Posts Tagged ‘economics’

$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.

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On occupation and other musings

October 9, 2011

I spent yesterday thinking about why the “Occupy Wall Street” protests bother me: I usually don’t care about protests as long as they stay non-violent on both sides.  At some point I realized why I was so bothered: it’s the myth of “all people being born equal”.  While there is a tad bit of truth (everybody is born naked, covered in junk and (hopefully) crying, after that, nothing is ever again equal until the final resting place of the body.  Every thing between is a combination of luck (as most of us railed at some point, we didn’t ask to be born or pick our families), fortune and effort.

For some reason, most people believe the idea of equality.  Ok, let me say this.  I don’t. Equality is a myth.  We all do not posses equal talents (if we did, would there be awe in the innate talents of some people?).  Where are we failing as a society? Has anybody ever seen a kid’s baseball game where all the kids play?  There is something for having every kid have an at bat and in the field but learning that as a person you are not good at something is, I would argue, is one of the more important lessons of childhood.  There is failure when there is failure of effort: NOT failure of skill (I’m speaking about children than people like, oh heart surgeons).

The ideal of a utopia is just that: an ideal.  Can the world be made more equitable? Yes.  But don’t for a minute think we are all equal: we are all unique and with different opportunities.  Our goal should be to maximize the potential.

But on the student loan side: here is a simple solution.  Before being allowed to take out a student loan, parents and students need to take a course demonstrating where they have to pass a test understanding the loan repayment and the needed income (net) to repay, rent a home within a 10 mile radius of the 5 most populated areas for alumni and receive information on the average monthly loan re-payment for graduates in the past 10 years.  Right now, students have to show they know the ‘evils’ of alcohol before enrolling at schools such as the University of South Carolina and Texas Tech.  How about mandating a valuable skill before handing over the fees?

Occupy This

October 7, 2011

I freely admit, I don’t get the “Occupy Wall-Street” protests.  I caught some of the local coverage of the events in Boston and, well, I laughed.  My first thought of the repeating call was, “Hey, I saw that in China before factory shifts 8 years ago.” My second thought was approving things via jazz hands well, was just way too funny.  I’m not going to deny the widening income gaps and record-setting sustained unemployment.  I’m probably one of the few people who can say “Yes, I’m making more money now than I was 4 years ago”.  Save the shoes being tossed: 4 years ago I was working for an “upscale” retailer that pays its employees via 100% commission.  And if a person makes a return? The sales people get hit: never mind if the item was used, had holes or was re-tagged.  I still have my perfectly legal paycheck for $4.83 for a weeks work (38 hours).

I get the anger: I really do.  I’ve worked contract work the past 2 years, paid for my own insurance and become a versatile rice cook.  Part of my bemusement has come from some of the comments made by the protestors: comments about graduating with 120 thousand dollars of undergraduate debt (note: if that is your LOAN payment, “state school”, “realistic expectations”, and “dumb move” are a few thoughts that spring to mind: that and your high school system really needs to teach a course on budgeting).  I get feeling disenfranchised.  My student loan repayment went UP when Sallie Mae bought my loan from Citibank.

Part of me (ok, the part that isn’t terrorized by this call-repeat jazz hand form of communication) wants to go down and poll the protestors.  How many people ranting about wages, greed and what ever else shop at a chain grocery store? Do they purchase items off of Amazon (not independent retailers who use the market front from Amazon but the distribution centers? This story was circulated on the internet a few weeks ago regarding working conditions.  And, in all fairness to Amazon, I ran into the same issue at one of my temp jobs: working in a non-temperature controlled warehouse.)  Sites that utilize the drop-ship warehouse method do not return any dollars outside of wages to local communities.  When going out for a meal, do they go to a chain or do they go  to a local dive?  In short, how much to they actually think about the economic return to their local community through their purchases.  Or, are they protesting corporate greed fueled on their Seattle-based $4.50 latte?