Monday, September 19, 2011

Class Warfare Against The Rich

Tea Party Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) appeared on MSNBC with Chris Jansing and had this to say about the estimated $6 million his 30 Subway stores and his share of 130 UPS stores bring in every year.

Jansing: "With all due respect, The Wall Street Journal estimated that your businesses, which I believe are Subway sandwich shops and UPS stores -- very successful -- brought you last year, over $6 million."

Fleming: "Yeah, that's before you pay 500 employees, you pay rent, you pay equipment and food."

"Since my net income -- and again, that's the individual rate that I told you about -- the amount that I have to reinvest in my business and feed my family is more like $600,000 of that $6.3 million. And so by the time I feed my family, I have maybe $400,000 left over to invest in new locations, upgrade my locations, buy more equipment."

I can relate to spending $200,000--more than my household income--to feed the family. We have a daughter at home and she participates in track and cross country. All that running makes a teenager ravenous. Plus, son number two was home from college for the summer and those college boys can really put the food away. It's like I'm turning my back account over to Costco. So please don't attack Fleming for feeding his wife of 33 years and his four adult children and his two grandchildren with only $200,000. (Geez, I hope they have more than one bathroom in their house.)

Fleming also had this to say. "Again, class warfare's never created a job. That's people that will not get jobs. This is all about creating jobs. It's not about attacking people who make certain incomes. You know, in this country, most people feel that being successful in their businesses is a virtue, not a vice. And once we begin to identify it as a vice, this country is going down."

Being in Fleming's class is not a vice--and nobody is saying so. Notice, he never answered the question whether increased taxes would cost jobs. Since we're on the subject income and class warfare, let's have a look at Fleming's home state of Louisiana.

According to the US Census data, the median annual household income (the estimated point at which one half of all households have higher incomes and one half of all households have lower incomes) in Louisiana is $42,460 for an average of 2.61 persons per household. Now the difficulty here is trying to figure out the median personal income as opposed to the median household income because the household income includes all wage earners. Can't do it and it doesn't appear that individual personal income statistics are released by the Census Bureau. I don't for sure, but I think it's a safe bet that Subway and UPS store employees don't make $42,000 a year.

Anyway, let's play with the numbers we do have on hand. 500 employees times $42,460 for each gives us $21,230,000. That number is far higher than the 6.3 million Fleming uses. 6.3 million divided by 500 is $12,600 per person. And that's without paying rent, equipment and food. The minimum wage in Louisiana is $7.25 an hour which grosses the lucky employee $15,080 before taxes. Can you imagine the uproar of complaints booming forth from Louisiana if everyone had only $400,000 left over? Thank goodness the state doesn't have that problem. We'd never hear the end of it.

If you have a look at Fleming's 2010 financial disclosure statement (PDF), you'll find he lists his income from Fleming Subway Restaurants, Inc. as over $5,000,000. This is income from an S Corporation which does not pay federal income taxes but divides the income or losses among the shareholders. I may be wrong but wouldn't this income be after expenses?

Regardless, it's painstakingly clear that with only $400,000 left over after paying all the bills the representative from Louisiana is in dire straits during these hard economic times and it's easy to understand why he feels he is under attack. Times are tough folks. Just ask anyone in Louisiana.

Fleming also makes $174,000 a year from his government job. You know how Congress feels about people who work for the government. The poor guy is getting hit from both sides.


Spokane Al said...

Hank, I am not sure where you are going with this post.

If it is that you are agreeing that wealthy people do not pay their fair share then perhaps you may want to read

Take care.

Hank Greer said...


I'm merely trying to generate some sympathy for someone who could very well be the poster child for class warfare. I feel awful for him, the poor guy.

(Your facetious meter should be in the red zone)