Who Actually Earns $400,000 Per Year?

by Emily Guy Birken · 6,551 comments


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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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Big Data says:

    Well, I don’t really expect any traction with this crowd, off of that last thread on monetary theory. So let’s move on.

    I’m curious to learn more about the Fiduciary Rule. Peter helpfully added some info earlier, from which I will requote part of the conversation here for convenience, with no editing:

    Big Data:
    I haven’t researched the fiduciary rule. On the surface it seems like a good idea. It seems deceptive to hire a financial adviser whose perfectly legal motivation may be to give you bad advice so he can make more money.
    What is wrong with the new rule and how could it be fixed or made better?
    I’ll add my two cents to this one. The regulations are so cumbersome – when combined with the regulations already in place they make it hard to meet them all. Just from a personal standpoint, I have had to fire all of my clients under a certain dollar amount. I would love to help them, but the new regulations make it not an economical option. Don’t get me started…..another attempt to “protect” someone that ends up hurting the little guy.

    OK, maybe the regulations are too burdensome as implemented. But do you agree that there is some need to curb abuses by some bad players in the Financial industry?

    Take doctors as an example. If a doctor purposely patterns prescriptions to help patients get a little better but not completely well, to keep his patients sick so that they remain more frequent patients, that is a clear ethical violation, and sets the doctor up to be sued for malpractice.

    I’m not claiming this is common, but it is less absurd than it seems. My wife has suffered from asthma and allergies all of her life. Before I met her she was going to a pulmonary doctor and never really getting better. Another doctor in the practice, but not a pulmonary doctor, pulled her aside one day and told her in strict confidence that my wife’s doctor had a history of not prescribing the latest and most effective treatments. Several of his patients had recently gotten worse and gone to the hospital. The most recent had just died in the hospital. This doctor recommended a new pulmonary specialist and possibly saved my wife’s life. Was the bad doctor just incompetent, or pulling a scam. We may never know, but at least we know it was illegal.

    So if a financial adviser is hired and recommends bad or mediocre advice that is designed more toward adding fees and charges to the adviser’s income than toward improving the finances of the client, is it illegal? Should it be? What is the remedy? Change advisers? What if the behavior is difficult to analyze? After all, if the client really understood what the financial adviser was doing, he would not need the adviser?

    My assertion is that there should be some way of authenticating that the adviser you hire will be giving good advice for the client. That is certainly the intention of the Fiduciary Rule. Another method might be to require a certification to be a financial adviser (my understanding is that no certification is required), and that there should also exist a society of certified financial advisers that requires something like the Fiduciary Rule, but without the burden of instruction coming from government. Would that be better?

    So briefly,
    Is there a need to protect the consumer from bad actor financial advisers?
    How best to accomplish that goal?

    • Peter says:

      Like most things the government tries to do, the effort and intent is noble – but the execution is terrible. You have people making these laws and regulations that have no idea what it is actually like to be a financial advisor, doctor, or whatever. They are just politicians – it’s hard to expect something efficient.

      The interesting thing is – there is nothing in place to protect the consumer from all sorts of things, yet we hammer certain industries that are politically popular to attack. For instance, if you pay for a gym membership for 10 years and never go – you don’t have regulators coming down on the gym for continuing to charge you. And how many of us think we are getting totally honest treatment from auto mechanics? Don’t you think sometimes they recommend things that aren’t needed or charge more labor hours than are actually the case?

      Sure, we need to have regulations against bad actors. And we have for years in medicine and finance – and many have been caught, sued, punished, etc. This regulation – along with so much of what has been pushed through in the last 20 years – is just cumbersome nonsense that makes it harder for people to do business.

      Also – there is ABSOLUTELY a certification to be a financial advisor. There are multiple exams you must take to be licensed. Additionally, if you want to be a CFP (Certified Financial Planner) you are already held to the fiduciary standard and additional testing and ongoing continuing education. Not sure why you would think no certification or licensing would be required.

      The CFP board is THAT organization that you reference – the society of certified planners that requires the fiduciary rule. I have been one for 20+ years. Yet, even with that I now have to document and justify every action I take to such a painstakingly detailed level (for regulators) that I can no longer afford (time wise) to take on smaller clients. This same thing happened in medicine – the rule backfired because the lawmakers are know-nothings when it comes to the specific industries they are making laws around.

  • Peter N says:

    “Your tired talking point that tax cuts to the rich are “just letting people keep their money” is dumb. The after tax incomes of the rich were increased at the expense to the national debt. That is funneling money to the rich. ”
    Wow, the money must be yours in the first place to funnel it somewhere.
    You assume the government owns all money we earn and is just nice enough to let us keep some of the money we earn. How Marxist… I mean libtard of you.

    • Big Data says:

      Pull out a dollar bill. The owner of that money is printed at the top.

    • Big Data says:

      I recall the quote of a great Marxist scholar:

      “All Property indeed, except the Savage’s temporary Cabin, his Bow, his Matchcoat, and other little Acquisitions absolutely necessary for his Subsistence, seems to me to be the Creature of publick Convention. Hence the Public has the Right of Regulating Descents & all other Conveyances of Property, and even of limiting the Quantity & the Uses of it. All the Property that is necessary to a Man for the Conservation of the Individual & the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property of the Publick, who by their Laws have created it, and who may therefore by other Laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire & live among Savages. — He can have no right to the Benefits of Society who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it.”
      – Benjamin Franklin –

    • Big Data says:

      Before anyone thinks I am just being snide and divisive, just think a minute about what the whole concept of money in a society is for. Money is just a standard part of an economic system that has one overall purpose: to advance the prosperity of the citizens of that country. Money, by itself, is worthless. It really is owned and controlled by the country which issues it, and is intended to be used as an abstract representation of debt (or so some theories have described it), and it has value because we all agree to certain rules and conventions in how it will be used for trade against items which actually have value.

      But again, money is a part of an economic system set up and controlled by the country for the good of the citizens of that country.

      This is what Benjamin Franklin meant when he said: “All Property [excepting basic life necessities] … seems to me to be the Creature of publick Convention.” Property and Money are inventions and abstractions. And then Ben puts forth the idea that the rules of the economy, including those of property, money, and taxation are subject to change by government (representing the Publick) as needed: “But all Property superfluous to such purposes [life necessities] is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other Laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition.”

      [Note that this last sentence of Ben’s quote got truncated in my earlier post, and I found the complete sentence elsewhere.]

  • Peter says:

    One of the real problems we have today that the Presidential election always illuminates is that there is no media source that I know of that just reports the news. Everywhere is so editorialized and biased. The radio is covered with right-wing conservatives and the TV is dominated by left-wing liberals. It’s like having nothing but “homer” sports coverage, but much more dangerous as it shapes people’s thinking. The major 24 hour news networks are shameless in their biased reporting.

    • Stevendad says:

      Agree. The “truth” or as close as we can define it, requires work and research. Unfortunately, most are too disinterested or lazy to do any. The press used to do this but editorial boards have gotten worse and worse about dominating content in order to shape public thought. Even Bob Woodward has pointed this out in several interviews.

  • Henry says:

    Marxism: a theory and practice of socialism including the labor theory of value, dialectical materialism, the class struggle, and dictatorship of the proletariat until the establishment of a classless society

    Marxism: the system of economic and political thought developed by Karl Marx, along with Friedrich Engels, especially the doctrine that the state throughout history has been a device for the exploitation of the masses by a dominant class, that class struggle has been the main agency of historical change, and that the capitalist system, containing from the first the seeds of its own decay, will inevitably, after the period of the dictatorship of the proletariat, be superseded by a socialist order and a classless society.

    You are telling me you don’t agree with this philosophy????

    • 9Big Data says:

      Of course i dont. I have always argued for a democracy, with a well regulated capitalist economy exercising reasonable restrictions on banks and monopolies. Like we used to do in more prosperous times before the aristocratic economic elite bent the playing field way too far to their advantage. What I advocate is nothing close to marxism or socialism.

      • Henry says:

        Capitalism- “an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state”

        Capitalism is an economic system based on private ownership of themeans of production and their operation for profit. Characteristics central to capitalism include private property, capital accumulation, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system, and competitive markets. In a capitalist market economy, decision-making and investment is determined by the owners of the factors of production in financial and capital markets, and prices and the distribution of goods are mainly determined by competition in the market.

        I’m sorry dude but you agree with the Marxism definition far more than the Capitalism one.

        • Big Data says:

          Sorry dude, but you have twisted my posts and you dont get to declare what i believe.

          Analysis of classes and factions and income inequality is not sufficient to define socialism or marxism, or every economist would be a marxist.

          I dont believe in inevitability of socialism so by the very definitions you posted, i am not marxist.

          Dont you believe that unfettered laissez faire capitalism has some instability that must be countered by sane govt policy?

          If not, why not?

          • Henry says:

            Of course. But we hardly have “laissez faire capitalism”. Our capitalism is so highly regulated it is almost choked to death. But I do agree that the part of it that needs to be changed is crony capitalism. The giveaways to insurance companies in the ACA for example. However I would hardly call the American capitalism system “laissez faire” or “unfettered” or having “instability”. If that was the case I would agree we need some sane govt policy. The reality is I think we need the same thing you do – SANE govt policy. Not ridiculous overregulation like this new DOL Fiduciary rule. What a nightmarish misguided mess that is.

          • Big Data says:

            Ok, a decent conversation. Thanks. I knew you could.

            So it seems our differences are nuanced after all.
            We agree on a capitalist system and the need for regulation and govt policy but just disagree on how much, and whether what we have is too little or too much.

            I haven’t researched the fiduciary rule. On the surface it seems like a good idea. It seems deceptive to hire a financial adviser whose perfectly legal motivation may be to give you bad advice so he can make more money.

            What is wrong with the new rule and how could it be fixed or made better?

          • Peter says:

            I’ll add my two cents to this one. The regulations are so cumbersome – when combined with the regulations already in place they make it hard to meet them all. Just from a personal standpoint, I have had to fire all of my clients under a certain dollar amount. I would love to help them, but the new regulations make it not an economical option. Don’t get me started…..another attempt to “protect” someone that ends up hurting the little guy.

          • Stevendad says:

            Replying to Peter below. Exactly, such as Dodd Frank suppressing small businesses and home ownership.

        • Stevendad says:

          Should be above. These comments nest so much sometimes it’s hard to tell where you are!

  • Big Data says:

    One of the most troubling difficulties in our increasingly partisan politics is this lack of common trust and vision, leading to a breakdown of our treasured political traditions and conventions. Trump openly questions validity of upcoming elections. Not only does Congress block Obama’s highly qualified and respected Supreme Court appointee without even a vote, McCain threatens to block any of Hillary’s Supreme Court appointees, before she even has opportunity to nominate them or even take office. Multiple investigations (eight?) on Benghazi clear Hillary of wrongdoing, yet still there are political leaders who refuse to accept the findings of their own Congress. Clear scientific concensus warns that we should act on climate change, but political hacks block the process at the behest (and monetary influence and reward) of wealthy multinationals. You read the headlines of FoxNews vs. HuffPost and you clearly see two opposing teams rooting for their own side rather than reporting a neutral perspective. Balanced discussions are discarded in favor of name-calling and personal attack.

    And I am reading frightening accounts of “Patriots” (misguided traitors, actually) threatening to act as terrorists in order to fight for their party’s candidate if he should lose (as it appears he most assuredly will). What will happen Nov 9? Who will die because our leaders (and one particularly irresponsible descendant of the Drumpf family) would rather fan the flame of discontent and arrogance, rather than accept the voted will of the people?

    Scary times.

    • Henry says:

      Yet for years now, you have been the most divisive, partisan, bullheaded person on here. Why don’t you take your own advice?

      Even in your tirade above you tell a story clearly from the left, even mocking Trump (calling them Drumpf). So hypocritical to post something like this then ask why others would rather “fan the flame of discontent and arrogance”.

      Of course if it wasn’t for your idiocy and hypocrisy, we likely wouldn’t still be posting new messages to this thread. Your easily arguable points and completely hard-headed ill-informed points of view are what keeps us going and entertained…. 🙂

      • Big Data says:

        The same arguments were used against Obama. Gop leaders convened on first day of his presidency and vowed to obstruct anything the new president did, encouraged racist rants and lies, and then blamed him for being divisive. Its complete BS.

        You in particular, Henry, only seem to show up to hurl epithets and insults. You are being divisive and hateful. I am trying to have an intelligent conversation. It is difficult when folks like you insist on dragging the conversation into the mud. Please stop.

      • Big Data says:

        If my points are easily arguable, then please argue instead of sniping. You have offered nothing.

        • Henry says:

          Your post above is the very thing you are arguing against. I may be sniping and “fanning the flame of discontent” but at least I will admit to it.

        • Big Data says:

          Wow. Are we descending to the pee wee herman defense? (“Thats what you are but what am i?…”)

          I pointed out 2 facts in my post.
          1) it was duplicitous and disingenuous for gop to knock Obama as divisive when they first provoked the divide.
          2) it is also disingenuous for you to critique me as bullheaded and divisive when almost all of your posts are divisive.

          I have not called you an idiot, a hypocrite, or ill informed, as you have done me. I am just pointing out that you are behaving badly.

          Your ability to admit that you are behaving badly is not a virtue. It would be much better if you would find something intelligent to say.

          Can you do that? Sure you can.

          • Henry says:

            I was talking about the first post with the slanted view on Benghazi and the Drumpf reference. Just idiocy meant to inflame.

          • Big Data says:

            Slanted view on benghazi? When an issue has been investigated 7 or 8 times by partisans on both sides, and the egregious charges have been found groundless, its time to let it go, no matter what the issue and what side you are on. Right?

          • Peter says:

            I think his point is that not everyone agrees with you that Benghazi is what it seems (and that the investigations were legitimate) or that Hillary no less an awful person than Trump is. These are not open-and-shut cases where you or I know the definitive answers. You treat them like they are though – and all of your opinions fall as part of a predictable ethos. That’s what is off-putting and divisive. (Said this a few times before)

      • Big Data says:

        Mocking trump is no longer partisan. Educated observers across the political spectrum recognize he is a narcissistic buffoon and compulsive liar and an existential risk to our country.

        There are other opinions of course. Is he your guy? It might be entertaining to hear you defend him.

        • Henry says:

          No defense of Trump here – and I’m not a supporter. But believe it or not – everyone doesn’t agree with what you said about Trump. Just like everyone doesn’t agree that Hillary is a lying, self-serving shill for Wall Street and repeat criminal who will talk out of both sides of her mouth to get elected. Both are partisan characterizations, but clearly both have supporters since they make up 90% of the vote.

        • Big Data says:

          I can make pretty strong arguments that those opposing views are not equally valid.

  • Big Data says:

    … But we are getting back into personal sniping, which really gets us nowhere. So, a new topic:

    I was recently reading an article which discussed how one of the few facts that GOP/Conservatives, Dem/Liberals, and Independents agree on is that the different political and ideological groups today disagree, not just on ideologies, but on basic points of fact. There is no widely based trust today in the media, scientific institutions, or non-partisan research centers. We can even see it here on this forum, where the posters are, as far as I can tell, a higher intellectual caliber than your average internet forum.

    But even here, conversations devolve away from concepts and ideas to sniping about who is a Marxist or who is uninformed or whose arguments should be ignored because they vary from a given poster’s argument.

    A good discussion can weather, and even be improved by, a bit of poking and MILD antagonistic banter. But I hope we can all remember that this discussion is best served by discussing the ideas and not just engaging in labelling and name-calling for it’s own sake.

    This has been a public service announcement. 🙂

    • Stevendad says:

      I hope you don’t feel I was sniping. I just go back over and over that we need to restrict spending and government control both for issues of personal freedom and general incompetence of large bureaucracies. US government is largest now, and second largest ever. USSR was larger. That didn’t end well, did it?The idea of a small # of committee members running hundreds of millions of lives over whatever issue is antithetical to my upbringing about what it is to be an American.The commerce clause has been stretched FAR beyond its intended meaning. Will government expansion “pop” and shrink or continue to enlarge and consume all? The question of the next decade…. I still haven’t heard you comment on the experience of myself and other poor people I knew. Self determination is a two edged sword. Do you oppose self determination?

      • Big Data says:

        No stevendad, the people who toss around terms such as Marxist as an epithet were sniping. The people who claim, with no basis in the post or intellectual explanation, that arguments they don’t like are illogical, were sniping.

        As to your points, I will try to answer them fairly.

        Size and Efficiency of Government: Among the 29 OECD nations, cost of government as % GDP varies from 33.7% (Sweden) to 58.1% (Finland). The US is the 25th from the top (5th from the bottom or 5th most efficient) at 38%.

        Government bureaucracy: Beauracracy can be inefficient, but sometimes it is a necessary evil and is even better than the alternative. Canada managed to create a cost-saving and efficient health-care system that surpasses ours in many metrics, covers all citizens, avoids the regulatory burdens we place on our businesses as intermediaries in our healthcare, and is very popular in their country. We should be able to do as well. Obamacare needs to be improved, but going back to our old broken system is not an option. Competition in healthcare was simply an excuse and motivation to leave neediest people uninsured and without care.

        Commerce clause: This clause has been interpreted over time by the Supreme Court as is allowed to happen by its mandate. There is no going back to the past, and even the different founders had different interpretations, so there is no single original meaning to go back to. Even Jefferson allowed that Constitution should adjust over time to the needs of society. There are some rules and regulations and agencies that just make more sense as national items in a modern world. If it does NOT make sense to be national and it should be state-based, I think it would be more practical to argue on basis of current need, not antiquated and original interpretations that did not anticipate our world. Jefferson would agree.

        As for experience of poor people you knew … There are always a portion of society who are lazy or unmotivated. I cannot judge the needs and merits of all of the working and middle class, nor even the poverty class, based on a few ne’er-do-wells as observed by even such an astute individual as I am sure you must be. Such people are a very small minority and I should not hold the whole of our economy hostage to the idea that these few must either be punished or redeemed. Let them have their small sustenance, earned or not. I am much more concerned with the new workers, the advancing workers, the workers whose trade has vanished and who must learn a new skill, the struggling families, the aspiring entrepreneur. These are the Americans who are being left behind as the moneyed interests multiply their holdings at the economy’s expense.

        Self-Determination: Yes, I think that people should work to advance their own career and interests. I don’t believe however, that we should be increasing the slope and multiplying the hurdles for the many so that the investments of the successful few can be forever protected. I believe in meritocracy with many ladders and a safety net. We have been moving to an aristocracy with ever fewer ladders and ever larger holes in the net.

  • Big Data says:

    Moving this conversation to a fresh post since it was too many levels down for replies.

    Peter said:
    ” … capitalism and competition is telling us that the people that invented the technology that is behind the phone that 2 billion people now have in their hands should be rewarded exponentially.”

    I said that would be a good idea because currently the ceos, cfos and bankers get all the money and the inventors and technologists doing the actual work and responsible for the advances get very little. Peter thought that was a meaningless restatement of his position.

    This is one of the big gropes i have with the attitudes within the 1%. They think that their incomes validate how imprtant and essential they are. And it’s a circular argument. They feel important because they have big incomes and they deserve even more income because they are so important.

    The inventors and workers actually creating wealth and efficiency in this country seldom get the big rewards. The people who prosper are the bankers and managers and ceos who focus on money and who are most skilled at appropriating it and accumulating it from everybody else.

    Peter’s false equating of big tech management with “the inventors” of the technology is perfectly representative of the arrogance of the 1%. His objection to my more accurate restatement of his post is also reflective of the obscene depth to which the 1% believe they are the most important people on the planet and nobody else matters.

  • Cindy says:

    $40k seems like a lot. But only if you’re stuck in an employee mindset. It’s a relatively small amount for business owners, product owners, etc. Service providers too.

    • Peter says:

      Do you mean $400k?

    • Big Data says:


      $400K is still 8 times median income. Not to be sneezed at.

      I agree that when that money is being reinvested in a business enterprise, it falls in a slightly different category than just personal income.

      But if 400K does not seem like much to you, how do you think half of the households feel, who make less than 12.5% of that amount?

  • Peter says:

    Once again – the economy self-corrects without overly simplistic “take more from the rich” strategies.


  • Stevendad says:

    BD. I think you miss the biggest point of the whole thing. What I believe you are saying: If we just tax the rich enough, then it will make up for overspending by government, irresponsibility of people at all income levels and a general political malaise. People are only poor because this was cast upon them by the rich. The rich are only rich by paying money to bribe politicians to pervert the system. Mistakes and poor planning and actions should have no consequences, etc etc

    • Big Data says:

      Good try, stevendad, but you are seeing my points through a distortion filter. None of your sentences accurately portray my position.

      Reworded: If we increase taxes on the rich reasonably, and manage spending and government investment in infrastructure and education, we can reduce the debt burden while still strengthening the economy and reducing the political malaise. The impacts of temporary financial irresponsibility can be changed from a life sentence of poverty to a learning opportunity in how to prosper. The perversion of our economic system, driven by unfetteted monetary bribes from moneyed interests into the political rwslm, has tilted the playing field and reduced incomes and opportunities for most Americans, while shifting almost all economic growth into the hands of the economic elite.

      There will always be poor and rich, and the traits that separate them include discipline, hard work, and intelligence that can lift people up, and oppression and calamity, along with lack of the former uplifting characteristics, that can drop people down. There is no goal to reward sloth or lack of ambition and discipline, but instead to assure that hard work can be adequstely rewarded with a decent life. The goal is to reduce the oppression of a tilted economic system that distorts incentives, making the ladders almost unclimbable from the bottom and the rewards exsessive at the top.

      Your message seems to be that no matter how distorted and tilted and oppressive a system has become, it is irrelevant and pointless to attemp to improve the system because individuals can always work harder than before to climb up and improve.

      Again, you and Peter, and some others here, always focus on individual ethics to the exclusion of the impacts of the system within which we apply those ethics. You either deny the extraordinary tilting of the playing field, or you say it does not matter, or that the slope can be corrected by individual, non-governmental means. I have never and will never reject the importance of individual ethics and ambition in lifting up the individual and the country. But i also assert that we MUST understand and adjust the systemic policies of our political and economic system in order to optimize the rewards of those individual ethics and ambitions for individuals at ALL economic levels, and not just the top.

      Surely we can agree that a system that rewards all efforts with equal income is unsustainable and corrupt. Similarly, we should also agree that a system that gives all profits from the labors of the nation to just a few people is qlso unsustainable and cotrupt. Surely we can all see that there is a balance between the extremes that can best motivate the lowly laborer to improve while providing life’s necessities, and also reward the very successful with a superior but not extravagant lifestyle. Surely we can also see that there will always be a battle for the rich to increase their rewatd. and the poor to increase theirs.

      The rewards have clearly shofted to the rich in the last 35 years. All of the economic data and research shows it. The desire of the rich to retain this system that opptesses the poor and middle at greater profit to the rich, is understandable. My point is that it is inefficient and unsustainable and will never be set right by individual or market forces alone.

      • Big Data says:

        Multiple typos in that last post, (sorry ’bout that) but I think it is still readable.

        • Stevendad says:

          I think you missed a major point. Clearly people at top (including Dem programs as mentioned before) have tilted earnings. I just don’t trust government to collect and redistribute income. You must be infinitely wise to know what is “fair” for each American. I am not.
          You miss the point of SWEAR as well. Of course, it would help the whole economy if all practiced this, but regardless it is something each of us can do to help ourselves. I told you I grew up with and worked with the poor as well as some good friends of mine doing the same. Self destructive behavior and poor choices abounded and were far and away the biggest determinate of long term wealth (or being alive for that matter). I’m not wise enough to legislate good choices. However, even you must agree we have to balance rewarding bad behavior. I have a coworker who works 60 hours a week at $9 an hour and can’t get any educational aid because she makes too much money. If she was in AFDC she’d get it for free. Does this make sense? At what point does rescuing become enabling?
          I defer to your superior wisdom in this…

          • Big Data says:

            Your quest to improve personal ethics is noble. It improves the country but does not fix the broken economic system. I am not trusting the government to be all wise. What you are missing is that goverment ALWAYS is in loose control of money distribution through policy. I am only clever enough to agree with the experts in recognizing that policy needs to change to stop coddling the rich and start moving resources back to middle and working class.

          • Big Data says:

            It is indeed a challenge to balance “rescuing and enabling”, as you stated. The replacement of AFDC with TANF was an attempt by bill clinton to strike a better balance and limit benefits to encourage people to get off welfare. In the case of your co-worker, it is unclear what you think is the best option. You seem to be criticizing govt aid, yet are you saying that you think she is being sahortchanged by not receiving any?

            Of course, i am of the belief that full time workers should be getting $12/hr with time and a half after 40 hrs, which would probably be a better option than govt making up for subpar wages.

    • Big Data says:

      Sorry for the Blitz, guys. But you don’t have to look very far to see that Americans are far from lazy. We are possibly the hardest workers in the world, yet most Americans are profiting less from their efforts than other nations, and less than past generations. There is no good reason for that to be the case.

      Our economic policies have not kept pace with changing times. You say that income redistribution to the rich is due to automation and outsourcing? You are absolutely correct, those are two of the causes. Why should richest 1% profit from that change and nobody else? It’s not because richest are so clever and everyone else is lazy. It’s because broken policy with distorted incentives allows that to happen.

      • Henry says:

        Because you can’t outsource or automate ingenuity, inventiveness and leadership. You CAN outsource or automate unskilled labor.

        • Henry says:

          I guess this was just ‘sniping’ and not a point worth replying to. Big Data / Steven H only replies to the more juvenile posts I guess.

        • Big Data says:

          Not much to say except that businesses outsourcing our jobs is expected as long as policies make it a profitable deal. Policy should change to protect american jobs.

    • Henry says:

      Still no comment on this from our Marxist friend.

      • Henry says:

        …Nor this……too substantive.

      • Big Data says:

        Its an interesting article, but since there was no comment or question posted with it, i felt no need to comment. Neither did you apparently. I am honored however that you seem so anxious to hear my opinions. Was there something about this article you wanted to ask?

      • Big Data says:

        Also, i refrained from answering because i was waiting to see who your Marxist friend was. ???? Then I realized you falsely think I am Marxist. But that is debunked elsewhere …

        • Peter says:

          There is nothing you can say to this. This article isn’t partisan or politically motivated. It is just the reality.

        • Big Data says:

          Again, i read it and it is interesting. Thanks for posting it, peter. It touches on themes we have discussed but does not prove or disprove anything. Perhaps Henry has some comment he wanted to add …

  • Steven H says:

    OK, I’ll expand on a comment from memory, since 3.5 years of comments are temporarily missing.

    I was thinking about a thread in which I had been commenting about the EpiPen company (the company is actually Mylan) and how they increased profits, but that it was not the same as creating wealth in a macroeconomic sense. Sure, by increasing prices, they would manage to transfer more money to the company balance sheet from Medicare, insurance companies, schools, and desperate patients and parents of patients who need this product. But is that wealth creation? Their EpiPen product saves lives, and they invested in improvements in that product, and their price increases created wealth for the company, but is that really what we mean when we talk about “creating wealth”?

    Does a bank robber create wealth when he takes money from the bank? Of course not. He is TRANSFERRING wealth. Does a company create wealth when they hold their customer’s lives for ransom with massive price increases on a life-essential product? Of course not. They are TRANSFERRING wealth, although by legal (if ethically corrupt) means.

    Some posters here object to my characterization of income and wealth having been transferred or shifted or (pick any other synonym for moved) from the lower and middle class to the wealthy over the last 36 years. They prefer to say that such wealth was either “created” by the wealthy or at least “earned” by them as long as it was acquired by legal means.

    What I would like the EpiPen example to demonstrate is that there are cases where companies (or individuals) increase their own income and wealth that have nothing to do with wealth creation, and nothing to do with “earning” in the moralistic sense [to come to be duly worthy of or entitled or suited to].

    Earn also means “to receive in return for effort” which can be applied to any exchange of money or goods, independent of legality or morality. By such terminology, EpiPen “earned” their profits in equal measure as to how the bank robber “earned” his booty. Effort was made and money was received. That is the amoral (not immoral, BTW) definition of earn.

    But back to wealth creation. What is it? When I use the term, I usually mean it in the macro-economic sense. Is the community or country better off for the efforts applied? It is not enough to say a company is profitable and legal. Payday loan lenders are profitable and legal, and some will claim they serve a useful purpose. But do they create wealth? It’s a matter of judgement, but I would say that, under the terms they are legally allowed to operate today, they are a drain on their customers and that they leech wealth from the unfortunate to enrich the unprincipled.

    And now back to wealth and income “shifts” and “transfers”. It is absolutely undeniable, based on economic research, that national US income shares of the upper 1% have increased as income shares of the lower 90% have decreased. This is a movement, a transfer, a shift, a relocation, a relegation, a transposition of money from one group to another. It happened.

    And it is not explainable by saying that wealthy people create it all or are more worthy.

    • Stevendad says:

      Of course Epipen is morally bankrupt. There are alternatives, but they were pulled by an aggressive FDA. (Anakit) So again, government intervention perturbed the natural course. Perhaps they were perfectly justified, I don’t know. I appreciate you making the Libertarian case in this instance.
      As far as payday lenders, this example supports the S in SWEAR. No need for them if you had some savings to get through a crunch. Or you could borrow against savings at MUCH lower rates. Either way, you avoid usurial trap. Very few can not save at all, they just choose not to prioritize. Live small a while and catch up if you must. Never borrow for depreciating assets. Drive a beater or take the bus, eat in, watch Netflix, get a cheap no data phone plan, no cable, work close to home, avoid drugs and too much alcohol, exercise, don’t drink $6 coffee. Not all work, but some will…

      • Big Data says:

        Please stop painting all desperately or temporarily poor as irresponsible. Of course many many people could do better financially. But a small percentage, which may still be millions of Americans, live and plan and spend responsibly but still get caught in a crunch. The only people I know personally who had to use a payday lender were retired grandparents attempting to raise their grandchildren, with the grandfather still doing back breaking manual labor at the age of 70 to bring in more money. They lived frugally and had a modest home, but still got caught with medical bills beyond what they could pay. Its easy to sit back and say you could have saved more, spent less, lived cheaper. But in the real world of high medical costs, unforeseen emergencies, and paychecks that are 30% lower for 90% of Americans vs what they SHOULD be, it is OBNOXIOUS for people in the richest 1 or 2 % to tell poor people to live cheaper. You might as well be saying “Let them eat cake.”

        I understand your message of financial responsibility. I’m not sure you understand my message that financially responsible people are getting crushed by effects of high income disparity.

        • Peter says:

          Such a tired defense. If you follow SWEAR and make good choices, eventually you will find yourself in fine shape. Not much more complicated than that.

          • Peter says:

            “But a small percentage, which may still be millions of Americans, live and plan and spend responsibly but still get caught in a crunch”

            If it is just a small percentage (even if it is millions of people) then we don’t need to change everything. The system is working. Plus, I don’t believe that those that fall in this tiny percentage stay there either.

          • Big Data says:

            We don’t need to change everything. We just need to pay people what they are worth, not just what the manipulated market reluctantly ekes out to workers, and we need to share and distribute the prosperity of the country to include the have-nots and not only the have-too-much’s.

            It won’t kill the upper 1% to forego pay raises for 30 years while the rest of the country catches up. After all 90% of Americans have lagged behind for 35 years. It’s time for millionaires to live cheaper for a while.

          • Big Data says:

            No, for millions of people that is not true.

          • Peter says:

            “What they are worth” … Meaningless idealistic phrasing…..

        • Stevendad says:

          I agree there will be a few that can’t EVER save, but that is rare. The idea is to have savings for the future. I could have done better myself BTW. I guarantee there is SOMETHING people can do to come up with $50 a month. I made a few suggestions, but I’m sure there are dozens more.

          • Big Data says:

            Again you cannot save ANYTHING when your reasonable expenses exceed your meager income. The idea that absolutely everyone can make more than they spend if they try hard enough and follow simplistic strategies is just flat out wrong. And high income disparity makes the problem worse for more people. And fixing high income disparity will help millions and improve the economy.

          • Peter says:

            Incorrect…. Flatly incorrect

        • Stevendad says:

          I didn’t paint all, I clearly said all but a few can make choices to save. Smart phones are not necessities is a gods example . The people who come in on Medicaid almost always have them.

          • Peter says:

            Absolutely true. That’s why I posted that quote earlier that just as many people have running water as have cell phones. Cell phones are NOT a necessity.

          • Big Data says:

            I have seen these resentments about poor people with flat screen tvs or computers or smart phones. 1) these are the technologies of the present. They are no longer expensive extravagances but normal affordable and efficient parts of modern American life. Everyone should have them imho. 2) smartphones in particular are one of the most efficient and essential devices created. Not only do you get mobile communication, but you can keep track of appointments, get email, find your way through traffic, navigate to where you need to go. It can even serve as a computer and tv or many people, eliminating the need for the separate devices.

            You might as well favor that poor people should live in a modern world without indoor plumbing or air conditioning. Maybe instead we should just pay people decent wages for their labor so they do not need food stamps, medicaid, or welfare to live a normal American life.

          • Big Data says:

            I lnow you will scoff at that last post. But if you have a child in school you know that a computer at home is necessary. And if you have a work and child schedule, a smart phones features are necessary.

          • Peter says:

            Lol….. Ok then maybe they should take one of those farm jobs in my other post to cover such “necessities”.

            It’s like “needing” a car. Someone can get a “car” for a few hundred dollars. Someone can get a computer for even less. Doesn’t warrant smart phones or even a television. Those are not necessities. Food, water, shelter…..those are necessities. The government should not pay for everyone to have flat screen TVs and iPhones. But they should help everyone eat and have somewhere to sleep every night.

          • Peter says:

            Uh…and yeah, air conditioning is a luxury as well, Steven H. Sorry. Maybe in your mind it makes me heartless, but I don’t want my government providing cell phones, tvs, air conditioning and computers to all citizens. Particularly when it means taking more money from the people and putting it in the hands of the buffoons/misogynists/criminals/liars we watched on television last night.

          • Big Data says:

            Who said anything about govt providing cell phones or A/C? I just think anybody working ANY full time job in America should be able to afford a place to live, food, medical, last years model smart phone and small tv, and a beater car.

            And if you’re in my state you better have A/C because people literally die in summers without it. It is alife necessity. And each summer is getting a little hotter.

          • Big Data says:

            And i do think its a good thing govt provides BushPhones to the poor to enable them to find jobs. Its cost effective and good for everybody.

          • Peter says:

            Maybe if someone is struggling they should take one of the farm jobs in the article posted above. Don’t need any experience for these jobs and they pay well. Don’t need a suit or even to be clean. Don’t need a cell phone to “manage your schedule”. Or take a job where you are admittedly grossly overworked and underpaid – but have an opportunity to advance. Then maybe take public transportation or car pool to the job. Cook at home instead of going out to eat – beans and rice, rice and beans, etc.. Don’t drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes or take drugs. Have your spouse work as well. Don’t have kids. Save money. Once a little is saved, invest some of it. Try to work your way up to a supervisor or foreman position. Use the extra money for training for a better job. But most importantly work hard and don’t expect anything.

            Or another strategy…. get involved politically. Campaign for someone who will increase entitlement programs. Hope for health care costs to be reduced. Find a politician you believe has your best interests at heart and support them as they push to help your situation. Wait for Washington to change laws to improve “your” economy so you don’t have to take that farm job and can do something easier. Hope for change. Vote for change. It’s not your fault after all – it’s the system.

            I chose the first one. Now I’m in the 1%. Not everyone can make that leap, but time and time again it has a better success rate than hoping corporate America or Washington politicians (aren’t they one in the same anyway) extend a hand to you and save you. That has almost a 0.00% chance of getting you in the 1%.

          • Big Data says:

            Peter, how about both approaches. As i said before, your stories and principles of personal ethica and motivation are completely valid for individual advancement, but they do not fix a broken system. But the approaches are not mutually exclusive. You can improve yourself and advance your own situation and also fight and vote to make our country more productive and sustainable by improving and rebalancing the economic incentives.

            Thats what I do. Both.

        • Henry says:

          Then stop painting all poor people as “desperate” and unable to fix their situations. Or trying to tell us all what paychecks “should be”. Or what taxes are “fair”. You don’t have a clue what someone’s paycheck “should be” -and comparing it to the 1950’s or to someone else’s paycheck is meaningless. Your arrogance is astounding.

          • Big Data says:

            The picture i am illustrating is one where people at the top and bottom are working equally as hard as their counterparts in past generations, but the rich are receiving more as everyone else receives less.

            It is as if you have a successful company where all of the new profits go to upper management while workloads just increase and pay stagnates for the workers. The answer is not mobility or work more hours. The answer is to give the workers a bigger say in how the pie is sliced. And that is why democracy is so brilliant. You can only let the rich oppress everybody else for so long before the majority invokes the power of government to rebalance the system. That is why our system works and has survived for 240 years. Without the power of the vote, we would have devolved into a deep plutocracy decades ago. As it is, we get to a precipice and democracy pulls us back as it did in the the 1930s after the crash.

            Our country and our ethics and our people have not declined. But our economics, while getting better, is only at partial efficiency, and still leaves too many people behind. Even in the 30s when unemployment soared, working people denigrated those out of work as lazy. That was not the problem then, nor is it now. We face a crisis of economic system imbalance, not personal ethics.

          • Henry says:

            The picture i am illustrating is one where people at the top and bottom are working equally as hard as their counterparts in past generations

            Not true at all. Just look at the article about farm workers. People busted their butts in agricultural labor jobs back in your good ol’ days….. Maybe people are lazier now. Maybe people are more entitled. It could be possible you know.

          • Big Data says:

            You really think richest folks have 10x the income share of 35 years ago because they are 10x smarter or harder working than previous generations of wealthy, or isn’t it more likely that they have manipulated the economic and political system to their advantage?

            You really think that all of middle and working class is 25% lazier or dumber than past generations or do they have 25% less income share because their income has been redistributed to the rich by political means.

            I think a redistribution of income has occurred, not some sort of redistribution of ambition or IQ. Because the latter is crazy talk.

          • Henry says:

            Actually yes. I think inventing the internet and other technological advances parallels more to the Rockefeller/Carnegie era where income disparity of the top 1% was FAR WORSE more than it compares to 35 years ago.

            And I do think our new generation of workers are a bit lazier. Can’t put a percentage on that – just going off what I’ve seen. But also think the lower end is affected by what Peter said – the loss of the manufacturing and unskilled labor market.

            Certainly don’t agree with you that it is because of dirty rotten Republicans.

          • Big Data says:

            Henry: So you agree that today’s economy is like the Gilded Age of Carnegie/Rockefeller when the rich leeched off of average workers.

            And yes both the Gilded Age of the late 19th century and the Lesser Gilded Age of today are much worse than the more balanced and progressive and prosperous economy which existed 35 to 65 years ago.

            You are correct on both points.

            However, you are wrong about workers being generally lazier. In the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, more middle class families got by on 1 income, and retirement plans were more generous, and college was more affordable. Today incomes have stagnated, two income families are the norm, the poulation is more highly educated (college graduation rates are higher) and people are working more hours, yet the middle class falls behind in prosperity because they have lost leverage and income to the economic elite.

          • Henry says:

            Not all what I’m saying. Why do you restate people’s points and agree with them? What’s the point of that? Whatever….

          • Big Data says:

            Your argument was silly and begged for twisting a bit. I know what you intended to say (but mangled in the post) … that todays economy was like that of the Gilded Age, but not as bad. What you actually said was closer to my restatement, which is why had a little fun with my reply.

            Seriously, todays economy does indeed have parallels to the Gilded Age, when the very wealthy used the advances in technology as leverage to get rich on the backs of common workers. You may find that parallel harmless but I don’t. The invention of the internet came out of government research, and while entrepreneurs can be commended for findng profitable use of this public utility, its existence does not make them 10x smarter or 10x more worthy.

          • Henry says:

            OK – so 7x more worthy? 3x more worthy? Should Hillary or Trump make that call? Like said above, I’ll defer to your wisdom on that one – dont think i can put a valuation on that one.

          • Big Data says:

            1x more worthy than all the rich people of the 50s thru 70s.

            I cannot assess where people should be on the salary playing field. Capitalism and competition does that. I can recognize what a fair playing field looks like. History tells us that. Whenever the richest 1% have more than 12% of all income we are out of balance. When they have more than 20% of all income, we are near a cliff and the economy will be corrected through government action or economic calamity.

            Last i checked, with capital gains, it is well over 20%.

          • Peter says:

            Exactly. And capitalism and competition is telling us that the people that invented the technology that is behind the phone that 2 billion people now have in their hands should be rewarded exponentially.

            Maybe U2 should give some of the money they have made to the Spin Doctors. They are a band too – they don’t work any less hard. Why should U2 get to keep so much money when they are working no harder than the next guy?

            Like Henry said (and to which you did not reply) – you can’t automate or outsource ingenuity, inventiveness and (I will add) talent. And that pays whatever the market is willing to pay.

          • Big Data says:

            Fine, give the rewards for cell phone tech to the people who invented. I can guaran-dang-tee you it aint going to the inventors. And i can also assure you that the ceos, cfos and accountants didnt invent any of it. Even steve jobs didnt know crap about the tech. He had a vision for the interface. Most ceos of Big tech only know how to play with money and manage people. Good skills, but they dont know the tech. In little companies, sure, the tech genius may run things. But not in big tech.

            So go ahead reward the real workers and inventors. That is precisely what i am arguing for.

          • Big Data says:

            Edison and Tesla famously fought to win the battle over the electrical technology that would run this country. They both made essential contributions. You know who got the money. JP Morgan who muscled them both out and formed GE with the inventor’s tech.

            So sure, take all the stolen profits from the bankers and money guys and give it to the inventors. Good idea.

          • Peter says:

            Another sarcastic nonsensical restating of my point. Useless.

          • Peter says:

            Then maybe the people that actually record the U2 albums should get paid more than the band itself. Since indeed, they were the ones doing the work.

    • Big Data says:

      Most people are working more for a smaller share of the pie. That is the opposite of lazy. Only the richest could be described as lazy, as they are working the same or less while claiming a much larger share of the pie.


      “It turns out, Americans are logging more weeks of work a year now that they did in the past, according to research from the Labor Department. In 1979, people were working for 1,687 hours a year. By 2013, that figure had jumped to an average of 1,836 hours a year …”

      1) Women in workforce:
      “Overall, men are working just 2% longer hours than they did in 1979. But women’s annual hours have gone up almost 20%, according to the Economic Policy Institute analysis.”

      2) Poor are working more:
      “In 1979, people in the bottom 20% of earners worked about 1,250 hours a year. Today they are putting in 1,500 hours a year.”

      3) Despite more hours and economic growth exceeding inflation, real weekly wages are almost the same as 1979, meaning hourly wages have declined. “If you adjust for inflation, weekly earnings in 1979 averaged $332 a week. Weekly earnings in 2014 were $334.”

    • Big Data says:

      “Everybody knows Americans are overworked. A recent Gallup poll found that salaried Americans now report working an average of 47 hours a week?—?not the supposedly standard 40?—?while 18 percent of Americans report working more than 60 hours a week. Indeed, overtime pay has become such a rarity that many Americans don’t even realize that the majority of salaried workers were once eligible.”

      However, the new increase in salary level to qualify workers as exempt from overtime will help a little, and despite “the fearful squawks coming from the business lobby” that the sky is falling, “middle-class Americans never did better than when the overtime threshold?—?the annual salary below which workers are automatically entitled to time-and-a-half overtime pay?—?was at its peak. A half-century ago, more than 60 percent of salaried workers qualified for overtime pay. But after 40 years in which the threshold has been allowed to steadily erode, only about 8 percent do.”

      “And ironically, the longer and harder we work, the more we weaken the labor market, weakening our own bargaining power in the process. That helps explain why over the last 30 years, corporate profits have doubled from about 6% of GDP to about 12%, while wages have fallen by almost exactly the same amount. The erosion of overtime and other labor protections is one of the main factors leading to this worsening inequality. But a higher threshold would help reverse this trend.”


    • Big Data says:

      So how come overall the U.S. economy is doing well, but the middle class is not?

      ==== From the article ===
      “If wealth isn’t being shared among people outside of the top bracket, then it doesn’t feel like we’re wealthy unless you’re in the top,” Pate said. “Wealth is being generated, it’s just not being distributed.”

      Marketplace calculated that the typical middle class life has gotten 30 percent more expensive in the past twenty years, and Pate says overall wages have been flat since the 1970s.

      On why we don’t need to go back the way it used to be to succeed:

      We don’t need manufacturing jobs to save the middle class. Our unemployment rate is incredibly low. We have people in jobs. We just need employees to be supported in the jobs that they’re in. We have very low minimum wages, we have seen the demise of most unions, so people don’t have the collective bargaining power that they used to have. We basically rely on companies to be the ones that determine how much income people make in this country, and then that becomes a question of well, every dollar I pay to my employee’s a dollar I don’t make in profit. That trade-off I think makes it very hard for companies to sit down and say this is the right thing, so that’s why we should pay people more as opposed to saying oh they’re fine, they’re making ends meet.
      On why has it taken so long for us to notice that making ends meet is getting harder and harder:

      Not everybody is looking at inflation figures and saying, ‘well, am I better or worse off?’ In nominal wages, people feel like their salaries are increasing, and they do. I get a little raise every year, I feel good about it, but I’m not thinking well what else has gone up in terms of expenses and prices in the meanwhile that means that I’m actually earning less than I was last year. My salary looks higher, but I’m actually worse off than I was the last year because things are now more expensive. In the beginning people didn’t really notice it so much and now it’s becoming so much of a bigger gap, the difference in the inequality is growing at such a rapid rate that I think people are finally saying “I’m done with it, this seems unfair.”

      On how she was surprised it took so long for candidates like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump rise in the wake of widespread middle class discontent:

      This has been nice dry kindling just waiting for a good spark.

    • Big Data says:

      The U.S. is the Most Overworked Developed Nation in the World – When do we Draw the Line?


      According to the Center for American Progress on the topic of work and family life balance, “in 1960, only 20 percent of mothers worked. Today, 70 percent of American children live in households where all adults are employed.”

      The U.S. is the ONLY country in the Americas without a national paid parental leave benefit. The average is over 12 weeks of paid leave anywhere other than Europe and over 20 weeks in Europe.

      Zero industrialized nations are without a mandatory option for new parents to take parental leave. That is, except for the United States.

      At least 134 countries have laws setting the maximum length of the work week; the U.S. does not.
      In the U.S., 85.8 percent of males and 66.5 percent of females work more than 40 hours per week.
      According to the ILO, “Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers.”
      Using data by the U.S. BLS, the average productivity per American worker has increased 400% since 1950. One way to look at that is that it should only take one-quarter the work hours, or 11 hours per week, to afford the same standard of living as a worker in 1950 (or our standard of living should be 4 times higher). Is that the case? Obviously not. Someone is profiting, it’s just not the average American worker.

      Americans are the Outliers
      And if all of this data tells anything, it’s that we are the outliers, not the norm. Why are we the outliers?

      – Our companies fairly ruthlessly let people go. We want to keep our jobs and not be a ‘low performer’ compared to others.
      – The decline of the union has led to less paid time off and other leave benefits.
      – Cultural value of money over everything else. We love money, we want more of it, and we think money can buy happiness. And the more we work, the more we get paid.
      – It’s been drilled in our heads that we are lazy compared to emerging market counterpart workers in India, Mexico, China, and other parts of Asia. Who isn’t? And what is our mental image of the work environments in those locales? To validate those fears, our jobs are being outsourced to the cheap labor in those countries. In reality, the U.S. is still the world leader in productivity per person.
      – Our legislative branch of the government (on both sides of the aisle) has been bought and as a result has shied away from passing laws that protect workers that every other industrialized nation has passed.
      – We generally don’t fight for our working rights. We take what is given to us.

    • Big Data says:

      Reposting in proper place:

      Sorry for the Blitz, guys. But you don’t have to look very far to see that Americans are far from lazy. We are possibly the hardest workers in the world, yet most Americans are profiting less from their efforts than other nations, and less than past generations. There is no good reason for that to be the case.

      Our economic policies have not kept pace with changing times. You say that income redistribution to the rich is due to automation and outsourcing? You are absolutely correct, those are two of the causes. Why should richest 1% profit from that change and nobody else? It’s not because richest are so clever and everyone else is lazy. It’s because broken policy with distorted incentives allows that to happen.

      • Peter N says:

        “Why should richest 1% profit from that change and nobody else?”
        Why should anybody that isn’t taking the risk profit? There is no reason..
        The fact is that machines are making people more profitable. It isn’t the people themselves. So I can buy the same machine here or in China and make the same product but it will cost less to run the machine in China.

        When you take the risk of buying the machine you want a return on your investment. The workers have no loyalty. They will go to whomever pays the most. Why should the employer have loyalty to the workers then? Every one is free to do what they want unlike Steven H’s Marxist/communist world.

        How simple can it get?

        • Big Data says:

          Capitalism will fall apart if you suppress worker wages for so long that the economy slows down. Employees are consumers and consumers drive the economy. Henry Ford understood this. Why don’t you?

          Stop with the Marx obsession. You are the only one who ever brings him up. No one else here gives a hoot about Marx.

          • Henry says:

            Wait….you don’t think you are Marxist?

          • Big Data says:

            I’m equally as Marxist as Thomas Jefferson, A Hamilton, and Benjamin Franklin. You are badly deceived and delusional if you think that fighting plutocracy and economic aristocracy is Marxist. The original Tea Party was not just about taxes. It was fighting the excesses of global monopolies that took away the rights of small companies and individuals. And it was about setting up the US Government to be a check against the excesses of those big businesses for the lifetime of this nation. You may think you are fighting the good fight of patriots, when you are just being King George and the East India Company.

          • Peter N says:

            “Capitalism will fall apart if you suppress worker wages for so long that the economy slows down. Employees are consumers and consumers drive the economy.”
            So do the machines. They need upgrades and replacement parts. When we sell automation we get requests for about 10% a year of what we originally sold in replacements, training,maintenance, etc.

      • Peter says:

        Strangely he doesn’t. Of course he also thinks his economic perspective is both informed and logical.

        Think we have established that basically Steven H / Big Data just wants to see the income brackets on the rich move again and money funneled to others. The rest is just noise to him.

        • Big Data says:

          “just wants to see the income brackets on the rich move again and money funneled to others. ” … Which is exactly what You and Peter N and Henry and others have been arguing for. We simply disagree on which direction it should move.

          • Peter says:

            Another lie. I have never argued for reduction in taxes. Not once.

          • Peter N says:

            More libtard speak. Libtards distort the discussion by the language they use.

            A reduction in taxes in not funneling money. It is letting those that earn it keep it.

          • Big Data says:

            Peter, you have argued to eliminate estate tax. That is, in fact, a tax cut to the rich that you have advocated.

            Peter n, … wow, talk about distorted partisan, terminology. Your tired talking point that tax cuts to the rich are “just letting people keep their money” is dumb. The after tax incomes of the rich were increased at the expense to the national debt. That is funneling money to the rich. Any policy change that economically favors the rich over the general population is funneling money to the rich. All of the repub policies of the last 35 years have favored the rich and funnel money to them. The proof is in the increased incomes and wealth of the rich.

          • Peter says:

            I was accused of “wanting to see the INCOME brackets on the rich move again and money funneled to others”. This was factually incorrect. Please stop “quoting” me.

          • Peter says:

            And literally LOL @ the tax cuts to the rich went right to the debt. Does spending play NO role with you? You realize we could have had tax cuts for everyone AND reduced the deficit had we not gone to war in Afghanistan and Iraq?

          • Big Data says:

            Of course spending and revenue both impact debt. What bush tax cuts did was to cut taxes without corresponding cuts to spending, so yes the tax cuts went straight to debt, and the majority of stimulus of those cuts went to the wealthy where it was least useful to the economy. Imho, that was a big contributor to the combination of excess capital going into risky investments, and depleted fortunes of middle class, that fueled the financial collapse of 2008.

          • Peter says:

            I don’t disagree with you regarding the Bush tax cuts not being accompanied with spending cuts and going straight to the deficit. Especially when a chunk of that spending went to a pointless military conflict. However, I completely disagree with your connecting of the dots to the financial crisis of 2008 though. That had other reasons behind it – that don’t connect to Federal spending or tax cuts.

        • Big Data says:

          “Of course he also thinks his economic perspective is both informed and logical.”
          Yes, because it conforms to published mainline macro-economic research and facts instead of political bias based on narrow personal experience.

        • Big Data says:

          You complain that I ignore all of your stories of personal economic struggle of climbing the ladder, your observations about the laziness of the poor and your philosophies of SWEAR and the like. i don’t ignore them. They give personal insight to the conversation, and can be inspirational in how to improve individual plight. But ultimately they DO NOT MATTER with regard to the impact of government tax, labor, education and trade policy and how it shapes the playing field. You are talking about the person climbing the ladder, and I am talking about the system of ladders, their number, height, and rung separation. I know you just want to talk about the individual struggle because it is what you understand.

          Broaden your understanding.

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