Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mitch Albom defends the richest 1 percent

Did you catch Mitch Albom's column in the Free Press defending rich people from having to pay more in taxes in order to fund health care reform? Prepare yourself to gag:
In explaining why it was OK to sock a new 5.4% tax on the highest earners in this country — to pay for health care reform — President Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said this:

“The president believes that the richest 1% of this country has had a pretty good run of it for many, many, many years.”

Ah. So that’s it. The old “You’ve had it good enough for long enough” policy. That’s why a family earning a million dollars a year should now cough up $54,000 of that — in addition to all the other taxes it pays...

It is not that the rich should not pay fair taxes. They should.

But to justify a grossly overweighted tax by saying “You people have had it good long enough” is to engage in the worst and most destructive form of politics: class warfare.
"Grossly overweighted tax" is not only incorrect (which I'll get to later), but Mitch seems to forget who his target audience is: Poor slobs like me who bought his books and helped make him rich. I won't make that mistake again.

Speaking of his books, David Sirota notes that Albom has "made millions of dollars writing books about sick people and death." He also assumed "that because his writing comes into contact with the most gut-wrenching parts of health care system, and because he portrays himself as a shining beacon of compassion and selflessness, that he is, in fact, a somewhat compassionate human being."

However, after reading Albom's column in what Sirota calls "quite literally the most economically devastated city in the United States," he changed his opinion of him. "Albom is a run-of-the-mill royalist and right-wing psychopath."
And yet, Albom -- the guy who has made his pile by trumpeting his alleged compassion for the plight of the sick and dying -- is spending the most crucial week in the health care debate insisting that the superwealthy pay too much in taxes and never avoid paying what they owe. And more importantly, Albom spends this week insisting the major problem facing America is a "class warfare" that would ask a Goldman Sachs executive making $1 million a year to devote just 9-tenths of one percent more of his taxpayer-subsidized income to a universal health care program. And he's doing all this in the flagship paper of the city that has been most devastated by the economy.
Not only is Albom not compassionate, he's also a fool when it comes to that "grossly overweighted tax" he mentioned. His math is not only wrong, it's considerably off, by a factor of six according to A Tiny Revolution.
Someone making $1,000,000 per year wouldn't pay $54,000 more in taxes under this bill. They'd pay $9,000.

That's because the 5.4% surcharge would only apply to someone's income over $1,000,000. Your tax bill wouldn't suddenly go up by $54,000 if one year you made $1,000,000 instead of $999,999.
Albom writes at a third grade reading level and isn't a tax accountant (he has a degree in journalism from Columbia University plus an MBA from Columbia's Graduate School of Business), but that doesn't justify passing along false information as the truth. Or could it be, as A Tiny Revolution points out, that it's just acceptable practice in his line of work.
"There really is no field but right-wing punditry where you can make these kind of catastrophic errors and keep your job. You can't graduate from Columbia Medical School and become a surgeon if you believe human beings have six spleens, and you can't stay an anesthesiologist if you give someone six times too much Sevoflurane. But as long as your horrifying incompetence serves a right-wing agenda, there will always be a cozy home for you in journalism."
It's too bad Mitch didn't take to heart Morrie's words:

"So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they're busy doing things they think are important. This is because they're chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning."

(Cross-posted at Blogging for MI.)

No comments: