U of Chicago Prof Says His $400,000 Salary Is Taxed Too Much

-By Warner Todd Huston

University professors so often get the reputation of being ivory tower pinheads sheltered from real life and out of touch with reality. Professor Todd Henderson of the University of Chicago sure didn’t help change that perception when he posted a blog post detailing how Obama’s tax hikes will hurt and that his combined family income of $400,000 annually still doesn’t prevent them from struggling to keep up with his bills.

The professor posted some of his family finances in order to show that even though many feel he is “rich” he has bills like everyone else and Obama’s tax hikes coming next year will hurt him badly. Interestingly, Henderson a neighbor of Obama in Chicago’s prestigious Hyde Park neighborhood. “A quick look at our family budget, which I will gladly share with the White House, will show him that, like many Americans, we are just getting by despite seeming to be rich. We aren’t,” Henderson wrote on the blog post.

It wasn’t long before the blog post drew some very strong response. From some thanking the prof for saying what they were uncomfortable saying to those calling the prof an elitist and urged him to, “die yuppie scum.” Henderson, a corporate law professor at the University of Chicago, pulled his blog down claiming that the virulent emails and comments he received made him fear for the safety of his family.

While I think he is likely being overly dramatic with the worries over his safety, it is interesting to see this debate brought into the light. The fact is being “rich” is a fungible prospect. The guy that has more than you is “rich,” but few people short of billionaires consider themselves to be rich. Rich is something other people are.

But, even as Henderson certainly qualifies for being well off — and he most certainly makes more than I do, I’ll tell you that much! — I can easily see his point that living a normal life at that income level is just as burdened with bills as making $45,000 and year.

Let me put it this way, people do not stay at the same lifestyle after they begin to rise in income. Who is living at the exact same meager way at $100,000 a year than they did when they made $50,000? Houses get bigger, schools get more expensive, taxes rise, cars get more costly, entertainment gets more costly. In short as people begin to make more money they spend more money and their bills grow.

So, at some level I can fully understand that a man making $400,000 doesn’t imagine himself fabulously wealthy. Especially when we factor in Obama’s punitive tax hikes that will be coming in 2011.

Henderson, though, seems to have been a bit indelicate with his blog post, to say the least. Sadly he personalized it and that detracted from his perfectly good point of how Obama’s tax hikes will hurt everyone rich and poor alike.

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