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Being Middle Class in America Sucks.

June 20, 2007 · 60 comments

I filed my taxes today. Yeah, they are late. I almost always file with an extension because I’m so busy in April – I’m not recommending it, I’m just saying it happens.

Anyhow, this year, it really hit me how much being middle class in American sucks. And as the words were coming out of my mouth during my rant to my husband, I thought, this would make a good post… It’s not often that you get an Op-Ed piece from me, but then you haven’t seen my tax return.

First of all, defining middle class is hard, so I’m not going to try. I’m not going to draw a line in the sand and tell you who actually qualifies as middle class or not. I’m just going to talk about tax policy and how it more or less affects those that don’t seem to fit in as “poor” or “rich”. You can figure out for yourself where you think you land.

And this isn’t going to be a discussion about tax rates (though effective rates are a different story). The progressive nature of our tax system actually doesn’t bother me. I don’t buy the argument that a flat tax serves everyone the same way because it’s a hell of a lot more difficult to give up 10% of your income for taxes when you’re at the bottom of the scale than it is at the top. But again, that’s not my point.

What does bother me is our priority system – what we choose to allow as deductions and how we limit those deductions. Here are some examples:

Home mortgage interest. This is almost always deductible – up to $1 million mortgage. Rental payments are not. The more that you pay your mortgage down, the worse off you are for tax reasons. It almost always pays to have a high mortgage, speaking strictly about taxes. Why do you think home sales and re-fis are driving the economy of late?

Home mortgage interest on second homes. If you keep it merely as a vacation home, it’s deductible. But if you have to rent it out in order to keep the house? Not fully deductible.

Dependent Care Credits. Your deductions are limited to the amount of the least paid spouse’s income or a cap of $6,000. Looked into childcare lately? For full time care, you should expect to pay $20,000/year or more. This doesn’t include payroll taxes which you are required to withhold for in-home childcare. And your deduction? $6,000. Further, the deductions are subject to income phase-outs.

Student Loan Interest. This is the deduction that I cringe about the most. This year, my husband and I paid twice as much in student loan interest this year as we paid for the mortgage. Why? Because like most middle class kids I knew, I didn’t grow up rich, my parents didn’t pay for my education, my scholarships didn’t cover the cost of my entire education and college and grad school are ridiculously expensive. And what do I get for it? Practically nothing. If you’re single the deduction begins to phase out if your AGI is over $50,000; it disappears if your AGI is over $65,000; you can double those limits if you’re married.

Child Tax Credits. To qualify, you must have an income of less than $110,000 when filing a joint return with your spouse; $75,000 if you are filing as a single head of household; or $55,000 if you are married but filing separate.

Educational Expenses for Elementary and High School Students. Oh, that’s right. There is none. If you’re like me and you pay for private school because you lack confidence in your local schools (ahem), there’s no deduction. However, if I kept my children out of school with a private nanny, that is deductible. And if I buy a more expensive home in a better school district, that is deductible. But not tuition. For what it’s worth, I wrote my Congressman (Chaka Fattah, who sits on the Appropriations Committee) about this years ago and never received a response… I actually think it’s one of the more despicable omissions in the tax code.

IRA Contributions. Your contributions to an employer-managed plan are only fully deductible if your AGI is less than $34,000 for a single person and $54,000 for married persons. It phases out completely if your AGI is more than $44,000 and $64,000, respectively.

Medical Expenses. Medical expenses are subject to a floor: 7.5% of AGI. That means that you can only deduct medical expenses which are greater than 7.5% of your AGI. Here’s an example: You have $4,000 in medical expenses and your AGI is $50,000. Your deduction is… $250. That’s right. 7.5% of $50,000 is $3,750. So, you can only deduct the expenses over $3,750 – in this case, $250.

Miscellaneous Expenses. Also subject to a floor: 2% of AGI. Don’t get me started.

And AMT? A direct hit for the middle class – who were never intended to be subject to AMT.

So what does all of this mean? A Congressional Budget Office study from found that the wealthiest 20% of taxpayers (average incomes of $182,700), saw their share of federal taxes drop. The top 1% (average incomes of $1.1 million) also saw their share fall. However, taxpayers with incomes in the range of $51,500 to $75,600 saw increases in their share of federal tax payments. The biggest leap was for households earning around $75,600.

In terms of effective federal tax rates, the numbers are even more telling. Rates for the top 1% of taxpayers have fallen by 20%. The poorest taxpayers saw their taxes drop 16%. The smallest drop? The middle 20% of taxpayers with average incomes of $51,500 – their drop was less than half of the wealthy.

And yes, the web is full of statistics that prove any point. So, I’m not relying just on stats and policy reports. I’m relying on my own experiences and those of my clients, many of whom are professionals and small business owners – solidly middle class.

And this isn’t about politics – many of these tax issues have been around for several administrations – so it’s not a liberal versus conservative argument.

It’s really about how hard it is, increasingly, to be middle class in America. We work hard and we don’t mind paying our share. We just don’t understand why our share of the burden continues to grow while our services shrink. I don’t receive free medical benefits, I can’t rely on our public schools to educate my children, public transit is phasing out and getting more expensive, energy prices are rising… I guess I’m just not sure what I’m paying for anymore.

Editor’s note:  This was one of my highest commented posts for 2007.  Unfortunately, when I made the transition to a different server in 2008, some of the posts lost comments; sadly, this was one of them.  Don’t let it stop you from commenting.  The omissions were totally unintentional!

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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

1 manacle41 June 20, 2007 at 6:00 pm

What disturbs me the most about being “middle class in America” is that the government sets guidelines as to the amount our employers take out of our paychecks, but when tax time comes, we end up “owing” the government still more. I say just take what is owed before I get my check and leave me the bleep alone at the end of the year!

2 Another Tax Geek June 20, 2007 at 8:18 pm

Good topic, LOTS of room for discussion here.

Mtg Interest – it is odd that our tax code encourages our norm of overconsumption and negative spending. I disagree on vacation interest though, and it’s not true to say it’s not deductible if rented, but rather losses may be suspended.

I agree completely on student loan interest. The limits are ridiculously low – if someone gets the job their college education should prepare them for, the starting salary is already at near the phase-out point!

As far as private school tuition though, sounds like you’re nearing the proposal that Gingrich had floated for school vouchers. I think it’s more despicable that due to the various exemptions, child tax credits, etc., peoples tax burden decreases with kids, while costs to provide services (such as schools) rise – meanwhile single people pay the taxes to pay for the services.

3 fin June 20, 2007 at 8:43 pm

Just one point. Home mortgage interest…wrong conclusion. The interest on the loan is far larger than the tax benefit. This tax benefit is a myth to keep you paying all the interest. A 30 year loan will cost you more than than the price of the home. The second is to pay off your mortag ASAP.

4 Kelly June 20, 2007 at 9:01 pm

fin -

I agree from a financial perspective but from a tax incentive, there is substantial benefit to increasing your mortgage as compared to other expenses. I’m not saying it’s the smart thing to do, I’m just observing that there are tax incentives for doing it.

5 Kelly June 20, 2007 at 9:21 pm

Another tax geek,

Re vacation homes, it’s not just the losses that are affected. When you rent your home out for more than 14 days per year (and your personal use doesn’t exceed 14 days), interest incurred during your personal use is not deductible because your home doesn’t qualify as a personal residence. But if you rent your vacation home for fewer than 15 days a year (and use it more than 14 days), it’s considered a personal residence and is deductible. I just think it’s interesting that those who can afford to keep a second property receive a bigger benefit – in theory. Obviously, the offset from rental income comes into the picture, too.

Re the school tuition, you’re probably the only person who has ever said that I sound anything like Newt! :) My father is probably chuckling away.

While you do receive some additional deductions per child, you actually spend exponentially more – especially when it comes to child care and education. But your point is exactly what I mean – the tax system emphasizes one behavior over another and getting married, having kids and buying a home are all behaviors that our government wants to promote.

6 Neena June 20, 2007 at 11:31 pm

You are forgetting the disparity due to geographic location. Income of, say $100,000 goes a lot farther in smaller rural areas than it does in major metropolitan areas. If you live in the vicinity of New York City or Washington DC, the IRS considers you to be just as wealthy as someone who is making the same income in a small town – even though your dollar doesn’t go as far.

7 chudez June 21, 2007 at 3:25 am

just to give you a small reality check — if you think being middle class in america sucks, maybe you should try being middle class in a third world country like i where i’m from…

8 Kelly June 21, 2007 at 8:03 am

Neena -
You’re right about geographic disparity. It also applies to services.

9 Kelly June 21, 2007 at 8:09 am

Chudez -

Thanks for your perspective.

I will say that I understand that I am lucky – for a lot of reasons – to be in the position that I’m in.
I understand that the middle class is still better off than the poor in America, and most of the world, in terms of numbers. And I paid more in taxes last year than some people make in an entire year – I get that.

And this wasn’t meant to be a *poor me* piece based on my financial situation. Trust me, I have plenty of perspective on where I am now.

The piece was really meant to be a critique of our tax policy in the US and how it disproportionately both targets and limits the middle class.

All that said, thanks for the reminder.

10 Trish June 21, 2007 at 10:44 am

Kelly, I agree with much of what you are saying but I think you missed another way the middle class is getting hit-taxable Social Security. The phase ins today are the same as when I started 19 years ago. And the max taxed has gone from 50% to 85%. Back then, it was unsual to see someone with more than $9000 in social security. Today, the average is much higher and more taxpayers have good pensions and IRAs. They are also working part time or have a spouse who is still working. The bottom line is more middle class taxpayers are paying income tax on their Social Security.
I am not suggesting getting rid of the taxablity but adjusting the phase ins for inflation.

11 Kelly June 21, 2007 at 10:51 am

trish -
You’re totally spot on. It really hurts for small biz owners, too (I’m sure you know this) because it’s a double-whammy.
It’s especially painful when many of those in my generation don’t believe that SS will even be there for us when we retire…

12 alec June 21, 2007 at 11:27 am

If you think being middle class in America sucks, you should try being lower class in America.

13 Christopher Smith June 21, 2007 at 2:27 pm

You’ve got an unconventional definition of “middle class”. I’m not sure where you got your figure that the top 20% of the population have an income of $182,700 or more, but if you look at this CBO report suggests that the highest household income of the lower 80% is $91,705. A lot of the stuff you were complaining about only really effects people who are earning more than that.

Yes, there are regional cost of living differences to consider, but looking at that same report you’ll see they aren’t as wide as you’d expect. Most cost of living disparities are more about urban vs. rural, and even then, making >$100k is always going to put you above average.

It’s that old joke… like 90% of the population thinks they are middle class. Turns out, that’s not possible. ;-)

14 Christopher Smith June 21, 2007 at 2:46 pm

Heh. I just read further down in that report. The 95th percentile household income in 2005 was…. $166,000. So if you are making $182,700 or more… suck it up…. You are @#$#@$ing rich!

15 Kelly June 21, 2007 at 7:52 pm

Christopher -
I wasn’t saying that those in the top 20% of taxpayers were middle class. And I wasn’t saying that they were complaining – just the opposite. I cited a report that said that those taxpayers saw their taxes drop. Those households that were in the range of $50k-$76k (solidly middle class) saw their tax burdens rise. I would agree that anyone who is making above $182,700 is probably not doing too shabby.

16 Christopher Smith June 22, 2007 at 1:09 pm

Kelly -

$50k is solidly middle class… $76k is getting a bit on the high side. Either way, many of the gripes you cite impact those making >$76k much more than those in the range you are describing. AMT doesn’t impact you until your earnings are six figures, medical expenditures, and Child Tax Credit limits certainly don’t apply until you are well off.

Not that this is all unfair or anything (although the blindness to differences in cost of living across the country does seem a tad unfair to me), but all the pieces of the rant don’t fit together.

17 Kelly June 22, 2007 at 1:39 pm

$45k is median income in the US, more or less. However, the top 25% of taxpayers starts at about $75k – which for a household, I personally consider middle class (although as in said in my post, I don’t want to actually define it because I think that’s impossible). When it comes to the AMT, you can absolutely be subject to AMT under 6 figures – and in fact, it’s estimated that about 15% of filers from $75k to $100k are. That’s craziness since the AMT was always intended to take tax preferences away from the rich. And I would argue that $75k, while comfortable, does not equal rich per household for most of the US.

18 Christopher Smith June 23, 2007 at 5:28 am

“$45k is median income in the US, more or less. However, the top 25% of taxpayers starts at about $75k – which for a household, I personally consider middle class (although as in said in my post, I don’t want to actually define it because I think that’s impossible).”

Yes, it is tricky to definte middle class, but it is kind of odd to think about anyone in the richest 25% of us falling in to that category.

“When it comes to the AMT, you can absolutely be subject to AMT under 6 figures – and in fact, it’s estimated that about 15% of filers from $75k to $100k are.”

AMT has been “patched” to minimize this. Even if you do owe in that range, it is typically

19 LawyerMama June 26, 2007 at 8:52 pm

Great article, Kelly. We’re getting socked with the AMT now, something I couldn’t imagine ever happening. I’m a lawyer but I’m SOLIDLY middle class. The idea that someone could consider a family with our income rich made me laugh.

And I’m sorry, Christopher, but not even in rural Nebraska (where my husband is from) would $75k shunt someone into the “rich” category. Give me a break.

20 Jessi June 29, 2007 at 9:00 pm

Maybe you should quit obsessing over stupid material bullshit, and you wouldn’t need so much money. I make $500 a week after taxes, and to me, that is a lot of money. That’s so much money I don’t even know what to do with. I pay rent, utilities, eat out all the damn time. See a couple of movies a month. Have netflix, the internet…no cable but…who needs that when you have the internet? Library card goes a long way too. I think before taxes I make about $20,000 a year. Now I don’t think that’s middle class…I have less money and more fun. Who would have thought that could happen in this materialistic society we’ve created?

21 Kelly June 29, 2007 at 9:18 pm

Hmm. Methinks you’re either confused about your income or just giddy with excitement over your great life…

$500/week after taxes works out to more than $25k post tax. Even at a low tax rate, that’s $30k pre tax – not $20k (a pretty significant difference).

Notwithstanding the numbers, I think you’re missing the point. It’s a policy argument, not a statement about who makes the most money or where your take home money goes.

22 Jessi June 30, 2007 at 4:21 pm

Sorry, I meant $500 every pay period/every two weeks, not every week.

23 75 K not rich? October 20, 2007 at 9:40 am

O.K., I’ll go with that. But it’s definitely very well off. I make just under $9,500 a year. And I live well. I have a nice apartment, cable, high speed internet, eat at the best restaurants, (and yes, my definition and yours would match, I have a thing for good French restaurants) and can afford to travel out of the country every 4 or 5 months. The secret? You can find everything cheap and good quality (think Argentina wines for instance) you just have to find a way to keep your required monthly expenses bare minimum. i.e. rent, utilities, etc. when you figure out that all my monthly expenses for a year (counting the internet and cable) $2544, and no debt, suddenly you realize just how easy it really could be to live for 75k a year. Admittedly, children are WAY more expensive than adults, but none the less, if you find that budget hard to manage, you’re paying way too much for something. There’s no way you should be having difficulty doing anything you want to do. I think that once I hit 50k a year, I could live in a fashion that most people make 200k to live.

24 Kelly October 20, 2007 at 11:45 am

Nothing for nothing, but you’re making a lot of assumptions about the way that people live that aren’t necessarily fair or accurate.

I did not grow up with money. My husband will tell you that I used to say that I would know that I had “made it” when I hit $30k as a salary. That was before grad school. I, like many of my peers, did not have parents who could pay for me to go to college and grad school. And my parents made “too much” for me to qualify for free education. Despite scholarships, I managed to rack up quite a bit of student debt – like most people that I know who are in my age and my social demographic. I pay more in student debt than you made (according to you) last year. I also pay for my own health care – part of running your own business – which also costs more than what you profess to have made last year (and that doesn’t include dental).

Run the quick numbers: using your number of $75k per year, pre-tax. Let’s take 30% for taxes (which is not unreasonable for federal, state and local in that bracket). That leaves $52,500k. Let’s take $1k/month for insurance for a family of five. That leaves $40,500. Let’s assume $1,600/month for housing and utils (again, cheap for a family of five). That leaves $21,300. I’ll ballpark $700/month for a car payment, insurance and gas – that’s assuming only one car, low miles. That leaves $12,900. Now, let’s assume $600/month for groceries for a family of five – again, a low estimate. That leaves $5,700.

I haven’t included any costs for clothing, miscellaneous, occasionally eating out, co-pays for doctor’s visits or prescriptions, dental visits (since it’s not covered under insurance), eyeglasses, etc. That’s hardly rich.

And you’ll notice that there’s no debt in those figures. Forget about it if you have student loans to repay!

My point is that middle class America (unlike many other places in the world) bears a disproportionate share of taxes compared to services. We still pay for our health insurance and co-pays, etc. We pay for housing, education (college tuition is not provided by the government and together with room and board, tops $30k on average per year) and more.

I do agree that being middle class beats being poor. But I also think that until you’ve been a middle class family in America – not a single person – you can’t know what the real costs are.

25 75 K not rich? October 26, 2007 at 8:44 pm

I stand corrected. I neglected to take in account how much the tax increases. A very stupid mistake. My apologies. But I must admit, I don’t understand why you thought I assumed you’d grown up with money. My point was that it made sense that it be easy to live at 75k a year, considering I do pretty well on 9.5k. I never said you grew up rich or had it easy. Why would I make that point? My parents are about a bracket above you. I’ve been cut off since I was 16, but still that’s not an argument I would make. Of course your right I didn’t do the math before hand on how much a mortgage, car payments, (I live in a city where a car is pointless. The mass transit is excellent.) and three kids up the costs. I should have, but I didn’t. So it was rash, and poorly thought out and no doubt a little frustrating to read. But I actually do and did (should have wrote this then) agree with one a lot of points. I do think taxes on the middle class are too high, and I think taxes on the truly rich are outrageously low. I did agree with 75k not being enough to be considered rich, although I did so rather cheekily. :) But as far as your deduction complaints I agree whole heartedly. With a slight beef on the private school tuition. The problem is you don’t trust the public education system because, quite frankly, it’s awful. But then you want the government to give you back money for not using it, thereby effectively taking even more funding away from the horrible schools and making them worse. I’m not saying I blame you. I’m just saying I understand the counter argument. Personally looking at the two sides I’d have to make my own. Raise taxes on the rich, and actually tax corporations instead of giving them more and more tax breaks. Could you image the revenue we could have if we taxed corporations at 30% like we do citizens. I mean legally corporations are individuals. Let’s start taxing them like people then. Having raised those funds, cut taxes like crazy from the top 10% down, escalating as you go lower. Sound like a good plan to you?

26 Kelly October 27, 2007 at 4:49 am

I totally agree with you on the corporations bit. Corporations like Wal-Mart and Exxon pay markedly less taxes than people and arguably take far more of our resources.

I only raise the point about “coming from money” because I do think that wealth is relative. It’s easy to assume that it’s hard to make do on a lot of money if you’ve always had money. That’s my stereotype and my error, so my apologies.

As for private school, to be clear, I am not a fan of vouchers or, realistically, a deduction for private school tuition, all things being equal. My gripe is more a policy one – that is, that a larger mortgage deduction would be deductible when tuition is not. This policy actually encourages the middle class to flee cities and underfunded school districts for “better” funded districts in the suburbs. If I were to move with the money that I spend in tuition, the government would subsidize me in the form of a mortgage interest deduction – I could buy (with today’s interest rates) a home worth $500k more than my home now for the equivalent mortgage payment of my children’s combined tuition (assuming they were all in school) and the government would give me a break. But choosing to stay in the city results in no additional break, even though I would be paying arguably the same. Where are our priorities? Clearly, the real estate lobby has a bigger more powerful influence in DC than our educators.

As a PS, the same argument could be made for transit. If you read the rules for deductions, employers have incentives to pay workers for parking but transit is capped much earlier. The US tax system is neither efficient nor city friendly.

27 change fundamental October 30, 2007 at 3:56 pm

and american dream only for illegal alien make got universal healtcare, $12 thousand ,free food ,free school pay zero income and levy tax ,midlle class srink and CLINTON started with his stupid free trade(whore coorporation) with china and mexico other country and most good jobs moving now ,and we know clinton and bush 2 of kind dont vote nepotisme again,vote honesty not just talk. they both just wannna make coorporation so happy

watch lou dobb

28 change fundamental October 30, 2007 at 3:58 pm

TIME TO MAKE LOBBIES ILLEGAL FOR CAPITAL HILL!! BILLARY THE QUEEN OF LOBY,LIER JUST LIKE HER HUSBAND SOLD SCAM HEALTCARE

29 75 K not rich? October 31, 2007 at 7:04 am

To Kelly: Hahaha, city friendly? Efficiency? These are phrases that I sincerely doubt the IRS understands. The tax system is so heavily weighted to those with vast wealth, (i.e. businessmen or inheritors) and corporations that it’s sometimes sicking. So you’ve definitely have an ally on that. And your right, it’s really is wrong to have the tax system give bigger awards to people fleeing to suburbia rather than (even if it means giving a tax break for private schools) trying to encourage them to stay, because if they leave all it does it makes our cities less viable and we all lose. (Besides suburbs are cultureless scars on our nation’s face, my opinion.) I wish you were wrong about the real estate lobby having greater pull in Washington than our educators, but obviously EVERY lobby has greater pull than they do. It’s a sad affair.

To change fundamental: I would request you glance over your comments a little bit before hitting submit. They’re difficult to read because of all the fragment sentences and words. (Bad spelling is easier to read than half completed sentences.) But as to your points, I think you were saying that illegal immigrants get universal health care, free school, free food and pay zero taxes. (I don’t know what the $12,000 was about.) To which I would respond, stop listening to Rush Limbaugh and Fox News if you are gullible enough to think that anything they say has any value to it other than the sort of entrainment that you get get in a News of the Weird column. Illegal aliens don’t get free health care, there are some programs for that, but they are rarely utilized being as they’re afraid they’ll get deported! Same for the food and the schooling. However their children might receive these benefits if they were born in the U.S. for the simple reason that they are U.S. citizens and are entitled to any social benefits that any other American citizen would qualify for. As far as the shrinking of the middle class being Clinton’s fault, the current economy is so very much his fault. He made a fatal mistake in his economic planning; he assumed the president following him would have a sane and rational mind about how to handle the economy without destroying the financial stability of this country and hurting everyone who isn’t rich. He was dead wrong. And no, I didn’t agree with a lot of his policies, but to say that he caused this mess we’re in is a stupid as saying it’s his fault 9/11 happened. It’s ridiculous to the extreme. (Also spouted by the wonderful “journalists” at Fox News. Why the hell are they aloud to call themselves journalists?) And please don’t compare Bush to Clinton, as much as I dislike the two of them, they have nothing in common. Clinton, unlike Bush, regarded the constitution as a document best used to govern the country with and ill suited for things like confetti and toilet paper. And getting rid of ALL lobbies is a really bad idea. ANYONE can be a lobbyist, even communists, anarchists, rich people, poor people, people hired by corporations and just plain old average joe you or me. If we made that illegal we’d hurt ourselves more than corporations, because they’d still find a way to get their message through, and our hands would be further tied and politicians would have yet another barrier between the people and themselves. That being said, yes it sucks that these corporate lobbyists are able to hold so much sway, and so I think any kind of “gift” or anything of that sort should be stopped. However, there’s no way we can stop them from lobbying with out eliminating our right as well. Besides, they have as much right (*cringe*) to try to sway politicians as we do.

30 KN January 9, 2008 at 8:38 pm

I define being rich, lower entry level rich that is, earning $500K USD after taxes (w/o being able to deduct everything). In general, these are executives w/equity, elite traders, media/sports entertainers, etc.

Somewhere between $250K gross and that number is the upper middle class.

31 23andWorldsmostefficientbusinessman February 13, 2008 at 8:07 pm

u must open your eyes, educated yourself on taxes and a little discipline, pay 10% on any amount. at least until the election.

AMT is b/s

The rich may have it better, I don’t care if u cant beat them, learn from them.

32 LoveThePeople March 22, 2008 at 2:08 pm

If you want to keep “dominating the world”, become Chineses citizens.
If you want to be yourself and live life at its fullest, move to Europe (there’s space for everyone there: France for food, art, fashion and the riviera, Spain and Italy for the climate, England for theater and music, Holland for drugs and tulips, Ireland for peacefulness, Germany for beer and alternative lifestyles, etc…)
If you want to remain fat, stupid, uneducated, hated-by-the-world, hopeless, sick, and poor: stay in the US. They’ll make sure you or your offsprings never achieve a higher position that you’re in now.

33 BC April 7, 2008 at 7:26 pm

Yeah being middle class in America does suck. My mother got an increase in her Survivor Benefits as well as an increase in her Social Security and guess what? The Government is taking it all back! Real nice! Talk about Indian Givers!

34 jones April 22, 2008 at 10:27 pm

I think being poor in America REALLY sucks. The whole no health insurance thing is sickening. This country needs help BIG TIME or else we’re going to turn into a third world country. The rich get richer and the poor just….die.

35 John January 13, 2009 at 11:05 am

This country is a c omplete joke. When is the typical American going to wake up, is apathy is too much. Where is the OUTRAGE??!! Stressing all about these taxes–to fund what?/–bailouts for billionaires, junky American cars, Wall Stree con-men, “401ks” that are a middle class rip off, white collar welfare, useless wars that we emabarrassingly lost??? Stop paying taxes, if we all did that this joke govt. would shut down. The problem is most USA people are wimps, and followers, they do not have a backbone and will not act collectively in this situation. Fire the idiots in the congress/senate and hire some of your own. Stop electing millionaires/billionaires to congress/senate/president–they ONLY care about themselves and their pay raises-interestingly they do not have 401k s they state it’s too risky?? Stop buying services, stop using services, then it will hit’em in the wallet–that is the ONLY way USA people wake up.

36 Bill Maher February 1, 2009 at 10:45 pm

Other advanced countries laugh at us, because we pay taxes, but get no services in return. Can’t get free health care that would be socialism says joe the fake plumber, can’t get a pension more socialism, can’t get free college more socialism. Well if those are socialism than call me a damn socialist. At least in Europe when you pay taxes you get a free education and health care, you know actually getting stuff for all your taxes. This is why I hate Americans!

37 Reverend Russell April 4, 2009 at 9:48 pm

America sucks… and I do not mean that in a good way.. America at it’s core clings to th religious belief system of it’s founding fathers… Calvinism. We live in and always have lived in a theocracy based on the devotees of the 16th Century heretic, John Calvin . the Bible of our theocracy is Adam Smith’s (another devout Calvinist) Wealth of Nations which Smith cleverly morphed Calvin’s “chosen” theology into a social doctrine that was implemented by Washington and Hamilton et al … the doctrine vis a vis Smith’s sacredly blessed “entrepreneur” … the tenets of the doctrine are never fully addressed… but it goes like this: The “Chosen” IE God’s Chosen… are under a covenant.. not to be broken… under that covenant they are blessed as God bestows upon them a bounty. The “no chosen” have no bounty. And for “chosen” to give away that bounty is a violation of the covenant. The chosen know who they are,.. they “have” those not “having” exhibit prima facie evidence of their “not chosen” status. The Republican party is based on Calvin’s doctrine.. thus, to pay taxes.. is a breach of the covenant that accrue from being chosen.. and paying a tax is a transfer payment to the not chosen which violates the covenant that goes with being “chosen.” Thus our social construct does not allow for any implementation that embraces the notion that “we are all in this together” illogical to a Calvinist AKA Republican. Thus we can never achieve what our biil of rights declares i our due whether chosen or not… the not chosen in Calvin’s model decides.. allocates who has and who goes without. Reagan came from a devout Calvinist family as did all the Bush’s for generations. Until America abandons it’s Calvinistic theocracy we can never achieve the goal of equality… unity… the dignity of all of us to be accorded dignity on the basis of being human. Such notions are antithetical to the core beliefs of Americans in general. So we continue our quest to prove individually we are “Chosen” and our contemporaries are not. In the vernacular, “I got mine, God declared it so, screw you for not being ‘chosen’ like me.”

38 d weed August 3, 2009 at 9:59 pm

get your facts straight … the top 1% earners in the country pay over 40% of the taxes. Is their anything else you would like bought for you?

39 USA sucks January 31, 2010 at 1:14 pm

USA sucks, Europe and Australia are better!

40 darth pathel February 16, 2010 at 3:19 pm

well be happy you live in america i dream of being there like you know how terrble it is too live in bangladesh where there are starved to death poeple all around

41 Steve February 25, 2010 at 3:11 am

darth, I am pretty sure that we had something to do with that whole starving thing, but putting that aside, nothing in the tax code is an accident. It is carefully contrived to place as much burden as possible on the most productive members of the non elite strata while minimizing taxes for the elite.

42 levi September 8, 2010 at 11:57 pm

I feel its time to bail out on this country for a different one or step out in front of a bus. There is no God because we are already in hell. This has nothing to do with self esteem either or mental attitude… this is reality. To hell with your patting me on the back and saying, “And you can do it too…” BS!!! I hate this country and pray for a swift death so I don’t have to become a socialist slave for the upper 20 percent without having any real fair and equal opportunity. Fuck this country and this life. all my efforts are in vain. It doesn’t matter how much of an overachiever I am. Since I am middle class and poor, nothing I do to try and better my life or those around me will ever matter.

43 Mark September 30, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Imagine being lower-middle class or lower class in America.

Not only are you nickeled and dimed to death; you are also looked down upon by the populace.

44 Mick Russom May 12, 2012 at 4:55 am

@ levi “I hate this country and pray for a swift death so I don’t have to become a socialist slave for the upper 20 percent without having any real fair and equal opportunity”

Its not the country, its the world. And it can get worse. You have a computer. You are ‘rich’. Now do all of the work and pay all of the taxes while the one percents wipes its boots on your back.

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