Rich Lowry and the Heritage Foundation Need to Get their Stories Straight

September 30, 2011

Via Harold Pollack, here’s the National Review’s Rich Lowry on the economic struggles of workers who make “only” $250,000 a year:

[Warren Buffett] should give all his wealth away …. come move to Westchester County. Move to McLean, Virginia. Move to the suburbs of San Francisco with his wife. Adopt a couple of young kids, so he has a young family again. Make arrangements so that he only makes $250,000 every year. … And see how he feels about seeing his taxes increased, when he actually has to worry about expenses, again.

McLean, Virgina and Westchester County are very wealthy places, with median incomes more than triple national median income. But Lowry need not worry about Buffet’s ability to make ends meet in either place on $250,000 a year, at least as long as Buffet continues to avoid the intemperateness and profligacy that plague too many of America’s elite today. Even in these places, $250,000 is a decent income—in fact, it’s higher than the income of at least 90 percent of families living in Westchester, and $100,000 more than the median family in McLean County. 

Lowry would feel even better if he perused some of the Heritage Foundation’s reports on the opulent living standards that prevail in today’s America, even among families with much lower incomes. According to Heritage’s Robert Rector, most American families living on less than $25,000 a year, one-tenth of les pauvres riches of Westchester and McLean, are able to meet what he calls “all essential expenses” and even have many luxuries like color TVs, VCRs, and coffee makers. Unfortunately, Rector doesn’t provide similar statistics for families making over $250,000 a year. But given that they have incomes more than 10 times the amount of the families Rector focuses on, Lowry shouldn’t waste too much time fretting about their ability to make ends meet.

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