Who Actually Earns $400,000 Per Year?

by Emily Guy Birken · 6,126 comments

Surgeons

After the unending media coverage of the fiscal cliff throughout December 2012, it was a relief to everyone when a last-minute compromise was reached. In particular, the most reported-on compromise had to do with the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts. Those cuts will remain in place permanently for any individual making less than $400,000 per year, and for couples earning less than $450,000. Those fortunate few who make more than that amount will see their rates rise from 35% to 39.6%.

The news about this particular tax rate increase got me wondering: what professions can expect to earn that kind of money? Since I don’t personally know anyone bringing home $400,000 per year, I decided to find out what kind of jobs command such high salaries:

1. The President

Perhaps the most famous $400,000 per year job is the leader of the free world. The office of president not only pays a $400,000 annual salary, but also provides the president with a $50,000 annual expense account, a $100,000 nontaxable travel account, and a $19,000 entertainment account.

There are some obvious downsides to this particular career, however. Besides being very difficult to get, the job is highly stressful, and advancement post-office can be considered somewhat iffy. And, of course, you can’t expect regular raises: the last salary increase for the commander-in-chief (from $200,000 to the current rate) was in 2001. Prior to that, the previous raise (from $100,000) occurred in 1969.

2. Surgeons and specialists

Even a local general practitioner can expect to pull in over $100,000 per year, but the real money in medicine is reserved for those who specialize. Anesthesiologists, heart surgeons, and brain surgeons can all expect to make up to $400,000 per year at the height of their career. Plastic surgeons can make up to twice that amount.

3. CEOs

The median salary of a Chief Executive Officer is over $700,000. These directors are in charge of both short- and long-term profitability for their companies. CEOs generally have to know the industry backwards and forwards (although there are certainly plenty of counter-examples), and need to have worked their way up over many years.

4. Wall Street Bankers and Lawyers

If you work in either finance or finance law, the place to go for fat paychecks is Wall Street. According to an October 2012 report, “the average salary of financial industry employees in New York City rose to $362,950 in 2011.” While that still falls short of the mark required for the higher tax bracket, it’s important to remember that this figure represents the average (meaning some people are making more) and that there have almost certainly been raises in the past year and a half.

The Top Percent of the Top Percent

These high-income earners are really rare. Consider the fact that most articles listing the highest paying jobs in America don’t even include any professions with median salaries of $400,000. Those individuals making $400,000 per year are in the top one percent of the top one percent — and often, they’re also public figures.

Thankfully, even though individuals in this bracket are few and far between, the government estimates that raising the tax rate on this small group will raise about $600 billion in new revenues over the next decade.

Not bad for a group that small.

What other professions that earn annual incomes of $400,000? 

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{ 6126 comments… read them below or add one }

Peter June 15, 2016 at 8:37 am

More evidence in the last few days about what I view to be the true problem with our society…. The media coverage of the Orlando shooting truly shows what I hate about the mindset of America today. Fox News (and other conservative outlets) have run nothing but story after story trying to peel apart the killer and connect the dots to ISIS or a more ongoing threat. “We are all in constant danger and the threat is from Muslims” is the narrative. Meanwhile, MSNBC (and other liberal outlets) have run story after story about the victims, focusing on the ongoing persecutions of gays and lack of gun control being the key issue. Again, storytelling from a narrative standpoint. And just TRY and convince someone from either side that their narrative isn’t the true or important one.

Then, I read Jay Leno’s comments this morning about Tesla. Tesla – and most of what Elon Musk has been doing – is what America is all about. Entrepreneurship, innovation, imagination….. add to this the quite noble motivation of Elon Musk to forego financial gain to try and change the world – change how we consume energy and change the environmental footprint. This story (Tesla) should be applauded by left and right alike. Yet, the media continues to try and wreck them – printing negative story after negative story trying to undermine the company. Leno wonders aloud why we as a society are so much more attracted to colossal failure than we are ingenuity and entrepreneurship.

It really is a shame. Our politicians feed into this. Everyone is on a team – you are with one party or the other. You believe in global warming and that we are the cause, or you don’t. You support the gay community or you are against them. Everyone is stereotyped into subgroups – Christians, the 1%, liberals, socialists, racists, welfare queens, etc.

The days of open dialogue and thought are gone. Some of the posters in this thread have practically been a case study in this as I have mentioned many times. My hope is that a third party (right now it is Libertarians) emerges that simply approaches each issue with thought. Until then, the gridlock and utter stupidity of our discourse will keep us sitting in a low-growth economy …. and the anger and frustration will build and build, and lines will be drawn.

I found it refreshing the other day when Gary Johnson (Libertarian candidate) was asked about gun control in the wake of the Orlando shooting. He aligns more with Trump on this – thinking that less guns is not the answer – and walked through his logic. When told that his running mate, William Weld, had just told the media he was for stricter gun control laws, his comment was interesting. Johnson told the reporter that he and Weld do not “coordinate” their talking points or positions. What a novel idea!

The left and right – and the media that cover them – write a narrative that everyone must adhere to. This is big-brother mind control at its best – and it must stop. The first step to this is the dismantling of the two party system in my opinion. Fortunately, both parties are doing a good job of coming apart on their own. One party had 17 candidates and the winner is a reckless, divisive, wildly unpopular candidate. The other party had a career liar and shady actor (who is still under investigation by the FBI) run against a 74 year old promising free everything for everyone.

How anyone can still feel like a Republican or Democrat in this environment is beyond me. More free thinking and compromise!

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Stevendad June 16, 2016 at 12:45 pm

Reminds me of a favorite meme: Libertarians: diligently plotting to take over the World and leave you alone.

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Peter N June 30, 2016 at 9:59 pm

I agree with that.

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Stevendad June 16, 2016 at 9:07 am

Correct in the outflow from middle class. Of course, this is as much due to government intervention as greed. Dodd Frank discourages lending to any one but very low risk people. Thus despite very low rates there is little capital flow to MC. Also, the unfettered flow of cheap labor in low and high skilled careers lowers wages. Dens and Repubs both have blame there. Again, both sides a screwing the middle. I’d like to see Dodd Frank safe harbors defined, a $50k deduction for inventory taxes, reform corporate taxes and, like I said, note shareholder activism in the corporate world.

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Peter June 16, 2016 at 8:58 pm

Great points…..never thought about that particular point….how lending is now so much harder for the middle class.

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Stevendad June 18, 2016 at 11:02 am

I thought Carly Fiorina said it well: government creates problems with “best intentions” and heavy handedness then creates “solutions” that usually make things worse. Govt: Congress (esp Dems) / Fed / Bush admin created / allowed irresponsible lending then passed overreaching and unwieldy law to fix it. Nice work guys.

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Stevendad June 21, 2016 at 6:31 am

This is interesting. Steven H, if you have the honesty and courage, comment in this. http://money.cnn.com/2016/06/21/news/economy/upper-middle-class/ The largest reason the middle class is shrinking is they are MOVING INTO UPPER MIDDLE CLASS. Kind of puts a massive hole in your arguments!

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Peter June 21, 2016 at 10:48 am

Saw this data the other day myself and does back up what I have been saying all along. The problem that folks like Steven H really have – or at least should have – is in the “ultra rich”, which is about 0.01% of our population. This is about 50,000 people. And that group can be whittled down even more as I don’t think Michael Jordan or Oprah are really the target of the 1% haters’ wrath. They are angry with CEOs who pay themselves insane salaries and bonuses while their rank and file workers get very minimal pay increases. This is the talking point.

The people who rely on unskilled labor or work for a major corporation are then held prisoner by stagnant wages. This is an interesting discussion though – as it would include a discussion of regulations, mandated insurance coverages, a changing work force demographic, illegal immigration, etc.

But it doesn’t extrapolate to the wider market – to a world of small-business owners, innovators, technology workers and other skilled laborers. Their world is a different experience – one of mobility and opportunity.

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Peter June 21, 2016 at 10:50 am

Of course with “narrative” arguing, anyone who doesn’t believe the country is fair to the middle class will ignore this article and just cite one that backs their theory up. Hopefully someone (other than Steven H) will come in here and articulate the other perspective open mindedly and we can all be enriched by it…..

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Stevendad June 22, 2016 at 8:17 am

As a shareholder, I think ceo salaries are too high as they take money out of my pocket, not out of some fairness judgement. It is my responsibility to address this. Of course, I don’t as I’m too busy to mess with it. BUT I DONT WHINE ABOUT IT EITHER. Again, a $50 K inventory deduction, loosening lending rules, regulatory relief and some modest tax changes would be the fuel to have our economy take off. Small businesses can grow and double yearly. Large corporations are not and likely will not be that engine. They mostly are in a zero sum game where winners take money from losers. They also suffer from the rule of large numbers.

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Peter N June 25, 2016 at 11:48 pm

I was just checking in to see what you guys thought about the Brexit. I think it will be good for England in the long run even if Scotland and Norther Ireland leave to join the EU. England subsidizes Scotland and Norther Ireland. The EU is doomed.

Yes, my investments have taken a beating but I bet that is only temporary.

About CEOs. I really think there should be a law where the CEOs must buy the stock of the company they are controlling. On top of that they should have to invest at least half their wealth in the stock they are controlling. I think I would extend that to board members and VPs too. This way they hurt financially if they screw up.

This is not a radical idea. Small business owner like me hurt severely if I screw up.

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Peter June 27, 2016 at 7:44 am

I think like so many of these things it will be the panic and speculation that cause more problems than if the UK were to leave or remain. It’s amazing the dots people are connecting regarding the Brexit vote – and much remains to be seen.

The greatest impact will come from the pound taking a beating and all of the wealth (estimated over $5 trillion already) that dries up because of this initial panic.

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Big Data June 26, 2016 at 8:43 pm

Regarding Stevendad’s article referencing the study by the Urban Institute.

This is a good topic for which to apply that “open thinking and dialogue” concept often advocated here. The article notes statistics which suggest that middle class is shrinking because they are mostly moving up. In fact, the article indicates that the poor are shrinking, the lower middle class is shrinking, the middle class is shrinking, and only upper middle and rich are growing. Surely this is good news!!

But then, critical thinking kicks in. Why does the utopian view indicated in the article vary from most people’s perceptions? Do these charts faithfully represent the actual experience of Americans? If so, why do so many people perceive their economic straits differently? Is this the only “true” study amid an ocean of deceptions? What’s going on?

Then also, critical reading kicks in. The article notes: “It’s not surprising that the report shows a nation that is moving up the economic ladder. That’s because the institute held fixed the income ranges needed to be in a class, adjusting only for inflation. Over time, wages have grown faster than inflation.”

So, while many studies define middle and other economic classes as ranges of percentiles of income, this study does not. By using constant (inflation adjusted) incomes this study is effectively redefining the percentile boundaries to different levels for the two time periods. Perhaps there is an argument that justifies this, but this difference explains the discrepancy with other studies.

So the critical thinker must be aware of a few other points:
1) CPI, as a measure to track inflation, is imperfect. There are different types of inflation, different rates of inflation for different costs, and different impacts of inflation on different classes and on different spenders; e.g. a family with college students is more affected by rising education costs than a childless couple.
2) The economy (as measured by GDP, or National Income or other macroeconomic measures) generally grows faster than inflation.
3) Other studies using different, but still arguably valid measures of economic class divisions show that overall national economic increases are falling much more favorably on the upper middle, and rich, classes, such that the classes are increasingly divided, economically, socially, and politically.
4) There are age as well as class divisions. Young people have suffered more than older generations from increases in college costs and debt, declines in employer provided healthcare, and issues with un- and under-employment

Fold all of the above into some analysis, and you may get different interpretations.
1) The economy is doing well, overall and for most individuals, as wages and quality of living are generally increasing, and poor and middle class are just getting richer and moving up the ladder.
2) The growing fortunes of the poor and middle class suggested in the study are illusory, as the statistics do not adequately account for the shortfalls of inflation measures, the impacts of national economic growth, or the growing economic divide between economic and age classes, or the relative (if not absolute) stagnation of wages of middle and lower incomes.

This is the sort of critical thinking analysis that can be done without reading a single opinion article and without falling prey to any sort of distortions of partisanship. No conclusions are yet drawn; only some critical questions are asked. The topics are complicated and probably require a lot more data and insight into the research to express complete understanding of the issues.

But I think it is fair to say, that before taking this article, or the underlying study, as any kind of conclusive proof that there is no problem with income disparity, one should take a serious look at the valid concerns expressed in other studies and articles, as well, and try to see how each might fit into a more complete picture of the economic disparity issues.

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Big Data June 27, 2016 at 7:37 pm

It is difficult to discuss the full merits of a report without reading the full report, which I have not yet done. The article at stevendad’s link merely summarizes some interesting points. However, it is worth noting that the choice of statistics used in the report is mathematically biased toward its surprisingly deceptive result.

If you take an economic system in which the economy grows at a faster rate than inflation, and you then fix the boundaries of your definition of economic classes at points which grow at the slower inflation growth rate, then it is almost inevitable that people will appear to be moving up through the economic classes, AS LONG AS inflation adjusted wages are also generally increasing.

Now, it is possible to have wage growth disparities so gross that the inflation adjusted wages for middle or poor economic classes at the end point of this multi decade period actually declined relative to the start year. This would truly be worse than the current condition, and this study shows that has not been the long term trend.

However, in actuality, I recall that some studies have shown real wages for some economic classes HAVE declined since 2000 (but not overall since 1979). So choosing a different time extent, even with this statistical model, might yield a different, less optimistic result.

Here is the question (or questions) that I think this brings to the fore, and which may be worth some discussion:

1) Is it reasonable for an economy to reward workers in the middle class and sub-middle class at wage growth rates (for the class) at or just slightly above the average inflation measure, when that growth rate is significantly below the growth rate of the economy as a whole? This is the implication of the statistics choice of this study, that people are climbing the ladder sufficiently as long as there as any long term class wage growth exceeding inflation.

2) Since the above will necessarily create high wage disparities over time, will it create social and economic stress and distress?
Isn’t this, in fact, what we are witnessing with the populist protests that have given rise to Sanders, Trump, and Brexit?

3) Is it therefore better to create a more economically and socially stable system by structuring it to reward classes at more equal rates of income growth?

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Big Data June 26, 2016 at 9:05 pm

Regarding narrative arguments, and political biases:

This relates to “confirmation bias”, which is not a new phenomenon, though perhaps one which has accelerated in proliferation, especially with data sources such as the internet which allow people to search out data and opinions to confirm what they already “know”. There is a good article in Wikipedia on Confirmation Bias, which is worth reading. (Google “confirmation bias wiki”).

The following quote is particularly interesting from a historical aspect, and applicable to the discussion:

=== from Wikipedia ===
Before psychological research on confirmation bias, the phenomenon had been observed anecdotally throughout history. Beginning with the Greek historian Thucydides (c. 460 BC – c. 395 BC), who wrote of misguided treason in The Peloponnesian War; “… for it is a habit of mankind to entrust to careless hope what they long for, and to use sovereign reason to thrust aside what they do not fancy.”

Italian poet Dante Alighieri (1265–1321), noted it in his famous work, the Divine Comedy, in which St. Thomas Aquinas cautions Dante upon meeting in Paradise, “opinion—hasty—often can incline to the wrong side, and then affection for one’s own opinion binds, confines the mind.”

English philosopher and scientist Francis Bacon (1561–1626), in the Novum Organum noted that biased assessment of evidence drove “all superstitions, whether in astrology, dreams, omens, divine judgments or the like”. He wrote:

The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion … draws all things else to support and agree with it. And though there be a greater number and weight of instances to be found on the other side, yet these it either neglects or despises, or else by some distinction sets aside or rejects.

===END quote===

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Big Data June 27, 2016 at 9:40 pm

Regarding hatred being more properly directed to the 0.01%, rather than the 1%.

1) Economic issues are not about hatred. To be suggesting who should be hated is just encouraging the sort of political divisiveness and narrative politicking I believe we should be avoiding.
2) There is no sharp line dividing the deserving or undeserving, or between the fairly paid and excessively paid. There is no step function at the 1% or 0.01% levels of income. The income distribution curve is remarkably smooth. What the curves indicate is an increase in income share over time, with a gradually increasing percentage benefit as you go further up the income curve within the upper ten percentile.

Therefore, I don’t think it is very useful to say how we should be directing hatred at this or that percentage, as if there is a sharp barrier defining an economic contagion. And even when discussing “the 1%”, it should be understood that this is just a proxy term for the very highly paid and not that all members of the 1% are a discrete club that is economically separate from everyone else. In fact, while it can be said statistically that the upper 1% have more than doubled their share of income since 1980, you have to move up to the bottom end of the upper 0.1% before you find individuals who have actually doubled their income share. Those below that point have had smaller increases, and those above have had larger increases.

Sorry to be pedantic for those who already understood the above, but I felt these things needed to be clarified.

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Stevendad June 28, 2016 at 7:16 am

I was taught in school “believing is seeing”. It is not just interpretations that are changes but ACTUAL OBSERVATION AND RECOLLECTION. Pretty amazing. Brings to mind the Michael Brown incident and some of the discrepancy of witnesses (although it is clear that there was only one repeatable story, not “hands up don’t shoot”).

It is also clear that the money at the top is growing much faster. I have specific suggestions that are mostly an easing not an increasing of government intervention. $50 k inventory exclusion, Dodd Frank safe harbors, regulatory relief and tax reform. Encouraging small business is best for all of us there is no doubt. Millennials will LOVE this concept. And why do we give a $10k tax break for over 65? They are the wealthiest of all! I’ll be there soon BTW. We should give it to those under 35 IMO. Paying off student debt, starting families and households are much more productive for us all.

Most “excessive CEO compensation” is in options and warrants, seldom in actual salary. So they have plenty of skin in the game. Golden parachutes for failed CEOs are particularly aggregious IMO however.

A rising tide is raising all boats, just much more the really big boats! Of course, this is exacerbated by Dem policies of massive importation of cheap labor despite the hue and cry about income inequality. Dodd Frank also is hindering the opportunity for advancement. Of course greed rules all and politicians are by and large no exception.

Simple rules for and honest politician: ( if there is one )
Believe in something , say what you believe in, believe in what you say and do what you say.

Simple rules for politician as they are::
Believe only in self benefit, say whatever will get you elected, and do whatever gives you the highest position with the highest post career payout.

Further empowering them seems ludicrous to me. At least CEOs are honest about their greed!

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Peter June 28, 2016 at 7:35 am

One interesting thing about the more populist movements of late that cloud the political arena…. In the past, we have had serious populist uprisings on the heels of deep financial trouble. (WW2 & the Depression the most obvious of examples) Yet, the recession of 2008 just simply wasn’t that difficult by comparison. The media coverage and narratives have been quite severe (see also: Brexit coverage), but the reality wasn’t anything to the level of prior crises.

Obviously unemployment was the primary problem – climbing to 10% at one point and even worse when you consider the labor participation rates. But abject strife and poverty was largely avoided due to the solid safety nets we have had for decades. In fact, during the recession the after-tax income of the middle quintile fell just over 1%. Median income as a whole fell less than 1%. We had no runs on banks, reliance on charity or community for income, or real mass uprisings supporting complete and utter desperation.

All we had was a media that was telling us what “might happen” if things get worse – and anecdotal scare stories to try and sell papers, ad time and clicks. Same thing with the Greek debt situation, Brexit, ISIS, and everything else going on in our modern world.

Nobody reads news reports looking for the headline “All planes landed safely today”. And so we feed into this paranoia…. Reality tells a different tale.

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Big Data June 28, 2016 at 9:16 pm

Peter, I heartily agree that “abject strife and poverty [from the Great Recession] was largely avoided due to the solid safety nets we have had for decades.” This was indeed the proving ground and justification for Social Security, SNAP, and the rest of our social safety net system, and their existence was crucial to the safety and economic security of many Americans.

However, I would caution against claiming we just had “media that was telling us what ‘might happen’ if things get worse – and anecdotal scare stories to try and sell papers.” In fact , as I recall we had major portions of the media minimizing the need for action and claiming that we did not need the TARP or Stimulus efforts.

But in fact we had a frightening period of economic instability, which did indeed include a “run on banks”, although it was on the shadow banking system. The Economist reported in March 2010: “Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers were non-banks that were crippled by a silent run among panicky overnight “repo” lenders, many of them money market funds uncertain about the quality of securitized collateral they were holding. Mass redemptions from these funds after Lehman’s failure froze short-term funding for big firms.”

So it’s a good thing the government took action to avoid what might have otherwise happened. CBO studies have indicated that government efforts were critical in softening the blow of the crisis in the US, lowering peak unemployment by about 2%, raising the trough of the GDP curve to as much as 4% higher than it might have been, and lessening the crisis’ economic hardship for millions of Americans. Not to mention salvaging the banking system and the US auto industry.

But you still have to be careful not to minimize the lessened actual impact of the Great Recession (or as a friend from Australia reminded me of what the rest of the world calls it: The Global Financial Crisis”). While the technical definition of the duration of the Recession/Crisis in the US was only 18 months from Dec 2007 to June 2009, wage and employment shortfalls began earlier and lasted much longer.

While it is true that real US median wages declined less than 1% in 2009, they declined 3.6% in 2008, 2.6% in 2010, 1.5% in 2011 and another 0.2% in 2012. In fact there were 5 straight years of real median wage declines netting an 8.3% loss relative to 2007. In 2014 (latest numbers available), median income was still down 6.5% from 2007, and 7.2% from 1999, the statistical peak.

And of course there have been losses in wealth held in home values, extensive foreclosures, and extended periods of high un- and under-employment.

Stating that there was only a median 1% wage decline in the Recession is technically correct, but does not accurately portray the longer term economic impact of this crisis on most Americans.

I’m always frustrated by the attitudes of people who read about concerns of a flu pandemic or other health crisis, read about the frantic efforts of US and world health organizations to contain the crisis, and then once the crisis is contained, they claim that it was all overblown because “not much happened”. In those cases, as with the GFC, I believe it is less the case that concerns were overblown than it is that responsible organizations took appropriate actions and succeeded.

I am not simply trying to be contrary, and I hope I am not simply sounding argumentative. What I am suggesting is that it is too easy to forget or dismiss the severity of what happened, and if we do that, we may be in danger of allowing a similar cycle to happen again very soon.

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Big Data June 28, 2016 at 9:39 pm

One last point, and I am guessing you just weren’t aware of this one: You claimed that there was no “reliance on charity or community for income” in the recession, but in fact there was a huge strain on food banks throughout the country to feed Americans due to their loss of jobs and income. I was acutely aware of this in Texas, as a large community choir we were singing in was involved in fund raising efforts for the depleted local food bank charities. But the impact was nationwide and the demand has not ended. For example:
===
Hunger in Rhode Island (2014): Five years after the end of the Great Recession, thousands of Rhode Islanders such as Iacona are struggling to put food on the table.
One in seven Rhode Island households can’t afford adequate food, says a report released Monday by the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. A fifth of those are caring for a sick family member.
According to the report, the number of people who received food from pantries and soup kitchens has nearly doubled, to 63,000 this year from 33,000 in 2007. Nearly 170 agencies get food from the food bank.
===
America’s New Hunger Crisis (2013): In the 22 years that Swami Durga Das has managed New York’s River Fund Food Pantry, he has never seen hunger like this. Each Saturday, hundreds of hungry people descend on the pantry’s headquarters, an unassuming house on a residential block. The first people arrive around 2 am, forming a line that will wrap around the block before Das even opens his doors.
“Each week there’s new people,” Das told MSNBC.com. “The numbers have just skyrocketed.”
The new clients are diverse—working people, seniors, single mothers—but many of them share something in common: they represent the millions of Americans who fell victim to food insecurity when the Great Recession hit in 2009, but didn’t benefit from the economic recovery.
===
Hunger Crisis: Charities Are Strained … (2014): It’s a quiet crisis. In a city of plenty, a staggering number of people are struggling to feed themselves and their families. Nearly one in five New Yorkers, 1.4 million people, now rely on a patchwork network of 1,000 emergency food programs across the city to eat. That represents an increase of 200,000 people in five years — straining the charities that are trying to help. The two biggest, City Harvest and the Food Bank for New York City, now provide nearly 110 million pounds of food annually throughout the five boroughs. Yet those working on the front lines of the hunger crisis say it’s still not enough.
… The hunger crisis erupted when the Great Recession set in.
===
Food Banks, Pantries, Straining to Meet Needs (2013) [San Antonio, TX]: “The number of calls for help we’re receiving is increasing, the number of people walking through our doors looking for emergency food is increasing, but we are not retreating from our mission,” said Eric Cooper, the food bank’s president and CEO, pointing to signage on the wall of its headquarters building reading “Fighting Hunger … Feeding Hope.”
And while much of that can be attributed to the hangover from the Great Recession, Cooper says the demand hasn’t slacked even as the economy has recovered — albeit anemically. And now comes the double-whammy of [Food Stamp] benefit cuts.
“We weren’t meeting the needs before these cuts,” said Cooper. “Now they’re just putting us further behind.”
===

Now you know.

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Peter June 28, 2016 at 8:04 am

Great post Stevendad by the way….such hypocrisy in the policies that politicians champion vs. the rhetoric they spew.

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Big Data June 28, 2016 at 9:55 pm

“I was taught in school “believing is seeing”. It is not just interpretations that are changes but ACTUAL OBSERVATION AND RECOLLECTION.”

Agreed. The incomplete observations on the economy available from limited perspective on the ground can be flawed, just as the flawed and limited observations in the Michael Brown incident. You need documented evidence compiled from multiple sources, as in the macro-economic studies utilizing solid statistics and proven data, in order to accurately understand the economy and its impacts on all classes.

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Big Data June 28, 2016 at 10:13 pm

Stevendad, I suspect, in rereading, that you were trying to praise personal observation and recollection, not macro-economic studies, but your mention of the Michael Brown incident and reference to the the flaws of individual accounts that were actually observed and recollected in that case, simply exemplified the flaws of personal observation. I will agree that personal observations and anecdotes can increase in-depth understanding. However, we must also remember that individuals are selective about what they choose to observe and recollect and that personal recollections are often biased by ideology.

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Peter June 28, 2016 at 7:28 am

Anyway….

For many people, the whole debate about helping the poor with taxing the wealthy even heavier than we already do largely comes down to one’s trust or distrust of government. You can read back the varying opinions in this thread to see this – some think that government policy can help the poor and middle class by either income or wealth distribution. Others doubt that the government a) truly can have an impact and b) whether the funds they seize from the rich will truly find their way to the poor.

It’s interesting when you examine the polls of who is actually on each side. Partisan party line thinkers aside, the demographics are interesting. Minorities – particularly African Americans are heavily on the side of government income/wealth redistribution. So are whites with advanced degrees. The heaviest opponents to government intervention are whites with 4 year college degrees or less. Asians and Hispanics also tend to vote more against government intervention.

So, interestingly it is a mixed bag. The biggest group of people against government involvement are then white, working class people – mostly in the lower and middle class tiers. I find this fascinating. These are people that could benefit from redistribution or government intervention. Yet, their distrust of government trumps their own personal need.

And what about those with advanced degrees being for government induced income/wealth redistribution? This also goes against their own personal situation as well. So it is promising that people are thinking.

At the end of the day, if we do believe there is an income inequality problem and it is something that the government can introduce policy to help, we need to refocus the argument away from “outcomes” and more unto “opportunities”. The overwhelming majority of Americans – Democrats and Republicans alike – are for better opportunities for everyone. The big error many of the politicians make is by positioning policy as producing a specific outcome (often for a specific group) rather than increasing opportunity for all. The clumsy ACA plan was a prime example. This was positioned politically as helping the uninsured, not increasing opportunity for everyone. This has invited vitriol against a well-meaning piece of policy

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Big Data June 29, 2016 at 8:38 pm

You have an interesting point about needing ‘to refocus the argument away from “outcomes” and more unto “opportunities”.’

I agree. Messaging has been a big weakness, IMHO, for Democrats. One of Bill Clinton’s team’s strengths was good messaging and quick response to attack messages against him or his policies. Obama is a fine speaker but he and the Democrats sat in the background while damaging and completely unfounded messages, memes, and claims were made by partisans on the other side. Absurd claims would have been easy to address at their outset, but the messaging from the other side was instead left to fester, echo, and build. Communication is an essential tool to uniting the country, and Obama and all Democrats should have worked harder on their messaging. Including the marketing of Obamacare, as you mentioned.

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Peter June 28, 2016 at 7:56 am

Another cool stat I saw regarding government spending….

The estimated Social Security shortfall today (i.e., a present value number) between the future taxes anticipated being collected and the future benefits expected to be paid out over the next 75 years is $11.4 trillion. The entire $11.4 trillion deficit could be eliminated by either an immediate 2.58 percentage point increase in the combined Social Security payroll tax rate (from 12.40% to 14.98%) or an immediate 16% reduction in benefits that are paid out to current and future beneficiaries (source: Social Security Trustees).

Per a 6/22/16 report, the trust fund supporting Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) is projected to be depleted by 2028. The long-term (75-year) present value shortfall in the trust fund could be corrected by an immediate 0.73 percentage point increase in combined Medicare payroll taxes (from its current 2.90% to 3.63%) or an immediate 16% reduction in Medicare expenditures (source: Medicare Trustees 2016 Report).

Of course it doesn’t have to be that immediate….just a shame that the problem came from politicians mismanaging the money that was there to cover this in the first place.

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Peter June 30, 2016 at 10:03 am

Another perspective on anecdotal evidence and life experience occurred to me last night….

With the recent OJ Simpson documentary on ESPN they make one thing very clear about the case that is pertinent here. The majority of blacks (as we all know) lean towards OJ’s innocence while the majority of whites think he is guilty. There is a case both ways – evidence both ways – but two different groups draw different conclusions.

The documentary really highlights why these two groups feel so different about the case. It all comes down to one’s trust of the police. When I talk to my parents about this, they are convinced OJ is guilty because they think it is preposterous that the LAPD would plant evidence. They believe the blood evidence as proof OJ did it.

Ask someone who lives in an inner city environment, particularly in LA, or who is black and they don’t view that as preposterous. Of course, the LAPD would plant evidence to try and get a conviction. They do it all the time. They view the blood evidence as irrelevant because it was likely planted.

My parents will always believe in the police – because every police experience in their lives has been positive. The police are honorable citizens serving the public. This, they believe in spite of the Fuhrman tapes where he point-blank says that planting evidence was commonplace in the LAPD, particularly in the black community.

Of course black people will believe the opposite as they are hassled, followed, searched, etc. by police all the time. White people don’t want to believe this, but most any black person you talk to has at least one story about this. This is an experience a white person just cannot know or understand.

My point is this…. Experience and observation (however anecdotal) is extremely valid. Both perspectives on the police are correct. And in order for there to EVER be a real dialogue to improve the general state of our police force, both sides must acknowledge and respect the experiences of others. If 95 out of 100 black people tell you that the police hassle them and mistreat them – you should believe that this is the case regardless of what articles or polls you might be reading. Articles and polls are media BS spin control…..your own eyes and experiences are far more reliable.

This is my issue over the years with the disrespect, misunderstanding and general lack of open-mindedness by the “take more money from the rich” crowd. There is also certainly a lack of open-mindness at times from the rich as well to understand what the general populus is experiencing.

This comment thread has been a great read for the open-minded as we have had an avalanche of anecdotal experiences shared by not only me, but dozens of small-business owners and 1%’ers. Hopefully it has opened the eyes of some that just simply hating them and taking more of their money will never be the solution to get keep our economy growing for all. In fact, as many of us have stated it could very well have a negative effect. It might already be happening….

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Peter N June 30, 2016 at 10:15 pm

“Of course black people will believe the opposite as they are hassled, followed, searched, etc. by police all the time. White people don’t want to believe this, but most any black person you talk to has at least one story about this. This is an experience a white person just cannot know or understand.”
I believe it but it isn’t just blacks that the cops abuse. They abuse the rights of everyone. Just do a search on YouTube and you will find that the many of the cops are simply “pigs”. There are only a few that understand the rights of private citizens provided by the Bill of Rights.
What really bothers me is that there are no consequences for the bad cops, nor to do the bad cops chastise the bad cops and in my mind makes the tolerate cops as bad as the bad cops.
NEVER, SAY ANYTHING TO A COP. KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT AT ALL TIMES. Don’t comply with any request unless you are suspected of a crime.
Always ask “Am I being detained?” If they say yes then ask for what crime? If not then you are illegally being detained. Sue them for every penny if they detain you without suspicion of a crime.

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Peter N June 30, 2016 at 10:17 pm

“My parents will always believe in the police – because every police experience in their lives has been positive. ”
Mine has not.

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Peter July 1, 2016 at 7:22 am

Thanks for the comments. Totally agree. And you are right that it isn’t always a white/black thing. It can be socioeconomic or frankly just bad cops. The point is that certain groups of people have had different experiences and I’m shocked how people like my parents (who have lived charmed lives when it comes to this) are so dismissive of the experiences of large groups of people. See a lot of that in regards to the income disparity debate as well.

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Big Data July 1, 2016 at 7:55 pm

Personal experiences and anecdotes do help to provide a deeper understanding than statistics alone. From what I have seen, the biggest obstacle to comprehending a problem or issue comes when people take their limited personal observations and experience and extrapolate them to build an incorrect larger picture, such as you described of someone extrapolating a middle or upper class white person’s experience with police to represent everyone’s experience with police ( “Just be polite and say yes sir …”).

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Big Data July 13, 2016 at 7:39 pm

By the way, I am encouraged that Peter AND Peter N see and acknowledge the institutional racism evident in police interactions with black folks. The first step to fixing a problem is to acknowledge it exists, so it is good to see the broader acceptance of the existence of this problem.

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Peter N July 14, 2016 at 8:16 pm

“By the way, I am encouraged that Peter AND Peter N see and acknowledge the institutional racism ”
It isn’t a matter of institutional racism. The cops are not anybody’s friend. They abuse their power. The fact that other cops don’t polices their own is criminal. Never trust a cop. The cop may be a good one but because they don’t police their own there are too many bad ones and the good one won’t help.
Don’t say anything.
Don’t permit searches.
Don’t comply. Know your 4th and 5th amendment rights.
Get a lawyer.
The cops can ruin your life if not kill you for nothing.
If you have a gun you really are better off shooting the cop and then claiming the cop was violating your rights. At least you are still alive. If you don’t the cop can kill you for just have a gun which is your second amendment right. See youtube videos. Cops will violate your right at every opportunity. It doesn’t make any difference what color you are.
I would get 1 person on my jury that took an oath to protect the US Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. The cops are domestic enemies until they hold their own accountable.

The cops and their union protect their own. I can provide videos to prove my point.

Big Data July 1, 2016 at 8:23 pm

Still thinking about Stevendad’s article. It certainly seems that the study’s weak point (at least as summarized in the article) is holding the boundaries of middle and other classes at constant points adjusted only by inflation and then covering the period from 1979 to 2014, without mentioning the trends in between.

http://www.advisorperspectives.com/dshort/updates/Household-Income-Distribution.php

The linked article here shows one of the better charts (in the third chart down which shows better resolution of trends for all quintiles) I have seen showing real wage historical trends. Everyone was up somewhat from 1967 to 1985, and then from 1985 to 2000 the upper 5% pulled ahead, and all groups have stagnated since that point, with only the upper quintile gaining ground since 2000, and the lower quintiles rapidly losing ground.

Based on these statistics, I believe the Stevendad article with its constant endpoint statistics would show quite different conclusions if it focussed on the time period from 2000 to 2014, with the upper class shrinking and the lower classes growing.

In my own opinion, it matters less whether researchers say the middle class (arbitrarily defined in different terms in each study) is growing or shrinking, but whether wages are growing for most Americans (lower 8o or 90%), and whether they grow at comparable rates to the economy. If this chart is accurate, real wages have instead been on a downward trend since 1999 or 2000.

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Stevendad July 2, 2016 at 3:34 pm

I wasn’t touting the article, just putting it out for comment. We seem to be 100% certain the middle class is shrinking and getting poorer and its just some counter evidence. Remember the 3 types of lies: white lies, damn lies and statistics.( Will Rogers ) Also, if you can find it, look up median family spending (not income). Has increased last I could find it. It accounts for a family’s governmental support partially (free cell phones and discounts are not included). It’s VERY difficult to find. As if someone were hiding it…

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Big Data July 4, 2016 at 3:28 pm

Why would you suggest someone is hiding this info? It is as easily accessible as any other stat from the bureau of labor statistics (BLS) or bureau of economic analysis (BEA).
Do you consider it a meaningful statistic that supersedes other information? If average consumer spending is increasing, does that suggest or prove that everyone is really getting richer and that any poverty is due to ther own spending choices? Maybe or maybe not. That statistic is insufficient by itself to draw such a conclusion.

Without looking up any other info (yet), here are the questions I would ask.
– What is included in the consumer spending stat? Discretionary spending only or all spending (including necessities)?
– Is spending per capita or per family increasing for all quintiles? At what rates for each?
– How much spending is fueled by increased consumer debt?

Do you see how this additional information is necessary to interpret the stat? What if consumer spending is only increasing for rich folks? Or what if consumer spending for middle class increases mostly for necessities or big ticket items and maintenance costs like home, food, car, education, health care, auto repair, house maintenance? See how that matters?

I’m not saying anything about what the total statistics describe because I have not evaluated them yet. I’m just trying to deepen the discussion.

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Big Data July 4, 2016 at 3:45 pm

I hope I am not reading the wrong things into your post, stevendad. I don’t really understand what point you are trying to make with it. Perhaps you could explain in more detail, so I don’t misinterpret.

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Big Data July 4, 2016 at 8:58 pm

And just to give credit where it is due. The statistics quote is widely credited as being popularized by Mark Twain, though not directly attributed to him. Will Rogers doesn’t get the credit for this one, though he has lots of other memorable quotes. As Wikipedia notes:
====
“Lies, damned lies, and statistics” is a phrase describing the persuasive power of numbers, particularly the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments. It is also sometimes colloquially used to doubt statistics used to prove an opponent’s point.

The term was popularised in United States by Mark Twain (among others), who attributed it to the British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” However, the phrase is not found in any of Disraeli’s works and the earliest known appearances were years after his death. Several other people have been listed as originators of the quote, and it is often erroneously attributed to Twain himself.

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Big Data July 4, 2016 at 9:03 pm

So, statistics, when properly used and understood are an extremely valuable tool for comprehension of complex problems. Unfortunately, you have to be careful in using them, or in reading the statistics compiled by others, for they can also be deceptive.

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Henry July 5, 2016 at 7:47 am

Exactly what I said about 2 years ago about Piketty and Saez. Good point.

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Big Data July 4, 2016 at 9:40 pm

From what I can tell, Stevendad, after looking up various statistical sites (BLS, BEA, FRED) is that average real household consumer spending is increasing even as average wage income is declining. I think the difference must be coming from consumer spending originating with capital, though I don’t have the data that fully confirms that view. Rather than data being hidden, I find that there is way too much of it, sliced in various forms, but requiring a minor research project to identify treds through meaningful analysis.

I’m still somewhat perplexed at what you might hope to deduce from consumer spending vs income. The spending data is complicated by more variables, whereas it seems to me the income story is fairly well understood: Real wages for most Americans have been stagnating since 1980’s and even declining since 2000. Income and prosperity is primarily increasing from capital investment, and that is dominated by the upper 1% of earners.

It would seem to me that focussing on consumer spending distracts from, and deflects from the understanding and solving of the real problems: How do we bring the country together to restore prosperity growth for most Americans, and not just for a few of the already prosperous?

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Big Data July 4, 2016 at 1:17 pm

The free cell phones thing is kind of a tired meme, and meaningless with regard to government largesse, in my opinion. The “lifeline” program to provide subsidized or free phone service to low income families was started during Reagan, expanded under Clinton, and expanded to cell service under GWBush. The idea is that everyone needs access to phone service to get jobs and access to emergency services. It is paid for with the universal service fee on everyone’s phone bill, not with tax dollars. Just so you know.

http://Www.snopes.com/politics/taxes/cellphone.asp

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Big Data July 4, 2016 at 1:24 pm

Stevendad, the article you posted was sort of interesting, in that it was surprising in some of its conclusions. The headline, that upper middle class is thriving, is still valid, but the implication that everybody’s economic situation is improving was deceptive at best, IMHO. I hope my assessment of its statistical flaws was clear and expressed fairly.

I am also a fan of Will Rogers’ quotes, by the way. Another amusing one, totally unrelated to any discussion here, is
“When I die, I want to die like my grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car.”

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Big Data July 4, 2016 at 9:21 pm

Peter was absolutely correct in his post up above where he indicated that much of the dispute, in how to correct income disparities that seem to exist, arises from varying trust or distrust of government. All I can note, as I write on this 4th of July, is that most Americans are proud of our country and its founders, and that those founders’ primary accomplishment was in establishing an original and enduring structure of governance. It would seem to me that a people who take pride in their government should similarly take pride in assuring that it is adequately funded. I know there are age-old disagreements over big vs. small government, original literalists vs. adaptable interpretation of the Constitution, as well as disputes over social policies, trade policies, gun policies, tax policies, welfare policies, health care policies and the rest. But for all of our disagreements, shouldn’t all of us in both parties who have most benefitted from the prosperity this nation provides be willing to pay for the governance we are presumably so proud of? Let’s continue the disputes in the halls of our legislators as to what laws should pass and what monies are to be spent. But at the end of the day when those expenses have been approved, and the monies are expended, can we not all agree that we should be willing to pay the bills and expenses of the institutions of governance which we proclaim to be the source of our pride?

Happy Independence Day, America.

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Stevendad July 5, 2016 at 5:37 am

I’m specifically talking about median FAMILY spending, including government programs. It is a difficult data for me to find. AND it is increasing. The last line was meant as a bit of a joke. Please post a nice graph including this from BLS.
My point is not that these programs are bad, but the narrative is people are starving and don’t have enough. We all need to give MORE and MORE. Chronically homeless are nearly all mentally ill amongst a few Jack Kirojuac (sp?) types. Starvation deaths are rare and more related to neglect and poor choices (eg buying alcohol instead of food). I don’t argue with “free” stuff per se, just pointing out that it is not included. And a “universal fee” for what is essentially a necessity is a tax, just not labeled as such.
Let’s just be more efficient. This is lost completely by bureaucrats that gain power only by regulating more, spending more or hiring more. All can be good, but there is no balance or counters to these such as in the private world. Congress SHOULD do this but won’t due to inefficiency and squabbling as well as the President ordering a complete government shut down if they disagree with any parts of his agenda.
Congress no longer gets much done and power is concentrating in ten (temporarily nine) people .The Supreme Court changed a law last year. The President wrote a law last year. Even he said it was illegal to do so many, many times. The ONLY reason it was not held up was he has not gotten his appointee on SCOTUS.
I am extremely proud of my country!! I find it galling you question my patriotism by disagreeing with you. That is a CHILLING tactic in constant use by the left. Kirsten Powers, a noted liberal from USA Today, even wrote a book about it. To whit: you are a racist if you disagree with Obama, you are a misogynist if you don’t support Hillary, compliments are micro aggressions (Univ of NC policy), speakers are run off the podium or not allowed to speak on college campuses, reporters cameras are taken away and they are physically threatened for reporting (Univ of Missouri), history is revised constantly or at least viewed in a lens of attitudes scores if not hundreds of years later. Should I go on?
Now, personally, I will be ok. But the Progressive agenda of the Left, the militaristic agenda of the Right and the crony capitalism of both are destroying this country IMO. The $20,000,000,000,000 debt we are approaching is the snowball coming down the hill to crush the poor, immigrants and working class you are trying to elevate. Get your head out of the sand!! We are eroding the foundations of an economic system and government that has brought more prosperity and good than any before. The government just needs to get out of the way and we will prosper IMO. I grew up in the 60’s and saw really horrible pollution and institutional, codified racism. These are largely gone, but never will be completely gone.
The debt? There is plenty of fault on both sides. Even the 2008 collapse was shared all around to those who look into. “George Bush did it” is an infantile response we constantly hear. It was very complex and both political parties and several parts of the beaurocracy were at fault. Our government has taken YOUR credit card and had a spending party. So I am indeed MORE patriotic in trying to preserve this country IMO. We must decrease our deficit and hopefully debt. Plain and simple. It is clear constantly increasing taxes is counterproductive both in disincentivising work and causing flight of capital. We simply must slow down Federal spending and reduce regulatory burden. Or the US will be crushed and the world thrown into turmoil.
It is ridiculous to feel guilty about being an American as some try to press on us. We would still be under Nazi and militaristic Japanese rule if not for the US. Hitler was only months away from nuclear weapons and was a decade ahead of us in missile technology. Look into it, it is true. The concept that weakening the US and strengthening the “world government” is good is totally off base IMO. A strong US economy and political/military presence has let the world prosper as never before. Look up world per capita income over the past 75 + years of US dominance in the world. And, again, the biggest threat to us is not ISIS or China or Russia, but our own ruling class of political elites, the growing beaurocracy and, yes, some corporate types who enrich themselves at the expense of the greater good. The Brexit vote I s a sign of Western peoples’ mood and may be only the beginning.
Yes God bless America and let’s preserve the system that made her great!

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Peter July 5, 2016 at 10:11 am

Awesome post. The system isn’t the problem as much it is the way that people have bastardized it. Find it appalling that we are involved in multiple military efforts (wars) that were not voted on in Congress……that the President can order the assassination of American citizens overseas…..that the Supreme Court can make laws…..that elections are largely rigged and politicians are owned by big money.

It is crystal clear that it is unsustainable to continue to spend the way we do, particularly when we choke the economy with constrictive fiscal policies and regulations – rather than just punishing/jailing those that abuse or break the laws we already have.

And I for one do NOT want an economy where everyone prospers equally. Maybe I’m an a-hole, but I think there should be winners and losers, with rules/policies/programs to constrict the winners from running the country and rules/policies/programs to keep our losers from starving. What I don’t want to do is be in a country where everyone wins. I prefer a meritocracy. The article shows that is indeed what is happening as many middle class people are finding themselves in the upper middle class and seeing wages increase. That’s what would matter to me if I was in the middle or lower classes. Particularly if I wasn’t starving.

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Big Data July 5, 2016 at 10:31 pm

“And I for one do NOT want an economy where everyone prospers equally. … I think there should be winners and losers”

That is an appalling statement, on its surface. I am trying to understand what you mean, but it truly boggles my mind as to how to respond.

If you mean you don’t want communism of universally equal incomes, well sure, neither do I. Nor does any sane person.

But if you are taking the previously discussed idea of wages of all quintiles rising at the same or similar percentage rates, and labeling that as a system where “all prosper equally” with an absence of “winners and losers”, I would encourage you to rethink your assessment. A society in which there exists median incomes of about $50K, but wealthy incomes of millions or billions of dollars definitely has people prospering at different levels and has very distinct winners and losers. An economy in which they all get the same percentage raise does not make them “prosper equally”, nor does it eliminate losers. It might, however, allow the losers a leg up to climb the ladder to be winners.

I also want a meritocracy. I don’t believe we are there yet. I also want “rules/policies/programs to constrict the winners from running the country and rules/policies/programs to keep our losers from starving.” We haven’t accomplished that, either.

As for the article, I have already indicated how its biased and unconventional definitions of classes and its selective time scale invalidates the conclusion that middle class is primarily shrinking by getting richer and moving up. The other charts I provided show rather clearly that real wages have been declining for 15 years for the lowest 3 quintiles and the 4th quintile is barely holding steady. The middle class has been moving down, not up.

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Big Data July 5, 2016 at 10:08 pm

WARNING: Do not read the following as a rant. That is not its intent, nor is it the tone I am attempting to express. Picture Mr. Cleaver in an easy chair, smoking a pipe (did he have a pipe?) quietly expounding on the economy. Or maybe even John Houseman from the Smith Barney commercials. Now continue.

1) Stevendad, I’m having a hard time understanding how you can get so worked up over a rather benign post suggesting that we pay for the government which we are always proclaiming is best in the world. Sure it has flaws. So does society. Both always have. We struggle on. But despondency over current reality not matching our ideals is still no reason not to pay the bills. It’s not a matter of patriotism, but of economic common sense.

2) Stevendad says: “I find it galling you question my patriotism by disagreeing with you.” I might find that galling too, if I had actually said or even implied that, which I did not. I find it not galling, but rather surprising, that you read such vitriol into my extremely benign, reserved, and polite post.

3) “It is ridiculous to feel guilty about being an American as some try to press on us.” Not sure who you are referring to. I never said that. And I don’t personally know any Americans who have.

4) Data: I think these BLS tables may have what you are looking for. I believe these are organized by consumer unit, aka household, aka family. Some of the tables have decile data … not exactly median, but you can average the middle 2 deciles to get pretty close to the same thing. Start with the “Deciles of income before taxes” links for whatever years you fancy. You can download the excel charts and plot whatever you like. There seems to be a limited amount of historical data, but it goes back a few years. I don’t yet see the point you hope to make with this data and so I am curious to hear your analysis.
http://www.bls.gov/cex/midyear.htm

5) “Our government has taken YOUR credit card and had a spending party.” Yes, and any impartial observer would note that is not a recent trend, but began in the 1980’s when the financial habits of post WW2 up to that point were trashed, and debt as a fraction of the economy stopped shrinking and was instead ballooned to grow at faster rates than it had previously been dropping. That is not a partisan or political statement. It is grounded in fact and economic reality. I hope by now we have learned from this failed experiment that cutting taxes is not a silver bullet and does not pay for itself in economic growth. We need to set such magical economic thinking aside and understand that actual economies cannot be built on ideological fantasies, but instead require difficult choices based on complicated analyses, and that our decisions have long-term consequences. We are still suffering from policies and decisions of the 1980’s and 2000’s.

6) “We simply must slow down Federal spending and reduce regulatory burden. Or the US will be crushed and the world thrown into turmoil.” Federal spending as a share of the economy is lower now than it was during most of Reagan’s presidency. And our Deficit as a share of the economy is smaller in 2015 than it was at ANY time under Reagan or GHW Bush, and part of Clinton, from 1980 to 1994. Neither spending, nor deficits, are as out of control as you seem to believe.

7) We need to be economically smart, and that includes recognition of where actual challenges lay and which economic goals are feasible, and not waste our time and effort tilting at economic or political windmills. Focussing on shrinking raw dollar amounts of debt or spending (ignoring growth of inflation, population and economy) and obsessing about lowering a $20 Trillion debt NUMBER is political malarkey, and not economic analysis. We need to shrink debt as a share of the economy, not as a raw dollar number. To do that we need to balance spending and revenue, looking at both halves of the equation, and to be willing to compromise on BOTH. Our spending and revenue is very close to the balance point where we can bring Debt/GDP down. Reasonable additional tax increases on capital income and high earners, along with spending constraints to get our economic house in order, are feasible goals, if we can just get past donor politicking and all of the partisan bickering, fear-mongering, and grandstanding in Washington.

8) “It is clear constantly increasing taxes is counterproductive both in disincentivising work and causing flight of capital.” That might be a good point if we had been constantly raising taxes over several decades, or if capital was in sort supply. But we have an abundance of capital and federal income taxes have been cut more than raised over the last 35 years. Obama FINALLY got some tax increases in place after years of wrangling and after an irresponsible and costly protest from opposition that actually shut down the government. And now, as a direct result of such prudent economic action, our real per capita federal deficit is 27% of what it was in 2009 when Obama took office. Irresponsible economic policy combining tax cuts with spending increases are the source of most of our current economic woes. Now we must pay the piper for the economic irresponsibility of past revenue cuts which were made with no attempt at corresponding spending cuts. We should have been paying the bills when the economy was strong, so we could have had a sound economy in tough times. That is sort of the definition of economic responsibility, and it what has been missing from several administrations since 1980.

9) Regulatory burden: I believe there may be too much regulatory hardship on small business. But not on big business. It should be easier to start and maintain small businesses and we need to increase economic incentives to do so. Cutting the business tax rates and regulation burden on small business, while forcing a mandatory minimum business tax rate on big business (which often pays nothing) might be a good start. Taking away the health care responsibilities from business and instigating a Canadian type system would also vastly simplify small business regulatory burden.

10) Financial Regulation has been mostly cast aside over the last decades and is now barely on the mend. This is an area where government does NOT need to step aside, but needs to come in full force, take charge, and restore sound policies, to prevent the bankers and investors from making wild gambles with our money, destabilizing our economy, and then getting the government to cover their losses.

Maybe someone will take the above to be divisive or partisan. It is intended to be neither. It is intended to be an expression of honest historical assessment and forthright economic common sense. Please accept it that way.

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Stevendad July 6, 2016 at 6:31 am

Big data: You rhetorically stated I was not willing to pay my share for governance. Nonsense. That is why the “rant”. It’s not just you. “You don’t do enough for the country” is a continual Liberal rant. My point is government is wasteful, self serving and misdirected. By the way, I originally posted here to point out 2/3 of “greedy 1%” pay AMT and got ZERO benefit from Bush tax cuts.

I see lots of income and no spending in your BLS link. Please be more specific.

The economy prospered as well as ever after Reagan tax cuts. And a few years later we ran a surplus….

The “America sucks” tour by Obama speaks for itself. This is a common sentiment in the Left. I did not mean to ascribe that to you.

The reason debt is out of control is that we are so far in debt to begin. CBO says $30 T is tipping point. We will have to drastically change who we are then. Getting 5 yards on a running play in the beginning of a game is great. Doing so on 4th and long when you’re behind is a disaster. We are not foutth and long yet, but we’re getting there. 3rd and 8 or so…

10 is absurd. Perhaps we need more, but to say we have less is untrue. Dodd Frank has been a huge increase in regulation. Too big to fail as well increased regulation. These were well intended but have strangled the middle class more than anything.

Never forget that all legislation or policies always produce unintended consequences.

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Peter July 6, 2016 at 8:01 am

The point of deficit spending is to support our nation in tough economic times. The economy slows, revenue drops, and we must borrow to sustain ourselves. Yet, we have had positive economic growth for 90% of the past 20 years and have run our deficit through the roof. Anyone who thinks this is healthy or OK is delusional.

Great point as well – most of the 1% (I would argue more than 2/3) have not benefited from the Bush tax cuts.

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Big Data July 6, 2016 at 4:20 pm

Peter, you and I agree on something. Deficit spending is for emergencies. Which is really all I was saying in my independence day post: that we should pay the bills we acrue.

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Big Data July 8, 2016 at 8:55 pm

And the folks who did benefit were the very richest who had least need and who fed the least back into the economy. A completely corrupt and wasteful tax cut.

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Peter N July 10, 2016 at 11:00 am

Show me the data. gov spending mostly is a transfer system from the those that pay taxes to those that don’t.

Yes, rich people have appeared to benefit because of the stock market and other investments but that isn’t government spending.

The tax cuts have been erased and still the deficit is huge. Why? You can’t blame the tax cuts. It is the excessive spending. This can’t be refuted.

50 years of the war on poverty has only resulted in more poverty. Refute that.

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Big Data July 10, 2016 at 10:43 pm

If govt spending is a means of transferring income from high to low, then lassez-faire capitalism is a means of transferring labor of the poor to profits for the rich. Our democracy is a means to tame the excesses of both systems and achieve a balance. Government intervention is required.

Spending as share of economy is lower than mid 1980’s. Deficits are much smaller than they were before the tax increase, and considerably less as share of economy than under Reagan or Bush1. Taxes are relatively still low on high incomes. Bush2 tax cuts have not been erased completely. Nor have Reagan’s.

There are plenty of articles arguing about the success vs failure of war and poverty. You may look them up at your leisure. I don’t feel up to researching them to argue their merits, as I don’t think you are really interested in a fair discussion of the subject.

Big Data July 6, 2016 at 4:28 pm

Stevendad, please go back and reread my Independence Day post. Your name was nowhere in it. I basically said that those of us who are proud of our country and our form of governance, and who have prospered most from it, should be willing to pay the bills legally accrued as part of that governance.

It is a mystery to me how you construed that to be an attack on your patriotism.

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Big Data July 6, 2016 at 9:30 pm

Stevendad, my previous link was the wrong one, but even the right one is a bit dense. The expenditures were there in the tables labeled incomes … they were just categorized and divided by deciles of income. But that page was quarterly and you would want annual numbers or a survey.

BLS has some 50 or 100 year surveys that cover those historical periods well, but nothing ending in the last few years. I know the data is in BLS, but I am not well-versed in searching their site. It is harder to navigate than it should be, but there is LOTS of information if you are willing to search and research.

This BLS article may have some of the data you are looking for, but only for years 2011-2013. I’m not having luck finding one concise table or chart.

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/cesan_09092014.pdf

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Stevendad July 13, 2016 at 9:50 pm

Spending went up the most in lowest quintile, interesting.

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Big Data July 6, 2016 at 9:52 pm

A couple of quick comments on your post. It seems a bit ironic, and even amusing, that you spend a considerable complaining about all of the stuff wrong with America and then you lambast Obama for an “America Sucks” tour. Weren’t you just complaining about how America sucks? Come on, admit, the juxtaposition of your contradicting statements in your posts is pretty funny.

And yet you love your country. As does Obama. As do I. Please don’t be one of the small-minded people who ascribe terrible and untrue motivations to political opponents. Liberals are not out to control you. If anything they are tired of being controlled by others and are trying to improve the country. Same goal as you. Just different methods and perspectives. Open your mind and ears and you will find that to be true. I think you already know it to be true.

And Obama never had an “Apology Tour” or “America Sucks Tour”. Never. It is all hateful rhetoric from media outlets stirring up the public to make a buck. The worst Obama has done is admit that we are not perfect. Pretty much like you did in your posts. And while you never said it, others have ascribed worse motivations to him: that he wants to destroy the country, etc. Nonsense.

Obama took the office of President at the worst possible political and economic moment in the last 60 years for any President to step into that office. The banks and economic system were collapsing (yes they really were). We were in the middle of two unpopular wars. More jobs were being lost each month than had been lost the previous month, and that had been going on for about a year. The agenda of hope and change that Obama had campaigned on was replaced with a country reeling in panic and despair and a need for immediate action. And he did a pretty dam good job pulling us out of the mess. I know, some people say that he didn’t do anything, or he made it worse, it would have fixed itself. Such Monday morning quarterbacking is easy after the game has been played. But Obama and his administration were on the field dodging linebackers of doom, and against some pretty formidable odds, he won the game. Give the man a little credit. And respect.

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Stevendad July 13, 2016 at 10:00 pm

I read many Obama speeches. Yes he did apologize for us intervention over and over. The US saved the world from fascism then communism. Of course we got more involved in the world. They were screwing it up horribly. Any mistakes are trivial compared to world domination of either of these groups of gangsters. I think the country is by and large ok as is. Perfect? No. You want to change it. You must hate it by your logic.

Obama does not want to destroy the country, he just believes in an economic system that will.

Or Obama screwed up what would have been a better recovery. No one knows. Most of the banking stabilization was during tail end of Bush admin by the way.

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Stevendad July 6, 2016 at 9:00 am

Big Data: I’m with Peter. We need a meritocracy with a safety net. We have that. Again, if people would free themselves by realizing life’s not fair, get over it they and all of us would benefit. You win the lottery by being in this country. End of story on that.
The Left has changed the narrative not too subtly. Starvation is changed to “food risk” is a classic example. It is used because starvation (with previous caveats) is so rare. Hard to motivate people for more control without stirring things up. Do not delude yourself. The Progressive agenda is about control and feathering their nests. Fairness is the buzz word to take from us who drive the engine.

I agree with you in punishing those who break the rules and prosper. However, you wish to punish those who follow the rules and prosper.

The government CANNOT write legislation to anticipate every possibility. It is impossible. What they need to do is have flexibility and assets to put to bear when needed. We have wasted that on greedy politicians.

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Big Data July 8, 2016 at 9:14 pm

So do you think food risk terminology is deceptive or misleading? Do you think hunger in America is a mythical meme made up by liberals? Do you think we should not worry about hunger until people are actually dying of starvation? I’m trying to see .your point, but I don’t.

Whether we call it food risk or hunger, lack of adequate food and nutrition due to poverty is a condition which should not exist in our country. Maybe you think it does not exist but it does, and not just among mentally ill or homeless people. You seem like a caring man. This is something worth caring about. And while there are a lot of good volunteers and food banks out there, there is an appropriate need and place for federal dollars and policy to help these folks as well. I know some people think food aid is just going to layabout surfers eating shrimp and prime rib. Surely you understand that is not the reality of hunger in America.

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Stevendad July 10, 2016 at 6:43 pm

Big data: Please give DATA not generalities like “hunger is a problem”. Food risk being made up is my exact point. There IS adequate food available for the poor as there should be. You of course missed the point. In order to take control you must create a problem l. Changing to “food risk” from hunger makes it look a problem exists when it does not.
Please give EXACT proof of where hunger is a problem, not involving personal choice or family neglect. Not “food risk”. This is again a technique to TAKE CONTROL, the fundamental aim of the Progressive movement. There are numerous food banks in all major cities, and there are Federal programs you must be unaware of called SNAP and WIC, amongst others. Of course I think these are good and necessary. But you want more. People who fall through the cracks do NOT do so due to lack of spending by the government and charities. Kirsten Powers was challenged 6 months ago by Bill OReilly to bring in a chronically starving person. She has not because she cannot find any.
AGAIN, if you are listening, I said we should have a safety net. And we DO. Back down in questioning my humanity and I will not question your intelligence. The poor by and large get free food, free education, free housing, free phones, free medical care. This IS a safety net.

And please give the web site for the spending by family in the US. It is not what you have presented before. That was income which is not the same thing.

You did not comment on taking from those who followed the rules and several other points, just made a falsely leveled attack on my humanity.

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Stevendad July 10, 2016 at 6:46 pm

Of course if we continue to recklessly careen towards Federal bankruptcy there WILL be hunger.

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Big Data July 10, 2016 at 9:46 pm

There is enough money in America to pay the federal bills. We just need the political will and economic sense to do it.

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Big Data July 10, 2016 at 9:02 pm

Please Stevendad, take questions and comments at face value and stop seeing insults where none are made or intended. I have not questioned your patriotism (from earlier) OR attacked your humanity. In the post above, I asked three questions beginning with DO YOU THINK …? I did not say YOU MUST THINK …

I then said “you seem like a caring man”. And I meant it. Any attack on your humanity is of your own invention, not mine.

A few points. And I’ m pretty sure you already know them, so I don’t see why I need to point them out. Hunger is not precisely equal to starvation. Starvation is an extreme instance of hunger. There are lesser levels of hunger that are important because they impact health at all ages and mental and physical development in children. And just because you cannot find many instances of starvation in America does NOT mean there is a lack of hunger. Bill OReilly’s challenge to find a chronically starving person is a meaningless partisan stunt with no relevance to issues of hunger in America.

Yes of course I know we have WIC and SNAP. These are some of the programs that for which liberals try to maintain adequate funding and which conservatives in Congress keep trying to defund or eliminate. I’m glad you see their importance and necessity. I hope you will let your Congressman know how important it is to keep these well-funded.

“The poor by and large get free food, free education, free housing, free phones, free medical care.” There are programs that provide limited amounts of each of these “free” items. To say that the poor get them “by and large” (meaning “on the whole”, or generally, or in most cases) implies that all poor people get all of these things, and in sufficient quantity to greatly alleviate or negate their poverty. That would be a gross overstatement. The safety nets are thinner and with more large and gaping holes than you may be aware of, or may be willing to admit.

“There IS adequate food available for the poor as there should be.”
There is adequate food in America, but it is not being made available to the poor. Much of it is thrown out of supermarkets as waste.
If it were true that there was enough food in government and charity programs for the poor and hungry, there would not be all of these stories in the papers about food banks being unable to keep up with the needs of hungry people.

As for the statement:
“Food risk being made up is my exact point. … You of course missed the point. In order to take control you must create a problem l. Changing to “food risk” from hunger makes it look a problem exists when it does not.
.. This is again a technique to TAKE CONTROL, the fundamental aim of the Progressive movement.”

That, my friend, IS an attack, which is blatantly partisan, completely unfounded, and nasty. You disappoint me.

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Stevendad July 12, 2016 at 9:34 am

I’m a conservative Democrat by the way. I just don’t believe bigger government answers all. My brother, Dad and brother in law all career Fed employees and had dozens of stories of waste and fraud.

Your links still talk about income, not spending which includes government benefits. Hard to find. Just keep posting same link if you wish, but not what I’m saying.

Please give DATA, not opinions about hunger. You keep saying it is a big problem just in your opinion. No facts so far…

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Big Data July 12, 2016 at 9:27 pm

http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/key-statistics-graphics.aspx

Here is data on food insecurity. There are multiple levels. You can minimize the problem if you want, and argue that it does not exist. No doubt some well-meaning people inflate the stats, including low food insecurity as hunger, to get attention to the issue. But whether there are 1 in 5, 1 in 50, or 1 in 500 children that suffer from insufficient food and nutrition, it is still too many, in my opinion. To claim there is no problem is to deny that any action is required. I don’t accept that.

You can complain about government spending “more and more” but GOP consistently tries to eliminate and succeeds in cutting WIC and SNAP. Income inequality is also part of the problem. Low wages and part-time incomes, and misclassifying low wage jobs as “managers” to get 60 or 70 work hours out of a 40 hour salary contributes to low household incomes and hunger.

You may think there is no hunger in America. Go ahead and think it. It’s not true. I could spend all the time in the world throwing stats at you but I don’t have all the time in the world.

Excuse me, I have to go back to my Progressive job making up fake crises to control you now. 😉

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Stevendad July 13, 2016 at 10:19 pm

I never said no hunger. Never possible. Unless we all live in barracks and are marched to mess halls. Price of freedom, I suppose. I read your stats. Food intake is uninterrupted in 98.9% for households with children per the data. I would like 100% but it is unclear if responsible parents sought out help in some or all of those. I suspect neglect accounts for much of 1.1% AS I SAID BEFORE. Are you willing to take all those kids from their parents?
Many adult households spend money on other things like alcohol or drugs and still have 95% uninterrupted food. Of course no way to know based in this data.

It is also fascinating there is a huge correlation in income inequality and Liberalism. Overlay map for highest income inequality and Obama 2012 counties. Do as I say, not as I do…

And I will continue to fight to take over the world in order to leave you alone! ????

Big Data July 17, 2016 at 7:41 pm

“It is also fascinating there is a huge correlation in income inequality and Liberalism.”
Perhaps you are confusing which is the cause and which is the effect? Certainly anyone recognizing high income inequality would never vote for someone like Romney.

Peter July 13, 2016 at 9:54 am

All the anecdotal evidence I have in the DC area from literally hundreds of Federal employees is an impression of waste….. almost NOBODY thinks the Fed government runs as efficiently as the private sector. At least nobody who is involved in it.

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Big Data July 13, 2016 at 8:49 pm

Hunger stories.
People have to turn to SNAP and food banks, often despite careful financial planning.

http://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/hunger-stories/your-stories/judi.html

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Stevendad July 13, 2016 at 9:44 pm

And they are there for them. Isn’t that my point?

Big Data July 16, 2016 at 6:21 am

And food insecurity is not a made up political issue. Are you ready to reverse that claim?

Big Data July 13, 2016 at 8:55 pm
Big Data July 13, 2016 at 9:01 pm

Hunger stories

National Geographic often covers 3rd world country problems.
Here they cover hunger in US suburbs.
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/foodfeatures/hunger/

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Big Data July 10, 2016 at 9:44 pm
Stevendad July 12, 2016 at 9:49 am

From your link: “during any given month, they will be out of money, out of food, and forced to miss meals or SEEK ASSISTANCE to feed themselves.” I appreciate making my point with this link. Seeking assistance is not being hungry. They of course just seek assistance, but if they do not it is their choice. Again this is an adequate safety net.

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Stevendad July 12, 2016 at 9:56 am

Must not just

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Big Data July 13, 2016 at 7:34 pm

Maybe it’s just me, but I think that charities and government safety nets are different things. If people are so challenged in their life through shortage of well paying jobs to support themselves, that they must seek out food from food banks, soup kitchens, and other charities, it tells me there is both a failure in our economy and in our safety nets. Not that everything is just fine as it is.

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Stevendad July 13, 2016 at 9:46 pm

Of course there is no personal responsibilty for any of them?

Stevendad July 13, 2016 at 10:07 pm

And is your point to give out more or less food to the needy?

By the way, way back last Fall I made the point Walmart, etc should be charged for govt benefits their employees get. That would fix some of the wage issues. I see NO reason to subsidize billionaires in this way.

Big Data July 15, 2016 at 3:37 pm

My points are:
a) Hunger and food insecurity is not a made up issue by politicos.
b) We need to fund our food assistance programs sufficiently to meet the actual need of our citizens, and not overly strain charities.
c) There would be a lot less hunger and food insecurity if we addressed wage suppression, job exportation, and the high costs of education and medical care in this country. If people were allowed more opportunity to better support themselves, we would have less hunger and less need for government aid.

Big Data July 10, 2016 at 10:16 pm

“You did not comment on taking from those who followed the rules.”
Yes it is disgraceful that wealth and income has been taken from hard-working Americans who have followed the rules, struggled to educate their children, struggled to keep jobs, struggled to feed their families and maintain shelter. It is disgraceful that the prosperity of the nation has been diverted to profit the businessmen and investors who profit from globalization by exporting jobs and suppressing American wages. American families have been playing by the rules but the rule-makers keep distorting them for their own profit and benefit. I hope that we can soon return to conditions in which the vast majority of Americans who work hard and play by the rules will have fairer rules to play by.

I’m guessing that is not what you meant. But it’s what you need to understand.

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Stevendad July 12, 2016 at 9:46 am

Your opinion of course. Again 2/3 of “1%” got zero Bush tax cut. Everyone else, including you did I’m sure. Taxes approach 70% in many locales. Not enough for you? If you tax ALL of 1% income it pays about 40% if debt per IRS and CBO. I’m fine with taxing carried interest, but it is a tiny fraction of what we need.
Many families are better off in Feseral programs than working. That is a dangerous situation.
The $15 minimum wage will ruin and close down small towns. Why do New York City and Gotebo, Oklahoma need the same wage when there is a 3 times difference in cost of living? Why do Alaska and Florida need the same laws across the board (clearly the Progressive direction) when being American and the English language are about the ONLY things that have in common.

Nothing is “free”. I just t
To summarize, the safety net is adequate IMO. You can argue it’s not, but that is just your opinion. Sanders style taxation will cut back work, productivity and cause flight of capital and cause the debt to balloon even faster. Unbridled Socialism doesn’t work.

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Big Data July 12, 2016 at 8:04 pm

Ok if lower 2/3 of 1% got no benefit of bush tax cuts (debatable, but lets assume that is true) then the benefits mostly went to that upper .33%, who have maybe 80% of income of upper 1%, and paid closer to 20 to 25% effective federal under the cuts. Top 400 earners had effective tax rate of 20% in 1979. Not sure who your 70% payers are but they ain’t the richest ones.

Not sure where you get the incomes of 1% equalling 40% of deficit. That sounds like old stats and is not true in 2015. Incomes of 1% far exceed current deficits.

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Big Data July 12, 2016 at 9:58 pm

Re Bush Tax Cuts:
Enacted in 2001 and 2003 and continued in 2010, after the original sunset date. Partially extended in 2012.

Who benefitted? Check history.
http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/statistics/historical-average-federal-tax-rates-all-households

Effective federal income tax rates of upper 1%
– about 23% before Reagan
– about 20 to 21% during Reagan and GHW Bush (Reagan tax cuts)
– Rose to about 24% under Clinton
– 2003 to 2011 was close to 20% (Bush tax cuts)

So SOMEBODY in the upper 1% clearly got a big break from Bush.
Effective federal tax rates of the next richest 4% (96-99 percentile) also benefitted with a drop from 18% effective rate in 2000 to about 15% from 2003-2011.

Total federal tax rates (including SS, corporate, excise) show a similar 3% of income drop from 2000 to 2003 and extending to 2010 for the upper 5%. Other income groups had higher PERCENTAGE drops, but much less money and much less per capita was involved.

====
Google for link to below:
Ten Years of the Bush Tax Cuts Benefiting the Rich
====
$520,000: The average tax cut received by the top 0.1 percent of Americans, those making more than $3 million a year. That is over 450 times the tax cut received by an average middle-class family.
The middle 20 percent of wage earners (making between $40,000 and $70,000) received less than 11 percent of the total Bush -era tax cuts.
The bottom 20 percent (making less than $20,000) received only a 1 percent share of the Bush tax cuts; 75 percent of these low-income families saw no tax benefit at all.
===

I’m not denying that you, Stevendad, or other select wage earners in top 5% saw less of tax cuts than richest folks, investors and such. But the money still was heavily weighted on the rich end of the spectrum. And if the doctors and business owners weren’t getting it, then it was clearly wasted with government debt increasing as the treasury was being doled out to wealthy folk.

Bush said. “The surplus is not the government’s money. The surplus is the people’s money.” So back when we COULD have used the surplus to pay down debt and get in better economic position, Bush instead gave the money back to the people. But mostly to HIS people. HIS donors.

And we the people (all of us) are still financing the giveaway that went primarily to a few of us.

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Stevendad July 13, 2016 at 9:37 pm

That was most current irs data, 2013. 44.8% exactly. Look it up: $1.7 T of income $3.8T budget approximately. Hard to find, but according to irs.gov 2/3 1% pay AMT, not changed in Bush tax cuts. it does not give break down of who did or didn’t to my recollection. Why don’t you donate your tax cut for past 12 years to the debt? Point is everyone has to pay. Of course bottom 20% got a tiny cut. The bottom 50% paid only 2.5% in total in 2013. 1% paid 38%. The bottom 20% paid almost nothing before or after cuts. Nothin from nothin leaves nothin!

Stevendad July 13, 2016 at 10:26 pm

And remember the rich got most of the cuts because they pay nearly all of the taxes.

Big Data July 14, 2016 at 10:27 pm

Stevendad, you originally claimed that income of 1% was 40% of debt (presuming you meant deficit). : “If you tax ALL of 1% income it pays about 40% of debt [deficit]”

Now you are giving me stats that income of 1% is 44.8% of the entire FEDERAL BUDGET. Now you see your mistake, don’t you? The federal budget is not the deficit. The deficit in 2013 was only $680B , so income of 1% was 250% of deficit, not 40%.

And deficit declined to $438B in 2015 making the income of the 1% equal to over 380% of the deficit.

Big Data July 14, 2016 at 10:51 pm

“And remember the rich got most of the cuts because they pay nearly all of the taxes.”

And they pay almost all of the taxes because they get a huge percentage share of all of the income.

There was NEVER any reason to give ANY individual family in the US a half million dollar tax break, especially not the individuals in the upper 0.1%. Their after tax-incomes were already sky-high. That was just CRAZY!

Consider the scenario: In 1999 we had surpluses but in 2000 we had an economic downturn, and in 2001 we had 9/11. So in 2003, the leaders get together and say, HEY, let’s give folks a tax break. We used to have a surplus. We don’t anymore, but let’s pretend we do. Let’s give it back to the people but let’s give MOST of the dollars back to the folks who need it least and where it will have the least impact on rebuilding the economy! Let’s give most of it back to the richest folks, because, you know, they would really really like to have it.

CRAZY!

Big Data July 10, 2016 at 10:03 pm

Consumer spending data by quintile:
1) Look at data on page :
http://www.bls.gov/cex/csxshare.htm
2) See that there are categories of data covering years 1989 – 2011
3) For each year look up the Expenditure Shares Tables listed as
“Quintiles of income before taxes “. These tables list income AND expenditures in detail. The totals are summarized on appropriate lines. You can download either the PDFD or Excel files.
4) Manually compile the data you desire (perhaps the middle quintile data for each year) into your own spreadsheet or table.
5) Plot as needed.
6) Years 2012-2014 are available on another page:
http://www.bls.gov/cex/csxcombined.htm

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Big Data July 10, 2016 at 10:06 pm

Steven dad,

I am reposting this as my first post got blocked for too many links. I hope this is helpful.

Consumer spending data by quintile:
1) Look at data on page :
http://www.bls.gov/cex/csxshare.htm
2) See that there are categories of data covering years 1989 – 2011
3) For each year look up the Expenditure Shares Tables listed as
“Quintiles of income before taxes “. These tables list income AND expenditures in detail. The totals are summarized on appropriate lines. You can download either the PDFD or Excel files.
4) Manually compile the data you desire (perhaps the middle quintile data for each year) into your own spreadsheet or table.
5) Plot as needed.
6) Years 2012-2014 are available on another page:
(2nd link listed below)

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Big Data July 10, 2016 at 10:06 pm
Stevendad July 12, 2016 at 9:51 am

Again INCOME, not spending that accounts for government programs is what this says. Does not include free phones or charities that add more to their spending.

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Big Data July 12, 2016 at 7:36 pm

Consumer spending is in the table. Look for it. Its there. Median family spending has nothing to do with government charity. Median families get none of that.

You said you wanted stats on median consumer spending right? That is what is in the tables.

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Big Data July 12, 2016 at 9:04 pm

Really, stevendad, did you even LOOK at the tables?
I have spoon-fed you websites and tables.
You said you want charts or tables on consumer spending. You said: “I’m specifically talking about median FAMILY spending, …”
That’s what I have given you. Average of center quintile in these tables will be very close to the same as median. Please have the decency to actually look at the data when I have done your research for you.

I’m sorry no one has compiled the data into the chart you want to see and the way you want to see it. Sometimes you have to do it yourself.

Follow closely.
Look again at my link #1 above to csxshare.htm.
The page is labeled

CONSUMER EXPENDITURE SURVEY
— Expenditure Share Tables —
[Expenditures, stevendad, not income]

Under “2011 EXPENDITURE TABLES”
the 10th set of tables is labeled
“Quintiles of income before taxes”
But it is NOT an INCOME table.
It is an EXPENDITURE table, broken up by income by quintile.

I am looking at the PDF file. Open it.

The table has multiple columns of data, one for full group averages and one for averages within each quintile, and a few others, clearly labeled.
The table lists #of consumer units in each quintile.
Then it lists incomes. Don’t stop yet.
S-C-R-O-L-L down a half screen or so and there is a line that says:
“Average annual expenditures”
It shows household average CONSUMER SPENDING for each quintile and for the total group.
Below that it breaks up those expenditures by various categories.

There are sets of tables going back to 1989 there are some newer tables of the same kind on the 2nd link I provided to you.

If I was doing this research, I would put the data in a spreadsheet. I would look up inflation rates and adjust the data for inflation. I would match incomes to expenditures. I would ask some questions.

Why is it that the average incomes in the lower two quintiles are smaller than the family expenditures? Is that an indication of wasteful families spending more than they earn? Or is it an indication that incomes are insufficient to cover spending that is necessary? What covers the difference? Free stuff from the government? Unreported income of some kind? I don’t know. Good questions.

You are more likely (I think) to assume government is giving free stuff to these people or that they are spending wastefully. I am more likely to assume that the working people in these lower two quintiles are over-worked and way underpaid. Half-full, half-empty, the old familiar conundrum of different perspectives.

I really don’t understand what you expect to see in this data regarding spending that shows the “free stuff” vs incomes that don’t. Median family expenditures are certainly not what you want. People in the middle income don’t get much government free stuff.

And if median family expenditures or average family expenditures are going up, what does that mean to you? Please explain to me what you expect to see or want to prove and why it is important. Maybe I can either help you find it or help you see if it is there at all.

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Stevendad July 13, 2016 at 10:33 pm

Ah, found it. Sorry, I was busy working to pay Obama et al, my $600 in daily taxes. Interesting that the median spending for lowest quintile is $13 k over median income. And each have 1/2 a worker. Also interesting that the US poor rank #27 in household world income. Above Italy!!! Wow!! Great table and thanks for proving my point in so well.

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Stevendad July 13, 2016 at 10:36 pm

My point is few in US are really poor. Lowest 20% got $13k or so in govt help and unknown amount of charity. And rank above over 150 other countries in their income. One of my coworkers is from India. Now those folks are poor….

Peter July 14, 2016 at 8:05 am

Immigrants risk their lives to be considered “poor” in America. Any amount of world travel outside of the US or Western Europe will open one’s eyes to true poverty.

Big Data July 14, 2016 at 10:14 pm

Glad to help, but I think you are too willing to bend the numbers to your theories, and to stop your research as soon as you find something that you can inappropriately use to prop up your pre-conceived notions. You aren’t letting the data guide your thinking. You are just cherry-picking bits and pieces of information that SEEM to reinforce what you already believe.

Who says that the lowest 20% got 13K in government help. The tables didn’t say that. You assumed it. Most retired folks fall in the lowest 2 quintiles and their retirement income is not reportable. Did you consider that? No doubt people get government help, but you didn’t even attempt to research how much of that 13K is from government programs, or which ones.

And is SS income government largesse or payback from what people paid in? Maybe a little of each?

Don’t tell me you have proved your point when you have proved nothing. You haven’t even said what your point actually is.

As for poor income in US ranked higher than other countries, that is also a virtually meaningless statement. Comparing income without knowing the area living expenses is meaningless. I can’t help but think that such statements are just excuses to ignore US poor.

Big Data July 14, 2016 at 10:40 pm

Well you did say “My point is few in US are really poor.”

I think that is a really callous point to attempt to make, and none of the data you quoted proves it.

If you have to go scrounging around food banks and charities for food because the jobs you can get don’t pay enough to keep food on the table, YOU ARE POOR. Just because someone gives you aid to alleviate your poverty, it does not make you less poor.

Sure, the US poor are better off than being in the slums of India or other countries. But if they have no money left after paying the higher housing and basic living expenses in the US, which are many times the expenses in those 3rd world slums, and they have to struggle to choose how to cover health, medicine and nutrition needs with the meager remains, they are POOR.

Why would you, or anybody, ever want to spend time and effort “proving” that the poor are not really poor? What is the REAL point? What is the goal?

Frustrated July 15, 2016 at 7:05 am

You say a lot of wrong things Big Data. For instance, why would a retiree’s income not be reportable?

Big Data July 15, 2016 at 3:02 pm

Frustrated, I am trying really hard to be accurate and precise. I’m sorry you don’t seem to see that. My objection to Stevendad was his arbitrary subtraction of income and expenses in this survey, and his automatic (and incorrect) assumption that it must all represent government assistance.

I was offering other possibilities when I said that some retirement is not “reportable”. What I meant was that SS income is not (generally) reportable as taxable AGI. And that is a true statement. (It is included in MAGI, however, and some SS income can be taxable under some circumstances.) I also thought that private retirement income MIGHT not be “reportable” or used, in the expenditure table. However, after additional searching for definitions, I have found that private retirement income and SS benefits ARE part of the pre-tax income included in the survey. So my assumption there was wrong, but at least I asked the question and looked it up. Grant me that.

I have also found a partial explanation from the BLS folks for the discrepancy in income and expenditures. I include that in my response to Stevendad below.

I will be happy to respond to any other questions you have about my assertions here, or misunderstandings about my statements, and I will do my best to correct any errors. Just let me know.

Frustrated July 11, 2016 at 7:58 am

The ridiculous thing is working hard and sacrificing fun and time with my family to reach the point where 40 percent of my income is stolen from me. And even with all of that money taken from me, we have a crippling debt that will eventually crush our economy when interest rates rise. It’s a stupid plan and one destined to fail.

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Stevendad July 12, 2016 at 9:53 am

Exactly. Be glad you only give up 40%. I’m closer to 50%.

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Stevendad July 12, 2016 at 9:56 am

Of course this is direct taxation (Fed income / state income / sales and property taxes , fees etc) and not passed on taxes in the cost of goods and services. Hard to capture, but definitely something we all pay. Corporations adjust prices to pay for corporate taxes. Don’t kid ourselves.

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Frustrated July 12, 2016 at 7:52 pm

It is completely brutal. All for political BS.

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Stevendad July 13, 2016 at 10:38 pm

BD: I think I answered all your points, but this is getting really scattered…

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Stevendad July 15, 2016 at 1:48 pm

BD: and the poor are taken care of. What is your beef?

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Stevendad July 15, 2016 at 1:52 pm

My real point to all of this is the problems are not any where close to bad enough to tear down our entire economic system. It is supplying more prosperity and wealth on a scale unseen any where any time ever in human civilization. This is what the Bern is, to tear it all down. You can argue here and ther, but most problems of food security and housing are a result of people’s own choices. Those choices may include not seeking copious help programs. Again, meritocracy with safety net, which is what we have.

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Big Data July 15, 2016 at 3:20 pm

Stevendad,

I am not interested in tearing down our economic system. I just don’t understand why anyone wants to spend time attempting to prove that our poor people are not as poor as some other poor people somewhere else. When you say: “You can argue here and there, but most problems of food security and housing are a result of people’s own choices,” you seem to be saying it’s their own fault so it is of no concern to you. Or they’re not really poor because somebody somewhere else is a lot poorer. And then you also claim there is no hunger in the US and that food insecurity is a made up problem by political manipulators.

All of that is really offensive and highly partisan, but I am unlikely to persuade you with facts or statistics so I’m not sure what i can offer you, except a correction to your mistake on your interpretation of BLS data. The delta in income and expenditure seems to have nothing to do with government assistance, at least by the BLS’s own explanation (below). So if you want proof about the magnitude of all that free stuff supposedly going to the poor, you will have to keep searching.

=== from BLS site ===
“Why do average annual expenditures exceed income for some of the demographic groups? How can consumer units spend more than they earn?”

http://www.bls.gov/cex/faq.htm#q21

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Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 7:38 am

I am not a Repub. We are not arguing the existenc of a safety net like you seem to think, just how high it should be. The Progessive wing has taken over and are driving more to be poor and dependent in order to stay in power. Wake up. And Bernie wants to make it worse.
I grew up poor, never used a bit of the programs except about $1800 in college need grant. I’ve repaid that a thousand fold in Fed taxes.
OK so they are earning money outside the taxable system, otherwise legally or illegally. Or the numbers are garbage.
My point is again very few are starving other than by their own poor decisions. Direct decisions like trading food for drugs, just not showing up for food programs, not just the longer term issues like having a baby at a young age or not training or not working, etc.

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Big Data July 17, 2016 at 4:37 pm

Sounds like the income numbers are garbage. It’s an Expenditure survey, so I would hope those numbers are worth something. But the income numbers sound unreliable, by their own description.

“I grew up poor, never used a bit of the programs except about $1800 in college need grant. I’ve repaid that a thousand fold in Fed taxes.”
And you grew up in an age when state college costs were more highly subsidized and middle class families had higher economic standing than they do today. I don’t know the particulars of your growing up, but the economy was a lot more balanced and equitable before 1980. As a generality, you can’t fairly compare your childhood and better job availability and the economics in those past decades, to today’s high college costs and high family debt situations and poor job prospects that the last decade of college or high school graduates have faced.

High income inequality breaks EVERYTHING. Higher medical and college costs (based on the economies of the rich who can afford it). Worse education for the middle and lower class (because they cannot afford it). Fewer high tech candidates for modern jobs (because of fewer qualified graduates). Fewer jobs for Americans (because of fewer qualified graduates, poor trade policy, pandering to big biusiness). Higher costs of government programs (because of higher unemployment and poverty rate). It goes on and on.

The system used to work. You can remember when it did. It used to work for you. It still works for you because you are high up the ladder. It doesn’t work that way anymore. Not for today’s high school and college graduates. The bottom of the ladder is broken. We need to fix it.

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Big Data July 15, 2016 at 3:46 pm

“It is supplying more prosperity and wealth on a scale unseen any where any time ever in human civilization.”

As the income charts I presented earlier indicated, wages of most Americans have declined for 15 years as only the upper 5% are improving their economic position. And other charts show that most of that money gain is going to the 1% or 0.1%.

Can you explain to me the ethical and moral justification as to why the most prosperous nation ever in human civilization continues to suppress and diminish the prosperity of most of its citizens in order to accelerate and expand the riches of only its very wealthiest members?

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Frustrated July 18, 2016 at 8:04 am

Huh? It’s “the nation’s” fault if people don’t succeed? Yikes….

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Stevendad July 15, 2016 at 1:53 pm

Your data also showed the poor in the US are better off than Italy.

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Stevendad July 15, 2016 at 1:55 pm

$13 k was an approximation. Income was around $10k, spending around $23k. So 23-10. 13

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Big Data July 15, 2016 at 4:12 pm

Re: American prosperity. Another perspective:

===The American Middle Class Is No Longer the World’s Richest===
APRIL 22, 2014

[Excepts below. See link for full article]

The American middle class, long the most affluent in the world, has lost that distinction.

While the wealthiest Americans are outpacing many of their global peers, a New York Times analysis shows that across the lower- and middle-income tiers, citizens of other advanced countries have received considerably larger raises over the last three decades.

After-tax middle-class incomes in Canada — substantially behind in 2000 — now appear to be higher than in the United States. The poor in much of Europe earn more than poor Americans.

The struggles of the poor in the United States are even starker than those of the middle class. A family at the 20th percentile of the income distribution in this country makes significantly less money than a similar family in Canada, Sweden, Norway, Finland or the Netherlands. Thirty-five years ago, the reverse was true.

LIS counts after-tax cash income from salaries, interest and stock dividends, among other sources, as well as direct government benefits such as tax credits.

“The idea that the median American has so much more income than the middle class in all other parts of the world is not true these days,” said Lawrence Katz, a Harvard economist who is not associated with LIS. “In 1960, we were massively richer than anyone else. In 1980, we were richer. In the 1990s, we were still richer.”

That is no longer the case, Professor Katz added.

Median per capita income was $18,700 in the United States in 2010 (which translates to about $75,000 for a family of four after taxes), up 20 percent since 1980 but virtually unchanged since 2000, after adjusting for inflation. The same measure, by comparison, rose about 20 percent in Britain between 2000 and 2010 and 14 percent in the Netherlands. Median income also rose 20 percent in Canada between 2000 and 2010, to the equivalent of $18,700.

Three broad factors appear to be driving much of the weak income performance in the United States. First, educational attainment in the United States has risen far more slowly than in much of the industrialized world over the last three decades, making it harder for the American economy to maintain its share of highly skilled, well-paying jobs.

Americans between the ages of 55 and 65 have literacy, numeracy and technology skills that are above average relative to 55- to 65-year-olds in rest of the industrialized world, according to a recent study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, an international group. Younger Americans, though, are not keeping pace: Those between 16 and 24 rank near the bottom among rich countries, well behind their counterparts in Canada, Australia, Japan and Scandinavia and close to those in Italy and Spain.

those in Italy and Spain.

A second factor is that companies in the United States economy distribute a smaller share of their bounty to the middle class and poor than similar companies elsewhere. Top executives make substantially more money in the United States than in other wealthy countries. The minimum wage is lower. Labor unions are weaker.

And because the total bounty produced by the American economy has not been growing substantially faster here in recent decades than in Canada or Western Europe, most American workers are left receiving meager raises.

Janet Gornick, the director of LIS, noted that inequality in so-called market incomes — which does not count taxes or government benefits — “is high but not off the charts in the United States.” Yet the American rich pay lower taxes than the rich in many other places, and the United States does not redistribute as much income to the poor as other countries do. As a result, inequality in disposable income is sharply higher in the United States than elsewhere.

Continue reading the main story
Whatever the causes, the stagnation of income has left many Americans dissatisfied with the state of the country. Only about 30 percent of people believe the country is headed in the right direction, polls show.

“Things are pretty flat,” said Kathy Washburn, 59, of Mount Vernon, Iowa, who earns $33,000 at an Ace Hardware store, where she has worked for 23 years. “You have mostly lower level and high and not a lot in between. People need to start in between to work their way up.”

Even with a large welfare state in Sweden, per capita G.D.P. there has grown more quickly than in the United States over almost any extended recent period — a decade, 20 years, 30 years. Sharp increases in the number of college graduates in Sweden, allowing for the growth of high-skill jobs, has played an important role.

Other countries’ middle class incomes have grown since 2000. The United States’ has not.

CHANGE IN MEDIAN
INCOME SINCE 2000
COUNTRY ……. %
Britain ………… 19.7
Canada ……….. 19.7
Ireland ……….. 16.2
Netherlands … 13.9
Spain ……………. 4.1
Germany ………. 1.4
United States … 0.3

Elsewhere in Europe, economic growth has been slower in the last few years than in the United States, as the Continent has struggled to escape the financial crisis. But incomes for most families in Sweden and several other Northern European countries have still outpaced those in the United States, where much of the fruits of recent economic growth have flowed into corporate profits or top incomes.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/23/upshot/the-american-middle-class-is-no-longer-the-worlds-richest.html?_r=0

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Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 7:21 am

Again article about income, not spending. Regardless, Dem programs of importing unlimited cheap labor, not lending to MC because of Dodd Frank far outweigh effect of some limited tax cuts that have largely been repealed in 1% (at least who hit them in the first place). No repeal for everyone else.

I’m not opposed to taxes BTW. I would tax bonds/stocks/private equity with high wealth limits (maybe $10million) just like the rest of us saps pay property tax on our main asset.

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Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 7:58 am

And if all would follow SWEAR as I’ve outlined before, we would need a lot less safety nets. All voluntary with rare exceptions and all easily doable.

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Peter July 17, 2016 at 3:55 pm

Yes…the easiest solution of them all – at least on a personal level. More fun to rage against the machine….

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Big Data July 17, 2016 at 4:42 pm

The economic system is robbing the new generation and you just want to blame their behavior.
Police are killing blacks and whites just want to blame the black’s behavior.
The rich are exporting jobs, making money off of it, and want to blame the unemployed for their behavior.

At some point, we have to put some responsibilty back onto the rich, the police, and the economic system. The victim is not always to blame.

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Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 9:08 am

Please avoid the whole BLM issue, too emotional and controversial. So the “victim” is blameless? No shared responsibility? Again, regardless, not enough to scrap the whole system.

Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 9:09 am

Hillary wants TPP and Bill signed NAFTA which encourage expor of American jobs, BTW.

Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 7:25 am

Let’s see… Britain and Canada got money from massive nat resources booms, Ireland from CUTTING TAXES, Spain from printing money (in the edge of debt crisis). I have no clue about the Netherlands. Again. Dem programs are biggest cause IMO.

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Big Data July 17, 2016 at 5:19 pm

Our country also got a lot money. We just DISTRIBUTED it differently.

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Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 9:05 am

Right, due to undercutting lower end wages with massive immigration and not lending to MC due to Dodd Frank. AND of course some option related income and people who bet correctly on options too. Like almost everything, both sides are right at the same time. And also wrong because they think the opposing point of view is the sole cause of problems.

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Peter July 16, 2016 at 4:06 pm

Yes Stevendad – in total agreement that a meritocracy with mobility, progressive taxation and a safety net (that the progressive taxes pay for) is a great system … and what we have. Ridiculous to think about blowing it up. And most of the other tweaks are just for political gain and/or warm fuzzy feelings rather than any reality.

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Steven H July 16, 2016 at 7:07 pm

How can we have a meritocracy if everyone is working but only 1% are prospering?

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Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 7:41 am

Hey! You’re back! At least we got you back in the (cess?)pool

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Peter July 17, 2016 at 3:57 pm

Big Data is Steven H. Same person, can’t you tell? Would be nice to find an actual additional person to articulate his points that understands economics a bit better and isn’t so partisan!

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Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 9:02 am

Hmmmm….

Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 7:40 am

By the way, BLS graph in another section lists “government assistance” as a huge part of the difference in in me and spending.

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Big Data July 17, 2016 at 8:39 pm

I am interested in the link.
And congratulations for tracking down the data you wanted on BLS.

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Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 7:48 am

You guys (BD and Steven H) are missing my point. The government is exacerbating in me inequality, not helping it. My solutions involve lessening government in most ways that are not spelled out in Constitution (decrease regs, especially Dodd Frank, decrease income tax in very targeted ways ($50 k inventory deduction for example)) and strengthen things they are supposed to do like establishing a border. I’m fine with taxing carried interest, cutting out pork on both sides, passing back social welfare costs to Walmart and McDonalds due to their low wages.

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Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 7:49 am

Income not in me.*^%#** tiny keyboard.

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Big Data July 17, 2016 at 5:05 pm

Dodd-Frank is an increase in regulation and it may not be the perfect solution, but neither should it be scrapped. Bank deregulation happened for decades starting in late 70’s and 80’s and is, from my understanding, a major cause of savings and loan and bank and economic system instabilities over last few decades.

We tried the deregulation approach. Even Greenspan confessed that was a failure. We need a smart regulation approach. I’m not convinced we have enough of the right regulations yet. I’m almost certain that the Congress cannot make the right decisions with bank lobbyists funding their campaigns.

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Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 9:02 am

Not scrap Dodd Frank, but set up some safe harbors to lend to MC.Can we start back in the bottom? This is getting way too scattered.

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Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 8:06 am

You guys seem to think we as a society owe everyone a meaningful job doing what fulfills them. I think they should have food, shelter and free education, even up to the state or community college level if that’s what we decide. (It is in Oklahoma BTW). Then let them earn prosperity with their planning, saving, modest temperance and hard work. It’s all there IMO for all but a few if they CHOOSE to take it.

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Peter July 17, 2016 at 3:59 pm

And if you choose to take risks, work more hours than required of you, learn a business or trade, etc then you can be part of this elusive elite one day too.

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Big Data July 17, 2016 at 4:56 pm

If there is an increasing divide between struggling middle class and fortunate elite, I am not content just with the possibility of joining the elite. Call me crazy, but I actually want increased opportunity and prosperity for my friends, family, and most Americans, not just for myself.

I’m not content to step over the unfortunate just to get a rung up on the ladder.

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Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 9:12 am

Just curious, what quintile did you grow up in? I went from bottom 20% to “1%”( for a while).

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Big Data July 17, 2016 at 5:00 pm

I don’t just want to outrun my friends so they will be eaten by the bear.
I want to kill the bear.

I don’t want to dump my friends out of the lifeboat so I get their rations. I want to reach land.

Almost everyone I know is responsible, hard-working and smart. The implication that only stupid, irresponsible people making bad decisions are getting left behind is offensive to me. I see otherwise.

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Frustrated July 18, 2016 at 8:01 am

Wow. Everyone I know isn’t smart….. you must not work with laborers. And definitely everyone I know isn’t responsible! You need to get out more haha

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Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 9:13 am

Whatever. Do the 5 things or at least teach your children to. Your chances of NOT succeeding are small.

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Big Data July 17, 2016 at 8:36 pm

Oklahoma may be ahead of other states in providing free/low-cost college. If so, good for OK. We need more of that.

“It’s all there IMO for all but a few if they CHOOSE to take it.” I like your optimism, but it is NOT all there for most Americans in most states.

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Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 8:12 am

A friend of mine moved here from France. Why? Because there you need to be ridiculously talented or know someone to get ahead. Otherwise you end up mired in mediocrity because Socialism has provided for everyone but also limited opportunity for all but a few. He owns a bakery here by the way, nearly impossible for a baker in France, or so he said.

We have meritocracy over mediocrity. A much better choice IMO.

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Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 8:14 am

My Asian friends are stunned any one would complain about our system. In their world there is essentially NO way to prosper without being connected. Here they just SWEAR and prosper more than any other race.

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Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 9:49 am

I do want to point out an error in calculation. The 1% made 1.9T in income in 2014 and paid .45T in income taxes. The 1.45t left now covers the total deficit with about $1T left. Their income has gone up and the deficit down since I last calculated it. Of course not including other taxes, but have at them. I have barely made that 1% level in the past a couple of times, but no longer do.

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Big Data July 17, 2016 at 4:45 pm

Steven dad, Thank you, sincerely, for acknowledging that error. The conversation is always more agreeable when we can at least find common ground on points of fact.

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Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 9:15 am

Can you reply to my anecdotes if people who immigrated here? Just curious. Since one left utopian Socialism in France…

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Peter July 21, 2016 at 11:24 am

Irrelevant. Just anecdotes. :)

Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 9:56 am

Another economics thought: our government has perverted the financial system by running up this huge debt. Rather than putting money in the bank to lend or stocks and bonds to build things (and jobs), it is tied up in “safe” government issued debt. The quotes are not about the likelihood of default (though we recently almost did) but more likely inflation in the future some time. The government COMPETES with industry for money. They largely spend it and seldom invest it. Business does the opposite.

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Peter July 17, 2016 at 4:01 pm

But for some reason for some any significant reduction in spending is off the table. Why? Because nobody wins elections promising less stuff or less programs or less money for health, education, military, etc.

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Big Data July 17, 2016 at 4:22 pm

OK, Stevendad, let’s take a few minutes and talk some simple economic common sense.

We need to PAY our bills.
And to do that we need to RAISE taxes on millionaires.

It makes no sense to me to hear continuous complaints about high debt and deficits and yet hear the party of business continually trying to cut revenue by cutting taxes. Which will increase debt. What sense is there in approaching a problem by first making it worse?

I know. The myth they sell is that they will cut spending. So why do the tax cuts always exceed the spending cuts? Why do debts go higher and higher whenever the party of business is in control?

And what will we cut? Benefits to poor, old, and sick? As income inequality rises, elderly population increases, food banks are already struggling? Military cuts, as the world is getting more unstable? The party of business TALKS about cuts but the will never do it. It is too politically hard. And less necessary than they advertise. Our federal spending as a share of the economy is still low compared to other 1st world countries. Spending concerns are a false diversion. We have a REVENUE problem.

We need to PAY down the deficit.
To do that we need to RAISE taxes on millionaires.

The myth is that millionaires cannot afford more taxes. That’s NOT true. They already pay a high percentage of overall taxes. Fine. That’s true. But their EFFECTIVE TAX RATE, the rate that actually matters has been low for most years of last 3 decades, and has just barely inched up a bit closer to historical norms. You know, those rare years in the past when we actually PAID our bills and paid down the debt as a share of the economy? THOSE historical norms.

The calculation often offered is that millionaires, or even the 1% (~$400K and up) can’t afford the full cost of the deficit. Fine. You don’t have to pay down ALL of the deficit dollars. Leave 1% GDP on the table. Or even 1.5%. With growth at 2% GDP or more, you still pay down Debt as a % of the whole economy. Overtime the debt becomes more manageable. But we need to start NOW.

We can DO this.

We need to PAY down our debt.
To do that we need to RAISE taxes on millionaires.

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Big Data July 17, 2016 at 4:52 pm

And upper 1% have a bigger share of our gigantic economy than ever before, even in after tax income. They CAN afford to put back some of the money that they received in past tax cuts, and in prosperity bought in part by the national debt.

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Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 9:16 am

And already pay a huge percentage of income tax, 2.9 times there share of the income.

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Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 6:59 pm

Wow. Can’t believe I misspelled their. I blame it on autocorrect.

Peter July 19, 2016 at 1:40 pm

Which I already do….I paid more in income taxes last year than my father paid over the entirety of his 40-year career.

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Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 7:19 pm

So you believe in rainbows being farted out of unicorn’s
butts too? The government has ONLY spent extra revenue. EVER!!
I’d start directly with all departments to hold budget increases for 2 years, then limit to CPI instead of the customary 5%. Or better yet, limit to median income growth! Start doling out less Soc Sec and MC to the rich. Tax wealth at a rate similar to property taxes for the very wealthy, regardless of trusts that exist. Cut out or change the 10k age deduction for over 65, moving that break from the most wealthy to the least, say under 30.
Let companies that pay dirt pay all the costs of govt assistance for their employees. Let’s quit paying to defend the 3rd, 4th and 11th GDP ranked countries. Let’s let the countries that use Middle East oil pay to defend the Strait of Hormuz. Let’s be real about energy and use abundant and cleaner nat gas, 1/2 of which was flared off in the US (!), to bridge to solar, wind, geothermal, whatever. That’s even less greenhouse gases, if that’s your bag. Enough? Maybe not, but better. And what part is unfair? Liberals seen to have the sole opinion on that. Has it ever occurred it might be considered unfair to take from those who legally earned income by playing by the rules and giving it to those whose sole contribution is changing clean water to dirty and oxygen to CO2?

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Big Data July 17, 2016 at 8:30 pm

Stevendad, I understand that you have said you are Democrat. OK, so maybe you are not one of the people lobbying for big tax cuts. You also said that your taxes are high and that you personally have not benefitted from the Bush Tax cuts. So maybe the part about paying back benefits from tax cuts does not apply to you. But there are certainly others in the investor and banking realm and half million earner and up realm that it does apply to.

My point here is not to attack you or any other specific poster with a little money, nor everyone who is in the 1%. Actually i am not ATTACKING anybody. I just want the deficit to be addressed in an economically smart way with taxes on those who can afford the extra bill and who have most prospered from the debt we have accrued due to tax cuts to the wealthy. If people want to fight for spending cuts, fine. But until those cuts are enacted, we should still pay the bills we have accrued, as best we can.

When the credit card bill comes, what would you think of the borrower who says “I won’t pay it because I want to cut spending on next month’s bill.” Shouldn’t those issues be separate? Pay last month’s bill, or at least the amount you spent last month plus interest plus a bit more to bring down the balance. Then try to address spending on next month’s bill.

Doesn’t that make sense?

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Frustrated July 18, 2016 at 7:46 am

Nope. What makes sense is to question why you have a credit card bill in the first place. The borrower should say “I dramatically need to reduce spending” so that my next bill isn’t something I can’t pay… or I will never get ahead.

So yes, you pay this bill but you gotta look in the mirror and start cutting things.

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Big Data July 18, 2016 at 10:32 pm

Right. You don’t undercut your income. If anything, you try to maximize it to get in better economic position.

Frustrated July 19, 2016 at 8:07 am

That’s stupid. If you increase revenue human nature is to just increase spending some more. Doesn’t solve anything. Plus it chokes economy. Much easier to cut spending if it weren’t for politics.

Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 7:38 pm

Ok, so let’s do the math. Richie Rich pays about 35% Fed, 12% state and local (NYC)=47%. Add 2% property tax (just a guess as not based on income) and 8.5% sales tax, assuming they spend 1/2 their income, 4.25%. Of course corporations pass through taxes and raise cost of goods
by that amount. So another 5%? Hard to estimate, but real. So we are now at 58% and change. I’ve heard that quoted quite often (actually 60%). So if we take the other income 42%, $1.9T, that’s $780B or so. Will pay the deficit with $320B to debt. Cool. Then they take their money and move to Belize because NOONE is stupid enough to work for nothing. To raise the taxes on th 1% to pay all of the deficit will require total (not marginal) tax rates above 75%!
How much is enough for you? Spell out your tax plan. Do you want to go to 95% like it was in WWII? At least they were saving the world and not just lining their pockets.

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Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 7:45 pm

Oops left off 3% Medicare taxes and another 3% Obamacare tax above $400k or so. Of course there’s 7.8%to 15.6% Soc Sec tax that phase out, still not zero. So maybe another 5% altogether, of course depends on income. Still that’s 65% or so. Clearly not enough, 2/3rd to the government….

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Peter July 20, 2016 at 5:49 am

Counting all forms of taxes that is about what I pay…. Comes out to about 50% once you are at 7 figures.

Peter N July 23, 2016 at 9:18 pm

“We need to PAY down our debt.
To do that we need to RAISE taxes on millionaires.”
You really are a skipping record.
We have already established that taxing all the income of the “millionaires” will not pay down the debt and what makes you think the millionaires wouldn’t take their ball and go home just like the white flight in Detroit and leave the country in ruin. The millionaires can live anywhere.
This is reality
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/31/france-drops-75percent-supertax
http://dailycaller.com/2012/11/28/as-uk-millionaires-flee-country-over-tax-hikes-british-treasury-loses-billions/
The libtards have no plan that will work.
I would simply retire.

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Stevendad July 25, 2016 at 12:18 pm

Agree with this. There is a point where they will just leave and take their billions with them. Almost all love their country, but there must be a point of ridiculous unfairness.

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Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 9:59 am

Those “greedy corporations” are largely us by the way. Close to 80%. “Households directly own 38 percent of the US equity market,” he wrote. “However, the total effective household ownership is closer to 80 percent when combined with indirect ownership in the form of mutual funds (20 percent), pension funds (16 percent), and insurance policy holdings (7 percent).”Mar 13, 2013

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Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 10:00 am

Owned by us

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Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 10:13 am

Source is 2013 report by Goldman Sachs

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Big Data July 17, 2016 at 4:48 pm

They may be owned by us, but the CEO incomes still seem out of our control.

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Stevendad July 18, 2016 at 2:35 pm

Exactly! Demand your mutual fund intervene.

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Big Data July 17, 2016 at 7:51 pm

The person who said
“The days of open dialogue and thought are gone.”
and ” the gridlock and utter stupidity of our discourse will keep us sitting in a low-growth economy”
also makes unproved accusations against the Democratic candidate and tries to shut down people on this forum with opposing opinions by making empty and unfounded claims that they don’t understand the economy.

It sounds to me like this unnamed person needs a lesson in open thought and dialogue, and should spend more time on expressing his ideas and countering the ideas he disagrees with, and should spend less time on attacking the people who are actually trying to exercise open dialogue and intelligent thought.

Just a friendly suggestion. I understand. We all get diverted by our emotions at times.

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Peter July 18, 2016 at 6:48 am

I personally think this is an amazing country we live in and it amazes me the determination that many have to see doom and gloom. Personally, we have an abundance of what matters most (at least to me):

– Personal freedom to live your life how you wish
– Gender equality – vs somewhere like Pakistan or Saudi Arabia
– Freedom to travel to and from our country freely
– Freedom to speak out – in whatever fashion you like
– Tremendous income mobility – the ability to change the course of your family’s financial history dramatically
– Amazing health care services
– “Floors” like social security, medicare, unemployment, welfare, food stamps, etc. so that nobody starves regardless of their situation
– Incredible empathetic and charitable citizens who time and time again help one another when in need

Anyone who wakes up in America and feels like the system is f***ed just because a few CEO’s have loads of stock options – or because unskilled labor doesn’t pay what it used to – or because some pay 50% of their income in taxes while half of the nation pay none – etc. etc. etc. just isn’t paying attention to the beauty that is the American capitalist system.

No matter how both sides try and tear us down for political gain (Obama was the king of this during his campaigns…. although Trump is now giving him a run for his money)…. No matter how much gridlock we see in Washington….. regardless of all of this, America perseveres and those who are willing to work for it (SWEAR) have an opportunity here like nowhere else on earth.

It’s a shame everyone doesn’t embrace this and appreciate it. Sitting and feeling victimized has never worked in any endeavor.

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Peter July 18, 2016 at 7:01 am

One other thing to share with whomever might still be reading…. Several studies on income mobility have been done in the last 5 years or so that produced quite interesting results.

First, the US has about the same income mobility as it did 20 years ago. This hasn’t changed at all. However, we are in the middle of the pack vs the developed world.

The interesting thing about this was how some areas had far more income mobility than others. The DC area, California, the Pacific Northwest were examples where mobility was the best in the world. It is rural America where the pockets of struggle lie.

A deeper dive showed that the biggest factors that affected income mobility were quality of education, degree of racial segregation, quality of home life, etc.

And here we are again….improve the education system (and training for today’s economy rather than teaching chemistry, art and wood shop) and improve your personal family life situation and mobility is there.

One anecdote on this…. I grew up in a very middle class neighborhood with a wide variety of racial backgrounds. There was a black woman two doors down from me who was in her late 60’s who worked two jobs – a maid during the day, waitress in the evening – while she raised her two teenage grandchildren. The men in their lives were nowhere to be found and the children’s mother struggled with addiction. I remember their house distinctly – their living room had just two chairs in it – no sofa, no TV. Her son’s bedrooms had a bed, a desk and a weight bench. They came to my house for the extravagances like snack food, video games and television. She sacrificed these things – and her own free time – so they could live in a more expensive neighborhood and go to better schools.

Those two boys now are in their 40’s and have built great lives. Both make 6 figures each and are putting their children through even better schools than they went to. The grandmother I speak of changed GENERATIONS of people with her hard work and sacrifice. She didn’t b***h and complain and whine about the system. (Her daughter did that) She was no victim. And she did this in spite of Reaganomics, the inflationary Carter years, etc. etc. etc. And in spite of being both black AND a woman.

Always makes me think of the line from the rap group Public Enemy – “small chance a smart brother’s gonna be a victim of his own circumstance”.

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Frustrated July 25, 2016 at 8:50 am

Thanks for sharing Peter. I grew up in a similar environment and have seen success stories like this as well. It is rare you see hard work result in total failure. Success might be slow and frustrating but it will come…..

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Peter July 18, 2016 at 8:09 am

Another great statistic. SS & Medicare accounted for 40% of Federal spending during the first 9 months of this fiscal year. They were 33% of spending in fiscal year 2006. It just keeps rising….reform MUST happen soon.

Some more
– 95% of all mortgage have no outstanding payments.
– The S&P 500 annualized +7.4%/year for last 10 years. Prior 10 years annualized +8.3%/year. In spite of 9/11, mortgage crisis, etc.
– Unemployment rate for the 19 nations that use the Euro is 10.1%. Unemployment rate in the US is 4.9% (all data as of 6/30).
– Median square footage of US homes is now 2500 square feet. This is +547 square feet over the last 20 years, a 25% increase.

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Stevendad July 18, 2016 at 2:32 pm

I have tried to avoid name calling and apologize if I have. Agee with you Peter, a few tweaks would be helpful. However, the overall economy and opportunity for improvement are very good. Many of these weeks are just to undo the problems of government has caused by the way.

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Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 10:10 am

Another on topic thought: at some point the safety net goes from help to codependency that benefits neither party. We’re almost there IMO. I have a relative throwing away their life because the government supports them. “Jobs are for little people” is a favorite quote they use.

Another anecdote (a reprise from several months ago): an employee recounted this story: she has 3 sisters, 2 of whom live totally off government assistance enabled by having a child. My employee stopped hanging out with them due to their drug use, however they were obtained. The third sister got pregnant and they met to discuss. The 2 sisters suggested keeping the child so she could start living off the government. My employee suggested adopting out the baby and not give up her near term if not long term future. (Father not in the picture BTW). Is this codependent? Does this reward bad behavior? The really scary thing is my employee (the responsible one!) quit to follow a band like a Deadhead. God help us all when we’re old…

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Big Data July 23, 2016 at 5:36 pm

These are disturbing stories. I am not convinced these people are generally representative of the poor, and yet one wonders how such poor behavior could be discouraged. You could just assume all aid recipients were similarly irresponsible and cut all aid … but that would be mostly incorrect, and would harm many deserving families and hungry children.

As GW Bush (not my favorite person to quote) said recently: “We judge others by their worst examples, and ourselves by our best intentions.”

Many people truly need government aid. The solution is to improve its distribution and modify its incentives, and not necessarily to punish the many for the sins of the few.

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Stevendad July 25, 2016 at 12:15 pm

I keep saying that where we are is probably a good balance. You just want MORE.

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Peter July 26, 2016 at 6:56 am

Right, they always want more…..that’s politics.

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Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 10:28 am

Average home in US about 2500 sq feet dwarfs Europtopia by the way, by about 3 times… Of course it all needs to be torn down.

BD: Please comment on how unfettered immigration does or does not drop the wages at the bottom and thus further up the wage scale. The whole thing is a total political game to elect Progressives at the expense of the MC and lower MC, who were a part of the core of the Dem party constituency when I grew up.

Again, Dems believe government answers all. This is paradoxically opposed when I was young.

BD: so if you get your wish and all money flows through the government, how do you select those wise enough to tell us all how to live and work? Will people be forced to do jobs based in aptitude regardless of their wishes? Or will it just be a different form of crony capitalism (Solendra, Gildman Sachs, etc)?

I tend to think extra money would go to “programs” that support political constituencies and cronies, not the debt. I base this in the fact that so far it has done so virtually 100% in the past. Other than when Bill C had a political gun to his head, has it ever happened?

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Peter July 19, 2016 at 1:36 pm

I think the reality is that it isn’t just the Democrats that think government is the answer these days. Trump’s immigration plan for instance would initiate a huge increase in government spending. Of course, if you have read my posts you know there is nothing that tires me faster than the political rhetoric.

My opinion is that our election process isn’t that different from the ones they had for years in Iraq and Libya. The difference is we have two candidates instead of one. Unfortunately both candidates are privy to crony capitalism, irresponsible spending, and largely the same foreign policy approaches. Only the social issues truly separate the two parties these days (although I’m sure the super-fans of each party that lurk on here will disagree). Everything else is minutiae. Even when someone “raises taxes” or “gives tax breaks” it is usually very subtle – as to not really make a difference anywhere but in the ballot box and public perception. True reform doesn’t exist in the major parties.

The reason why I compare it to Libya is the complete squashing of any third party or dissenting candidate. When Perot crashed the party in 1992, the powers-that-be changed all the rules. Now you must have 15% in three different polls to even be included in a debate. Of course, most polls don’t even include a third party as a choice. The media is influenced by this as well – just look at YouTube for Gary Johnson appearances (who CNN now has at 12% of the vote). You can watch them all in one sitting. Trump and Clinton have the national stage – 24/7 on about 20 different channels.

How is this different than Iraq having a “general election” where Saddam wins the vote unopposed and all other candidates are squashed by the media and government? We just have two people – which gives the illusion of choice. But is it really a choice? Trump and Clinton? Seriously????

I would have loved a 5-way race for the Presidency with the two establishment candidates (say, Clinton and Kasich) along with the two upstarts (Trump and Sanders) and two third party candidates (Johnson and Stein). I think we would see some VERY interesting debates if this were the case. Instead we get two watered down BS versions of the same old crap that has been going on for years. As we careen towards financial insolvency as a nation.

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Stevendad July 20, 2016 at 7:02 pm

If you really want to send 11000000 (and I don’t) home you just put 1 or 2 employees in jail in each state and seize their businesses. They all just leave on their own when no one will hire them.
I like your thoughts re: politics. I think I talked about a coalition of mod Dems, Tea party and Libertarians to work between the parties on social (more right than Liberal Dems) and economic ( more left than Repubs) in order to keep them in line…

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Stevendad July 21, 2016 at 7:21 am

Employers, not employees. That really was autocorrect

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Big Data July 23, 2016 at 5:24 pm

“a coalition of mod Dems, Tea party and Libertarians”

Wait. Why do you only want to include moderate Democrats with far out in right field “Tea Party” Republicans? Why not “Moderate Republicans and Socialists”? That would make as much sense. Or how about moderates from each party who can agree on compromise legislation. We used to have such a body. It was called “Congress”. Unfortunately, it has been made dysfunctional, largely by the efforts of those self-same “Tea-Party” Republicans.

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Peter N July 23, 2016 at 9:02 pm

I don’t agree with the other Peter or any of the rest of you on immigration. Immigration laws need to be enforced. Kicking the people out will be much cheaper in the long run than providing them benefits and suffering the crime they bring.
We should allow immigration of those that can contribute, blend in and will protect the US Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. The rest we should kick out. Australia and I think New Zealand have a point system.

I agree with the other Peter on the party issue. I agree with Trump and Sanders. The system is rigged. So is big media that didn’t give Gary Johnson any air time. Part of the problem is the way the two parties have made the system winner takes all even when the winner doesn’t get 50%. There should be two possible elections. If candidate doesn’t win 50% then there is a run off of the two leading candidates. This way a 3rd party doesn’t “siphon” voters from one party and another and the winner must win 50% even if the candidate isn’t the first choice. This way the first vote is not a vote against a candidate like it is now.

Steven H is blaming the “Tea-Party” even though they haven’t been in power. Typical libtard.

Big Data July 24, 2016 at 6:16 am

Tea Party has wielded considerable destructive and obstructive power in House and Senate. Ask Boehner. Or Paul Ryan. Or recall the government shutdown they orchestrated. That is certainly a form of power.

Big Data July 24, 2016 at 7:49 am

Re: Immigration and Crime

Peter N, would you be appeased at all by the knowledge that immigration has very little impact on crime, except to statistically DECREASE it?


A new report from the Immigration Policy Center notes that while the illegal immigrant population in the U.S. more than tripled between 1990 and 2013 to more than 11.2 million, “FBI data indicate that the violent crime rate declined 48%—which included falling rates of aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and murder. Likewise, the property crime rate fell 41%, including declining rates of motor vehicle theft, larceny/robbery, and burglary.”

A separate IPC paper from 2007 explains that this is not a function of well-behaved high-skilled immigrants from India and China offsetting misdeeds of Latin American newcomers. The data show that “for every ethnic group without exception, incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants,” according to the report. “This holds true especially for the Mexicans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans who make up the bulk of the undocumented population.”

It also holds true in states with large populations of illegal residents. A 2008 report by the Public Policy Institute of California found that immigrants are underrepresented in the prison system. “The incarceration rate for foreign-born adults is 297 per 100,000 in the population, compared [with] 813 per 100,000 for U.S.-born adults,” the study concludes. “The foreign-born, who make up roughly 35% of California’s adult population, constitute 17% of the state prison population.”

http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-mythical-connection-between-immigrants-and-crime-1436916798

Peter July 25, 2016 at 6:41 am

I didn’t remember saying anything about immigration. I think I agree more with you on this one. I think we should enforce our immigration laws.

Stevendad July 25, 2016 at 12:03 pm

They all believe in less government, not more like Socialists. Speak of political false speak, Tea Party ignores social issues. They are mostly Libertarian. We once had moderate Democrats, but the Progressives have run them out of the party.

Big Data July 23, 2016 at 4:37 pm

Stevendad,

I’m not for unfettered immigration any more than I am more unfettered capitalism or unfettered government growth or unfettered tax cuts. A finite and felicitous fraction of fettering is fine. Everything in moderation. Including moderation.

I think a path to citizenship for the EXTREMELY hardworking immigrants who have been working and living in our country for years would be fair and reasonable. I think a a digital ID for American citizens, to improve on the E-verify system would be better than a physical wall to manage future immigration.

As for the impact on wages, there is a lot of conflicting information out there, and most articles indicate the issues are complicated, and so I think it might be wise to open your mind to possibilities of something outside of the conventional wisdom (of immigration necessarily being bad for wages and employment). Here is at least one contrary article from a Forbes contributor.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/artcarden/2015/08/28/how-do-illegal-immigrants-affect-american-workers-the-answer-might-surprise-you/#235ef61d6b10

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Stevendad July 25, 2016 at 12:13 pm

I’m actually with you on this. Monitor the border, control who comes in. Those who are here get legal resident or citizenship in some cases. Either way, the core Dem working has lost out. And they’re going to Trump. Wake up! The Dems have ONLY the Presidency. Not either house of congress, governors or state houses. Progressives are destroying the party!

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Big Data July 23, 2016 at 5:00 pm

Re Stevendad’s comments:
=====BD: so if you get your wish and all money flows through the government, how do you select those wise enough to tell us all how to live and work? Will people be forced to do jobs based in aptitude regardless of their wishes? Or will it just be a different form of crony capitalism (Solendra, Gildman Sachs, etc)? … I tend to think extra money would go to “programs” that support political constituencies and cronies, not the debt. I base this in the fact that so far it has done so virtually 100% in the past. Other than when Bill C had a political gun to his head, has it ever happened?=====

Wow, what a cynic you are, Stevendad! First, you misjudge my dreams and wishes. Next you describe a dystopian society worthy of 1984, Animal Farm, or the Trumpian Dynasty, and nothing like any progressive blueprint I have ever heard of.

As for whether taxes are ever used to pay down the government debt burden, of course it happens. It happened under every President between WW2 and the Great Depression, save 3. And those 3 were not Democrats. Perhaps you should be ascribing your dystopian visions to a different philosophy than progressivism.

When it began to look like we might have multiple years of surplus, your presumption proved correct, that [extra money would go to “programs” that support political constituencies and cronies, not the debt], and the biggest program in question was tax cuts for the economic elite.

But the good news is that such poor economic judgment has been the exception and not the rule over the last 65 years.

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Big Data July 23, 2016 at 5:46 pm

Great Recession, not Great Depression ….

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Frustrated July 25, 2016 at 8:47 am

I must have missed Obama paying down the debt burden….considering it doubled under his administration. You are a little bit partisan, eh? LOL

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Stevendad July 25, 2016 at 12:05 pm

That’s odd. Only time we had no deficit was Clinton in my life time. I’ll have to look further back…

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Stevendad July 25, 2016 at 12:25 pm

And there is often a fine line between cynicism and reality….Progressivism is about the internal belief that they are wiser and thus can tell everybody what to do in its best light. But then you concentrate power and often get taken over, like Nazi Germany, Venezuela, Cuba, USSR, China. All those places had such happy outcomes!!

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Big Data July 23, 2016 at 6:19 pm

Stevendad, that authoritarian future you described (may it never come to pass) really does make me think of recent Trumpian/Republican rumblings as well as current frightening policies that exist in our country. Consider how scary it is that:
– Police are allowed to take from you any sum of cash you are carrying that they deem suspicious, and you have to PROVE it is NOT from illegal activity. (Civil Forfeiture).
– Poor people are put in prison for being unable to pay small civil fines, and then are charged huge sums for their prison stays, trapping them in prison, costing them their jobs, homes and families. (Illegal debtor prisons passed as legal.)
– Government can prevent doctors from even DISCUSSING certain medical procedures with women (abortion procedures).
– Government officials IMPOSE their extreme religious philosophies on women and doctors, attempting to close medical clinics and shut down health agencies for poor women. (TRAP policies).
– State governments take over city governments from elected local officials, sometimes harming local citizens (Flint water crisis).
– State governments PREVENT local city governments from regulating harmful industrial processes within city limits (fracking).
– State governments ATTACK civil rights of LGBT within their state and PREVENT city governments from protecting those rights within the cities. (HB-2)
– At the whim of radical state government officials, assault weapon toting gangs are allowed to roam the cities and universities against objection of local governments, police departments and educational staff. (State-wide open carry)
– Some radicals PROPOSE interrogations and concentration camps for Muslims who practice their faith peacefully.
– Some radicals PROPOSE deporting 11 million illegal immigrants, most of whom are hard-working peaceful residents.

We are in danger of losing our hard-won freedoms if we allow these un-American and un-Constitutional behaviors to continue.

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Stevendad July 25, 2016 at 12:09 pm

whay will happen is unclear. I’m not at all happy With either candidate.

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Stevendad July 25, 2016 at 12:29 pm

I’m against all of this and in favor of anything that trims current government size and scope, especially Federal. You Proggressive Dems want Federal control of EVERYTHING including police, education, health. You’re just not paying attention if you don’t see that!

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Peter July 26, 2016 at 2:20 pm

All of this is power gone awry….the same thing the Occupy people were protesting and what was behind the tea party, Trump, Sanders and most of the political movements of the last few years. Crony capitalism….. cant believe that the party with the progressive mindset has such a corporate shill with no real conviction of her own (a puppet for Wall St and big money donors) as their candidate. If there was ever a time for a 3rd party, this is it. But the media will do all they can to ensure nobody considers this….. As we saw from the DNCs own emails, they are in bed with the media as well. And before I get accused of being partisan, this is certainly true on the other side as well. Enough with these two corrupt BS parties…..can’t take much more.

Big Data July 28, 2016 at 10:13 am

” a corporate shill with no real conviction of her own (a puppet for Wall St and big money donors) ”

That’s the cartoonist portrait of Hillary painted by opponents. The truth is completely different. She has deep convictions and seeks office primarily to improve our country. Even a superficial look at her actual history reveals that much. If she can soak bankers for speaking fees and then enact sensible regulation they don’t like, to restrict their destructive tendencies, that’s fine with me.

She is smart and capable, and respected globally, except by political opponents who fear her strengths and ability to enact progressive policy… which is not tearing down the system, by the way, but restoring it to better functionality.

Frustrated July 28, 2016 at 2:52 pm

More partisan stuff. Guess it is which set of lies you believe.

Peter July 25, 2016 at 6:40 am

Hopefully at least now Steven H can see how rigged the political system is – even in his party. Read through some of these emails and you will see absolute proof as to how the two parties control the media and public perception. Sending fake protesters to Trump rallies….WOW. Is anything real? Libya in American clothing……

The whole round-and-round comes down to dueling anecdotes….. Steven H says that “Almost everyone I know is responsible, hard-working and smart”. And one person after another has been on here for years – many of which are job creators and hire/fire these people – sharing anecdotes that suggest otherwise.

Honestly, if you truly believe that the bottom 20% are across the board characterized as “responsible, hard-working and smart” then I can see why one would feel frustrated. I think I speak for all of us small business owners on here when I wish that Steven H would introduce us to his friends. We could use the help.

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Stevendad July 25, 2016 at 12:39 pm

Well said. You’re right BD is Steven H. Subterfuge even in our humble thread.

Again, Progressive Dems are panicking because they are in danger of being COMPLETELY OUT OF being in charge of ANYTHING. The press has lost all credibility with real people. A “free press” should not include controls by government, but also political parties or left wing organizations.

Unfortunately, TRUTH is not what matters to the press or much of our legal system. Just advancing “the Cause”, or unrestrained Liberalism.

They should be satisfied they’ve almost 100% won the moral issue battle. (As a Libertarian, OK with me BTW). It was stunning to watch an openly gay man receive a standing ovation at the REPUBLICAN convention. Unthinkable in the past…

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Peter N July 27, 2016 at 12:17 pm

“The press has lost all credibility with real people. A “free press” should not include controls by government, but also political parties or left wing organizations.”
There are plenty of alternative news sources on YouTube, but you must screen them carefully because they too will report only what advances their cause.

The “free press” didn’t give Gary Johnson much visibility. The “free press” effectively decided Hilary is going to be president. Sanders and Trump are interesting and therefore news worthy. All the rest are simply ignored.

Of topic a bit. I saw some videos on economics by Mark Blythe. For the most part I think the videos are good but they tend to lean a little to the left. He talks fast and with an accent. While I agree with his complaints with the big banks, Mark Blythe tends to talk about the economy as being a zero sum game like Steven H. I agree with Mark Blythe that austerity is rarely the answer and the EU/Euro is going to fail. However, Mark Blythe doesn’t seem to have a handle on the solution. Generate wealth. This is the only thing that keeps economics from being a zero sum game. Greece doesn’t export anything the rest of the world wants in a big way. It is doomed.

Back to here. People need to be more productive. There are too many that are leaches. The government must do what ever it takes to motivate these leaches and make them productive or we too will be like Greece. Then what?

The GDP numbers are a lie. GDP measure economic activity but it doesn’t necessarily measure productive economic activity. Just look at China.
Governments don’t seem to care too much in the short run because economic activity is taxed one way or another whether it is productive or not.
There needs to be a better way to measure productivity so politicians have better feedback.

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Big Data July 27, 2016 at 11:23 pm

No subterfuge. Plainly stated in the open. See previous page, near the bottom.

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Big Data July 28, 2016 at 6:10 am

I talk about people in the lower 99% or lower 90% as statistical measures and as personl examples. Many of the folks I know are in the 2nd and 3rd quintiles from top, although many high school and college grads i know would be in the lower 2 quintiles. My mother is retired and in the lowest quintile. I know a few folks in the upper quintile but not upper 1%.

Why does conversation always divert to the lower 20% and what lazy loafers they are. It’s a diversion
The problem is that pretty much everyone but the upper earners are getting screwed by our economic distribution system. It has little to do with hard work or the lower 20%.

Education is aegitimate issue discussed here. But if we want a better educated populace, we need low cost colleges as in the 1950s, not savings draining profit machines.

And we need to stop demonizing the non-1%

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Frustrated July 29, 2016 at 10:02 am

Not sure why you are so overly sensitive. Do you not believe there are lazy uneducated people in our society? And what quintile do you think they are in? I hardly think anyone is demonizing 99% of our country on here. I don’t get your stubbornness to acknowledge that there are winners and losers in society – people that make poor decisions or flatly don’t work hard enough or take advantage of opportunities. Maybe you are from a white-collar or rich environment or something – because the world I live in has a lot of idiots and lazy people making poor decisions.

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Peter July 26, 2016 at 10:50 am

More stats for you guys….

1. There are 118 million households in the US. 82 million of these are family households, while 36 million are one person living alone or a group of unrelated people. 5 million households are multi-generational. This falls in line with what Ken was saying about marriage and family impacting income inequality.

2. The top 5% of US taxpayers pay 1.5 times as much federal income tax as the other 95%.

3. A dual working couple making $95k that turned 65 in 2015 is projected to receive $422k in Medicare benefits. This is 3 times what they paid in during their working years (adjusted for present value).

4. A dual working couple making $95k that turned 65 in 2015 is projected to receive $616k in Social Security benefits. This is only 13% more than the amount they paid in.

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Big Data July 27, 2016 at 9:06 pm

I think you may have mistyped a number in either 3 or4 above. Please recheck.

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Big Data July 28, 2016 at 6:15 am

Sorry misread the posts. I thought you were trying to give different income examples, but the differences in posts were Medicare vs social security.

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Big Data July 27, 2016 at 10:23 pm

I don’t want have a battle of statistics but I would like to make a point or two about the stats Peter presented above, and about an earlier point on mobility.

First, picture our incomes as pools of water. This is easier to picture in our minds than piles of money. For simplicity picture 3 great big pools of water where the amount of waters in 2 of the pools represents the total incomes of all of the people who live in and around each pool. The 3rd pool is a reservoir of water drained from the other two pools and represents government funding from income taxes. The smaller pool initially has about 9% of all the water, before about 1/3, or 3% of all water is transferred to the government pool. The largest pool initially has about 91% of all water before 12% of all water, which is about 13% of the initial fill, is drained to the government pool, leaving 79% of all water in the big pool, and 15% in the government pool. And the remaining 6% is in the little pool.

Too complicated? Bear with me. Percentages are 79 and 6 in the income pools and 15 in the govt pool.

But how many folks are at the income pools? At the big pool are 99% of all the people, with 1% at the little pool. The small pool has more than 7 times the water per percentile of folks in the other pool, on average. We won’t complicate the discussion with depth disparities within the pools.

Through the year, everyone uses the water for cleaning, drinking, watering gardens, and economic exchange. Much of this water flows back to its originating pool. Government water is used to water the public lands and partially counter the lessened prosperity for people in the shallowest portions of the big pool. And the ecology is such that economic growth, visualized as rainfall, increases the total water supply by about 2% each year.

Time passes.

The collection of water from economic rainfall, and the flow of water among the lakes has changed. Eventually people notice that the big pool has gotten almost no net water growth for decades. They look to the government pool. It still gets about 14% of all water after the tax drains a little less in percentage than before. But their pool only has the same amount of water in gallons as 10 or 15 years ago. Where has all the rainfall growth gone? Then they look at the little pool. It still provides for 1 percent of population, but now contains about 19% of all water before the drain and 14% after. More than 2x the former percentage. And the big pool has only 81% of all water before the drain and about 62% of all water after.

Sorry for all the weird percentages. These numbers are based on agi income shares and effective tax rates from tax foundation in 1980 and 2013.

Continued next post.

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Big Data July 27, 2016 at 11:17 pm

Miscalculation. 62% in above paragraph should be 72%.
After taxes, the pools are 72%, and 14% for incomes, and 14% for govt.
Sorry for the error.

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Big Data July 27, 2016 at 11:11 pm

So the little pool more than doubled in share, the big pool got smaller, and the government pool stayed about the same. Before I get complaints on that, note that percent of all agi paid in income taxes was 15.3% in 1980 and 13.6% in 2013. I’m trying to use real stats.

That’s the setup, and here are my objections. In just a minute. Please don’t focus too much on particulars of what is or is not included in these numbers above. They are just one of many ways to express the economics over time. I woul really just like to communicate an idea or two as to why many people are unswayed by the certain arguments that minimize income disparity issues. I am really less interested in persuading anyone to my political perspective, than I am in increasing a level of understanding of why certain arguments ring hollow to myself and many others. Please read for understanding and not for objection.

Here goes.

1) Peter expressed how the upper 5% pays more than half of all income taxes. This is correct. It was 58.6% in 2013 according to tax foundation. Also the upper 1% paid over 1/3 of all taxes, or 37.8% share. Now picture this argument in United Pools of Rainlandia, described in my last post. The folks in the big pool are mad because their pool is not growing and has smaller percentage share, while the little pool, after taxes, more than doubled in size. Little pool people say “hey, we pay about 38% of all the water that’s in the government pool, and by the way, more of that gets spent on you than us.” Big pool people look at the opulence of the little pool where each person now averages more than 20x after tax water that big pool people have. They say “we don’t care what share of tax water comes from you. You are taking all of the rainwater for yourself. You used to get 9% of all water and pay 1/3 of it as tax. Now you get 19% and pay barely over 1/4 of it in tax. Your income is up and your tax rate is down and you can’t fool me with your numbers about tax shares. You pay a bigger share of taxes because you get a bigger share of income, but you still pay a smaller percent of the water you have routed to your pool than what you used to pay with less income. We are not happy about this. ”

That is why most people do not care about the tax share stats of the 1% in the little pool. The tax burden effective rate of the 1% is down even as their after tax share of income is up. No one cares what their tax share is. Do you understand?

2) Then one of the little pool representatives speaks up. “You know, mobility is the real issue here. There are just as many people moving around in the big pool from the shallow depths to the average depths to the deep depths as there ever were. And there is an exchange of people between the big and little pools as well. The real problem is you need to work harder to get in the deep end of your pool or if you really work hard and are prosperous, you can move to our pool.”

A big burly swimmer from big pool goes to little pool representative and stares him down. “Listen, my family and friends are working as hard as we ever have, and just as hard as our fathers and grand fathers. The problem is not how we move around in our own pool. The problem is that you are claiming all the new water for your pool. Our pool is getting no new water. Our pool is not getting fed but yours is. And I don’t buy the argument that you and your folk deserve all of the new rainfall while we get none of that growth. Mobility is not the issue. That pool of yours that doubled in size is the issue. I am not happy.”

Burly swimmer has a pretty good argument. Can you see his point of view?

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Big Data July 27, 2016 at 11:20 pm

Little to big pool share per capita after taxes is 17.5x, not 20x. Sorry for the error.

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Henry July 29, 2016 at 7:30 am

LOL. Welcome to “Condescending Kindergarten Economics 101”. This last post might be the dumbest thing I have read on here yet.

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Big Data July 27, 2016 at 11:38 pm

Watched parts of republican and democrat conventions. Trump is a disturbing man. No plans, just slogans. No understanding of politics, foreign policy, or diplomacy. Has alienated most of the leaders in his own party. Complete narcissist. Multiple bankruptcies which scroo his investors and workers while he gets rich. Sham of a trump university which cheats people out of life savings. Won’t reveal tax returns. Flip flops on every opinion to please an audience. Has never done anything for workers but can still peddle his snake oil slogans that he has all the answers. Which he can’t reveal or explain. Nobody of repute even attended the Trump party convention. Speaks of a dystopian midnight in America. Faked crime statistics. Fear-mongering and lies. A disgrace.

Meanwhile, Democrats trumpet the progress made since the depths of the Great Recession. A hopeful, bright future. They have successfully torn away the cartoonish caricature that GOP have painted on Hillary and revealed the talented, resourceful, skilled, and fully capable leader that she will be. Democrat leaders, entertainers, and a hopeful population flock to her progressive movement. The world has hope again. Thank God.

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Stevendad July 28, 2016 at 5:07 am

It must be good to be able to believe in one of these horrible candidates. It would be difficult to believe in someone whose main aim is narcissistic self aggrandizement, personal greed, dishonesty and corruption. The problem is BOTH exhibit that behavior. One used private (& usually legal) methods and the other public (& possibly illegal ( FBI still investigating) methods). If only I could blind myself to the facts!

BD: don’t forget 12 to 15% of Personal income, almost $2.5T per the Fed, is earned by the bottom 50% in some murky underground aquifer. That has a significant leveling effect to the stats, of course ignored by your model. Also the small pool has cisterns and aqueducts, constructed to hold on to “water”. The large pool won’t (poor saving and investment, borrowing for junk, etc) or can’t (Dodd Frank lending strangulation) invest in “equipment”. Some of this is voluntary and some due to Dem programs of unfettered immigration and wee intentioned but destructive regulation. Of course there are tweaks that need to be made, but Progressives want a compete tear down. So they can reconstruct pools they can control. And profit from them if history is a lesson…

Did anyone notice Obama almost completely ignored crushing debt, wage stagnation, shrinking of labor force, increases in families in poverty, ISIS, worsening race relations, slow growth when talking last night? My God we’d all be SO good looking if we could somehow make our flaws invisible. Must have some kind of carnival mirror in his house that does that! Any one remember the Emperor has no Clothes fable?

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Big Data July 28, 2016 at 10:44 am

I do not know where your 2.5 trillion in mystery income to lower quintile comes from or who says it exists. Sum of all welfare, social security, and health care spending in 2015 federal budget is $3.1 trillion and that does not go mostly to lower quintile. What data backs up your 2.5T number of mystery income to lower 20%?

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Big Data July 28, 2016 at 10:46 am

Or you actually said bottom 50%, not 20%. But still, where is that data?

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Stevendad July 28, 2016 at 1:18 pm

From the USA today / New Yorker magazine.http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/05/12/2-trillion-dollar-underground-economy-recovery-savior/2144279/ Not exactly conservative bastions. The Fed uses statistical studies of several things and they tend to be in this range. I’ll admit I rounded up due the improved economy and inflation. It is reasonable to assume a huge chunk goes to bottom 50%. Even 1/2 of it would DOUBLE their income. http://taxfoundation.org/article/summary-latest-federal-income-tax-data-2015-update. Of course with no taxes paid in. That’s a great argument for VAT taxing.
I’m curious, have you ever worked in a regular basis with poor people? We saw it all the time. Government program assistance and underground incomes that dwarfed ours as residents.

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Stevendad July 28, 2016 at 1:06 pm

Let’s see… How about the conservative bastion New Yorker Magazine. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/04/29/the-underground-recovery They said $2T, the Fed estimated 12 to 15% of total income. I assume that most goes to bottom 50% since the rest of us by our legal nature and the fact we have to file returns that could get audited do not hide as much income. IRS rarely comprehensively audits those in the bottom 50%. Willie Sutton rule. Even if it’s half, $1T DOUBLES (http://taxfoundation.org/article/summary-latest-federal-income-tax-data-2015-update) total income of bottom 50%. Without paying taxes BTW…

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Peter July 28, 2016 at 2:57 pm

Agreed. How anyone could defend or support these two awful candidates is beyond me. I suppose if you assume everything negative you hear is “planted by the other side or a caricature or lie” then that would be a good start…..

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Peter July 28, 2016 at 9:53 pm

Of course it does make sense at a convention of one of these two parties to not mention all their screw-ups. They are selling to their base here. Stay away from your weaker issues and focus on strength.

I do wonder what percentage of people are voting for one of these two just to keep the other from winning. Not really the way people should vote, but unfortunately it is our reality.

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Stevendad July 28, 2016 at 1:19 pm

I’m not sure if this is posting…

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Peter July 28, 2016 at 3:00 pm

And meanwhile…..the Federal Government just jacked up long term care insurance premiums to their own employees….making them 2.5x as expensive. This has NEVER happened in the private sector. Now Fed employees are stuck paying higher premiums or dropping or reducing the coverage they already paid for. More of our inept government at work. Bet this won’t be n the convention floor.

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