It’s time we stop bashing Connecticut’s 1 percent

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From what I have briefly researched, the top 1 percent income earners in Connecticut — 14,000 households among 1.4 million statewide — earn above $677,000 per year. These are our fellow citizens targeted for punishment by our state workers and anybody else protecting their worthy cause, meaning something that only others should be paying for.

Those “one-percenter” households now average roughly $3 million income per year and pay on average around $200,000 in state income tax each, collectively about $2.8 billion of the $8 billion the state harvests from income taxes, or 35 percent. In other words we have one in a hundred households paying over a third of the income tax bill, yet the other 99 who are collectively paying the other two-thirds complain that the one-percenters are not paying their “fair share.”

I agree it is not fair, not fair at all, because by my count those one-percenters are paying 56 times the income tax per household as the other 99 percent ($210,000 vs $3,752) and yet demand no more, in fact doubtless far less, government services. This while at the same time spending and investing within their communities some of that un-confiscated income “financed” by everybody else, what many call a “giveaway” that they have been “allowed to keep.” Further, instead of thanking them for choosing to live here, or for continuing to reside here, far too many of us call them greedy cheapskates who are “stealing” from their fellow citizens.

Now, with the latest dismal revenue estimates, many demand that it is those one-percenters, and only they, be punished even further over the next two years to cover an additional $3 billion or more of deficit spending.

It’s not that the rest of us have been spending too much, it’s because they have not been paying enough and if it weren’t for bums like them living here there would be no problem at all. Thus, instead of paying $5.6 billion to income taxes over the next two years, we want them to pay $8.6 billion — an increase of more than 50 percent — raising their percentage of total state income tax contributions to 54 percent from the present 35 percent while nobody else takes any cuts or participates in solving the problem in any way.

Most of the 1 percent are pretty smart, or have smart advisers, more than a few have one foot out the door with homes elsewhere, and it will not take many of those households leaving or changeing their tax status to abruptly curtail the spending spree we have been enjoying. Even Gov. Dannel Malloy realizes that when you depend upon one percent of your citizens to pay a third to a half the bar tab, you are skating on pretty thin ice if some of them decide to climb out the men’s room window, which is why he is once again promising no new taxation.

It is the nature of the envious to feel little empathy for the wealthy. After all, they do not suffer any of the problems the rest of us have like addictions, divorce, tragedy, loss of fortune, high pressure jobs or careers, mixed-up spendthrift loser kids or erectile dysfunction, right?

No, having lots of money erases all those difficulties real human beings experience, and the proof is on the covers of the supermarket tabloids we commoners see every day. For the record, I am far from being a one-percenter, probably averaging as one of the 20 -percenters over the years, so I don’t have a Bentley in that stable, — and it is not the purpose of this commentary to argue as to whether the income of the wealthy is “deserved” — but I am concerned about the incivility and hostility many of us openly express toward success in our state and in our country.

If the aim is to have a wealthy nation, state or community you need to have people who are both motivated and capable of producing wealth, and it is not motivating to tell the relative few who are willing and able to do so that if they make it, we will take it, because everybody else is entitled to it.

As the GE exodus should teach us, if we wish our state to be competitive at attracting, creating and retaining wealth, it is time the people of our state start thinking less about what their neighbors can afford to pay and worry more about what their neighbors feel they need to pay. There are many comfortable places in the world where the wealthy need pay far less and can even more effortlessly afford, and the sooner we stop bashing these people and instead welcoming them, perhaps even thanking them, the better off we all will be.

What do you think?

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