Archive for the ‘Election Countdown’ Category

$250,000 part of the “elite”: Think again, It’s really about the ZIP code.

September 16, 2012

In fairness, both candidates have made comments regarding no cuts for households earning less than either $200,000 or $250,000 (depending on candidate) in the recent tax plan.  I’ve seen a host of comments regarding that particular line in the sand.  And then I started to wonder. I randomly picked 2 professions: A RN (with a BSN) and an accountant to make up the 2 income household.  According to the March 27, 2012 data release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean accountant salary in the U.S. runs $70,130 per year.  The median annual base salary for a registered nurse in the United States is at $65,918.  This household would have a base salary for of $136,048.  Both are professional jobs that require at least a 4 year college degree.  Here are some city by city comparisons:

I used Des Moines, IA as the point of comparison: it’s fairly economically stable, Midwestern city.

To maintain the same standard of living that $136,048 would create in Des Moines, the mythical couple would need to make:

$180,527: Phoenix, AZ

$214,251:  Los Angeles, CA

$217,407:  Oakland, CA (live), SF (work)

$130,345: Birmingham, AL

$175,124:  Anchorage, AK

$161,690: Denver, CO

$237,850: Washington, DC

$142,879: Jacksonville, FL

$131,401: Columbus, GA

$175,770:  Chicago, IL

$129,273: Indianapolis, IN

$132,985: Kansas City, KS

$139,669: New Orleans, LA

$162,577: Minneapolis/St. Paul

$177,962: Baltimore, MD

$213,582: Boston, MA

$187,325: Hartford, CT

$132,839: Omaha, NE

$146,206: Albuquerque, NM

$273,400: New York, NY (all boroughs)

$134,666: Tulsa, OK

$145,961: Pittsburgh, PA

$140,326: Roanoke, VA

$254,583: Honolulu, HI

There is a real danger of a line in the sand approach to tax based on income without matrices to the cost of living factor by zip code.  Randomly picking 2 “average” jobs for a family and plugging them into the salary.com conversion shows a wide array of what the income needed to maintain the same standard of living based on region for the same job.  We can’t find relief for the vanishing middle class buy an arbitrary line.  Part of the alleged tax reform has to include an actualization of real income by region.

64-62 Days Until of Presidential Election: Cookie Monster, Jury Trials and Shopping Malls

September 5, 2012

Day 64: I love my blue furried monster.  I mean, really, how can you not love Cookie Monster? COOOOKIE! (But he doesn’t like celery!).  In a weird twist of fate, Big Bird and I share the same birthday (he’s a bit older, not by much).  I was part of the “original” Sesame Street Generation.  Growing up in the middle of Ohio and then northern Illinois, there wasn’t a lot of diversity: apartments? Corner stores? Different ethnicities? And Spanish?  To this day, I say I speak Sesame Street Spanish (pretty close).  Sesame Street taught me a lot of things: how to count, that really you should eat your vegetables before cookies (sorry my furry friend) and that monsters and birds CAN be friends. I haven’t watched Sesame Street since Mr. Hooper died (I tuned it in because they did a special episode over Thanksgiving my junior year in college: I cried.  My brother mocked me – he’s good at that but he’s an Underdog kid). Apparently Snuffy can be seen by adults but one of the little slivers of that makes this country great is Sesame Street: if anything, it gives those of us who grow up in the middle of the country a glimpse of what another part of the world looks like.

Day 63: I was driving home the other day and there was a new story about another individual being punished by tribunal. As I waited to turn into my parking lot, I realized one thing I’m grateful for: a jury of my peers to determine my guilt.  I’ve never been called to jury duty but it’s the concept.  Yes, it’s really not a “jury of peers” but a jury representative of our community. I’ve lived where there is not a jury system.   We take this right for granted: that if we are accused, we can confront our accuser, we can be tried in an open system.  Yeah, that’s a slice of this place I’d fight for.

62: Ok, I don’t like shopping malls except for in the middle of summer or winter when I’m feeling a bit closed in and decide I have to see exactly how untrendy I am (very) or decide I completely and totally need a (very useless) gadget.  In all semi-seriousness, malls have served some decent purposes: they housed the world’s first indoor rollercoaster (Old Chicago, Bolingbrook Illinois), provided introduction to many people of (American) Japanese, Indian, Thai and Mexican foods, provided countless first jobs, part time work, converted great parks into vast consumerist spots (hmmm, ok that is a bad idea).  Really, the best part of the mall is the store that constantly keeps giving me new iPhones as things keep happening to mine.

Days until the Presidential Election: Day 65. College Football.

September 3, 2012

Ok so autopublish didn’t work: apparently you have to keep the lap top ON to do that.  Whoops.  The phrase “American as apple pie” has always confused me: I mean, apples aren’t American and filled fruit pastries are as universal as creation stories (hmmm….interesting thought).  But football, American football, is as U-S-A as it gets.

This past weekend provided the kick off the college football season: usually pretty boring, smaller Division I schools offering themselves up to larger schools to pay for the athletic budgets.  The weekend provides some surprises: Ohio University upsetting Penn State and Alabama rolling all over Michigan (sorry, that was too easy to pass up).

Maybe you have to grow up in a football crazed part of the country to truly understand why a defeat at the hands of Vanderbilt, Northwestern, and Kansas ranks up there as a calamity.  It’s fun, it’s a break from routine, home games bring huge amounts of revenue into the local communities.

Yes there are very real conversations that need to happen in the arena of college graduation rates, the exploitation of the student athlete in a handful of sports and how sports is perceived in the wider community.  College football, as an institution, is far, far from perfect.  However, in a few areas of the country, for a few hours each week, we can put life on pause and have some fun.  And if you’re really adventuresome, try those Oreos with beer.

Days until the Presidential Election: 71 – 66

September 1, 2012

It was a busy day at the day job and then the watermelon incident : 2 watermelons + one cat = one huge sticky mess.  So, convention number one is over: convention number two about to start (lies, lies and damn lies) and a twitter account about an empty chair.  Let the countdown continue. . . . . .

71: The Smithsonian(s): All of them.  Most are free.  Yes, most of them are on the Mall in DC which is its own mess but really? Everything from The Fonz’s jacket, to a returning Gemini capsule and the Hope Diamond scattered around DC.  Look, I love the British Museum, the Louvre, MOMA but the single collection of an eclectic bunch of museums dedicated from everything from Air and Space, to different indigenous populations to flat out quirky American pop culture all in one place.  I hate going to DC for all of the reasons that make sense but a long weekend trip to the Smithsonian is completely worth it.

70: Dunkin Donuts.  New England bias; but really, somebody has to make the donuts.  There can be a raging debate (and don’t get me started on the ones in metro Boston not being open 24×7 OR making their own donuts) about what is the “best” donut (honestly, there is something insanely decadent about a  hot Krispe Kreme donut).  But millions of New Englanders greet the day with a regular coffee: which of course means with cream and sugar.

69: The Little League World Series: It’s our sport, but teams from all over come to compete.  Did you catch the team from Uganda this year? First time an African nation won a game (sorry Oregon).  Did you see the introduction of the players without subtitles? Did you see kids getting to be kids?  It’s a slice of summer.  And it’s a reminder that really, it’s a game.  Some of those kids might get college scholarships, a lucky few might make a living out of sports but for one summer, they were on the top of the kid world.  And I feel so bad for the loosing team.  They really are just kids.

68: The Roll Call of States:  Each convention does it.  Somebody stands up and casts the delegate votes for each state, territory, commonwealth for the party nominee. It’s not just the act of voting (more later on that) but how: Alabama: The state with the 3 last national college football champions.  Each state with the opportunity to proclaim something grand, funny, sometime snarky about a neighboring state casting the assigned delegates won in primary battles.

67: The Parade of Mini-Vans: aka, dropping kids off at college. Yes, every nation has something equivalent.  However, I live in the Boston area where we have what is known as Allston Christmas.  People moving in/out of apartments en masse: couches have been known to be stolen thinking they were for pickers.  It’s a riot/terrifying/annoying/hysterical event.  Parents lost, not wanting to leave their child, college students all to happy to have the mini-van turn around.  And yesterday, as far as the eye could see on I-90 east…moving vans, mini vans, jam packed cars.  Thankfully, I was going west.

66: Tailgating: It’s been elevated to a new level by my crazy Kansas cousins.  (Beer and Oreos: breakfast of champions).  Grilling out before the game be it in West Lafayette, Austin, Boise or Athens there is something about the fall ritual of donning your team colors, cheering them on and watching the sport.  And Muck Fichigan: I’m for O-HI-O.

72 Days until the Presidential Election: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.

August 26, 2012

The Apollo program was actually higher up on the list but with the news of Neil Armstrong’s death yesterday, I felt the need to re-organize the list of random things that are good about this country.  I’ve never lived in a world where a man hasn’t walked on the moon.  From the ultimate challenge issued by President Kennedy in 1961 to that July night in 1969, a group of individuals worked to have men walk on the moon and bring them home safely. I freely admit to being a fan of the space program: it encourages creativity, engineering and (for me) the ultimate experience a human could have, being able to view the earth without borders.

Thinking about the first mission to the moon and the integral team work required and the multiple ways the mission could fail to this day amazes me.  Creativity is often thought of as artistic: it is equally mathematical. I read in one of the tributes to Neil Armstrong that he, by his own admission, was a nerdy, white sock wearing pocket protector donning engineer from Ohio who simply walked on the moon.  Buzz Aldrin took communion on the surface of the moon.  His statement back to Earth after walking on the moon, “I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way.”, underscore perhaps even minimize the accomplishment.  Michael Collins described the time he spent alone circling the moon as almost exhilarating.

For me, the teamwork, the creativity and sheer audacity to decide to walk on the moon in eight years is one of the greatest accomplishments this nation has achieved. The computing power used to walk on the moon is less than in the standard smart phone.  And as a nation we did it: we put a man on the moon. And another, plus a few more: the entire Apollo operation reminds me of the hummingbird who flies because it thinks it can not because it’s supposed to.  As a country, we have proven time and time again we can do great things when we put differences aside and focus on a goal.

I couldn’t see the moon last night to give it a wink thanks to a few overcast skies but I will this week.  The Apollo 11 astronauts, flight crew and everybody involved did something amazing, that even over four decades later still makes me stop and reflect on the absolute audacity of belief, brain power and courage it took to take a giant leap.

73 days until the Presidential Election: Oreo Cookies.

August 25, 2012

Ok, I was going to start on Day 74 but that would have involved a tirade on trying to find lavender that can be used in cooking in Boston which would have become a long rant on various annoying things people do at grocery stores which is the exact OPPOSITE of what I’m trying to do.

So, expect 73 blogs (give or take) of things that are good about these 50 states, various territories, outposts and things that we have accomplished. Some will be silly, some serious and some historical. All will be written with my inherent bias of a white, lesbian native Midwesterner with a mild disability living in the Boston area.

But today, I choose to uplift the Oreo cookie. Why? It’s simply the best selling cookie in the US. It is proof that one can eat vegan and have a horrific diet. The Oreo, in its simplicity, can spar hours of debate on the proper way to eat an Oreo. I admit doing some light (read Wiki) research. Remember how people (read probably a parent or grandmother) used to try to pass off Hydrox as Oreos? Oreos were invented by Nabisco to compete with Hydrox. Who says copies can’t be an improvement.

Yes, I try to eat as much non-GMO, 100% locally grown food as possible. But let’s face it: there are days that demand Oreos. And water. Never milk. And keep in mind that there is a reason that in October, especially around the 3rd Saturday, orange colored but not flavored filling comes out in the Oreos. We all know who the Oreo gods side with during that game. You never see a crimson colored Oreo. That would, of course, be blasphemy.