My client base is made up of of people that are "rich" by Geithner standards. They are small business operators who have achieved a little success in their S corporations and partnerships, generating enough taxable income to put themselves in the top tax bracket. They have had some luck, or at least not catastrophic bad luck, but as a rule they also work very hard. Many have taken huge chances, and some lost almost everything before they finally achieving some success.
As I mused last year, I too am not a fan of blanket statements about the "rich." There are good, hardworking people all across the socioeconomic spectrum. I believe that neither wealth nor poverty is solely a product of luck.
In this world of gray, we as a people somehow have to figure out how to deal with the outliers: the idle rich and the helpless poor. I grow frustrated with the flawed logic that often appears: that all poor people are poor through no fault of their own, that all rich people are lazy and lucky. Some poor people earned their poverty through bad choices; some rich people really did earn their wealth.
An equally flawed logic exists that a purely free market would solve everything. While I'm a firm believer in the invisible hand, I also know that we must address externalities.
Upon mentioning my belief in capitalism, I expect to hear: "of course you support capitalism, it works for you." It's unfortunate that people often attack an argument by attacking a person's motives. The reality is, I'm nowhere near the "rich" levels by Obama standards. My husband has just completed his medical residency, and I've limited my working hours for the past 7 years (since my daughter was born).
I'm the first to admit I've been fortunate. I've also worked hard to take advantage of every opportunity that has come my way. True greatness requires hard work. A lot of wealthy people have worked and sacrificed for what they have.
I hope we can spend less time casting blame, and more time collaborating toward a real solution.