I’m Not Ashamed … of Making Money

I wish I were in the 1%.  It beats being in the 99% as far as I’m concerned.  Because I live in Washington State and have no family close by, money enables me to travel to California, New York, Colorado and Georgia to visit the ones I love.  It also enables me to travel to places I’d never dreamed of growing up in Greenpoint, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York.  It also enables me to live on a beautiful island in the Pacific Northwest.

Spending is good.  Saving is good.  Having money gives you options.

I don’t get why people are ashamed of how much money they earn and I’ve known quite a few people who were guilt-ridden because of how well they’d done for themselves.  I’m not one of those people because I’ve worked hard since I was 16, worked full-time while in college and worked full-time while I pursued a law degree at night.  I’m not ashamed on my modest success or the fruits of my labor.

I also don’t get why so many people count other people’s money.

If Barack Obama made millions from his books, I said, God bless him.  I wish I could do the same.

If people in the movie business make millions of dollars reading lines from a script and people are willing to spend their money to see them do it, I say, “lucky for them.”

So, I really don’t get the talk about Mitt Romney’s tax returns and his initial hesitation to release them.  Now, I have no idea if he’s guilt ridden because of his success but I doubt it.  He doesn’t look like he’s ashamed of his success or neurotic like the people I’ve known.  But if he’s concerned that the returns will show that he’s “only” paid so much in income taxes, I still don’t get what the problem is.

In last week’s WSJ, Mr. Romney said he paid 15% in taxes.  So what?  There’s also talk now that he’s got money in off-shore accounts.  Until someone definitively proves to me that Mr. Romney broke the law, I don’t care how much he paid in taxes or where he keeps his money.  He could keep his money under his mattress for all I care.

Presumably he doesn’t have a “job” and receives no salary so any money he earns has to come from his investments and capital gains.  Depending on whether he’s paying on long-term or short-term investments determines the rate of taxation and 15% is what he’s paying on that income.

I commend him for taking his cash, which he probably paid taxes on in the first place, and having the guts to invest it knowing full well that he could have lost it all.  That’s what capitalism is all about.  Risk-taking.

If you want to play it safe, put your money in a CD and earn pennies and collect your interest at the end of the year.  That’s up to you.

But if you want to take risks by investing in something that offers no guarantee, why shouldn’t you get a tax break when you’re actually successful?  It’s your money, you could have it today and it could be gone tomorrow.

That’s what those complaining about the 15% rate don’t get.  They don’t seem to understand that capital gains tax is based on investments – not sure bets like a salary.  Investors, who make the world – and the economy – go around, take risks every day – those investments could either fail or succeed.  It’s all a gamble.

If people are just too stupid to get it and perhaps too blinded by their own envy of people who are successful, then there’s nothing anyone could do to convince them otherwise.

I don’t get it, but if you do, God bless you.

Author Bio:

For over twenty years, Leona has tried to heed her husband’s advice, “you don’t have to say everything you think.” She’s failed miserably. Licensed to practice law in California and Washington, she works exclusively in the area of child abuse and neglect. She considers herself a news junkie and writes about people and events on her website, “I Don’t Get It,” which she describes as the “musings of an almost 60-year old conservative woman on political, social and cultural life in America.” It’s not her intention to offend anyone who “gets it.” She just doesn’t. Originally from Brooklyn, and later Los Angeles, she now lives with her husband, Michael, on a beautiful island in the Pacific Northwest, which she describes as a bastion of liberalism.
Author website: http://www.idontgetit.us
  • chief98110

    The sociological explanation of why people have issues with successful people is best left to mental health experts. I have had many colleagues that came from the same socioeconomic background as I did who felt guilty about their success. I’ve also known others who could care less about the fact they had achieved financial success. I for one applaud anyone who has made it…even the Jersey Shore People!

  • cmacrider

    Ms. Salazar: Solid article. BTW I have a question for you. Bill O’Reilly has, in past years, alluded to how Left Wing Canada is. Yet in Canada, we never expect our politicians to publicize their Income Tax Returns … that’s private business between them and Revenue Canada. They are required when they submit their name for elective office to file two returns (1) A statement from Revenue Canada that they have filed all their returns and they were found to be in order, and (2) a Statutory Declaration that they have made a legal disclosure of their income on their Income Tax Returns. It works for “left wing Canada” I would have thought it to be the procedure in a land where “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is the foundation stone.

    I have no idea what P.M. Harper’s income or net worth, or tax remittances are … and I couldn’t care less. I hope he has done well … wealth serves as good insulation against bribery. I am interested in his policies however.

    • Leona Salazar

      That’s very interesting. I have no idea where these rules come from. I’d suggest the next time Bill O’Reilly refers to “left-wing Canada” you write him and point this out to him.



  • DOOM161

    Oh, Warren Buffett gets it. That’s why he pays himself $100k a year.

  • Ron F

    I am not sure that people who question different ioncome tax rates for differnt types of income are saying that a person like Mitt Romney did not earn the money he has. I think they are questioning whether earnings on capital should be taxed differently than earnings on labor. The people who have recently been questioning Mitt Romney’s wealth have been Republicans. People who put their money in CDs or bank accounts are also investing in the economy. The financial institutions loan the money. Nevertheless, interest is taxed at earned income tax rates, not capital gains or dividend rates. I don’t think the diffence in income tax rates is due to the fact that there is risk involved. Dividends were typically taxed at lower rates because corporations paid taxes on the income but the corporate share of income taxes is at a historic low. I think Ronald Reagan thought different types of income should not be taxed differently and raised the capital gains tax from 20% to the earned income tax rates, 28%. The problem I have with different income tax rates for different types of income is that we are letting the government to place values on differnt types of income. Is it just as legitimate then for the government to decide that certain industries are more valuable then others so they should get different tax breaks or be taxed differently? Isn’t Rick Santorum suggesting that there should be no income tax on manufacturing? It seems that when we tax different types of income differently, we are selecting the winners and losers in the Tax Code. Finally, when I buy stock, I am investing in a business but the business is not receiving any of the money. I am buying it from another person who owns the shares. I would prefer a flat tax with no deductions with all types of income being taxed at the same rate.

  • Glen Stambaugh

    Could be that casting a rich person as evil makes one too lazy to make the necessary sacrifices themselves feel better about their own poor choices. Could also just be the manipulated masses regurgitating the venom they’ve been fed by those they delegate to do all their serious thinking. I don’t get it either Leona.

  • Mike Jackson

    Excellent reading Ms. Salazar. I’d rather have a rich guy become president than one who lives paycheck to paycheck.
    The rich guy has probably had to figure out how to earn more money than month. And if he or she gets to the point where living on investment income is viable, then more power to them. Isn’t that what we’re all hoping to do?

    • Leona Salazar

      That’s exactly what people like me and you are hoping to do.