The lifestyle of the rich and needy by Stanley Bing @FortuneMagazine May 11, 2009, 3:33 PM EST E-mail Tweet Facebook Google Plus Linkedin Share icons Debate continues to swirl around President Obama’s idea of what it means to be rich. Married couples who occupy the top 2% of the populace are now in that lucky position, since they earn about $250,000. Among the honors that attend this status is the right to pay more income taxes. Since that group for the most part already pays about 50% of its annual take in federal, state and local tithings, you can imagine the outcry. On the one side are the populists who chide them. “Selfish rich people who make over $250,000 per year,” they say. “The world is starving. You sit atop the heap. And still you complain! Fie! Cough it up, mean and selfish rich people!” On the other side are the affluent few, sitting on their tuffets of green. “Really!” they reply, stirring their expensive martinis and downing tasty petit fours, “You wouldn’t believe how far my puny hundreds of thousands goes these days!” It’s easy to see who’s in the right here. No matter how they cough and whine, those who earn two and a half large are by any estimation swimming in it. Just look at how many things they can enjoy that we cannot. For this purpose we will take a look at the Forbisher family of New York, NY, although we could most certainly find their counterparts in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami and Boston, not to mention all their outlying suburbs, and many places in the midwest frequented by the plump and shiny. The Forbisher Family consists of Bob and MaryAnn, and their children, Ned, Fred and Teddy, as well as a turtle named Mr. Bean and a bichon frisee/chihuahua mix named Eduardo. Together, they brought in a massive $254, 540 in calendar 2008. On that income they most certainly should enjoy all the lifestyle benefits that go along with their status as top-tier rich people. And so they do! On any given day, for instance, they can be assured they will have food. This immediately places them above a majority of the world’s population, and already classifies them as rich by many in less fortunate circumstances. The same must be said for the clothing they wear, which is ridiculously expensive but which they purchase anyway, proving they are rich. Ned, Fred and Teddy go to private school, like all super-wealthy entitled kids do these days, particularly but not exclusively in urban settings for a variety of reasons. They get a deal here, because Teddy is only in Kindergarten, so his tuition and extras only come to $15,000. Ned and Fred, on the other hand, top out at $35,000 each, bringing the cost of eduction for the Forbisher clan to almost $100,000. They are also, like rich people do, planning to go to college, which must be saved for, but they’re not worried because they’re so rich. Like all those who earn more than just about everybody else, the Forbishers live in a swanky apartment. On their income, they were able to afford either one tenth of a four bedroom apartment, or half a roomy three-bedroom apartment, but instead they chose to be frugal, as rich people sometimes are, and spent only $1.2 million on a perfectly serviceable two bedroom apartment that is worth $825,000 in the current market. Living the life of the elegant class to which they belong, the Forbishers drive a fabulous car that would be the envy of many, in this case a 2005 Toyota Camry with 87,000 miles on it. One can only assume that they have chosen such a modest vehicle in order not to shame their less affluent neighbors. Rich people sometimes do that. For some reason that is unclear to us at the present writing, the family last vacationed in 2007, a short trip to a theme park in Orlando, Florida, at school break time, which Mr. Forbisher was heard by friends to describe as “a nightmare that will never be repeated.” It hasn’t been. Several years ago, they rented a modest house in the Hamptons, but inexplicably that luxury, too, has yet to be repeated. And while like many rich people Mr. Forbisher looks at magazines that feature amazing yachts, he has apparently so far failed to purchase one. Instead, both he and Ms. Forbisher can be seen heading off to work each morning, she on the Fifth Avenue bus and he on the Lexington Avenue subway. We must assume that this is voluntary, since as rich people they don’t have to work too hard and never have to worry about money. And so, while the rest of us working middle-class people scrape and save and work our fingers to the bone, rich people like these go about their cushy, indolent lives. Worst of all, perhaps, is the fact that on their stated income of more than $250,000, the Forbishers last year paid only $110,000 in taxes! Isn’t that shameful? Thank goodness that in the days to come we can all look forward to them paying their fair share.