An Outrageous Outbreak!
By Patrick F. Cannon
To my great surprise, there seems to be an outbreak of Bentleys in the near Western suburbs (not to be confused with a Gaggle of Geese or a Choir of Angels). I don’t mean Bentley’s Pancake restaurants, or the pet supply stores, but the British motorcar.
For the uninitiated, Bentleys have been made since 1909, and are named after their creator, W.O. Bentley. To car enthusiasts, they are best known as winners of the 24-Hour race at LeMans, France in 1924, and from 1927-30. They went bankrupt soon after, and were taken over by Rolls Royce. Thereafter, they became Rolls Royce’s with different and less showy grill. Strangely enough, the brand is now owned by Volkswagen (go figure).
On the same day recently, I saw two Bentleys in Oak Park and one in River Forest. Had I been tooling around Lake Forest or the Gold Coast, I wouldn’t have been the least surprised to see them (and Ferrari’s as well). On the other hand, River Forest is about number 12 in the list of richest ZIP codes in the Chicago area; and parts of Oak Park (northwest) would be if separated from the rest of that diverse community.
You could argue – and many Oak Parkers of the “progressive” persuasion would prefer that you walk or ride your bike – that buying a Bentley is conspicuous consumption of the worst kind. After all, the cheapest one is likely to set you back about $220,000. If you must drive, a Toyota Prius might only cost $30,000, and put you in good stead with your bewhiskered neighbors. But here’s the thing: at current rates, the Bentley buyer is putting $22,000 in sales tax money in the public coffers instead of the $3,000 that the Prius buyer contributes.
Of course, we’re continuously reminded that the rich “don’t pay their fair share.” If you don’t believe it, just ask the Chicago Teacher’s Union (CTU), or any of the numerous candidates for the Democratic nomination for President in 2020. Just last Sunday, Joe Biden, on 60 Minutes, allowed as how the rich should be squeezed a lot more.
It may come as a surprise to the CTU, but the Chicago public schools are largely financed by individuals who don’t send their children to public schools; and by the commercial property owners who employ the parents of those who do. The CTU talks about a corporate head tax, as if those heads belong to people who live in Timbuktu.
As far as the “fair share” of Federal income taxes go, the top 1% pay 38.47% of the total; the top 5%,, 59.14%; and the top 10%, 70.08%. The bottom 50% pay an exorbitant 3.11%. Although Chicago’s real estate tax rate is actually lower than most of the suburbs, the fat cats with $5 million condos contribute mightily to the total, and their lavish spending habits fatten the sales tax coffers much more than the canny Walmart shopper. The sales tax on a couple of Big Macs might be a buck; on two meals at Alinea, it could reach $75 or even more if the top of the wine list beckons.
So, to say the rich don’t pay their fair share is absurd. The real problem we all face is governments who refuse to do one (or both) of two things: reduce expenditures to match revenues; or increase revenues to match expenditures. Since Bill Clinton (of all people) left office in 2001, neither the Democratic or Republican parties have expressed any interest in balancing the budget. If the Federal Government or the State of Illinois (and you can throw in the City of Chicago while you’re at it) were businesses, they would have to declare bankruptcy.
Perhaps we need a new party, which I would call the Pragmatic Party. In the meantime, the next time you see a Bentley drive by, give the driver a thumbs up.
Copyright 2019, Patrick F. Cannon