WSJ Video Explores the Difficult Life of 'Broke' Americans Making $400,000 a Year


With the national poverty line hovering around $16 a day, 46.5 million Americans live in poverty, including 20.4 million living under half the poverty line. Millions of Americans live on less than $2 a day. 

Luckily, those millions have some new friends to commiserate with: Americans making $400,000 a year. Yes, according to the Wall Street Journal's new video, "Do You Make $400,000 a Year But Feel Broke?", there's a whole segment of the population in need of your sympathies — the 2 percenters.

With an ever-increasing gap in the distribution of wealth in America, the middle class is suffering, some might even say disappearing. The Federal Reserve recently released statistics proving the widening gap: "[the] average, or mean, pretax income for the wealthiest 10% of U.S. families rose 10% in 2013 from 2010, but families in the bottom 40% saw their average inflation-adjusted income decline over that period," noted Dow Jones Business News. Indeed, the top 3% held more than 54% of America's wealth in 2013, up 10% from 1989, according to the Fed.

It is in this context that the video laments about the struggle to make ends meet for an individual who earns $400,000 a year, lives in a $1.2 million home, buys a $60,000 new car every four years, goes on $25,000 annual vacation and spends $10,000 on his two children's extracurricular activities and $2,000 feeding them every month.

Let's not forget the figures the WSJ includes for the families proposed discretionary spending, which includes tens of thousands of dollars for fundraisers, private sports leagues and even holiday gift-giving. 

Image Credit: Wall Street Journal

The Murdoch-run publication decries the state of these six-figure earning individuals: "Some people you wouldn't expect are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy." This comes despite the fact that $400,000 is actually just above the threshold for the economic class commonly known as the 1%.

When fast food workers are currently getting arrested for protesting what they say are unlivable wages — the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour — the timing of the video's release seems a bit odd. Indeed, if you add up the discretionary budget, it far exceeds what many of these workers hope to pull in each year, which is roughly $15,00 for a full-time minimum wage earner.

As Erin Gloria Ryan notes over at Jezebel, the video is either "a deliberately unsympathetic joke designed to agitate the stirrings of an American class war or ... one of the whitest whines of all time."