Tag Archives: Politics

Rich look poorer, poor much richer – report distorted to make average Joe happy – despite Depression

350px-Personal_Household_Income_UIt’s so very wonderful to learn this week that “median household income” in 2014 was $53,657, even if it was down from $57,843 in 1999. You can still buy a nice basket of goodies on $50 grand a year. If only it were true.

Most jobs pay about $31k. Many families have just one parent or one spouse working. Something doesn’t add up. Welcome to the world of making statistics lie to fool the peons into believing serfdom is almost as good as living in a castle.

First, the bad news for the poor. The government is reporting your household income much higher than your wages. You may be earning $20k at a lousy job, but Uncle Sam’s statisticians massage that number upward by adding:

  • The value of the free lunches your children eat in school.
  • The estimated net price of the Medicaid and Medicare received for healthcare.
  • Pensions, unemployment insurance, welfare, workman’s comp.
  • Social Security retirement and disability payments.
  • Tax refunds, alimony and childcare payments to you.
  • Supplemental Social Security and Earned Income Tax Credit.
  • Heating and utility subsidies for the poor.
  • Women’s and children’s subsidized clinic care.
  • The estimated value of government-provided childcare.
  • Employer cost of healthcare premiums, pension payments and insurance.

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You’re never lonely when your liberal heroes send you endearing, friendly emails about grass and roots

Sherrod Brown [info@sherrodbrown.com] today warned me:

“Ohioans didn’t send me to the Senate to compromise away their future. And you didn’t get involved in this grassroots movement to sit on the sidelines and watch this radical agenda get across the finish line.” I agree, even if I’m not from Ohio (but the wife is, so how does Brown know?).

Then he tells me:

And our grassroots network won’t grow stronger unless we invest in it. Contribute $5 — or whatever you can — to help right now.

Surely, the fate of a grassroots movement shouldn’t rise or fall on a retiree’s $5 donation, and I wonder why some liberal hedge fund manager won’t just contribute $500 million and let 100 million of us have enough for coffee and a donut tomorrow morning.

Jennifer Petty also dropped me an email this morning, and it’s nice to get correspondence from young ladies when you are now past 70. Jennifer starts out with “Hey Friends” and goes on to explain the reason for this missive (which has partial yellow background, wow!):

I am sitting at work today, reworking our budget for the 2nd quarter. While we have been doing well, it looks like we need to raise $5,000 by April 30th to meet our goal.

She seems to want more than just $5, but she probably knows I have some money left after the donation to Brown. Jennifer explains why she wants my dough:

 Please consider sending a generous gift today.
Your contribution will go to helping recruit progressive Democrats to run for office in 2014 and give them the support they need to build successful campaigns.

I also seem to have a friend  in Adam Green from Bold Progressives.Org, who suggested yesterday afternoon:

Can you help us draft a populist fighter for senator? Join Draft Schweitzer today!
(You can also donate $3 that Brian will receive on Day One of his campaign, so he can hit the ground running. Over $25,000 raised so far!)

Bruce Finzen also emailed yesterday. He’s with the Center for Public Integrity, and thinks I’m not one of those $3 givers:

Help me make sure that the Center can continue its work in the public interest and has the resources to leave no stone unturned. Your gift of $30, $50, $120 or more will help ensure they can. Please give as generously as possible.

So many email friends. So little money to donate. Oh well!

Even a small third party would exert tremendous influence on economic policies with swing vote

Jared Bernstein recently asked how we can move forward with economic change in this country. Mine was one of many fine answers:

The political solution to your question is even more politics. Two parties that espouse different social value views, but the same basic economic principles, now also decide in favor of the class that sustains them – the wealthy. Other nations have third and fourth parties that concentrate almost solely on things like minimum wage, paid leave, universal healthcare. When you vote for them, you vote for your pocketbook, not whether or not the Easter bunny should be included in public school books.

Both of our major parties have tremendous baggage if they try to attract votes from the other party’s social issue spectrum. Why would a very religious, pro-life person vote for a liberal, who may agree with a hike in the minimum wage, but also vigorously supports abortion or extreme secularism.

The Democratic Party will never attract the working class vote, because it has too many litmus tests. Do you agree that guns should be nearly banned? Do you approve of in-state tuition for folks who are not even American citizens? And on the other side, do you believe that we should have prayer in school and the world was created less than 4,000 years ago?

An economic party with candidates that only stood for fairness in income distribution and all the common sense worker protections, might elect ten or fifteen Senators, a couple dozen Representatives – not enough to select the Senate Majority leader or Speaker of the House, but enough to create a swing vote that represented the people’s financial interests, a block that would need to be consulted for its support.

 A small third party would also be immune to the usual Washington advancement pressures. A minority party would be doomed to never electing a President on its own, but it would also permit its members to be their own man or woman.

Jared Bernstein Blog

$6,000 healthcare deductible lowers birth rate in the U.S. and keeps many from marrying

Some pundits have recently commented on other blogs that the birth rate seems to be declining among middle class citizens.

In my opinion much of this terrible trend is caused by economics – newly minted healthcare insurance plans that no longer just require co-pays, but have a huge first contribution.
When a family has to pay the first $6,000 in healthcare costs in a year – having a baby is suddenly a very expensive proposition, especially if you are below the median $32,000 annual earnings level.
It doesn’t impact Medicaid pregnancies for the poor (virtually no cost), nor do the rich consider $6,000 much more than chump change.
A single plan doesn’t cover any costs of pregnancy. And if you get a family plan when already pregnant, it doesn’t cover childbirth or its complications, if any.
So, it is not just inequality of income that is threatening to destroy the middle class, it is the extreme costs of having a baby, even with insurance.
Another result of this high healthcare pregnancy cost is its affect on marriage rates. A single woman with no income qualifies for Medicaid, which pays for her childbirth at no real cost to her. If married most women would find that their husband’s income raises their family to a level that does not qualify for Medicaid. Not surprisingly, folks figure out what is best for their finances and don’t get married, as shown by declining marriage rates.

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