The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 27, 2013

Success shouldn't breed jealousy

By Dave Ruthenberg, Sports Editor
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — It’s hard to say what was more outrageous this past week.

Was it the fact professional golfer Phil Mickelson revealed he was considering moving from California after crunching some numbers and realizing that, combined with federal, state and other assorted and sundry taxes, nearly 63 percent of his income was being confiscated, or was it the reaction to his public statement about his tax situation?

Or maybe it was the fact he felt compelled to apologize after being bombarded by the whiny media, which apparently feels his wealth disqualifies him from wanting to retain the majority of what he earns.

Sure, Mickelson is wealthy. In fact, he is mega-wealthy. Golf Digest estimated he earned around $47 million last season between tournaments and endorsements.

But really, it shouldn’t matter if he has earned $10 million or $10,000. When it comes to his money, that he earned, it is outrageous he is only able to keep 37 cents of every dollar.

Sadly, though we seem to have become a nation of the freebie, the handout and of resentment.

 A lot of the reaction we are seeing to Mickelson is simply borne out of envy. Too many people have become resentful of those who have “made it” and seem determined to make such folks pay for being successful.

Our country’s president sealed his re-election in part by playing off class warfare and envy and it seems that attitude has seeped into the fiber of our nation’s soul.

Nobody is saying Mickelson should pay zero in taxes, but to confiscate nearly two-thirds of one’s income is absurd.

For stating such, Mickelson was subjected to smarmy criticism from the nation’s sports media. Just this past week, the News & Eagle ran a column by an Associated Press columnist who took Mickleson to task for being so wealthy, adding “even the greediest of tax collectors doesn’t take it all.” As if Mickelson should be ashamed  he wants to keep any of what he earns.

The columnist went on to suggest there were plenty of ways Mickelson could reduce his wealth (and taxable income), suggesting things like “win less,” and buy a “smaller plane.” Can you say jealousy?

Most of us who work for a living aspire to live as comfortably as possible. It’s part of the American dream after all.

Sure, many of us would love to be able to become fabulously wealthy simply by swinging a golf club or hitting a baseball, but that is not likely to happen for 99 percent of us.

And it is no reason to resent or villify somebody who has been able to parlay such skill into wealth. To do so, seems downright un-American and nearly as obscene as taxing away 63 percent of one’s earnings.

Ruthenberg is sports editor at the News & Eagle. Contact him at