Saunders: No sympathy for the whiny super rich

bsaunders@newsobserver.comJanuary 23, 2013 

It may have been Socrates who first said, “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no class.”

Super-rich golfer Phil Mickelson is the latest wealthy American to show that he has no class despite possessing Croesus-like wealth. Mickelson threatened earlier this week to do something “drastic” to escape the rising California tax rate to which he’ll be subjected.

By drastic, did he mean he might sell one of his jets? Move to Russia?

No, to Florida, a state with no state income tax. He’d be joining many other rich people who come south for more than just the sun.

Mickelson tried to recant his rant the next day, but in life – unlike in golf – there are no mulligans, no do-overs, after you’ve shown yourself to be a world-class heel.

Speaking of heels, it was a guy I saw emerging from the woods near my home Tuesday that should really make one want to take a four-iron to Mickelson’s ample butt. On perhaps the coldest day of the year, I saw a big man in a too-thin coat shuffle out of the woods. He had a backpack. Covering his feet were what once may have been shoes, but from them, protruded plastic bread bags.

I had not a farthing on me – cashless society, indeed – so all I could offer was a sympathetic look and wave, which admittedly did nothing to warm his frigid tootsies.

$48 million

Neither, though, would hearing Mickelson and other rich chumps bemoaning their tax burdens. Yo, Phil. We all bear that burden – it’s called paying your way –and nobody likes it.

Mickelson reportedly made $48 million last year, and under the new tax code, his state tax rate will reportedly rise from 10 percent to 13 percent. His federal rate will go from 35 percent to 39.6 percent. Of course, by the time his tax attorneys exploit the myriad loopholes and deductions, we may end up owing him money.

In this country, we’re used to the unseemly sight of rich people crying in their expensive Cabernet Sauvignons about oppressive taxes and government regulations.

Take this to the bank, though: were it not for such regulations – i.e. the minimum wage – some of us would be working for a nickel and a peach, which is what Mrs. Ledbetter once paid me for raking her massive yard at her massive house on the street named after her family in Rockingham.

Oops, sorry. I still haven’t gotten over that yet.

Making more money

Several years ago, a buddy named Brian rebuked a mutual friend for complaining that a recent pay raise had thrust him into a higher tax bracket. Brian told him, and not in a kind manner, to “kwitcherbitchin’ ” and pointed out the obvious: If you’re paying higher taxes, you’re making more money.

Hearing all of these rich dudes po’-mouthing about paying taxes is not without its benefits, though. You know what has benefited?

My health. After Papa John Schnatter angrily threatened to raise the price of a pizza by 11 cents and to fire people because of the new health insurance requirements, I bade his chain adieu.

Schnatter, remember, is the same guy you see on TV talking about giving away two million pizzas if a certain quarterback tosses a touchdown pass, yet he’d rather toss his employees out onto the street than provide them insurance coverage.

Wow. The next time you see a nearly shoeless man shuffling along with plastic bread bags sticking out of his shoes, ask him how much sympathy he has for the plight of Mickelson and Papa John.

Probably the same amount they have for his.

bsaunders@newsobserver.com or 919-836-2811

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