The NY Times looks at an issue of pressing importance to its readers: how hard it is to get by in Manhattan on $500,000 a year. In fairness, the article is done with a sense of the absurdity of the question, and is pretty informative if you wondered how, exactly, people can end up feeling like they really are just getting by on that much money. Of course, the single biggest line item is predictable:

If a person is married with two children, the weekly deductions on a $500,000 salary are: federal taxes, $2,645; Medicare, $139; state taxes, $682; and city, $372. With an annual Social Security tab of $6,621, the take-home pay is about $293,000 annually…

Whatever you may think of the justice or efficiency of different tax rates, that’s one seriously large bite. It goes a ways to explaining why, in “New York…a new study from the Center for an Urban Future, a nonprofit research group in Manhattan, estimates it takes $123,322 to enjoy the same middle-class life as someone earning $50,000 in Houston”.
Compared to my own living expenses in Queens and experience with Catholic school tuition, I can see where some of the more astronomical expenses are; $192,000 a year ($16,000/month) for a three-bedroom apartment is obscene even compared to the cost of home ownership inside City limits, and some of the travel, wardrobe and other expenses listed are truly hard to get my head around.

13 thoughts on “Moneytown”

  1. Welcome to the Democrat’s progressive income tax system. Penalize people as they earn more. It’s not enough that 10% of $100K >> $10% of $30K, the rate has to go up as well! Gotta giver the money to the rightful owners ya know!
    By the way, here in up state NY, I can buy house with a few acres for what NYers pay in rent per year. Of course the taxes are still stuoidly high, but at least I have a place I own.

  2. Yeah, Lee. And for a job, you can go work at the ski mountain for minimum wage.
    Not that I’m knocking that job–min wage goes a ways Upstate. But it’s not exactly what you want to see your kids grow up to do.

  3. Actually, we have alot of very good paying jobs here in upstate. Many highly technical. Contrary to the NYers view of us upstaters, we actually use utensils when we eat our food and don’t always wipe our mouths with our sleeves. 😉

  4. trying a kinder gentler tact for a few days.
    1) nothing is given, they earn their salary based on work skills, market forces and willingess to work
    2) don’t confuse what you earn to wealth. What you own is the fairer definition
    3) high earners pay more because they make more. I do think you can make a case for a slightly higher rate.
    Have a nice weekend.

  5. Look at the NYT correction on SS.
    It still forgot to count the 1.45%(?) medicare deduction, which, of course, is not capped.
    Typical NYTfact checkers. They’re worse than the Enquirer

  6. Not to be too philosophical; but I always felt wealth can’t be measured by material possessitions, rather by friends, family, and your spritual being.
    When you show up at the pearly gates and St. Peter asks you to account for your life, you won’t have any of your material possessions with you-just your soul.
    To quote John Lennon from the song “The Ballard of John and Yoko”:
    Last night the wife said,
    “Oh boy, when you’re dead
    You don’t take nothing with you
    But your soul – think!”

  7. This is such a typically offensive New York Times article, in its role as the mouthpiece of limousine liberalism. The thing is, there is a legitimate story to be told about people with income levels that would make them very wealthy in other parts of the country who can barely eke out a middle-class lifestyle in New York. A family earning $250k (Obama’s magic number for wealth) almost certainly has to choose between moving to the suburbs and sending their kids to a school with metal detectors where they will probably, as Steve Sailer might say, get beaten up by underclass minorities. But instead of telling this story, the New York Times would rather write about people ‘struggling’ to fund armed limousine drivers, society balls, and houses in the Hamptons. Shame on them.

  8. $500,000 is certainly a lot of money, even in New York. But it’s also true that people need time to adjust their lifestyles, and if you are used to making ten times that much, it would be a shock to the system to have to live on 500K. And, of course, if you are qualified to run JP Morgan Chase or Bank of America, you are presumably qualified to also be CEO of a company in an industry Obama hasn’t taken over yet. So I can see how these sorts of limits could hobble the banks in the long run – like how a fair amount of Russian hockey players now prefer playing in Russia to the NHL.

  9. I like the kinder, gentler dch.
    I meant “given” in a broad sense, thinking of opportunity. While the US probably provides opportunities to a wider swath of the populace than any other country, there are numerous advantages for those who have material income and far greater advantages for those who have material wealth.
    I favor progressive taxation and believe that the estate tax is fundamental to a free democratic society (though changes to minimize unintended consequences are also necessary). There is also a responsibility on those elected to represent us that few if any representative realy discharge honorably. Our government has an obligation to spend tax (and debt) revenues wisely, honestly and transparently. Wasteful programs and “pork” designed mostly to help reelection are inexcusable. If our government were better at making those choices, people would be less resentful of taxation.

  10. Reading that article, it’s hard for me to care about those kind of problems. Move out Manhattan if you think it’s too expensive. Move to Houston for that matter. Don’t want to move to Houston? Well that’s a matter of choice, isn’t it?
    As for the more difficult question of the $250k family in NJ, there are elements of choice there as well. How many kids did they choose to have? Do they need to live in their own home or would they be better off in a condo or renting? How about choosing a longer commute in favor of a town with better schools? I really don’t think taxes is the big problem here.
    As Lee said, if you value things other than material possessions, economic downsizing isn’t all that big of a deal.

  11. By the way, Jerry, it’s funny that you mentioned JP Morgan Chase. Arnold Chase just built a mansion just outside my town in Connecticut last year. The rough details:
    “The 4 1/2 -story home took more than three years to build on its 33-acre ridgeline parcel off Albany Avenue. It includes a 3,000-square-foot exhibit hall, a 4,700-square-foot game room and a movie theater with more than 100 seats.”
    Wow. The Courant just ran an article that the yearly West Hartford town property tax will be $100k.

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