Caught in the Spin Cycle
One of the rules of thumb we’ve developed since we fell into this bottomless pit of blogging three years ago is Always double-check ThinkProgress transcripts. We’re all for afflicting the comfortable, but TP has a nasty habit of being too, um, enthusiastic in their mission. There’s plenty of outrage to go around without sexing up the dossier.
But Monday afternoon, we were asleep at the switch:
HOW THE OTHER TWO PERCENT LIVES…
“By the time I feed my family, I have maybe $400,000 left over.” –Louisiana GOP Congresscritter John Fleming, adding that “class warfare has never created a job”. [ThinkProgress]
This was, how you say, not quite right. The sentence doesn’t end where ThinkProgress ended it:
“The amount that I have to reinvest in my business and feed my family is more like $600,000 of that $6.3 million,” Fleming said. “So by the time I feed my family I have maybe $400,000 left over to invest in new locations, upgrade my locations…”
That version of the quote is from TPM, which went with the implied $200,000 in Fleming’s family food budget.
But even that is misleading. In fact, of everybody who decided to run with that quote, the only reasonable voice was Fleming himself.
So let’s back up. John Fleming is a Subway and UPS franchisee, whose stores enjoy an annual revenue of $6.3 million. His net income off that revenue is $600,000 — presumably after taxes, the way he expresses it. So he’s running a profit of around ten percent, which is how America is supposed to work. No problems there.
But Fleming’s not wasting it all on hookers and blow — his family lives quite well on a only third of that profit, or $547.94 a day. The rest he reinvests.
Let us be clear: There is nothing wrong with this.
If anything — setting aside what he probably pays his Subway employees — this is the kind of capitalism we’re supposed to encourage. John Fleming is running businesses, not living off a robber-baron trust fund, or conceiving government-backed Ponzi schemes on Wall Street. He’s earning a reasonable profit, not monopolizing the market.
And — yes — he’s not paying enough in taxes. Because he’s still in the top two percent of American incomes.
So we still disagree with him. But what he said wasn’t worth making him an object of ridicule.
That was our fault. Because we forgot our rule: Never take ThinkProgress at face value. They’ll burn you every time.