Nation’s richest congressman: U.S. poor are ‘envy of the world’ forums forums Politics and other things Nation’s richest congressman: U.S. poor are ‘envy of the world’

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    When members of Congress are ranked by wealth, one lawmaker usually stands out, even among the rich. Rep. Darrell Issa, the California Republican, has a net worth of at least $350 million – which gives him a comfortable lead over his next closest rivals in the race for the top spot.

    This isn’t criticism, of course, and there’s nothing wrong with someone having great financial success. But given Issa’s riches, he should probably avoid the kind of rhetoric he used with CNN yesterday.

    Asked by CNNMoney whether he feels personally responsible to address income inequality in the United States, the Republican Congressman from California said “absolutely.” But he noted that America is the richest country on earth and implied that those in poverty here are better off than the poor in other nations.

    “If you go to India or you go to any number of other Third World countries, you have two problems: You have greater inequality of income and wealth. You also have less opportunity for people to rise from the have not to the have,” said Issa.

    The California Republican added that the United States has made “our poor somewhat the envy of the world.”

    Now, even if Issa weren’t hyper-wealthy, it’s generally not a good idea for politicians to vote to slash public investments, cut taxes on the wealthy, and then lecture the poor on how their station in life could be worse. Issa is supposed to be a congressman, not a Dickensian villain.

    But the fact that the California Republican enjoys Romney-esque wealth – and he’s making the comments as economic inequality in the United States reaches unprecedented levels – just adds insult to injury.

    What a douche.


    A long time ago on this board there was some discussion regarding if one makes $X per year, in what percentile of incomes does one reside. I found a calculator that would perform that same calculation, but using worldwide income statistics. I recall that out of curiosity, I looked up the US poverty line annual income and put it in the calculator. The results were shocking, yet not surprising.

    Since I can’t recall the original URL, I re did the experiment. I used the following calculator:

    I then entered the US Census’s poverty threshold for a single person, which is $11720 per year. According to the calculator, a person who makes that much is among the top 14.65% wealthiest people in the world.

    Issa’s message is factually correct, but he is in a position where he can’t deliver it without making himself look bad. I think that it is similar to what would happen if Bill Gates were to joke that he has so much wealth that he doesn’t know what to do with it. The poor in developing nations are at a level of poverty that is incomprehensible to most of the people who have spent their entire lives in industrialized countries.


    I think the calculator is misleading as it doesn’t take into account the cost of living. Of course incomes in the US are higher, but so is the cost of living.

    What should be talked about is how we allow some of our fellow US citizens to live in such poverty when we are the richest country in the world.

    If we are serious about solving the income inequality issue, we must increase taxes on the ultra rich on all counts.

    This means higher tax rates for investment/dividend income, higher ordinary income rates for millionaires, and a big hike in the inheritance tax.

    Otherwise we are heading to a situation where we have two extremes: The ultra wealthy and everyone else. At some point those ultra wealthy will have their heads cut off in a mob attack.



    We’re already there, except the mob just isn’t organized yet.

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