Originally Published: September 24, 2011 10 p.m.
It is apparently not easy being rich in America nowadays. Trouble ranges from President Obama calling for "the rich" to bail out the economy by paying for the jobs act through higher taxes, to one of the most well-known billionaires, Warren Buffett, admitting his taxes are less than what his secretary pays.
It is certainly something most of us cannot relate to, as evidenced by a 2005 Gallup poll that found 51 percent of Americans in the 18-29 age group thought it likely they would be rich some day. The same goes for 51 percent of those who earned more than $75,000 per year. Other surveys have found that people who earn less than $30,000 defined rich as earning $74,000, while those who made between $30,000 and $50,000 put that figure at $100,000. Only 13 percent of Americans set the threshold for "rich" at $1 million or more, according to the Associated Press.
We may resent them, and some want to punish them. Still, many of us hold out the hope we can become one.
But Obama is playing to his liberal base when he pushes for millionaires to pay higher taxes and paints deceptive stereotypes about rich people paying less than the middle class - they generally do not, but he is treading on shaky ground with the rest of us.
The bottom line is picking on folks does not seem like a good strategy for getting the nation to unite behind an effort to jumpstart the economic engine. That is especially true since being rich is more of a state of mind, given the Gallup poll results.
A better strategy would be to forget the rich-versus-poor debate and focus on ways to improve economic freedom for everyone. The problem is, according to the Cato Institute's latest index of economic freedom, the United States fell to 10th in the world, down from third or fourth.
The annual report ranks nations by several categories ranging from the size of government to the security of property rights, the AP reported. The U.S. ranks 54th in size of government and 44th in the freedom to trade internationally.
Most disturbing is we have plunged from eighth to 20th in the regulation of credit, labor and business since 2005, and from first to 11th in access to sound money.
Those rankings do not discriminate on how much one makes each year.