A commenter writes:
"don't highly progressive taxes discourage work? why work harder if its going to be taxed at ~45%? (fed,state, muni, soc. sec.) this is at the root of why so many upper-middle class folks feel so poor, they are paid better, and many of them work much harder to earn this higher wage, but come april 15th much of this is taken away. after you consider all the extra time/effort they spent earning the money, they may have been better off not working to earn that extra marginal dollar."
The recent performance of European economies shows that with a robust social safety net, people will pay higher taxes and be productive too.
And actually, I'm in favor of upper middle class and richer Americans working fewer hours, buying less stupid crap, and emitting fewer carbon emissions. We need a new paradigm of productivity that involves the concept of ENOUGH.