If you look at the front page of the New York Post today (3/23/09), you see a big headline about New York State’s “Secret Deal to Tax ‘Rich.'” The scare quotes are there to indicate, presumably, that the taxpayers in question–whom the Post refers to as “anyone making more than $500,000 a year”–are not really rich.
It’s true that such taxpayers aren’t as wealthy as, say, Rupert Murdoch, the guy who owns the Post, who has an estimated net worth of $8.3 billion. But they’re still doing pretty well, with an income that puts them well into the top half of 1 percent of U.S. households. This is a group that sociologists variously refer to as “the rich,” the “upper class” or the “capitalist class.”
Interestingly, if you go inside the paper, the actual article bears the headline, “Gov Plots Secret Tax Hike on Rich”–no scare quotes necessary. Maybe Murdoch just reads the front page?