I was discussing President Obama’s campaign promises (shut down Gitmo, get out of the 2 wars we were in, and lower unemployment lol) the other week with my in-laws and I came up with a theory why Americans, generally, defend higher income individuals.  I am sure the theory is not original or even all that mind-blowing, but when I said it aloud during a conversation it really made a lot of sense.  Americans defend higher income individuals because we believe that we can achieve a high income one day.

The stats vary depending on the article you are reading, but if you take a look at the most recent statistics released by the IRS.gov, in 2008 only about 3% of the 142,000,000 returns in the country have an income greater than $200,000, however, ‘it’ hit the proverbial fan when Obama attempted to penalize those who made over $250,000.  By pure numbers, those against it can’t all be making more than that amount.  Similarly, it isn’t hard to find people against the Death Tax (a/k/a Federal Estate Tax), however, the federal estate tax affects only about 1 – 2% of the Country.

While class warfare seems to be picking up steam in the past 5 or so years it is nothing like in other Countries.

Why Do we Defend the Wealthy and Income Rich in America?

I believe we (I lump myself in since I am not in the aforementioned income/wealth groups YET) defend high earners because there is an optimism found in America.  That optimism is based in the belief that, one day, I can be in those top percentages. And you know what? There is nothing stopping you!  There is no predetermined caste system.

So we put ourselves into their shoes just for a moment and say, when (not if) I am making that much do I want to get taxed like they are proposing?  No, because I will have known how hard it was to get there.

Since we are putting ourselves in their situation we can only empathize so much.  Which is why you feel for the small business owner bringing in $200,000/yr and employing 3 people and not the sports star who makes eight digits a year, or a CEO of a fortune 100 company who gets a golden parachute after 9 months of working.

Notwithstanding the top of the top, Americans generally want to be Wealthy/Rich (the difference being that Wealth is accumulated and Rich is just income)
and thus don’t want to set themselves up for higher taxes when they get there.

Do you defend higher income people? Is the theory sound?