D.C.-area millionaires who want their taxes raised are "lonely at the top," a small minority among the nation's millionaires who are worried about economic collapse and literal class warfare if their taxes aren't hiked, insists Washington Post staff writer David Fahrenthold.
While you'd expect such a story in the A-section, perhaps among the business pages, Fahrenthold's 31-paragraph feature on the District's "Patriotic Millionaires" made the front page of today's Style section.
Limousine liberal guilt about wealth creation is apparently stylish to the Post.
"It's the millionaire who's worried," about financial collapse and proletarian uprising, Fahrenthold explains, citing area millionaires who believe that somehow raising their taxes will stave off an economic collapse and/or massive social unrest that turns violent:
The Patriotic Millionaire is standing in his $2.5 million home, next to a granite-topped kitchen island big enough to pitch a tent on. Outside, the rain is pattering his pool and his fishpond.
He is worrying aloud about how he might lose it all.
“It is going to be really bad for rich people,” said Charlie Fink, 51, a former AOL executive, imagining an American financial collapse that could wipe out his wealth. “It’s going to be [bad] for everybody. But most people are living close to the bone anyway. So they have less to lose.”
What’s changed — at least among the Patriotic Millionaires — is their sense that they are being treated too well.
“It’s just — it’s unfair. And I just — I can’t be a part of that. I have to pull my weight,” said Scott Wallace, one of six members with D.C. ties. He lives in South Africa most of the time but serves on the board of a family charity based in the District. “It can’t fall on the shoulders of the working class.”
But others felt something more basic — and more frightening. Joe Kaempfer, 64, a real estate executive with a home in McLean, said he feared that the government’s fiscal problems would someday unleash dangerous forces in society.
“My grandchildren will be murdered in their beds. That’s when class warfare will happen,” Kaempfer said. “The children of the rich will be murdered in their beds by the starving.”
Fahrenthold failed to find anyone to explain just how hiking taxes on top income earners would prevent an economic collapse or social unrest, but he did include a little dissent in his article, from a golf instructor who doesn't believe that taxes on higher income earners should be hiked:
In another part of Fairfax County, the man who teaches Fink to swing a golf club is not nearly as panicked. Tom Melideo’s country club is not hurting for members, and many of them have government contracting jobs that don’t seem likely to disappear soon.
“I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about” the future of the economy, said Melideo, 45, the club’s PGA head pro. “I’m too busy working.”
“We’re doing okay, because we’re around the Beltway,” said Melideo, who gives Fink lessons at Fairfax’s International Country Club. Business at the golf shop dipped a bit when the recession began, but now it’s improving. The club attracted more than 40 new members recently.
Melideo, a slim, bald man with an easy manner, doesn’t agree that millionaires ought to be taxed more. He thinks the economy would benefit if the rich could keep that money and spend it. But he also doesn’t worry that a little extra tax on the wealthy would kneecap his business.
If it’s that close to driving them away from the entire club, they probably would have dropped it by now,” Melideo said.
While that may be true for Melideo's golf aficionado clients, it would still mean less disposable income for them to spend on other goods and services, plus less money to invest in job-creating ventures.