Senator John McCan’t told Pastor Rick Warren that having $5,000,000 fit the bill as being “rich”. Senator Obama shot back correctly, “I guess if you’re making $3 million a year, you’re middle class”, in an event in New Mexico.
The real devil in the details and the secret about money and class in America is this: class is not a static destination.
There is no amount of money that definitely makes you “rich”. It’s an illusion. Certainly, a person with $5 in the bank is not rich, while I think most of us would say someone with $1,000,000 in the bank would be considered rich.
But all these things are relative.
If you live in some parts of eastern Ohio and pay $3,000 a month for your mortgage you would undoubtedly be considered rich by the locals as you can find places to rent or own there for $400-500 easily. However, try taking that $3000/month and finding a similiar home in Manhattan or downtown San Francisco. You’ll be able to live in both of those places for $3000/month, but your digs will be much more humble and cozy (aka small) and within a mile there will be people that own property worth several million. In fact, just the property tax for many places in New York City or San Francisco would be more than the $500 rent/mortgage payment in eastern Ohio.
Now consider the way markets change our worth.
If you are a home owner then you know what I am talking about. A $500,000 house of 3 years ago might only be worth $250,000 today. Assuming the house was paid for that is a reduction of half of what is likely to be the person’s major asset: their house. So is this person no longer “rich” or “upper middle class”? It could be.
Class and the worth of our money *IS* all relative.
That being said, McCan’t fucked up by putting a number on a value that changes. In a time when our real estate worth is down, gasoline (though slowly retreating downward) is high, the price to heat and cool our homes is high and the price of food is high, it was not wise for McCan’t to put $5,000,000 as the figure associated with being “rich”.
Because we Americans all want to be rich!
When most Americans see a person making $250,000 a year we believe they are wealthy. If they are not, then how will we (meaning the general population if skilled and unskilled workers) ever attain our dream of being rich? We’ll never make $250,000/year. Never. Never ever.
Obama was smart to seize on the miscue. At the end of the day this alone will not mean anything, but it is a way to prop up Obama’s plan to raise taxes on those making $250,000/year and over, while also re-affirming that McCan’t is the rich man’s candidate.