Who Actually Earns $400,000 Per Year?

by Emily Guy Birken · 5,925 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? 

Money Saving Tip: An incredibly effective way to save more is to reduce your monthly Internet and TV costs. Click here for the current Verizon FiOS promotion codes and promos to see if you can save more money every month from now on.

{ 5925 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!


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.


Peter N June 30, 2016 at 9:59 pm

I agree with that.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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…..


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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===


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Peter June 28, 2016 at 7:28 am


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


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.


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.


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….


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.


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.


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.


Leave a Comment