Just because you spent your money doesn’t make you poor

Here’s Tom Brokaw making an argument about being rich that drives me nuts, courtesy of The Atlantic Wire:

I think this deal will probably get done around the middle class tax cut. It’s at what level. Is it $400,000 or $250,000 or some other number, which is going to be critically important? A lot of people don’t realize in the large urban and suburban areas of America, $250,000 doesn’t make you rich. You’ve got two kids in college at $60,000. If you’re a boomer, you may have a dependent parent of some kind you’re spending another $20-25,000 on. So we have to have the definition of what is the middle class.

You can’t calm you’re not rich or affluent, just because you chose to spent your money. That you can afford to live in an expensive area actually means you’re richer than most other people, not that you’re just as poor just because you’re spending so much on your house. Similarly, being able to afford sending two kids to college out of your own pocket? That’s what being wealthy gets you. Just because you made “virtuous” choices about how to spent your money you don’t become poor or middle class. If you’re poor or middle class you don’t have that choice.

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