*

    WHAT.

    That raise I was gloating about last week? Means that I know make – before taxes – $41,000 a year. Which is enough for me to live comfortably and pay back debt.

    And my job?

    Required me to have a Ph.D. in order to apply.

    Am I upset that Mr. $260,000′s taxes are going up? Not in the slightest.

  91. Esteleth, Ultra-PC Feminist Harpy Out To Destroy Secularism says

    Also, this past weekend I had dinner with a friend, who is an otolaryngology resident at a medium-sized city hospital. That is, to get her job, she had to have an M.D. and a lot of specialized training in addition. She out-earns me to the tune of getting about $55,000 a year.

    Where do these random numbers the WSJ is using come from?

  92. ballookey says

    What the HELL?!

    If this is what the working poor look like, it’s beyond my wildest dreams! As a highly-skilled trades person with a college degree I earn less than a third of the retired couple, and the last time I reviewed typical salaries in my area, I was in the upper half of the pack for my job.

  93. says

    I don’t think the WSJ explicitly called the people in the infographic poor. Anyone who thinks an income of $100,000 per year qualifies one as ‘poor’ is certainly a nutcase. I can’t seem to find evidence that such nutcases wrote the WSJ article in question, though.

  94. truthspeaker says

    grahamjones

    16 January 2013 at 9:16 am (UTC -6)

    Whatever happened to that Occupy Wall Street protest thing?

    They’ve been helping victims of Hurricane Sandy, and they also have a project where they buy up bad debt and then forgive it.

  95. says

    Going back to the OP, I like how even with the massive handicap they’ve given themselves of only including “poor” people who could literally walk out and by a really nice house every year on their salary if they wanted to, the “impact” is so laughable.

    Oh noes! People having to pay pennies more in taxes? Mere percentage points of their total yearly salary? SAD FACE FOREVERS!

    But really, if it’s such a burden for those poor dears having to pay a couple of thousand dollars extra on their sextuple digit salaries, I’m more than willing to trade salaries with them. I’m sure with the reduced tax burden on my 15,000 at best salary, it’ll more than make up for the initial hit.

  96. Pierce R. Butler says

    As several comments have already noted, the Wall Street Journal is owned & operated by News Corp, aka Rupert Murdoch.

    Just to rub salt in the wound: another arm of Murdoch Mordor has just bought out one of the few remaining committed liberals in the Democratic Party: Dennis Kucinich now works for False Noise.

  97. ckitching says

    The “more honest” infographic is also highly deceptive. They show the “unemployed” person making $10k/yr and say their taxes will increase by $69 or 20.9%. That 20% sounds damn nasty. However, the effective tax rate is only increasing by 0.7%. The same game is played for all the rates to make them sound worse than they are. The “Lower-Income Working Couple” making 20k-30k will pay $279, or 446% more tax, but that amounts to a little over 1% hike in tax rates.

  98. says

    My brother wasn’t making $230,000 a year, with or without bullshit “investments”, while working 50-60 hours a week, at a high paid job, as a mechanic for a major shipping company. These people are not just delusional, the only way they could come close to being even “vaguely” accurate is if they where talking about making that much in fraking pesos.

    And, as for me. I, currently, and unless some major business opens up, make like $25K a year, working 32 hours a week, average, with the only “increase” I will likely see being the recent miracle that Arizona raised their minimum wage. If I advanced in the company, to say, a checker, seniority issues would likely rob me of 15-20% of my income (due to cut hours) for the next 5 years at least, and then, the only reason it wouldn’t be more like 50%, or more, is because, ironically, I am in a union, so, unlike all the people that don’t bother to join it, they have to at least give me 20 hours.

    No, this is either pure pandering to the sort of complete idiot that actually buys this magazine (after all, if you don’t have money to invest, why the hell would you be buying an investment magazine?), or its being written by people that have so little touch with reality that “comatose” might be considered a bit too positive of a view of their medical status.

  99. im says

    I actually fail to be even slightly bothered by this specific article. Not everything has to be about us.