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Tilting at Windmills

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September 4, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

HAPPY LABOR DAY!....Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press, here's a handy map showing how far median incomes have dropped over the past six years. And it's good news for most of you: Compared to Michigan and North Carolina you're not doing so badly after all. So stop your sniveling.

UPDATE: This map is wrong. Median incomes have dropped over the past six years, but not by this much. Corrected data is here.

Kevin Drum 1:46 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (238)

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But relative to inflation, we're all much better off. And "Mean" ages are 10.3% higher!

Posted by: Ayn Rand on September 4, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah!

Hey ... wait a minute. I'm in Michigan. Working for a company based in North Carolina.

I'm screwed...

Posted by: zeeeej on September 4, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

If the Democrats don't make that into a roadside billboard, they deserve to lose.

Posted by: Eli Rabett on September 4, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Happy Labor Day indeed. Wow, that's a discouraging map.

Posted by: Linkmeister on September 4, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting that DC saw slightly positive growth. Those that set the policies don't see the negative effects as strongly as all but a few sparsely populated states.

Posted by: djmogo on September 4, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Americans need a new deal.

Posted by: Hostile on September 4, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

RI has the greatest, almost the only, growth of median income in the country? Whoa. What is going on here?!?

Posted by: PaulinRI on September 4, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

So who are all these rich folks who moved to Wyoming? I want names.

Posted by: bobbyp on September 4, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

But toys from China are cheap! Screw bread and circuses! We have nachos and Blackberrys! Double bacon cheeseburgers and iPods! Jumbo bags of chips and PS2s!

Posted by: shortstop on September 4, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

(Yeah, I know all those toys don't come from China--you can keep the corrective posts, thanks!)

Posted by: shortstop on September 4, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

PaulinRI >"RI has the greatest, almost the only, growth of median income in the country? Whoa. What is going on here?!?"

Must be good times for the local Mafia branches

"Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact....Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth." - newshog@gmail.com

Posted by: daCascadian on September 4, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

It's an interesting map, but meaningless without additional data to put it in perspective. It's household income, after all, that people spend. If things are bad in Texas and Florida, why are people moving there? Do people in Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming feel prosperous? I bet not. If Utah and Mississippi are in such bad shape, how likely is it that they'll vote Democratic?

Paleoliberals like you push more and more data to show that Americans are just squeezing by, and yet they vote over and over again (by small margins, it's true) for Republicans. An op ed in the Post explained why the poor aren't all that poor. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/01/AR2006090101409.html


There's also a nice piece by Sebastion Mallaby about what can be done. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/03/AR2006090300741.html

Posted by: Alan Vanneman on September 4, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Alan: Click the link. These numbers are for househould income. More than likely, the figures are even worse for individuals.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on September 4, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Alan,

Don't know about Florida, but a lot of people are moving to North Carolina because of the bad economy. The population booms are in the mountains and the coasts for reason.

A person who is solidly middle class can retire and sell their family home in New York and New Jersey and buy a near-beachfront mini-mansion in a gated community in places like Brunswick and New Hanover counties with enough left over to live in style for the rest of their days. In the mountains, the same is true, although the majority of newcomers come from Florida for some reason.

This doesn't do much for the locals, since the retirees don't start new businesses. They do drive up the prices of everything else, making owning a home impossible. This creates a lot of service industry jobs with low wages, but not much else.

Posted by: William Davis on September 4, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Please note that the drops in mean income don't correspond to places where immigration, legal or otherwise, is highest. So I don't think you can dismiss the decreases as caused by immigration.

Posted by: CaseyL on September 4, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

'00, '02', '04 . . . how's that working out for you, red states?

Posted by: penalcolony on September 4, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

From the Wash Post 09/01 link:

"In 2001, the country's per capita income was far higher than in 1973 -- according to the Census Bureau, roughly 60 percent higher -- and unemployment rates were lower."

Isn't per capita income a method where you take all income and divide it by the total population? Useful for some issues but not for determining if median wages have been declining for 6 yrs? Couldn't we still have rising income disparity, and worse still a situation where the slice of the income pie going to the top 2% gets larger and larger, yet still have a per capita income figure that's rising?

Posted by: Not Raising in Arizona on September 4, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Few facts can warm my heart more than
to see a 10.5% drop for the yokels in
Mormon Utah who were 75% Chimp last election
and who clearly support torture and
absolutel indifference to children as
casualties in Irag. Still not enough to
make me think there is a just god but
a bit of poetic justice in any case.

Posted by: Bashwho on September 4, 2006 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

That minus 10% in Utah is exactly the amount that LDS members are required to tithe their church...

Posted by: Slothrop on September 4, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

great story great post. perhaps someone might show this to all those perplexed economists who can't quite figure out why americans perceive the economy as poor despite all those neat numbers coming out of washington and wall street.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on September 4, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Some states are explainable:

Wyoming's having an oil and gas boom (the state government is making like a rockchuck, squirreling away money for the forthcoming recession).

The District of Columbia is gentrifying. The poor are slowly evacuating. Same thing happened in San Francisco, and is happening now in Portland, Oregon, where I suspect a new light rail line could be contributing to soaring home prices in the main historically-black neighborhood.

Florida has a lot of in-migration from retirees and second-home people, but locals, while almost all employed, don't get paid much. This is causing a lot of migration. Service workers are now bused to the Keys from the mainland. Teachers are moving out of Palm Beach County to escape the soaring cost of living, or just to be able to live in a bigger house someplace else. The Tampa Bay economy is thriving thanks to a lot of enterpreneurial activity and relocations from colder climates.

Posted by: Dave on September 4, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

from the original: The figures show Michigan's median household income fell more than any other state's during the last six years. It was $46,039 in 2005 -- 12% less than what it was in 1999 when adjusted for inflation.

1. the index of inflation is a linear function of increased prices in a large "basket" of goods and services, but median income is not a linear function of income. There is an intrinsic difficulty in comparing linear and nonlinear functions of the same underlying trends.

2. exactly what goods and services, made as literally equal as possible, have actually increased in cost over the last 6 years. Sure some kinds of medical procedures that are new are expensive, but magnetic resonance imaging for knee and head injuries is cheaper, and so is arthroscopic surgery (when you compare exactly the same inury and outcome in the two years.)

Over the past 8 year, the cost of similarly equipped Jeep Grand Cherokees has hardly changed, but the Grand Cherokees are now available with more features like side-impact airbags and ABS brakes.

Horses, farriers, cruises, and lots of stuff like that may be more expensive, but pork steaks cost the same. It's even cheaper to get a roll of ASA400 color film developed and prints made than it was, because of the newer equipment.

I do not know what products and services you guys buy in your economic universe, but all around me a median income buys more of almost everything than it did 6 years ago -- at least of those things that actually existed in the same form at both times.

Particular auto repairs are more expensive, but new cars are better, so the lifetime (or teen-year or 5-year) cost of repairs is lower than before.

The one item that is clearly more expensive is fuel. Luckily, the Pres and Congress worked for years on a bill to address the issue, it passed last year, consequent constructiion is underway, and effects will be felt soon. Between them, government and private industry have approximately tripled the output of biofuels this year over last.

Either you have a terrible bias against anything that isn't bad news, or else you have a terrible bias against anything that might not help the Democratic party.

Here is a rephrase of a question that I got from a site called the hayekcafe: For an equal income, even without the "inflation adjustment", would you prefer the goods, services, and prices of 6 years ago? Or do you prefer the goods, services, and prices of today? After making a thorough list of all the stuff that you want to buy, could you really by more of it for $40,000 six years ago than you can now? I don't think so.

And remember, for those 65% or so of people who do in fact own their own homes (or parts of them: you know the mortgage problem), inflation represents increased purchasing power, because the heaviest single item is housing costs.

Posted by: republicrat on September 4, 2006 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

RI has the greatest, almost the only, growth of median income in the country? Whoa. What is going on here?!?

It's "inflation-adjusted" income. This probably means that RI experienced a downturn in the market for high-priced houses. End of the "housing bubble" that Kevin Drum has been following.

Posted by: republicrat on September 4, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

More from the original.

19% of children in Michigan lived in poverty, up from six years ago.
...
Almost a third of the state's African Americans lived below the poverty level.
...
Detroit remained one of the poorest big cities in the country with almost a third of its residents living below the poverty line.
...
Cities and townships posted drops in median household incomes ranging from 24% to 6% and poverty rates increased in all but three cities.

This might be why the incumbent Democratic governor of Michigan is facing re-election difficulties.

Note, by the way, that if median housing prices dropped faster than median wages, or if median wages at least didn't fall, then median earners can now afford better houses than before.

Posted by: republicrat on September 4, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

The absolute numbers here are also instructive. Of course, reality-based 'blue' states crowd the top of the chart, while the 'red' ones at the bottom supplement their meager incomes with healthy doses of fantasy.

These numbers are known to jump around quite a bit from year to year. Has anything special happened o Utah? It's dropped 10.5% and was low to start with. Did EVERYONE start tithing?

Anyway, here are the states with 2006 median family incomes, in order:

75541 Connecticut
75311 New Jersey
74879 Maryland
71655 Massachusetts
67354 New Hampshire
67084 Alaska
66472 Hawaii
65174 Virginia
64657 Rhode Island
63998 Minnesota
63863 Delaware
62470 Colorado
61476 California
61174 Illinois
60077 Washington
59686 New York
58647 Wisconsin
57277 Michigan
57170 Vermont
57079 Nevada
55904 Pennsylvania
55343 Wyoming
55073 Nebraska
54971 Iowa
54595 Utah
54086 Ohio
54077 Indiana
53998 Kansas
53744 Georgia
53103 North Dakota
52698 Oregon
52338 Maine
51477 Missouri
51458 Arizona
51411 District of Columbia
50465 Florida
50461 South Dakota
49769 Texas
49339 North Carolina
48775 Idaho
48100 South Carolina
47959 Montana
47950 Tennessee
46214 Kentucky
46086 Alabama
45990 Oklahoma
45730 Louisiana
44097 New Mexico
43134 Arkansas
42821 West Virginia
40917 Mississippi
20107 Puerto Rico

Posted by: Hexatron on September 4, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

A troll promised me yesterday that median incomes are rising. [snark]I can't believe that a Conservative would lie to me.[/snark]

Posted by: reino on September 4, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

I sometimes think that Kevin's approach to economic policy analysis can be summed this way: 1. no cloud has a silever lining; 2. what looks like silver is a looming cloud; 3. silver is a myth.

The figure for California is -3.9%. I live in California, and everything that I buy is cheaper than it was except: my house, my farrier bill. Obviously, shoing a horse is a luxury of no general interest. I am a median income earner, and I am richer, and I have greater purchasing power.

Racehorses are more expensive, too, but they are not included in the inflation index and they are not bought by median income earners. Quarter horses of similar age and breeding are not more expensive.

Posted by: republicrat on September 4, 2006 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

The growth in Rhode Island is likely due to the influx of Massachussets workers moving to Rhody because of the high cost of housing in the Boston metro area. Providence is only sixty miles from Boston.

Posted by: MA AJ on September 4, 2006 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps the increase in Montana, N. Dakota, and Wyoming are from an influx of well paid energy workers added into sparse populations.

Posted by: slanted tom on September 4, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

lessee, all you folks who think things are cheaper or prices haven't gone up: go to the grocery store. Go to the gas station. How often do you have to repair your car? Not very. How often do you have to buy gas? At least weekly. Gas has gone up about 100% in the last 4 years. So that price increase will have a large impact, whereas an increase in car (or human) surgery will have a lesser impact on what your money will buy. How often do you have to buy groveries? In my neck of the wood,real food groceries have gone up by 75% in the last 4 years. I suppose that is why many of the numbers normal folks deal with on a daily basis aren't used in the usual inflation calculations. Which is why a lot of us scratch our heads and are baffled when we hear inflation is about 3%. Real inflation is higher when median incomes go up slowly (3% a year in my case) and prices for every day goods go up fast (more than 3% a year).

Posted by: Carol on September 4, 2006 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

"I do not know what products and services you guys buy in your economic universe, but all around me a median income buys more of almost everything than it did 6 years ago -- at least of those things that actually existed in the same form at both times."

Well, in my economic universe, the products and services I buy include:

food
clothes
electricity
natural gas
gasoline
airline fares
restaurant meals

All of these have gotten more expensive in St. Louis

I'm looking with great interest at college tuition and room/board, since my daughter is headed to college next year. These have gone up markedly in the past six years.

The good news is that my farrier bill, as well as my costs for racehorses and quarterhorses have remained absolutely stable at zero.

Posted by: Joel on September 4, 2006 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Would you rather be an average worker in the 1970s, or in 2006? I'd prefer this year, with much better healthcare, technology, and leisure. YMMV.

Posted by: American Hawk on September 4, 2006 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Hey republicrat, it's nice to know that the cost of developing a roll of film is down a bit. How about the cost of sending your kids to college? Or the cost of taking them to see a doctor if they get sick? How about the cost of the gas it takes to drive them to that doctor's office?

How about the cost of buying a house? Everybody with a camera wants their film developed, but not nearly so much as they'd like to sleep indoors tonight.

Posted by: W. Kiernan on September 4, 2006 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Film? People still use film?

Posted by: Joel on September 4, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

another non-gloomy outlook, and comment on the deficiency of statistics.

Posted by: republicrat on September 4, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

I put this initially on the wrong thread:

alternative takes:

http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=090106B

http://blog.nam.org/archives/2006/09/unions.php

I suppose the Democratic strategy is to persuade swing voters that we are much worse off than we actually are, and to deny the actual gains of the last 6 years.

Admittedly the increased total federal budget is a problem. this year it will be 2% of GDP. If present trends continue it will be lower next year. But to assert that almost everything is worse for us in the middle of the income distribution is false.

Posted by: republicrat on September 4, 2006 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Happy Labor Day indeed.

Every labor day should include a long visit to a large hardware/lumber store. Each Labor Day, millions of American, almost all of them non-rich and non-poor, indeed labor to improve their material wealth, and the hardwar/lumber store is where they translate their monetary earnings into stuff that they can employ to enhance their homes.

These huge stores full of DIY projects, and smaller stores as well, are almost uniquely American. What exists in other countries is a pale contrast. Excepting Canada, of course.

Among those DIYers whom I know, some are Republican, and some are Democrat, but none of them are convinced that they are worse off now than 6 years ago.

Posted by: republicrat on September 4, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Labor Day, 2006
This Labor Day, workers actually have something to celebrate, though you'll detect precious little of it in the mainstream media coverage today:

-- 1.7 million new jobs have been created over the past year;

-- Employment has increased in 48 of the 50 states;

-- Manufacturing output is at an all-time high and production employment in manufacturing has increased by 117,000 over the past year -- the largest annual increase in over 8 years;

-- The economy has grown at 3.5% over the past year, while productivity has grown at 2.4%;

-- Real per capita disposable income has risen 9.2% since 2001;

-- Real compensation has risen 1.7%.

Labor for its part laments the state of the US economy -- again -- and points in its new study to how great things are in Europe. This is almost comical, considering the per capita US Gross Domestic Product (also known as the standard of living) is almost 50% higher than Europe's. The 3.5% GDP growth noted above is 35% faster than the EU's. The current 4.6% unemployment rate is half Europe's rate. US workers unemployed for over a year account for just 12% of the total, while in Europe, some 43% of all unemployed have been so for over a year. Finally, the percent of people starting new businesses is five times higher in the US than in France. Ask yourself this question: If you open the borders, which way will people flow -- toward Europe or toward the good ol' US of A? We think we know the answer.

So today, as you read all the wistful comparisons with Europe and read all the grim news about the US economy, just remember that this economy has come up off the economic mat from September 11 with a vengeance. We remain the largest economy in the world and the economic envy of the world.

And that gives us all something to celebrate this Labor Day.

Posted by: rdw on September 4, 2006 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

You know, the Republicans on this thread are giving me a lot of hope. When people say they are feeling pain and the response from members of the ruling party is a list of the ways in which they are actually better off, you can be sure of one thing.

They won't be the ruling party for long.

Posted by: William Davis on September 4, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

How about the cost of sending your kids to college? Or the cost of taking them to see a doctor if they get sick? How about the cost of the gas it takes to drive them to that doctor's office?

for college, it depends on the college. the quality of instruction at cheap colleges like Community Colleges has increased a lot. In some places, scholarships have kept up with inflation for hard science majores. For doctor vists, the costs of many procedures have declined, even as they have become more reliable and widespread. Gasoline is more expensive. At every age in the age distribution, the medical cost of an additiona year of life has decreased; aggregate medical care costs have gone up because more people want more treatments. for example, of people aged 45 who suffer heart attacks, medical treatments now buy more years of life than before; heart attacks are not that common at age 45, but the same statement is true for every age.

joel, tens of millions of people still use film. For someone who bought a Canon EOS 8 years ago, getting CDs from Kodak is cheaper than making the transition to the Digital EOS. For someone new in the market, or for someone taking many more photos than I do, the benefit to cost ratio favors the Digital EOS.

It may be more expensive to "take a child to the dentist", but a filling is much higher quality and will last longer than before. Hence, the cost of a permanent, high quality repair of a cavity is lower than before.

Posted by: republicrat on September 4, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Oh well, looks like I'm moving to the South Pacific and not the NW Pacific.

Posted by: Costcountry on September 4, 2006 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

electricity

That's the easiest one of all. Electricity prices have increased, but the median income earners are buying more energy-efficient appliances and using them: compact fluorescent lightbulbs (soon to be replaced by broad-spectrum LED lights), microwave ovens, Energy-Star compliant computers (and flat screens instead of CRT monitors) and refrigerators.

I am surprized by how many people pay no attention to the energy consumption of light bulbes and appliances. nevertheless, they are more common, and the widespread adoption of them can reduce your monthly bills. Here in San Diego, SDG&E will subsidize your purchase of energy-efficient stuff because they reduce SDG&E costs.

Posted by: republicrat on September 4, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

if confirmed, here is another example of a reduction in the cost of achieving more "quality-adjusted life years" for a particular at-risk population:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/5311598.stm

Posted by: republicrat on September 4, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Never a number. Ain't republicrat anecdotal?

Here's republicrat getting a bank loan:

"You really should give me this loan, because I'm a very very good risk. Once, I borrowed a whole lot of money, and I paid it right back, and the interest too. And another time--I did the same thing! So what do you have to worry about?"

Posted by: hexatron on September 4, 2006 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

republicrat, I forgot to add that, in addition to electricity, the cost of new appliances has also increased in the past six years in St. Louis. So let's recap:

In the past six years, the cost of electricity has gone up, the cost of new appliances has gone up, and my electricity bill has increased. Any other ideas?

Posted by: Joel on September 4, 2006 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, it does seem like the general message Democrats want to send is a gloomy one, painting a picture of an unfair, poverty-stricken America that most Americans just can't relate to and never see. Maybe it's because we're so far removed from each other classwise. Or maybe it's just that there's more general merchandise available for cheaper and cheaper so fewer people feel deprived.

You might not like the stuff they sell at Wal-mart, but it's good enough for most people, and it's really cheap.

Posted by: Ergon on September 4, 2006 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

While these numbers are multicausal, of course, I don't think you can dismiss mass illegal immigration as a partial cause. Sure, corporate greed is part of it, I grant you that. But adding a million or two unskilled illegals per year to an economy simply has to depress wages. I know you can show studies that say otherwise, but I've gotta take out Occam's Razor for that one: millions of unskilled workers = lower wages for laborers.

Posted by: Ergon on September 4, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, it does seem like the general message Democrats want to send is a gloomy one, painting a picture of an unfair, poverty-stricken America that most Americans just can't relate to and never see.

Alternatively, Democrats could be paying attention to what people say and think, instead of insisting on a Panglossian view. When a recent NY Times headline says, "Three polls find workers sensing deep pessimism," it's worth asking why.

Posted by: RSA on September 4, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

Is this median personal income or household income?

Does it control for demographic shifts in age, etc.?

Posted by: Nate Oman on September 4, 2006 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

republicrat,

What's with the 10:1 posting ratio compared to everyone else? Are you afraid you haven't made your point?

Hogging a thread is just bad manners.

Posted by: exasperanto on September 4, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Spin harder,Repubs!!! They ain't buying it in Peoria!!

Posted by: CN on September 4, 2006 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

In 1973 my sister who was in her early 20s and had worked only a year or two at a clerical job bought a house in the SF bay area for $18,000.

Posted by: segi on September 4, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Nate: There's a damn link as part of the post.

Posted by: Kimmitt on September 4, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

I turned to the comments and I fully expected the normal "wahhhhhhh" bbbut the total number of jobs are the greatest they have ever been." What was unexpected was he overwhelming number of posts from republicrat whining about how Kevin is looking at the glass half empty.

I happen to be in a high demand healthcare job and even I haven't seen much of a hike in my pay in the past 3yrs. My employer is picking up our insurance (that was considered the payraise this year) to help with recruitment but the insurance itself picks up less with higher copays(have a coworker who has surgery where his share came to $4,000) Yes, I am making more money but the reason for that is only because I am working essentially 2 fulltime jobs to save money for retirement. At least half the people I know have a second(part or fulltime) jobs just to get by. I also second the posts above - everything has gone up. Even my mom the bargain coupon clipper shopper has a harder time finding good deals. I could go out and grab a meal for 2 for under $25 easily - now under $35 is a rare bargain. And I am talking about hole in the wall places.

Posted by: bumblebee on September 4, 2006 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

. I could go out and grab a meal for 2 for under $25 easily - now under $35 is a rare bargain. And I am talking about hole in the wall places.

Where the hell do you live? In Austin, I can get a good Vietnamese dinner for myself and my girlfriend for under $20, and that's tipping 20%. CA? NY?

Posted by: American Hawk on September 4, 2006 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

Ergon, let's take Occams Razor out again: When education costs soar, and become too costly for the middle class - and Pell grants become more scarce - what do you think the eventual outcome will be?

Let me help you: More unskilled labor. You may point to those horrible brown people as depressing national wages, but we are in a downward spiral if we continue to make education a four-letter-word, and the subject of dirision.

Posted by: jcricket on September 4, 2006 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

GOP--
Do we have to go through this stupid list again?

First of all, let's take a closer look at the map. You see those nice little plusses and minuses. This kind of map is measuring the CHANGE in the median income over time.

All the things on your brilliant list are things that have existed for at least thirty years. You have to add them to the historic data as well as to the current data. What you haven't proven and what you have to prove is that these "non-money" incomes have grown significantly in the period of time that the map is referring to. Until you do that, what you are saying is bullshit.

Some of the items on your list probably have gone up, some others (like employer-provided health care and retirement benefits, school lunch programs, and general government non-money transfers) have certainly gone DOWN.

Have you forgotten the whole purpose of Republican rule was to cut down on these kinds of government transfers to the poor? Has this crusade been such a complete disaster that these kinds of transfers have actually INCREASED on the GOP's watch? Even if that were true (which is isn't) I'm not sure I'd want to crow about it when you are trying to paint a rosy picture of a capital-centric economy.

Posted by: kokblok on September 4, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

For example, using money income figures, the real median household income in 2003 was $43,318. But after making the adjustments listed above, real median household income in 2003 increases by almost $2,000, to $45,154.

How do your numbers look when comparing 2000 to
2006 ?

Posted by: Stephen on September 4, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Why the 6 year comparison?

Oh, I get it. Bush. Everything is about Bush. (I was going to point out my own income is significantly higher than it was 6 years ago, but never mind.)

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on September 4, 2006 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

I noticed that median income in Hawaii only dropped 0.4%. But when one considers that our median income is already below the national average, that's certainly not saying much.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 4, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, but look how well those 450,000 people dodging all those jack rabbits out in freaken Wyoming are doing. Dick paid everyone off out there.

Posted by: Fred on September 4, 2006 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

Wyoming's rise is singularly due to Cheney's Haliburton windfall.

Posted by: Jeopardude on September 4, 2006 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

william Davis: "[Retirees moving to North Carolina don't] do much for the locals, since the retirees don't start new businesses. They do drive up the prices of everything else, making owning a home impossible. This creates a lot of service industry jobs with low wages, but not much else."

You've also managed to describe my state, and probably Arizona as well.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 4, 2006 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

"After taking into account these adjustments, the income picture is very different. For example, using money income figures, the real median household income in 2003 was $43,318. But after making the adjustments listed above, real median household income in 2003 increases by almost $2,000, to $45,154."

Woot.

Posted by: Joel on September 4, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

If adjusted income has continued to increase since 2003, as the money income data since 2003 suggests, then the real median household income now is likely higher than it was in 2000. But we won't know for sure until the Census Bureau updates its addjusted income figures.

Well, we know that employer-provided health insurance benefits have gone down and we know tht income less the other factors you've mentioned has gone down. We also know that if you take out the top earners then the income numbers look worse.

Posted by: Stephen on September 4, 2006 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

If things are bad in Texas and Florida, why are people moving there?

To be nearfamily, they can no longer afford housing where they are... Spin it anyway you like, it's still the economy, stupid.

Posted by: nunya on September 4, 2006 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

Why the 6 year comparison?

Oh, I get it. Bush. Everything is about Bush. (I was going to point out my own income is significantly higher than it was 6 years ago, but never mind.)

Stuff it in your mattress. You will be unemployed soon and your McMansion will be in foreclosure.

Posted by: nunya on September 4, 2006 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

It's irrelevant whether the data ARE true, gop ... they SEEM true, which is all truthiness requires.

repubs taught us that. :)

Posted by: Nads on September 4, 2006 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

GOP--
So median money income does correlate with real income, or it doesn't? I'm confused here. If the money income is so "bogus" then why are you using it to predict what will happen with the great adjusted income measure?

Posted by: kokblok on September 4, 2006 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

joel: the cost of new appliances has also increased in the past six years in St. Louis.

Are they the same appliances? Americans tend over time to buy bigger and more powerful appliances. Bigger refrigerators with more ways to make ice water and ice cubes. For a given size, appliances are becoming more electricity-efficient and (in the case of washing machines) more water-efficient. Besides that, the lifetime cost of a simple refrigerator of a particular size has declined because they are made more reliable and need fewer repairs.

This is the "apples to apples" issue that people keep raising in different ways. An automatic transmission of a particular car for a particular engine might be more expensive than 6 years ago, or it might not, but it will get better fuel economy and the buyers will collectively pay lower maintenance costs while they own the vehicles.

Fuel is more expensive, but it is worth reminding everybody that the Republican Congress, Republican president, and the market are increasing the production of biofuels, whereas most Democrats in Congress opposed the federal effort to increase biofuels. So I don't see Democrats making good on this issue, except those like Clinton who switched and now support more biofuels.

Another note: median house prices have fallen in many areas where mean house prices have increased. The CPI is more closely related to the mean change than to the median change (the linear vs. non-linear issue that I raised above). Even as the "inflation-adjusted" median income is claimed to have less purchasing power, median earners are able to afford better homes.

Posted by: republicrat on September 4, 2006 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

They won't be the ruling party for long.

No, but we are still left with the mess to clean up after the "smash and grab". What are the chances that any of the loot will be recovered, or the perps get caught and do time?

Posted by: nunya on September 4, 2006 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

It looks like the average drop in Blue states is somewhat larger than the average drop in Red states. Hmm, I wonder how that will play out.

Posted by: glenintexas on September 4, 2006 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

Are restaurant meals more expensive?

Somebody check me on this: at TGI Fridays, the cost of a hamburger and fries, and the cost of a bowl of black bean soup with a chicken caesar salad, have stayed the same. This varies with location, and the product line has changed. At Denny's the cost of an omelette with a short stack of pancakes has stayed the same.

Anyone know how to check these? I don't eat often enough at the same place to know.

Posted by: republicrat on September 4, 2006 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, I get it. Bush. Everything is about Bush. (I was going to point out my own income is significantly higher than it was 6 years ago, but never mind.)

We do get the consolation of knowing that this fuckwit will get divorced by his bitch wife when his salary can no longer support her in the style she has become accustomed to, takes the kids with her and him to the cleaners and he ends up living in a small condo someplace working at half his current salary to support two households and drinking himself to death. You have to settle for what you can get.

Posted by: LWM on September 4, 2006 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

Would you rather be an average worker in the 1970s, or in 2006? I'd prefer this year, with much better healthcare, technology, and leisure.

What good is better healthcare if you can't afford it? Healthcare back then was not only cheaper and more universally accessible but wasn't hobbled by micro-managing insurance companies, who now control the decisions about your health care instead of doctors.

Technology is better today, but is a side issue, consisting of nice distracting baubles, compared to the cost of necessities such food, energy, and housing. As for leisure, people work harder today than the 70s.

It's pretty clear to me that you were not living in the 70s or paying the bills back then.

Posted by: alyosha on September 4, 2006 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

Are you better off today than you were four years ago?

Posted by: Ronald Reagan on September 4, 2006 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

"Bigger refrigerators with more ways to make ice water and ice cubes. For a given size, appliances are becoming more electricity-efficient and (in the case of washing machines) more water-efficient. "

The cost of an item is the price on the item. The energy efficiency is not the purchace price. The purchace price is the price you pay when you buy the item. This has gone up. I'm sorry this is so hard for you. It is a measure of how detatched you are from the everyday reality of life in America.

Dennys and TGI Fridays prices have gone up in the last six years. It is proof that you are out of touch that you didn't notice.

Come back when you get back in touch with reality, republicrat. You haven't shopped in awhile, have you, bucko?

Posted by: Joel on September 4, 2006 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

republicrat--

Current "biofuel" proposals are utter bullshit. In many cases, it takes more petroleum for the fertilizer to grow the corn, process it, etc., than you save by not just using oil straight-up.

As far as the apples-to-apples stuff goes, that is how economics measures things--by prices. Here is a good example. Consider a world where there are only two commodities. One of them, a box of food, has stayed pretty much the same in thirty years. The other one, a computer, has gotten much cheaper and much more powerful.

In 1970, a person would have spent 60% of their income on the computer and 40% of their income on the bag of food. Now, they spend 80% of their income on the bag of food and 20% of their income on the computer. What has changed? Is the computer less valuable than it used to be or more valuable? What about the bag of food?

People spend the vast majority of their income on things that are much more like the bag of food than the computer. Basically, we spend our money on housing, food, and health care.

As far as serious "technical improvements" go, only in health care has the last twenty years seen real serious improvements. And lo and behold, the price of health-care has skyrocketed, thus showing that these improvements really are considered "valuable" by consumers.

People like to talk about things like computers, because they obviously have changed our lives so much. But people are only willing to spend a very small percentage of their income on computers. This is money that would have been spent on 'entertainment' in the old days. Computers are not nearly as important to people as food, lodging, or health care, for obvious reasons.

Apart from health care (which has improved but not gotten cheaper), the other core needs for human life have neither gotten cheaper nor have they significantly improved by any other measure. Housing built today will not last as long as housing built 70 years ago. Clothing today doesn't seem better. Nor do the eating habits of Americans inspire much confidence in the miracles of food science. What about entertainment? More options, yes, but is that "better"? More people will end up watching shitty movies. Who can say if that is "better"? That's why economists use price as their measure...they don't want to get into these thorny questions.

If you really want to compare apples to apples, you have to actually look very hard at the apples. What might be "in style" might not be "better" in any "objective" sense. And once you start going off in that direction, you've left economics behind and entered the world of philosophy.

Posted by: kokblok on September 4, 2006 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

Word!

Posted by: Joel on September 4, 2006 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

Is it just me, or is all this just a total replay of the trickle-down nightmare Reagan inflicted on us? Just like that horse's ass, Bush has given enormous tax cuts to the rich; measly, lip-service tax cuts for the middle class; and at the same time increased government spending like a drunken sailor/spoiled frat boy with a breath-taking sense of entitlement, which in turn creates the biggest deficits in the nation's history. Just like Reagan's trickle-down policies, Bush has achieved brief--VERY brief--inflated growth rates, at a spectacular cost, that will then be followed by a brutal contraction like the one Bush Senior inherited from Reagan.

God help the next president.

Posted by: chisholm on September 4, 2006 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

GOP: But after making the adjustments listed above, real median household income in 2003 increases by almost $2,000, to $45,154.

There you go again. What you fail to point out is that over 80% of that "almost $2,000" is due to imputed return on home equity, which is skewed towards the upper end of the income spectrum.

Moreover, without that adjustment, the experimental measures you cite show a lower median income than the standard measures for 1999-2002, and a nominal increase for 2003.

Thank the housing bubble, although anyone who's paying attention can imagine what it's likely to do to the 2006-2007 numbers. Of course by the time those stats are available, I'm sure you'll have found another set to cherry pick.

Posted by: has407 on September 4, 2006 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

I don't care if I have to live with my family in a cardboard box under a bridge and eat sparrows cooked on an old curtain rod -- hell, I'll volunteer for the gig -- provided the Republicans can guarantee for me that the gay guy in the box on the right doesn't even get a curtain rod, and the black guy in the box on the left doesn't get have a sparrow.

God bless America, and nobody else.

Posted by: True Believer on September 4, 2006 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

What William Davis at 4:22 PM wrote is worth repeating:

When people say they are feeling pain and the response from members of the ruling party is a list of the ways in which they are actually better off, you can be sure of one thing...
They won't be the ruling party for long.

Spin, GOP, spin! Do you really think anything you say here will make any difference whatsoever? What a joke!

--
HRlaughed

Posted by: HRlaughed on September 4, 2006 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

Labor Day! Let's see, what's on Headline News tonight!

An hour of Nancy Grace, followed by an hour of Glenn Beck, followed by an hour of Showbiz Tonight, followed by an hour of Glenn Beck followed by an hour of Nancy Grace.

The only part that's news is Showbiz Tonight. It's the corporation telling you who you are.

Posted by: cld on September 4, 2006 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

GOP--

I still don't get it...something either correlates with something else or it doesn't. If there is a consistent correlation between increases in real income and increases in adjusted income (are you also calling this "real" income? Get your terminology straight), then why do you say it doesn't correlate? You are trying to have it both ways, saying basically that money income only correlates with adjusted income when money income is positive, and that the adjusted income will always increase at a greater rate than the real income....do you see why this doesn't make sense? Why would it be the case that real income would ONLY correlate with adjusted income when the real income growth has been positive? This is having it both ways.

And you have said you actually WANT us to use the increase in money income over 2003-2005 to PREDICT the increase in adjusted income over the same period. But then you say there is not even a correlation between the two. Except that there is. Maybe. Color me confused.

And of course, in your latest post, you pick a curious starting point for your comparison. 1979?! Why not just go all out and pick 1930? I'd bet you'd see real strong growth using that date as your starting point!

In any case, I find it amusing that a small government type like yourself would be touting the adjusted income as the proper measure. I thought that taxes and government benefits were theft!

Posted by: kokblok on September 4, 2006 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

real median household income in 2003 increases by almost $2,000, to $45,154.

Almost exclusively "net inputed return on equity
in own home "

Posted by: Stephen on September 4, 2006 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK
exactly what goods and services, made as literally equal as possible, have actually increased in cost over the last 6 years. Sure some kinds of medical procedures that are new are expensive, but magnetic resonance imaging for knee and head injuries is cheaper, and so is arthroscopic surgery (when you compare exactly the same inury and outcome in the two years.)

in 1999, my health insurance costs, for myself and two dependents, in North Carolina, were about $40/month. The MRI i had on my shoulder cost me exactly $0 out of pocket.

in 2006, my health insurance costs, working at the same company, for the same two dependents, are roughly $300/month. The MRI i had on my head this year cost me approximately $750 out of pocket.

Welcome to the real world.

Posted by: Barry Ragin on September 4, 2006 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

God help the next president. - chisholm

Nope, not gonna do it

Why should I ?

Posted by: God on September 4, 2006 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

It would be interesting to know the median income of those who Troll-for-Pay. I think the neatest situation would be to have a government job with trolling as your primary duty. Think about it, you could get paid by taxpayers to tell them how stupid they are. War is peace.

...and yes, I saw the Louis Theroux program on the beleagered porn-stud who was "Gay-for-Pay."

Posted by: kostya on September 4, 2006 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

Once you stop chuckling at True Believer's witty post, you are left more than a little bit dismayed that such post, like all good humor, is based in fact.

And, that that particular fact is what the Republican party, to its shame, I hope, basically has been using to get itself elected for some time.

Sure, there are other conservative values that actually have meaning. However, as those values don't result in a majority you need to add something else to your platform.

Posted by: hank on September 4, 2006 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

the troll responses on this thread are even more pathetic and impotent than usual--"I notice lots of people shopping at hardware stores on Labor Day."

Weak

Posted by: haha on September 4, 2006 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

Stephen--

Thanks for that little tidbit about the dominance of the housing equity "income" in the figures. Something was nagging at me about those adjusted figures, and there you go.

Of course, if one is going to take these kinds of things into account, one should also look at the other end of the ledger, especially the remarkable rise in indebtedness and lifetime interest payments on credit cards and loans.

In any case, the best way to measure change is with longitudinal surveys, and so far these have been rather limited in scope. Let's hope the Census puts more money into those kind of surveys, which tell you much more about how average Americans' lives are changing.

Posted by: kokblok on September 4, 2006 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

don't forget all the people who will be losing their homes and life savings due to the mortgage crisis.

Posted by: haha on September 4, 2006 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't per capita income a method where you take all income and divide it by the total population?
Actually, given a bunch of incomes - half are lower and half are higher. You are thinking of the average.

I was once in the same room with Bill Gates. The average net worth skyrocketed while he was there. I, however, was poorer when the event was over when I paid for parking.

Posted by: George Johnston on September 4, 2006 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

Or the cost of taking them to see a doctor if they get sick?

If the issue is to compare the changing purchasing power of dollars, then it is important to compare like things or services to like.

1. Since 2000, the cost of effective treatment of HIV/AIDS has come down, and an equal dollar payment can buy drugs that have fewer side effects. both of those represent increased purchasing power of the dollar.

Unfortunately, the total population of HIV-infected in the US is rising. Worse, the incidence and prevalence of multi-drug-resistant HIV infections are both increasing. Thus, the cost of treating HIV/AIDS is increasing.

2. Every year, lots of people in the US tear the ligaments in their knees. The cost of effectively repairing these knee injuries (I emphasize the effective repair) has declined.

3. Every year lots of people in the US get cancer. For each type of cancer, the cost of a cure, or of bringing about an extra year of life when cure doesn't occur, is cheaper than before.

joel: The cost of an item is the price on the item. The energy efficiency is not the purchace price. The purchace price is the price you pay when you buy the item. This has gone up. I'm sorry this is so hard for you. Either you are ignoring the fact that the two refrigerators are not in fact the same, and hence can't be used as a basis for measuring changes in the purchae power of money; or you are ignoring the fact that what you are buying is refrigeration. Ignoring the cost of running the appliance over the time you own it only makes sense if you do not ever run it.

kokblok: Current "biofuel" proposals are utter bullshit. In many cases, it takes more petroleum for the fertilizer to grow the corn, process it, etc., than you save by not just using oil straight-up.
...
As far as the apples-to-apples stuff goes, that is how economics measures things--by prices.

Current biofuels proposals can be improved upon. However, a series of reviews in the Journal Science have shown that they do not in fact consume more energy than they consume.

When you make claims about the changes in the purchasing power of a fixed amount of money, prices are inded the correct measures, but you have to make sure that you are comparing the same "things". Or you have to look at the exact same amount of cash and compare what it can buy you. Consider what you can now get for $5000, compared to 6 years ago, in home communications and computing: the same nominal amount of cash buys more now.

As always, the really expensive "thing", compared to 6 years ago, is fuel. That increase in price was not caused by American fuel policy, Democrat or Republican, but by the remarkable economic growth of the rest of the world (at least that part that trades with the U.S.)

Posted by: republicrat on September 4, 2006 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

I live in California, and everything that I buy is cheaper than it was except: my house, my farrier bill.

What alternative-universe California do you live in?

In my state on planet Earth, the following have skyrocketed in the past 6 years, just to name a few: groceries, restaurant meals, gasoline, airline tickets, health insurance (with *less* coverage and higher copays and deductibles), car insurance, junior and UC college tuition. In my areas house purchase prices have more than doubled, while rents have jumped over 60%, with none of those magically-convenient "quality adjustments" you use to explain away any increase - they're the exact same properties, only slightly older and worse for wear.

Government biofuels programs are nice, but they haven't done jack to hold down the cost of gasoline, so they are as irrelevant to this discussion of consumer price inflation as your farrier bills, caviar prices, colonic services, Learjet leasing rates and whatever hell else you spend your money on.

Repubicrat, why do I get the feeling that if this data showed that incomes had risen at a good clip, you'd be posting 20 times trumpeting the veracity of the numbers and the stunning economic success of Our Lord Savior Kim Jong Bush?

Posted by: tech98 on September 4, 2006 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

kokblok: for biofuels go here:

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/311/5760/435?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=biofuels&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT

but if you are really interested, go to a university library nearby and read back issues. some municipal libraries also carry Science, so check yours.

You can read all you want online if you join AAAS. otherwise you can read the summaries and then buy the full PDFs that you want.

Posted by: republicrat on September 4, 2006 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

tech98: I already addressed rising housing costs. For people who already own their own homes, about 65% of Americans, increased house prices are increased wealth, not decreased wealth.

health insurance

you have to check and see if the coverage is really exactly the same. If you are covered now for treatments that didn't exist back then, or if you pay out of pocket then and now for certain treatments like fluoxetine, then your purchasing power has not in fact decreased. Insurance premiums are "skyrocketing" because people are buying more and more care with their premiums.

food lots of little-processed or non-processed foods are cheaper than before. For me, eggs, milk, and pork steaks are cheaper.

Posted by: republicrat on September 4, 2006 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

GOP

What "statistics" do you have that tell you that houses are constructed better now than they used to be? They may be larger, yes, but that doesn't mean they are of better quality. We'll take a look in thirty years and see how many of these "well-designed" houses are still standing. They said the same thing in the 1970s--"oh, our ranch houses are much more solid than those old victorians!" Was that correct?

And even with size itself, the reason they can be larger is that they are further away from job centers. That's a cultural trade-off. Is it better to have a bigger house and less free time, or a smaller house closer to work and more free time?

New cars are probably better than old cars, especially if you take 1979 (your favorite year?) as your starting point (actually, many european cars of older eras had pretty good fuel economy and lots of cool features. Ever been in a Karmann Ghia?). But "cars" are not really a category of spending--"transportation" is. And we actually have less real transportation options than we did thirty years ago. Have you tried to take a train in this country recently? Have fun with that. Has airline service "improved"? How about city buses? I'd say it's a wash.

I conceded health care. We don't disagree, although of course sometime soon health care advances will also start to show diminishing returns.

Food is more varied, but its been varied enough for thirty years. Is the fact that you can now get morel mushrooms a sign of serious progress for the average person? Is a greater variety of food that great a thing after a certain point? Does the food we have today provide us with greater satisfaction and health than the food we had in 1980? How would you measure that? The health statistics sure don't look that good.

And does the entertainment we have today satisfy that human need for diversion better than the entertainment of thirty years ago? How would you measure that?

The broader question is, of course: If everything is getting cheaper and better, why on earth doesn't everyone have pockets full of cash and why isn't everyone screaming about how happy they are? Why is the national savings rate down so much? Why is everyone paying so much money to credit card companies? Just where is all that money going?

Obviously, something is going on other than the "march of progress" you describe.

Oh, on another note, have you figure out the word "correlate" yet?

Posted by: kokblok on September 4, 2006 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

because I am accused of hijacking the thread, I'll close:

1. look and what you can buy at the two time points, 2000 and 2006, for exactly the same cash.

2. look at exactly the same good or service, exactly the same good or service that you are intending to buy (dental health, refrigeration, computer functionality).

for people whose earnings are near the median, purchasing power is greater now than in 2006 for almost everything except fuel. for people who own their own homes housing inflation represents an increase in wealth.

Posted by: republicrat on September 4, 2006 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

republicrat,

Does anyone take you seriously, ever? Or is that not the point of your little exercise in futility? We have a troll like you on a legal blog that gets his ass beaten down by both sides because he is so out to lunch. He's actually an attorney. Who is paying you?

Posted by: nunya on September 4, 2006 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

GOP

What "statistics" do you have that tell you that houses are constructed better now than they used to be?


That's total crap, except where code upgrades were fought tooth and nail in Florida after Andrew. Face it, chumps. Spin till your dizzy. You've lost the House. One heartbeat and one failed pacemaker away from President Pelosi.

Posted by: Nunya on September 4, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

GOP--
If the equity income accounts for 80% of the increase, there is not much else left. And almost all housing experts agree that the housing market will slow to a considerable degree: they differ on whether it will be a "hard" or "soft" landing. As far as your comparison to the stock market bubble, well, what's your point? It WOULD have been stupid if you made a prediction of stock market income for 2002 based on the highly inflated 1999 numbers. Which is exactly what you're doing here. Some forms of income are steady and solid, others arise out of strange short-term historical quirks. Equity income is of the latter category.

Posted by: kokblok on September 4, 2006 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

The number of trolls here spinning the pitiful economy is very interesting.

Posted by: nunya on September 4, 2006 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

Plame, anyone?

Posted by: joe on September 4, 2006 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

GOP,

If spin could feed more people than just your family, you might not be out of a job soon, but shit only floats for so long. Someone finally flushes. Enjoy the ride on the waterslide.

Posted by: Nunya on September 4, 2006 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

GOP--

"The correlation is weak, as you can see from the fact that the 2002-2003 income change was negative under money income but positive under adjusted income."
.....

If money income has increased since 2003 (and it has), then it is likely that adjusted income has also increased. Between 1979 and 2003, every year that money income increased, adjusted income also increased."

...........

"But changes in money income do not correlate with changes in adjusted income. That's one reason why the money income data is bogus. For example, using money income, the real median household income fell between 2002 and 2003. But using adjusted income, the real median household income increased between 2002 and 2003. And it has likely continued to increase since 2003."

Straight from the horse's mouth. I confess I don't really understand what point you're trying to make. Is the correlation "weak" or does it not exist? This whole thread started with a discussion of the drop in money income between 1999-2003. You want to use a different measure, the adjusted income, to prove that things really aren't getting worse. But then you admit that the trends for adjusted income has in fact followed along rather nicely with the money income, except for in the year 2003, when they diverged. You first use this divergence as proof that the economy is doing better than we think (money income is a baaad measure), then turn around and use some pathetic gains in money income to predict that there will be significant gains in adjusted income. Do you see why this doesn't make any sense? Why it is sort of a bait-and-swiitch?

Posted by: kokblok on September 4, 2006 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

Can you tell that a republican is in the White House ? Obvious to me looking at the CRISIS. OH MY GOD another CRISIS.Why didnt you go back TEN or Twelve Years. Surely Clinton had nothing to do with the Numbers Prior to Jan 20 2001. The first day BUSH took office everyones income dropped, hasnt come up wont never come up.But when the Seventh Seal is broken and the LIBERALS take over the Senate. THE SECRET PLAN.Harry Reid has a secret plan to rid the whole world of poverty. Not just Americans but the whole world. More money for all & fair taxes (unless you make over $35000 per year) then you will be classified as rich.Tax the rich, feed the poor taxes will solve all our problems Robin Hood will return. When Dinjy Harry breaks the SEVENTH SEAL the scripture says "on his left arm he will have a code to bear fruit to all and on his right arm will be a key to un lock Algores box and all will see the glory of AL"
The problem is people think that the GOVERNMENT will be the savior, never look at yourself to solve a problem sit on your dead ass and say " I cant OH OH I cant" say it long enough and some DEMOCRAT will come and tell you its George W Bushs fault and vote for me . BEEN THERE DONE THAT. At least when a Republican puts his hand in your pocket he will tickle your nuts but a Democrat will chew them off (slowly).

Posted by: Glyn Lockhart on September 4, 2006 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

Wyoming's rise is singularly due to Cheney's Haliburton windfall.

This map shows the drop most states had over the last six years, yet Wyoming is notable for having had the second largest increase over that span. And, as noted, six years ago is when Cheney changed his official residency from Texas to Wyoming. Coincidence? You make the call!

Posted by: scott on September 4, 2006 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK

GOP--

Average commutes have certainly risen in the last thirty years. I'm sure DOT has statistics on that, it's fairly common knowledge.

Hours worked have increased. This should be obvious based merely on the mass entry of females into the workplace in the years 1960-1990. But this is even true for males. I believe the latest Census data release has this info in it as well (this was even on the USA Today headline).

Vacation time is down.

More hours worked plus longer commute equals less free time.

I don't actually have any empirical proof that houses built TODAY are more flimsy than houses built sixty years ago. That's anecdotal, just like your assertions that they are "better-built". However, houses built twenty years ago are definately more flimsy than houses built sixty years ago. To find this out, all you have to do is look at the housing stock of any major city. Census also collects data on housing age in the regular population census (look at the purple book). You have a bunch of old housing in the center, then areas where more recent housing in being demolished and replaced by new housing. Check the correlation between age of house and house value in the Census tables. Pretty interesting.

Contractors would generally agree that housing material quality has gone down in the last thirty years generally speaking. People are more interested in using their home as a short-term investment, not in staying there for the long term. There is a loss of craftsmanship that is well-known. Even the very wealthy often must put up with shoddy materials. They aren't as involved in the home-building process as they used to be.

Posted by: kokblok on September 4, 2006 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

Lets see, I've been unemployed for over a year.

My plight is not unusual just read this from yesteredays St. Louis post dispatch:
http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/business/stories.nsf/workplace/story/155F2B7A2E6A95CE862571DC007D96AA?OpenDocument


I have over 15 years as a systems analyst for fortune 500 companies. I recently earned a law degree (a doctorate).

I can't get employment as an analyst despite massive amount of experience because there are over 500,000 h1b worker visas in the U.S. (equal to the number unemployed) and Bush recently signed and executive order creating 200,000 just in case a company might be forced to have to hire an American.

I am on the threshold of losing everything I've ever worked for, including my doctorate in law, thanks to the economic policies of the 4th reich.

Bitter? in a word, Yes.

There are 18 mega rich families that have sponsered the activity to undo the inherentence tax, they are the ones who paid focus groups moterators to come up with 'death tax'. Republicans won't pass an increase in the minimum wage unless they pass a Paris Hilton relief act against the inherentence tax.

In short, there are 300 million Americans. Of these 300 million, the republicans represent 18 families.

Think about that.

18 Families control the entire Republican party. The republican party puts 18 families ahead of the 300 million american electorate.

That ought to be all the public needs to know to kick these people out of office.

18 versus 300 million.

boggles the mind really.

Posted by: Bubbles on September 4, 2006 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

" At least when a Republican puts his hand in your pocket he will tickle your nuts"

Only if you are younger than, say, age 12. Any older, and they are just fishing for your change.

Posted by: Mysticdog on September 4, 2006 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

GOP--

But this started as an 'apples vs. apples' argument. In the case of transportation, there really is less choice than there used to be, for whatever reason. You have to factor that in. Maybe in some cases the apples really aren't getting better.

Also if you're going to factor in something as nebulous as the pleasure gained by having the choice of a morel mushroom, you should definately also factor in the pain caused by the dissolution of strong local family and friend networks commented upon by the APA and others who actually look at the psychological costs of our "progress". Both are very nebulous, but only the morel pleasure is measured by our current economic indicators.

This is getting very far afield, though, off the topic of the thread, which is median income.

Posted by: kokblok on September 4, 2006 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

GOP: No, there you go again. First, the income figure is the MEDIAN household income, so your claim that it is "skewed towards the upper end of the income spectrum" is just nonsense.

Bullshit. Home ownership, and hence the benefit from imputed return on home equity, is significantly higher among the upper quintiles. E.g., for 1999-2003 the top quintile's (quintile 5) benefit from imputed return on home equity was, on average: >4.0x quintile-1; >2.6x quintile-2,; >2.0x quintile-3,; and >1.4x quintile-4.

No, as I said, the adjusted income is higher even without taking the return on home equity into account. And there is no consensus amoung economists or real estate experts that there is a national housing bubble anyway.

Bullshit. It is not higher for except for 2003. As for "no consensus amoung economists or real estate experts that there is a national housing bubble", the question is not whether there has been a housing bubble, but how hard or soft the landing will be.

But if you're going to play that game, we may "thank the stock market bubble" for much of the income gains among the rich, so if income casually attributed to "bubbles" is to be excluded, then the apparent rise in income inequality in recent decades is an illusion.

Bullshit. An analysis shows that the median income figure, as with the imputed return on home equity, is distorted by the gains in the upper quintile. E.g., for 1999-2003, the top quintile's (quintile 5) benefit from capital gains was, on average: >490x quintile-1; >210x quintile-2; >60x quintile-3; >11x quintile-4.

Posted by: has407 on September 4, 2006 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

GOP--
I think income inequality is bad for people at both ends of the income spectrum. It is bad for reasons that are very different than the reasons absolute poverty are bad. Some liberals equate the two too often. This is somewhat understandable, but it is misleading. Ending absolute poverty should be the first goal, making sure everyone has the minimum for a dignified life. After you have accomplished that (and I think we have done fairly well at this so far, largely thanks to government programs that you probably want to cut), then you can start thinking about the evils of inequality, which are more subtle but which also cause problems that are just as serious for the people who encounter them.

People think in relative terms. Always have, always will. Rockefeller in the 1950s was happier with his position than a middle-class schmuck today, even though that schmuck has the internet. Extreme inequality breeds very bad moral outcomes, no matter what absolute level you are at.

Arguing that our standard of living has improved is a double-edged sword. As the poor get wealthier, the less moral claim they have on society's assistance. But at the same time, as the rich get wealthier, the more ability and moral obligation they have to assist society. It's like a chinese finger trap, and its why even if our nation gets richer as a whole, that doesn't mean bad things for "liberal" economic policy.

BTW, I'm not changing my mind about the current, empirical state of the median wage. I'm just saying that my political philosophy does not compel me to trumpet doom and gloom where it doesn't exist. It just happens to exist in this case. Frankly, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for liberal policies if this nation really was getting wealthier overall. It might be bad for the environment, but that's a different story.

Posted by: kokblok on September 4, 2006 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

You know, the competition is stiff but I think GOP's post at 7:32 would be of interest to theoretical physicists. Near as I can tell it offers proof positive that some humans (such as GOP) live in an
alternate universe right here.

Posted by: chaboard on September 4, 2006 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

"You know, you keep making all sorts of empirical claims for which you provide no evidence and justifying them with an "everyone knows it's true" wave of the hand. I'm not going to bother going through them showing that they're false."

You mean like claiming that houses are better constructed today than in the past?

I appreciate the artiful way in which you unilaterally redefined the question of hours work as pertaining only to production workers.

You're hardly in a position to be critiquing the methodology of others.

Posted by: W.B. Reeves on September 4, 2006 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't David Letterman buy a ranch in Montana? That alone probably accounts for the increase in median income in that state.

Posted by: Len on September 4, 2006 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

That's the easiest one of all. Electricity prices have increased, but the median income earners are buying more energy-efficient appliances and using them: compact fluorescent lightbulbs (soon to be replaced by broad-spectrum LED lights), microwave ovens, Energy-Star compliant computers (and flat screens instead of CRT monitors) and refrigerators.

I am surprized by how many people pay no attention to the energy consumption of light bulbes and appliances. nevertheless, they are more common, and the widespread adoption of them can reduce your monthly bills. Here in San Diego, SDG&E will subsidize your purchase of energy-efficient stuff because they reduce SDG&E costs.

TRANSLATION:
While it may be true that people can't afford as much food as they used to, they're actually richer now because the new belts can be cinched much tighter.

Posted by: craig on September 4, 2006 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

On old houses and cars:

Victorian houses carry a premium because they were built before the complete destruction of the tradesmen. While unions still use the terminology of journeyman to master, they are not equivalent.

The master tradesman of the pre-modern era was not working class. They were more akin in prestige and training to physicians and the professorate. A master carpenter ran a shop of journeymen and apprentices not because they had the capital to start a factory, but because they had earned the prestige and respect of their trade. There is simply no equivalent to them in modern society.

As for cars, would anyone really say that a modern Ford was the equal to the Fords of the '50s and '60s? There's a reason that there are more "classic" cars on the road than there are cars of the '70s and '80s. When the last of the plastic and tin vehicles made in Detroit today are rusting in the junkyard, people will still be driving '65 Mustangs.

Posted by: William Davis on September 4, 2006 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

The Arab cabby who took me picked my up at Lowe's and took me to Applebees for a wonderful dinner of meatloaf (under $20 including tax & tip) in morally upright Franklin County told me he was much better off now that he could buy airfreshners in bulk at a low, low prices thanks to NAFTA.

Posted by: Brooks Friedman on September 4, 2006 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

GOP--

OK, read the damn USA Today cover story on the Census from this past Wednesday. I read it at the airport. There's your source for the working hours data. Is that too hard? Sorry, I'm not your damned librarian.

"Production Workers". Ha! That's funny. How is it that you went to look at all the data and only came back with that little cherry-picked datum? Could it be perhaps because in today's economy, "production workers" are one of the few job categories that is actually shrinking in terms of its significance for the national economy? Don't tell me you went to all that trouble to find the BLS site and could only find that pitiful subset of data.

How stupid do you think I am?

In the 1970s, it was unheard of for anyone but top executives to work more than 60 hours a week. Now it is commonplace. There are so many sources that attest to this, I find it insulting that I actually have to lead you by the nose to some specific table. It wouldn't matter anyway, you'd go to BLS or Census and find the one table that supports your view. Forget it.

Some things you read about a few times, see some tables, and say, yep that's what's happening. Increasing work hours is one of those things. Increased commuting is another. I must have read 200 news reports on these topics over the years. Even those who have very different points of view than me concede that these things are happening. What next, do I have to guide you to an original copy of Copernicus to prove the earth goes around the sun?

Posted by: kokblok on September 4, 2006 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah,Glyn it's the Democrats who increased payroll taxes. Uhm,wait, was Ronnie Raygun a Democrat? The same payroll taxes that were supposed to take care social security and then Alan Greenspan,uhm,wait he's a Democrat right? with George W.Bush,uhm another Democrat who stole the surpluses of working folks and gave them to the super wealthy. And uhm, GWB was working with a Democrat Congress right? NOT. I won't even go back to the 30s with FDR or 60s with LBJ. No, lets get this straight, the Dems might supposedly chewy your nuts but the Repubs will get them in a vice grip and let them turn blue and then chop them off and then you will have to go the ER and have some hack M.D. take care of the medical ussues and you'll pay your medical bills which you won't be able to claim bankruptcy for even though you'll be out of work for several months and then to rub salt in the wound you won't even be able to sue the republicant or the quack doc for damages.

Posted by: beezle on September 4, 2006 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

The US and other countries have had true economic problems at various times. Under Carter we had inflation of 10% or more. Other countries have had even more ruinous inflation at times. Europe currently suffers from high unemployment -- around 10%. Iraq's unemployment is around 25% IIRC. We've seen economies so bad that there was widespread hunger and starvation. We've seen economies where education is unavailable.

In the US, the inflation rate is low. The unemployment rate is low. Hunger is not a problem, although obesity is. It's relatively easy to start a new business or find a job or change jobs. Educational opportunity is widespread. Americans benefit widely from modern technology -- computers, cell phones, air conditionaing, etc.

Kevin's effort to paint all this good news as bad news is amusing. Thre's no point in debating his particular statistics, because they're not being used honestly or professionally. They're being cherry picked to try to prove that white is black.

Here's a quote from a blog making the same point:

And what is Meyerson's case? He hearkens back an America from 1947 to 1973 when "More Americans bought homes and new cars and sent their kids to college than ever before" and writes, "That America is as dead as a dodo." He doesn't present data to make his case, which is understandable because the America of today is even in better economic shape than the America of his golden era. Let's take his own criteria -- home ownership, car ownership, and the percent of the population with college degrees. In focusing on these data, I'm assuming that Meyerson cares about whether Americans own homes, own cars, and have college degrees, not whether they bought houses, bought cars, and went to college last year.

Take home ownership. In the first quarter of 1965, the first date I could find quickly, 62.9 percent of American households owned their homes. That was during Meyerson's golden era. In the second quarter of this year, the "dead middle-class era," it was 68.7 percent, an all-time high. Cars? What's relevant, as with homeownership, is the percent of the population that owns cars. And this has boomed. In 1970, presumably near the peak of Meyerson's golden era, there were 108.4 million vehicles registered in the United States; by 2003, this had soared to 231.4 million, an increase of 113.5 percent, while the population had risen by only 42.4 percent. And note that Meyerson doesn't even mention air travel, which, due to deregulation and technological improvement, has become so much cheaper that even poor Americans, let alone middle-class ones, can now afford to fly. How about college? In 1970, only 10.7 percent of the population 25 years old or more had a college degree; by 2004, this was up to an all-time high of 27.7 percent.

The bottom line is that the vast majority of us are doing well by the standard measures.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 4, 2006 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

P.S. Here's a link to another article making the samd point about how good the economy really is. http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=11943

Surprisingly, it's from the American Prospect --a leftist publication.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 4, 2006 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't Bushworld a lovely thing?

Have a Happy Labor Day!

TCD

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 4, 2006 at 9:37 PM | PERMALINK

'The Arab cabby who took me picked my up at Lowe's and took me to Applebees for a wonderful dinner of meatloaf (under $20 including tax & tip) in morally upright Franklin County told me he was much better off now that he could buy airfreshners in bulk at a low, low prices thanks to NAFTA.'
--Brooks Friedman

After eating that mass of meatloaf, I'll bet that A-rab needed some air fresheners!!

Joe Bob

Posted by: Joe Bob Briggs on September 4, 2006 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

Are restaurant meals more expensive?

Somebody check me on this: at TGI Fridays, the cost of a hamburger and fries, and the cost of a bowl of black bean soup with a chicken caesar salad, have stayed the same. This varies with location, and the product line has changed. At Denny's the cost of an omelette with a short stack of pancakes has stayed the same.

But, these burgers were made on energy-efficient cook-tops(!), so the overall cost of the burger is down. And god knows the low-paid the people working there can't even afford soap to wash their hands at home, so whats the real likelihood theyll do that before they serve you? So the restaurant probably saves in hot water expenses as well.

What do you think about eating that fresh fruit from Wal-Mart? Do those essentially homeless field laborers need any facilities at all, so your apples will be three pennies cheaper?

Posted by: Harry R. Sohl on September 4, 2006 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

No, kokblok, it's worse than that. In 1970, I didn't need a computer - I had a typewriter and all I had to do was buy paper. I didn't need to pay an ISP, either.

The amount of neat stuff has increased, but the necessity for having it has also increased.
I can still remember that moment when it was getting difficult to get anything done because everyone wanted to do things by e-mail and I wasn't online yet - I had to get online because it had become the only way to do business.

Yes, it's wonderful that all of these new necessities are cheap, but the trouble is the old necessities are still there and they are costing more money. And the means to getting that money are just not what they used to be.

Posted by: Avedon on September 4, 2006 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

Gee, this thread is full of Care Bears and Unicorns and My Little Ponies from Republicans! Why, everything is just hunky dory!

So why haven't any of you mentioned that over the past 5-1/2 years this Republican President and Republican Congress has accumulated something on the order of $15,000 in debt for every man, woman, and child in the country? (It actually is more if you include all the interest.)

I wonder what kind of an increase in "purchasing power" you can come up with when you figure that little statistic into the mix?

Posted by: Jennifer on September 4, 2006 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

Those who claim that houses are better constructed today are obviously not in the construction industry. Houses may be larger in size but the quality of building materials and the craftsmanship has definitely gone down. Particleboard is now the material of choice for roof decks, floors, and any other place where plywood was previously used; lots of plastics instead of wood. Everythng is cheapest available unless constuction is a custom build. I live in Texas where the average residential construction job is manned by one or two English speakers and dozens of illegals many of whom have no previous construction experience, but they work cheap. The influx of illegal workers has definitely driven construction wages down and has to be a significant factor in the decline of wages in the construction industry. My wages rose about thirty percent during the Clinton years and have risen less than ten percent since Bush took over. Do I blame Bush? No, I blame congress. Illegal immigration and cheap imported labor is the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about when discussing declining wages.

Posted by: sparky on September 4, 2006 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

Census Bureau Report 8-04
Income Stable, Poverty Up, Numbers of Americans With and Without
Health Insurance Rise, Census Bureau Reports

Real median household income remained unchanged between 2002 and 2003 at $43,318, according to a report released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. At the same time, the nations official poverty rate rose from 12.1 percent in 2002 to 12.5 percent in 2003. The number of people with health insurance increased by 1.0 million to 243.3 million between 2002 and 2003, and the number without such coverage rose by 1.4 million to 45.0 million. The percentage of the nations population without coverage grew from 15.2 percent in 2002 to 15.6 percent in 2003.

Census Bureau Report 8-05
Income Stable, Poverty Rate Increases, Percentage of Americans
Without Health Insurance Unchanged

Real median household income remained unchanged between 2003 and 2004 at $44,389, according to a report released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. Meanwhile, the nations official poverty rate rose from 12.5 percent in 2003 to 12.7 percent in 2004. The percentage of the nations population without health insurance coverage remained stable, at 15.7 percent in 2004. The number of people with health insurance increased by 2.0 million to 245.3 million between 2003 and 2004, and the number without such coverage rose by 800,000 to 45.8 million.

Census Bureau Report 8-06
Income Climbs, Poverty Stabilizes, Uninsured Rate Increases
Real median household income in the United States rose by 1.1 percent between 2004 and 2005, reaching $46,326, according to a report released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. Meanwhile, the nations official poverty rate remained statistically unchanged at 12.6 percent. The percentage of people without health insurance coverage rose from 15.6 percent to 15.9 percent (46.6 million people).

Posted by: Mike on September 4, 2006 at 10:10 PM | PERMALINK

I live in CT, work in public sector, monitor employer-provided healthcare - it's down, a little more than income change rate, more like ten percent for the "working poor" or trades. My gross wage is right at that high average in post above. Classic boomer (55). Divorced single father of two part-time male teenagers - I don't have the numbers, R-crat, (and few "adjustments"), but I got that numbness that comes from banging your head and not getting anywhere's. And no freaking horse to feed, just a dog. Feels like Peoria to me. Clinton era was WAY better. More folks, across the whole spectrum, got a little bit ahead. Fewer crooks in DC.

What's up:

Grocery bill- 15%, chicken, milk, fresh veggies, Gatorade, detergent, TP. I don't think R-Crat shops, he's out havin' a beer with the farrier, talking about wonderful Limbaugh....or listening to Glenn Beck....

Fuel oil - gets cold here. Same as gas...

Gas - duh?

Utilities - 15-20% depending on where you live, more in FFld. County

R-crat's arguments are empty, whistling past the graveyard. Trickle down retread. Go Ned.

Posted by: SouthernWreck on September 4, 2006 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

It's pretty clear to me that Dems are grasping at straw. I await another GOP victory this November.

Posted by: Donkey_Courage on September 4, 2006 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

All this proves is what a great Governor George Bush was. Since he left, the mean income levels in Texas are down 9.9%!

Posted by: al on September 4, 2006 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

but white middle class workers had several non-economic reasons to vote repub (such as fear of arabs, homosexuals, and women), reasons which may or may not still be present and which may or may not be supplanted by economic reasons in 2006, even if present.

that particular american prospect quote doesn't really address economics as a reason to vote, only as a demographic descriptor.

Posted by: Nads on September 4, 2006 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

Trains have declined because they are slow, expensive, inflexible and poorly-suited to modern residential and work preferences.

But trains can engineer, pardon the pun, an effect as a building catalyst. Look at the colossal development in neighborhoods where Washington's Metrorail built stations. D.C. is a completely different metropolitan area than it was when Metro opened 30 years ago. The same thing probably has happened to a lesser extent in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, thanks to their new rail systems. And this isn't even taking light rail into accounts in places like New Jersey's "gold coast" (the Jersey City/Hoboken waterfront).

Posted by: Vincent on September 4, 2006 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

Hey GOPeePee and Republidick, when the numbers suck (and they really do), talking points and bullshit don't change reality for working Americans. Get a freaking grip on reality and pick another battle. I suggest you try sugarcoating the deficit, now that really could use some lipstick.

Posted by: Don' want to be an American Idiot on September 4, 2006 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

Grazie, Nads. Yep, all of those fears, the Cheney lies. But the worm turned, and it is standard of living, quality of life, that became the wake-up call. The Beemer and Benz quintile in their faces, the 2,600 GI's.

The same good ol' Reagan Dems have finally thrown in the towel, they know it ain't no fable, they're driving Hyundai's instead of a F-150. The gave JoeNO the finger, by a respectable percentage, and change is gonna come.

Posted by: SouthernWreck on September 4, 2006 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

The "stagnating middle class" fable isn't working. People know it's a lie.

Ever notice how lying republican pricks are always telling people what they "know"?

GOP, you are repulsive. Peddle your spin and bullshit elsewhere. I hear the Club for Growth pays well.

Posted by: Captain Goto on September 4, 2006 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: qq on September 4, 2006 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

These numbers all add up to this one: $23,700, the household income at which a white voter was more likely to vote Republican than Democratic in the 2004 congressional races.
Posted by: GOP

we can call this the white trash line ... where 55% of middle class white voters feel comfortable enough to be susceptible to the racist and mysoginistic propaganda of the republic party, and vote their moral cowardice.

any lower, and the economic reality of voting republican sets in.

... and the systematic reduction in the proportion of white voters will hopefully make future stats like this increasingly meaningless.

Posted by: Nads on September 4, 2006 at 10:48 PM | PERMALINK

GOP- Well, well, well, well...At least your not trying to spin the bad income numbers. Now its time to gloat over winning the 2004 election. I have to wonder where you got your race/income level data for your figures? Karl Rove?

Posted by: Don't want to be an American Idiot on September 4, 2006 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

So is anything going good according to the Libs in charge of the Hezbocrat party, everytime something positive is mentioned, reams of doom and gloom and nasty conspiracies abound.Seems to me that if all the liberal obstruction ceased maybe some positives would help us all out. But we all know that can't happen, they would feel that the Republicans might be right about something and thats more ugly then terrorism to these Hezbocrats. The one thing they do agree on is taxation, everyone the same accept them.

Posted by: George on September 4, 2006 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

So is anything going good according to the Libs in charge of the Hezbocrat party, everytime something positive is mentioned, reams of doom and gloom and nasty conspiracies abound.Seems to me that if all the liberal obstruction ceased maybe some positives would help us all out. But we all know that can't happen, they would feel that the Republicans might be right about something and thats more ugly then terrorism to these Hezbocrats. The one thing they do agree on is taxation, everyone the same accept them.

Posted by: George on September 4, 2006 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

Hey George...I got something positive, I just saved 200 dollars switching to GEICO.

Posted by: Don't want to be an American Idiot on September 4, 2006 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

Why does it matter that your house value has gone up? Why is it a good thing? Why does it affect positively affect income? I am not saying that its losing value is good but values doubling can only be good for investors. Its your damn house and the idea is to pay it off not freaking well borrow on it. How is it good for the average person to not be able to buy a house which is what happens when you have these doubling values. While it may be an investment you still need to live somewhere. I guess you could buy a place in a high end area and retire in a lower income area and live off the proceeds but how many people really want to do that.

Posted by: beezle on September 4, 2006 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

Clinton era was WAY better

On the whole, improvements in the the Clinton era were a little bit better, and the federal deficit grew more slowly. But the Clinton era also produced the dot-com boom and bust, and an asset boom and bust in the stock market. That era was not uniformly better.

So why haven't any of you mentioned that over the past 5-1/2 years this Republican President and Republican Congress has accumulated something on the order of $15,000 in debt for every man, woman, and child in the country?

I mentioned that. If the debt is to be repaid out of federal income taxes, most of it will be paid by the higher earning classes, who pay most of the tax and who are the ones benefitting the most now.

As for cars, would anyone really say that a modern Ford was the equal to the Fords of the '50s and '60s?

Yes. Higher fuel efficiency, longer lasting moving parts, lower lifetime repair bills, fewer people killed smashing into steering wheels, better sound systems and lots of other amenities.

People think in relative terms.

Some do more than others.

In the case of transportation, there really is less choice than there used to be, for whatever reason. You have to factor that in. Maybe in some cases the apples really aren't getting better.

That's a worthy point, and in some cases the apples may not be getting better. Aside from reduced opportunties for riding trains, do you have any other examples?

My point has been that lots of things are cheaper, maybe even almost everything, but not everything.

Good point about declining quality of housing construction. My previous 3 houses were all better constructed (in the 20s) than this one. Good solid wood instead of the artificial junk. What's better now is the quality of interior fixtures: stoves, A/C, heaters, bathtubs, faucets.

However, in this area, this house is better than those built 20 years earlier, and 40 years earlier.

There are 18 mega rich families that have sponsered the activity to undo the inherentence tax, they are the ones who paid focus groups moterators to come up with 'death tax'. Republicans won't pass an increase in the minimum wage unless they pass a Paris Hilton relief act against the inherentence tax.

That's off-topic, but I do support inheritance taxes, especially for large inheritances. Apparently, however, about 2/3rd of Americans disagree with me on this.

Who is paying you?

No one pays me for this.

Posted by: republicrat on September 4, 2006 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

Can't help but notice that none of the Republicans want to address the $15,000 in government debt the Republicans have racked up for every man, woman and child in the country - in only 5-1/2 short years.

I'm looking around for my share of it, my $15,000, and I can't see where it went. It hasn't gone into healthcare for me or my family or neighbors. It hasn't gone into the schools around here, or the streets, or anything of any use to me or my family or my neighbors. I know that about 1/7th of it went to Iraq, where a lot of it went "missing" via fraud or just outright incompetence...some of it went to oil companies in tax breaks and I still ended up with $3 a gallon gas, while they ended up with billions in excess profits...I know that about 1/5th of it went to tax cuts and I have seen more assholes driving Hummers, but that does nothing for me or anyone but the asshole driving the Hummer, for whom, I suppose, some measure of inadequacy is thereby relieved...I don't think it created any jobs for anyone I know for the asshole to buy the Hummer, and he would have bought something else otherwise, so don't see any benefit there....nope, I can't think of anything I've gotten in return for my $15,000. I haven't even gotten competent airline security or a responsive FEMA...so...nothing....

You know, if I were a Republican reading what I just wrote above, and imagining how damaging that message would be if it ever got hammered home, I would break out in a cold sweat...until I remembered that the other party is the Democratic Party, who can be relied upon not to raise such disturbingly uncivil observations.

Posted by: Jennifer on September 4, 2006 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

Interestingly, presumably using the same exit poll data that gop used for his splutterings, the 20% of people who said that the "economy/jobs" was the most pressing issue in 2004 elections voted 80% Kerry.

Given the failure of republic economic policies, and the increasing poverty and uninsured rates, I can only assume that the percentage for whom this is the most important issue will increase.

... and that doesn't even address the foreign policy failures and the anti-iraq vote, itself promising to be a referrendum on bush's inadequacies.

Posted by: Nads on September 4, 2006 at 11:22 PM | PERMALINK

六合彩 六合彩

Posted by: dd on September 4, 2006 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

All I know is that my salary doesn't go as far as it did several years ago, probably due to the constantly increasing cost of oil. In the past 5 years my pay has increased maybe 6%, but look at how much other things have gone up in the past five years:

Can of corn 5yrs ago=.69 today .99 43% increase
Package of almond M&Ms 2.49 " 3.59 40% "
gallon of gasoline 2.00 2.79 29% "
gallon of hse paint 15.89 18.69 15% "
gallon of water .50 .60 20% "

I could go on, but you get the picture. What's going to happen as oil goes higher and higher? I forsee in the next ten years that the typical family of 4 will be in deep shit, unable to afford much at all and busting ass just trying to exist at this rate...

Posted by: nikolai on September 4, 2006 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

I'll do that just as soon as you address the thousands of dollars in government debt the Democrats racked for every man, woman and child in the country over the past 50 years.
Sauce for the goose...
Posted by: GOP

you're being a dishonest apologist ... the national debt skyrocketed from 1980 to 1992 PERFECTLY; grew MUCH more slowly between 1992 and 2001, and again started to rapidly rise w/ bush:

http://www.publicdebt.treas.gov/opd/opdhisto4.htm

By any measure, whether it be total debt, debt adjusted for inflation, or debt as a percentage of GDP, republic presidents are massively disproportionately responsible for it.

http://zfacts.com/p/318.html

Which makes sense for a party which espouses bullshit economic theories.

Posted by: Nads on September 4, 2006 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

Jennifer: I can't think of anything I've gotten in return for my $15,000.

About half the people in the U.S. pay no federal income tax. Those people do not have to pay back the debt. About 8/9ths of total federal debt is owed by the government to other Americans.

It is possible that you have a retiremant plan, or even a whole life insurance policy. In that case, some of the debt is owed by the American taxpayers of the future to you. If you collect Social Security in the future, some of the money that you receive will be the repayment of that debt to the Social Security "trust fund".

Posted by: republicrat on September 4, 2006 at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK

nikolai- Don't worry, you can borrow against your house to make ends meet. Hey thats a good GOP slogan - Don't worry, just borrow.

Posted by: Don't want to be an American Idiot on September 4, 2006 at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. People here are working very very hard to turn this innocuous litle graph into ammunition in the war between Democrats and Republicans.

What a collosal waste of time.

Fighting for sides in a two-party "democracy" is a laughable diversion. You people are like convicts arguing over which cook makes the best slop in the jailhouse cafeteria. Go ahead, beat the other guy with a chair. After you "win" you'll still be IN JAIL.

It's even more hilarious when you invoke "red" and "blue" states to make a point. Look at the vote distribution. All the states are a creamy purple color. You waste your collective breath barking up the wrong tree; at nothing.

You know what your Us vs. Them circus really accomplishes? It diverts useful attention away from sensible consideration of individial issues ON THEIR MERITS. It drowns meaningful debate in a cacophony of barking and knee-jerking. No wonder our "elected" officials so easily hijacked the ship of state and plunged hundreds of billions of our dollars into the smoking crater of Iraq.

Well good morning, fellows. That's hundreds of billions of dollars funneled through the military-industrial complex and snorted up into rations, guns, and body armor. And caskets and crap pensions. And meager "college funds". It's not a very good return-on-investment and never has been. And now - big surprise! - the economy's feeling it.

Keep yapping on about Republicans and Democrats if you like. In the meantime, policymakers are politely ignoring you and passing cryptic legislation you don't even BOTHER TO READ.

Posted by: Garote on September 4, 2006 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

Well, Jason already did a good job in responding, GOP, but I'll add to it.

To do an apples to apples comparison, we have to look at the debt attributable to complete Democratic control of Washington...just as for the past 5-1/2 years, there has been complete Republican control of Washington. And the last time that happened was during the Carter administration. When he left office, the total accumulated national debt was about $1 trillion - but as you say, that covers about 50 years. You could add Clinton's first couple of years in office before Congress went GOP, and perhaps add another $250 billion (because I'm feeling generous) and you get debt attributable to Democrats of something like $1.25 trillion. With Bush and the GOP Congress (so far) it stands at close to $3.5 trillion. In 5-1/2 years.

I'm with Jason. I don't think that
The Republican Party - We Can Piss Away 3 Times More of Your Taxes in 1/10th the Amount of Time is going to be a winning slogan for you folks. That's not exactly what most folks have in mind when they complain about "inefficient" government.

Posted by: Jennifer on September 4, 2006 at 11:54 PM | PERMALINK

About 8/9ths of total federal debt is owed by the government to other Americans.
Posted by: republicrat

you're being misleading ... in 2003, the 2.9 trillion of the 6.8 trillion total was held by government accounts (~ 42%).

Of the 58% of public debt, ~30% is held by state/local govs, and the federal reserve.

blanketly asserting that ~90% of the debt is owed to ourselves is dishonest.

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04485sp.pdf

Posted by: Nads on September 5, 2006 at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK

Jennifer: I can't think of anything I've gotten in return for my $15,000.

Republicrat: About half the people in the U.S. pay no federal income tax.

That's a disingenuous figure. A large chunk of those people are claimed as dependents by those that pay taxes for the household. The rest are either retired, or too young to work.

Those people do not have to pay back the debt. About 8/9ths of total federal debt is owed by the government to other Americans.

You say "other americans" but what you really mean is the banks and companies that the government has borrowed that money from. (US Bonds are in general not bought by individuals.) In effect, this is money that the government must repay, at a nice low-risk interest rate, to the shareholders. Which MAY then "trickle down" to the rest of citizens. So when you say "owed to the American people", that too is disingenuous. It's money owed by all taxpayers to only those with money to lend. In effect, it leverages US citizens as a socialist state in the service of the wealthy, for an unknown span of future time. Put another way, it is a means by which the wealthy use our government's wasteful spending policies to extract money from taxpayers.

It is possible that you have a retiremant plan, or even a whole life insurance policy. In that case, some of the debt is owed by the American taxpayers of the future to you.

Actually the problem is your phrase "taxpayers of the future". Those are the children of today. The federal deficit is essentially mortgaging their lives, without their knowledge, to pay back debts on crap they were too young to vote for or even be aware of. Any way you slice it, it's a bad form for government to take.

If you collect Social Security in the future, some of the money that you receive will be the repayment of that debt to the Social Security "trust fund".

Good luck collecting on that particular gutted pork barrel. The Social Security "trust fund" is "entrusted" to a team of all-too-human investors who have, especially in the recent decade, taken to playing investment games more similar to roulette than to the prototypical "trust fund". How much of that was eaten up, for example, by the collapse of Enron alone? Disregarding what Enron istelf was supposed to pay its own employees?

Posted by: Garote on September 5, 2006 at 12:09 AM | PERMALINK

garote- your point of the economy feeling the pinch of Iraq is excellent but I sense a hostility directed at all politicians from you as well. Pick your lesser evil and work within those confines or I fear your efforts are futile.

Posted by: Don't want to be an American Idiot on September 5, 2006 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

Given the complexity of the budget process, and the absence of strict party-line voting patterns, neither party can be attributed complete "blame" for deficit budgets or complete "credit" for surplus ones. In addition, budgets are affected by macroeconomic forces such as periodic booms and recessions that are a part of the business cycle and largely independent of public policy. And there are still other effects that I won't bother to go into. So your whole ridiculous exercise of trying to assign complete "blame" or "credit" to either party for changes in the deficit or debt at a particular time is fundamentally flawed.
Posted by: GOP

wow ... you're getting particularly retarded now. first, you've suddenly decided that this is a "nuanced" issue ... BUT only after having your ass handed to you by THREE separate posters, including a gop-impersonator, who pointed out that under repub administrations, especially reagun, the debt rose massively, and that repub presidents are uniformly responsible for its current state.

... and it contrasts nicely with your initial assinine verbal diarrhea:

I'll do that just as soon as you address the thousands of dollars in government debt the Democrats racked for every man, woman and child in the country over the past 50 years.
Posted by: GOP

so ... according to a jackass like yourself, the debt is either the responsibility of dem administrations or is too nuanced of an issue to be attributable to either? despite 30 years of data demonstrating that the republic party is almost solely responsible.

what a whore you are ... is your mother proud?

Posted by: Nads on September 5, 2006 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

To Don't want to be an American Idiot; I already did borrow against the equity in my home, which was my largest and most important asset. Now my job is in jeopardy, and if I'm laid off(which looks pretty likely)I'll have to sell my home and since the market is down, I'll take a beating. Ahhh, it's great to be an American...

Posted by: nikolai on September 5, 2006 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

who cares about median. we need a chart of average income change. the drop could just signify a higher percentage of folks making a higher wage... more small business? easier access to tech jobs? probaly not, but who knows for sure?

theres more to the story folks. lets see it

Posted by: american progress on September 5, 2006 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

yes, it's a "fundamentally flawed" argument when it can't be refuted.

Or are you trying to suggest that the minority party sets the agenda? At most, the minority party might gain a few minor concessions - IF the majority party is feeling bipartisan. Which certainly hasn't happened in the past 5-1/2 years. Are there individual Democrats who have voted for wasteful spending proposed and backed by Republicans? Yes. But the Democrats didn't put those budgets together, and their sole means of blocking spending of any type is via filibuster in the Senate...and we all know what a useful tool that is, in the face of Republican threats to change the rules.

So it's entirely fair to look at how each of the parties has behaved the last time they set the agenda and controlled enough seats to keep it from being blocked. You bitches OWN that $3.5 trillion in debt from the past 5-1/2 years. It wasn't Democratic proposals or Democratic votes that brought it about. The total that can be attributed solely to Democrats setting the agenda and voting to pass it (as a majority) is the $1.25 trillion - which covers more than 50 years, most of them in which the power was split between the parties.

Numbers don't lie - I know Republicans hate them for that reason.

Posted by: Jennifer on September 5, 2006 at 12:28 AM | PERMALINK

You won't let the fact that the world is colored in many shades of gray deter you from pretending that it's all black and white.

That's rich coming from Donny, who's never once seen a progressive position that's been right while he himself has never been wrong.

Shades of gray indeed.

And the thing about Democrats having a say in Congress about the budget or anything else in the past four years is utter bullshit. Just ask rdw. Or the Democrats who've been steamrolled, locked out of committee meetings, prevented from exercising oversight, prohibited from reading and commenting on bills before being forced to vote on them, and had votes they'd won by a narrow margin held open for hours until the Repubs bribed and threatened their members to change their votes.

Posted by: yep on September 5, 2006 at 12:30 AM | PERMALINK

In addition, budgets are affected by macroeconomic forces such as periodic booms and recessions that are a part of the business cycle and largely independent of public policy. That is true unless public policy is paid for by corporations who in turn get huge tax breaks and no-bid contracts.

Posted by: Don't want to be an American Idiot on September 5, 2006 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

ha ha....hilarious to see the GOP Rightwinger meatpuppets spinning like good little meatpuppets trying to rationalize this hard and irrefutable data.

Listen, you are dupes...you are sheeple who have been brainwashed into thinking that you are the rancher. You aint. You are livestock.

Man is an animal, one that operates on a social hierarchy. Until you understand that, man will always be an animal.

You guys and you fakePopulist elite-friendly economics political religion are almost as hilarious as the FakeLeft and their Identity Politics white-hating political religion.

Buncha animals, all of ya....

Posted by: cryofan on September 5, 2006 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

so ... according to a jackass like yourself, the debt is either the responsibility of dem administrations or is too nuanced of an issue to be attributable to either? despite 30 years of data demonstrating that the republic party is almost solely responsible.

Nads nailed Donny right to the wall for his spinning on the debt issue. Good for you Nads.

Posted by: yep on September 5, 2006 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

What a bitch you are. What a cow. What a skank. What a wretch. What a ho.
Posted by: GOP

no answer for raygun's, bush's, and bush's fiscal irresponsibility, huh ... I gues that can make an impotent internet thug like yourself frustrated.

at least with ronnie, you can blame the alzheimer's ... although I've met early dementia patients that can balance their checkbooks better than these repubs.

Posted by: Nads on September 5, 2006 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Garote on September 5, 2006 at 12:09 AM said:The Social Security "trust fund" is "entrusted" to a team of all-too-human investors who have, especially in the recent decade, taken to playing investment games more similar to roulette than to the prototypical "trust fund". How much of that was eaten up, for example, by the collapse of Enron alone? Disregarding what Enron istelf was supposed to pay its own employees?

The Social Security Trust Fund is invested, by law, in government securities. There are no "Fund Managers" as in a mutual fund. There are Trustees. The cost of administering Social Security including collections, disbursments, fraud investigation and actuarial assement is .7% of total expenditures.

Here is the Trustee's Report for 2006. OASI earned 84 billion in interest last year.

Program revenues not needed in the current year to pay benefits and administrative costs are invested in special non-marketable securities of the U.S. Government on which a market rate of interest is credited.

Here are the interest rates earned on the special issue securities fron 1966 to 2006. Essentially they earn money market rates.

All securities held by the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) and Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Funds are issued by the Federal government. All of these securities are special issuessecurities issued only to the trust funds. In the past, the trust funds also held marketable securities, which are available to the public.

Posted by: dorsano on September 5, 2006 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

You guys and you fakePopulist elite-friendly economics political religion are almost as hilarious as the FakeLeft and their Identity Politics white-hating political religion.

you say that like its a bad thing ...

Buncha animals, all of ya....
Posted by: cryofan

POLITICAL animals, as it were ...

Posted by: Nads on September 5, 2006 at 12:36 AM | PERMALINK

Anybody see this chart that shows 4 person households actually average more than 5+ person households? Naturally 4 > 3 > 2 in terms of income per household.

Are there statistics on the relative rates of family sizes that might explain quite a bit of this median income trend? More smaller size households due to divorce and/or children born outside of wedlock? Fewer families having 3+ children?

There's some pretty thin beer in that FreePress article. Enjoy.

Posted by: Birkel on September 5, 2006 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, and did anybody calculate lower tax rates into this analysis? I see no evidence toward that end.

Posted by: Birkel on September 5, 2006 at 12:41 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, Republicrat. Those are some nice numbers you've put up during your stirring defense of the Bush economy. Look at all those ones and zeros.

See, I work and go to school at night, like many I know who isn't working more than one job, so I don't have time to do the research neccesary to trash the numbers. However, it's common knowledge that the employment rate has been manipulated through creative interpretations of who counts as "unemployed". Income can and is viciously tied into knots by people trying to make their point.

Frankly, everywhere I personally, look, I see evidence of stagnating personal incomes for everyone who isn't on Wall Street. And I see expenses rising everywhere, in every service sector and in the cost of most basic goods other than electronics.

Furthermore, everyone I personally know, including my Republican family and Republican friends, who don't live in DC, tells me that the Bush recovery sucks, and the Bush economy sucks, and that the last good times they enjoyed were around 2000.

So, tell me, why is the perception that the economy is so lame and miserable, so widespread? Why is the "economy" so consistently the number one source of concern cited in polls to Americans?

You can quote statistics until your Republican majority hangs in tatters, but until you begin to honestly investigate why the reality that the average joe feels does not match your rosy statistics, you are absolutely wasting your time.

Posted by: glasnost on September 5, 2006 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

Ok, Garote.

How do you fix it then?

Glad you asked! In the short run, I recommend you get involved directly with whatever political issues you wish to address. If illegal immigration is your beef, study up on that. If abortion law has you in a tizzy, talk to some people at a clinic or at a church, and study the case law. Then go out and spread your opinion. Talk to your local officials, fire off a few emails to your respective congressman, submit an editorial for your local paper, and/or your local officials. Hell, go to open-mic night at a downtown cafe. Put a sign up on an overpass.

Frankly, I consider any of these actions to be more useful and effective than blowing steam about Republicans vs. Democrats.

In the long run, you may wish to lend your time to one of several movements to alter the US voting system in a way that eliminates the two-party logjam systematically. Consider a ratings-based system, for example. The only real hurdle is educating the general public on how it works, to the point where they are able to use it. That would require - what, a 4th-grade math standard? If we can't manage that as a country we're beyond hope. :)

There IS a difference between the parties--there is a huge amount at stake in the next election.

So you say. Then put your Democrat in office, declare victory, and go home and sit back down in front of the TV. Mission Accomplished.

You have perfectly spelled out the Ralph Nader justification for 2000--both parties are bad, there's no point in trying, let's just screw the whole thing and accomplish nothing by getting 3-5 percent of the vote.

Heh. "Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos", as the Simpsons famously said it. That's actually the whole problem: The voting system as it is, combined with the campaign finance system, has created two monolithic parties. The "we approve of our elected officials" party, and the "we want different elected officials" party. And every four of eight years, they trade places.

Yeah, there's always so much at stake. Every eight years or so, in fact. Wake up.

The Democrats have their fair share of crooks and panderers--all political parties have them--wow, did you think there was an absolute good and an absolute evil party out there? Anyone? Anyone know where we can find the powerful political party that does nothing but good and the one that deals in pure evil?

What the hell are you talking about?

Maybe you should traipse back to your comic books and find some absolutes. How about you pipe down so the adults can go back to talking about how they want their country to look?

Oh, my wounded pride. Or some stuff.

How's that whole Green Party thing working out for you? Or is it the SuperFriends Action Party you're supporting in November.

Kinda making my point for me now. Welcome to "democracy" in the US.

Posted by: Garote on September 5, 2006 at 12:44 AM | PERMALINK

Birkel - what lower tax rates? People in the median income range didn't get much of anything in "lower tax rates" and what they did get was more than offset by higher state and local taxes, the predictable result of unfunded federal mandates to the local level and a simultaneous choking off of federal funding to states and local governments. $200 - $400 doesn't go very far.

Posted by: Jennifer on September 5, 2006 at 12:45 AM | PERMALINK

Good grief. The Democrats wrote the book on wasteful spending.

That's two times you've asserted this, and zero times you've cited anything to back up the talking point.

And you're still arguing against your original statement, which was "look at the wasteful spending Democrats are responsible for over the past 50 years." Well, we've looked at it. There wasn't any debt to speak of until about 1980. Since then, Republicans have controlled the White House and set the agenda in 17 of the past 25 years. Curiously, the very same years in which the debt piled up the fastest. But it took complete GOP control to demonstrate what a bunch of pikers they were back in Reagan's day when they didn't control both houses of Congress and the Presidency at the same time.

Facts is inconvenient things.

Posted by: Jennifer on September 5, 2006 at 12:52 AM | PERMALINK

GOP: The median income cannot be "distorted" by anything. The median income just is. It is the mid-point income of the sample.

No shit. Yes, it is, but its interpertation can and has been distorted; you being one of the offenders.

The income share received by the middle quintile in 2003 is exactly the same whether imputed return on home equity is included or not, at 16.4%.

No shit. Your assertion was that the median income has increased; my counterpoint was that much of the median increase was due to upper quintiles' imputed home equiity increases, which raise the median but say little about the true state of the middle quintile.

So you now appear to assert that, since the middle quintile has held constant using those measures as share of aggregate income, with or without the imputed return on equity, that shows that imputed return on equity is not a significant factor in skewing the median.

Bullshit, or at minimum really smelly. You want to use share of income by quintile, no argument. You want to use income, then the numbers defy your assertions.

Pick yout poison, but at least be consistent.

Posted by: has407 on September 5, 2006 at 12:55 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, but at least we 'got' Uday and Qusay and we prevented Saddam from writing another bad novel.

Sigh.

Posted by: romance novel reader on September 5, 2006 at 12:56 AM | PERMALINK

Garote: Keep yapping on about Republicans and Democrats if you like.

This place is called "Political Animal". Politics is what it is about, and we do like yapping about Republicans and Democrats.

you're being misleading ... in 2003, the 2.9 trillion of the 6.8 trillion total was held by government accounts (~ 42%).
...
Of the 58% of public debt, ~30% is held by state/local govs, and the federal reserve.
...
blanketly asserting that ~90% of the debt is owed to ourselves is dishonest.

Everything not held by foreigners is held by Americans, and some of that held by Americans is held by government accounts, some by large financial institutions, some by individuals. 90% may not be exactly correct, but it's reasonable.

Garote: Actually the problem is your phrase "taxpayers of the future". Those are the children of today.

Some of the federal debt paid for my children's college educations, and they'll most likely be above average earners paying taxes -- one is now. Not all of the children of today will in fact be paying taxes. Approximately 80% of taxes are paid by 20% of earners (the exact figure is different, but this is easy to remember.) About 95% is paid by the upper 45% of incomes. Not a large fraction of the total tax take (hence not a large fraction of repayments on the debt) is paid for by earners near the median and below. This is relevant because we have been discussing whether things are worse for median earners. Paying the deficit isn't a big problem for median earners. A bigger problem is the effect of the debt on interest rates and on the availability of capital for new investments.

jennifer: Numbers don't lie.

That's because they are silent. The lies come from people talking about numbers. And as everyone knows, the best way to lie with numbers is to present some of them without analysis of how they reflect reality. For more of the truth you need more of the statistics.

Now, if you are a near median wage earner, then Bush has not acquired a $15,000 debt that you have to pay. If you are obligated to pay that debt, then you are an above-median wage earner, and according to the other statistics (mean income instead of median) things are swell for you -- you have more than enough extra income to pay the debt.

Posted by: republicrat on September 5, 2006 at 1:07 AM | PERMALINK

Last time I checked the reason you want to own a house is so that you eventually own it not perpetually owe on it. Yeah, it is an asset that you can borrow if you absolutely have to but it is not good financial judgement to sit there and use it as a bank account. I can still remember in the 70s my dad talking about getting a second loan and how embarrassing it was to need a second loan.

Posted by: beezle on September 5, 2006 at 1:07 AM | PERMALINK

glasnost: So, tell me, why is the perception that the economy is so lame and miserable, so widespread? Why is the "economy" so consistently the number one source of concern cited in polls to Americans?

different perceptions are held by different people, often based on biased selections of the evidence.

glasnost: You can quote statistics until your Republican majority hangs in tatters

Read Jennifer on the necessity of quoting statistics.

has407: my counterpoint was that much of the median increase was due to upper quintiles' imputed home equiity increases

Sorry, but changes in the upper quintile do not affect the median.

Posted by: republicrat on September 5, 2006 at 1:17 AM | PERMALINK

This 80percent of taxes are paid for by the top 20 percent is deceptive. Lets not forget Social Security money is being robbed to pay for regular government expenses and that Social Security money comes from everybody. That's 7.5 percent on the median household and not 7.5 percent on the wealthy.

And the arguments from the republicans on this thread is like some very young kid starting to play connect the dots. They don't understand the numbers so they have lines connecting numbers together incorrectly and then they get frustrated and just make a mess with different colored scribbles and doodles all over the place.

Posted by: beezle on September 5, 2006 at 1:23 AM | PERMALINK

Notice how republicrat (a self-mocking title for a dyed-in-the-wool Republican) keeps pretending that Federal Income Tax is the only kind of tax?

I am glad that you raised that issue. Medicare and FICA are mostly dedicated. Anybody who is responsible for paying the increased federal debt will be paying out of income taxes, mostly.

I don't know why people repeatedly doubt that I am a swing voter. At the presidential level, I have voted for twice as many Democrats as Republicans. I voted for Dukakis over Bush I; now I think that was a mistake, but I also voted for Clinton over Bush I and Dole, and I do not think that those were mistakes. If Gore had been a stronger supporter of the Clinton economic policies I would have voted for him, but he made a dramatic "populist" swing toward more governmental controls.

See you all tomorrow.

Posted by: republicrat on September 5, 2006 at 1:24 AM | PERMALINK

Now, if you are a near median wage earner, then Bush has not acquired a $15,000 debt that you have to pay.

Since no one is even talking about stopping digging the hole yet, how do YOU know who will pay it back?

Republican "tax cuts" for the middle class have a tendency to be more than offset by increases in FICA taxes shortly down the road. FICA taxes, you'll recall, aren't levied on income over $90,000, or well outside of the median income range. And FICA taxes don't ever go down.

So, yes, my friend, when Republicans run up debt by raiding Social Security, which they have a long history of doing, the people who ultimately pay that back are NOT in the upper quintiles of income earners.

Posted by: Jennifer on September 5, 2006 at 1:30 AM | PERMALINK

republicrat: Sorry, but changes in the upper quintile do not affect the median.

Ummm... no, the median is, by definition the mddle of a distributiition, which in the case of the census figures is intended to repreresent the entire population, including all quintiles.

Since the top quintile has the greatest share of income (by any measure), excluding them would seriously distort any stats. most especially the median.

Posted by: has407 on September 5, 2006 at 1:47 AM | PERMALINK

I'm late coming to this thread but anyone who thinks homes are built better now than 30 years ago is out of their minds. 10 years ago I purchased a block home built in 1973 specifically to avoid buying one of these cookie-cutter homes on postage-stamp lots thrown up in no time at all by inexperienced carpenters. Our local newspapers are full of stories about people who bought homes built on poor soil, built with lousy foundations, just built poorly. It is a nightmare i would not wish upon anyone... except our lying trolls of course.

The housing boom of the 80s and the last several years has led virtually all home builders to maximize profits by just building as fast as they can and pursuing a delay-and-deny legal strategy to wait out the inevitable lawsuits.

That our GOP troll(s) would deny this simple fact is indicative of the lengths to which they will go to try to pawn off a steaming pile of shit as a sweet-smelling rose.

Posted by: rnato on September 5, 2006 at 1:50 AM | PERMALINK

rnato... I'm late coming to this thread but anyone who thinks homes are built better now than 30 years ago is out of their minds

Precisely. Unless you build it yourself, and money is no object, or go with a custom home designer/builder where money is again, no object, that is as ridiculous a claim as any made by any of the puke/troll apologists and spinners here. Up to code, if you are lucky, and in many cases, building codes leave much to desired, as was discovered in Florida after Andrew. "Cutting corners" is what builders do, literally. That troll should have stuck to fudging and twisting and distorting the numbers, (relatively easy to do). That whopper was DOA.

Posted by: nunya on September 5, 2006 at 2:02 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, that USA Today article last week that Kokblok mentions is a decidedly mixed bag. Quoting it in toto ( http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/2006-08-29-poverty-rate_x.htm ):

"The nation's median household income rose last year for the first time since 1999, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday.

"Median household income climbed 1.1% to $46,326 in 2005. That means half of U.S. households earned more and half earned less. Per capita income rose 1.5% to $25,036, the Census Bureau said.

"The income jump hid some somber news. Earnings actually fell for people working full-time. Household income rose because more people worked in the households, albeit at lower paying jobs. Median earnings of men declined 1.8% last year. For women, the decline was 1.3%.

" 'It tells us the economy is still not generating the higher-paying jobs we'd like to see,' says Douglas Besharov of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington. He says some of the earnings decline reflects demographic changes found in an aging population: older workers cutting back on hours and more women entering the workforce as their children grow up.

"The Census Bureau also reported:

"Poverty. The portion of Americans living in poverty declined to 12.6% in 2005, down from 12.7% a year earlier. The change, although not statistically significant was the first poverty rate drop since 2000. About 37 million people lived in poverty in 2005. Poverty was defined as annual income of $19,971 or less for a family of four.

"Seniors. Income rose fastest for people 65 and older, jumping 2.8%. Older Americans benefited from greater income from Social Security, pensions and dividends.

"Minorities. Household income for blacks declined 0.8% to $30,858. Asians enjoyed a big income gain, up 2.8% to $61,094, adding to their status as the most prosperous racial or ethnic group. Hispanic income grew 1.6% to $35,967. Non-Hispanic whites had a 0.5% increase to $50,784.

"Women. Women earned 77% of men, up slightly from 2004 and continuing a trend that has seen women's wages rise in relation to men from 71% in 1995.

"The Census report is an imprecise measure of income and poverty. The numbers do not include the value of food stamps, housing subsidies, Medicaid, Medicare or the earned income tax credit.

"The earned income tax credit is the nation's largest cash assistance program for the poor, providing an average of $1,600 to 21 million households in 2005.

"University of Notre Dame economist David Betson says the long-term income trend is worrisome because while the economy is more productive, the higher wages that usually follow have not occurred. 'It's not good news for the American worker,' Betson says. 'We keep saying you'll get yours in the future, but at some point, that future is supposed to arrive.' "

Hokay. This suggests that the real problem (which worries even some conservatives like Besharov) is not that real median income is actually dropping, but that (even after taxes and benefits) it is not rising nearly as fast as the total national income -- that is, that income distribution is indeed being imbalanced more and more toward the wealthy under Bush. To what extent is this imbalance really necessary to keep the economy growing -- especially given the fact (pointed out by Sebastian Mallaby in http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/03/AR2006090300741.html ) that tax deductions on savings could easily be decreased for the nonrich and increased for the rich, thus doing nothing to harm the total savings rate and perhaps even increasing it at the same time that this technique is used to reduce income inequality?

There has, by the way, been a very detailed discussion of the income-distribution issue on Brad Delong's site, which I can't review at the moment because Delong's site has once again broken down (as it does with monotonous regularity).

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on September 5, 2006 at 2:03 AM | PERMALINK

republicrap... I don't know why people repeatedly doubt that I am a swing voter. At the presidential level, I have voted for twice as many Democrats as Republicans. I voted for Dukakis over Bush I; now I think that was a mistake, but I also voted for Clinton over Bush I and Dole, and I do not think that those were mistakes. If Gore had been a stronger supporter of the Clinton economic policies I would have voted for him, but he made a dramatic "populist" swing toward more governmental controls.

Swing voter! Bwahaha! You are just an Eisenhower Republican, you moron. Clinton was the best Republican president we've had since Eisenhower.

GOP is a Norquistian radical. Hardly a conservative, just a looter and pillager.

Posted by: nunya on September 5, 2006 at 2:09 AM | PERMALINK

Numbers don't lie.

Republicrat...That's because they are silent.

Bwahaha! So is a deaf mute giving written testimony in a signed affidavit. You two are pathetic, and so are the rest of you puke apologists. But I don't hold a grudge, and to prove it to you, here's a joke about you and people like you:

A man walking along a road in the countryside comes across a shepherd and a huge flock of sheep. Tells the shepherd, "I will bet you $100 against one of your sheep that I can tell you the exact number in this flock." The shepherd thinks it over; it's a big flock so he takes the bet. "973," says the man. The shepherd is astonished, because that is exactly right. Says "OK, I'm a man of my word, take an animal." Man picks one up and begins to walk away.

"Wait," cries the shepherd, "Let me have a chance to get even. Double or nothing that I can guess your exact occupation." Man says sure. "You are an economist for a government think tank," says the shepherd. "Amazing!" responds the man, "You are exactly right! But tell me, how did you deduce that?"

"Well," says the shepherd, "put down my dog and I will tell you."


Posted by: nunya on September 5, 2006 at 2:21 AM | PERMALINK

This chart proves that Elaine Chao is a big liar, as pointed out by JABBS following Chao's spinning of lackluster job- and wage-growth numbers Sunday on CNN.

Posted by: davidrmark on September 5, 2006 at 2:27 AM | PERMALINK

Dont worry folks the fiscal conservatives have a solution to this problem..shocked?

You should be.

The cure is more money for Paris Hilton and a raise for the Senate..


GOooOOooOOooOOoo!! Bush!!

Posted by: Trinary Suka on September 5, 2006 at 2:30 AM | PERMALINK

Good grief. The Democrats wrote the book on wasteful spending.
==
And the Fiscal Fuckups have turned it into a full length porno-flick..

Posted by: Trinary Suka on September 5, 2006 at 2:33 AM | PERMALINK

The rise in Wyoming income is almost entirely due to oil production and exploration in the region.

Posted by: Neocon_Warlord on September 5, 2006 at 2:45 AM | PERMALINK

djmogo wrote:

"Interesting that DC saw slightly positive growth. Those that set the policies don't see the negative effects as strongly as all but a few sparsely populated states."

This is actually due to the strong DC-metro economy, and gentrification. Your misconception that the residents of DC are the policy-makers to any significant degree is almost touching in its naivety. Where do you think "those that set the policies" come from? Hint: they're sent here by y'all. And they don't live in the District.

Posted by: ibc on September 5, 2006 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

my farrier bill

Odd. Everything I buy is more expensive except for my farrier bill.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on September 5, 2006 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

You're all missing the real issue:

Professor G. William Domhoff of the University of California at Santa Cruz wrote in 2001:
"In terms of types of financial wealth, the top 1 percent of households have 44.1% of all privately held stock, 58.0% of financial securities, and 57.3% of business equity. The top 10% have 85% to 90% of stock, bonds, trust funds, and business equity, and over 75% of non-home real estate. Since financial wealth is what counts as far as the control of income-producing assets, we can say that just 10% of the people own the United States of America."

And the concentration of WEALTH in the top 1% has increased markedly since 2001.

Posted by: CFShep on September 5, 2006 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

Dear republicrat,
have you thought about taking up blogging? It is a great way to broadcast your opinions and you appear to have many of them... and time to spare!

Posted by: rickygee on September 5, 2006 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK


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Posted by: ext on September 5, 2006 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

I just love all the folks who try to argue against inflation-adjusted figures by saying "stuff is cheaper". Yes, some stuff is cheaper, but other stuff is more expensive. Important stuff, too. Like energy. That effect is aggregated under the CPI. Duh.

Posted by: Doctor Jay on September 5, 2006 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK


gop: The white trash are below that line.

"All of them are trying to copy FOX News now to be honest. There's only so much of that trailer trash pie to go around." - Cal Thomas FOX News Watch 6/17/06

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on September 5, 2006 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

nickolai: In the past 5 years my pay has increased maybe 6%, but look at how much other things have gone up in the past five years:

Can of corn 5yrs ago=.69 today .99 43% increase
Package of almond M&Ms 2.49 " 3.59 40% "
gallon of gasoline 2.00 2.79 29% "
gallon of hse paint 15.89 18.69 15% "
gallon of water .50 .60 20% "

dont forget

Price of Oil: 01/20/2001 - $22.50/barrel

Price of Oil: 09/05/2006 - $68.65/barrel

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on September 5, 2006 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

gop: The Democrats wrote the book on wasteful spending.


GOP CONTROL HOME-DISTRICT EARMARKS - 1994: 4,155

GOP CONTROL HOME-DISTRICT EARMARKS - 2004: 14,211

SOURCE: Congressional Research Service.

NATIONAL DEBT - CLINTON - 8-YEARS: +1.5-TRILLION

NATIONAL DEBT - GWB - 5-YEARS (and counting): +3-TRILLION

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on September 5, 2006 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

my farrier bill

Well la-dee-da. I suppose you're paying your butler and chauffeur less too. Fucking elitist.

Posted by: Pour on September 5, 2006 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

Well la-dee-da. I suppose you're paying your butler and chauffeur less too. Fucking elitist.

you obviously do not know how many median earners own horses. Not millions of us, but hundreds of thousands. "Elitists" are people like Kerry (and of course some Republicans) who go to the selective ski resorts.

Dr. Jay: . Yes, some stuff is cheaper, but other stuff is more expensive.

That has been my point. The one thing we all agree on is that fuel is more expensive.

You're all missing the real issue:

the issue raised by Kevin Drum is the question of whether the purchasing power of a median income has in fact declined. He says it has, I say it hasn't. Whatever the truth may be, it is in ALL the statistics, not just some of them.

have you thought about taking up blogging?

compared to other bloggers, I spend little time at this.

Clinton was the best Republican president we've had since Eisenhower.

And yet I hear from the Democrats how much better a president he was than the Republican Bush. And Republicans call Eisenhower a Democrat. Centrists are vilified by both sides, even though they need us to win elections.

Posted by: republicrat on September 5, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Over the five years from 20002005, total debt, nonfinancial and financial, has increased $12.7 trillion in the United States. This compares with a simultaneous rise in national income by $2.1 trillion. For each dollar added to income, there were $6 added to indebtedness.

In real terms, national income increased little more than $1 trillion. Last year, U.S. private households added $374.4 billion to their disposable income and $1,204.7 billion to their outstanding debts. Inflation-adjusted disposable income grew $115.7 billion. It is a growth pattern with exploding debts and imploding income growth.

Posted by: Jenna's Bush on September 5, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

this from the American Prospect, which is generally progressive:

http://www.prospect.org/web/printfriendly-view.ww?id=11943

Interestingly, the median credit card debt is 0.

In real terms

The debate on this thread is about the true "real" purchasing power of money.

Posted by: republicrat on September 5, 2006 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Two things:

1) I am aware that Montana (where the median income has risen) is still below the national average.

2) I'd like to see the same sort of map covering the previous 8 years (1992-2000), just for comparison's sake.

Posted by: oblio on September 5, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe the reason for the fall in median income is due to all of those illegal and, even, legal immigrants and all of the rather low paying jobs they have created and filled. Statistics can certainly lie if yopu do not look at them in-depth. When you have such high employment, low unemployment, historically the median family income does fall.

Posted by: oldprogrmr on September 5, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe the reason for the fall in median income is due to all of those illegal and, even, legal immigrants and all of the rather low paying jobs they have created and filled. Statistics can certainly lie if yopu do not look at them in-depth. When you have such high employment, low unemployment, historically the median family income does fall since more people are entering the work force at the low end of the income range.

Posted by: oldprogrmr on September 5, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

From way up top...

"Paleoliberals like you push more and more data to show that Americans are just squeezing by, and yet they vote over and over again (by small margins, it's true) for Republicans..."

Well, duh. Two reasons: Diebold and ES&S machines, and the fact that Republicans have successfully convinced a significant share of the working class to vote against their own economic best interests by the meaningless social wedge issues like God, guns and gays.

Posted by: Mad Matthew on September 5, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

The debate on this thread is about the true "real" purchasing power of money.

No, it's about how far median incomes have dropped over the past six years.

Posted by: Vicente Fox on September 5, 2006 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Mad Matthew,

Re; "Republicans have successfully convinced a significant share of the working class to vote against their own economic best interests..."

I hear that a lot. Sorry, I just fail to see how paying higher taxes, or raising taxes on the rich which I will end up paying through higher prices, or shutting down trade agreements which will result in higher prices, or being forced to contribute a greater percentage of my income to the things you think I should have (e.g., health insurance, social security, etc.) are in my best economic interests. Nope, not seeing it at all.

I don't really vote for the rich. But if I had to choose between voting for the rich who create jobs or voting for the Democrats who create high taxes and high prices, I gotta say that voting for the rich sounds more in line with my economic best interests. Unfortunately, my only other choice is to vote for Republicans, who aren't a whole lot different than the Democrats.

Posted by: Randy on September 5, 2006 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

republicrat: The debate on this thread is about the true "real" purchasing power of money.
...
vicente fox: No, it's about how far median incomes have dropped over the past six years.

Median incomes have not dropped over the past six years. It's the "inflation adjusted median incomes" that have dropped. That is a claim about the "real" purchasing power of the median income.

Posted by: republicrat on September 5, 2006 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

oldprogrmr on September 5, 2006 at 3:21 PM said:

"Maybe the reason for the fall in median income is due to all of those illegal and, even, legal immigrants and all of the rather low paying jobs they have created and filled."

If you had taken the time to read through the comments, you would have noticed this comment from CaseyL on September 4, 2006 at 2:33 PM - "Please note that the drops in mean income don't correspond to places where immigration, legal or otherwise, is highest. So I don't think you can dismiss the decreases as caused by immigration."

- - - -

oldprogrmr on September 5, 2006 at 3:21 PM said:

"Statistics can certainly lie if yopu do not look at them in-depth."

Statistics don't lie, people do. And you, oldprogrmr, have no statistics to back up your lie. Thanks for playing!

Posted by: oblio on September 5, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

Jason,

Re; "You do realize that Democrats are against tax hikes on working people and the middle class and they have had no hand in creating 'high prices' because 'high prices' is a canard."

I know that's what the Democrats say. The problem is that the rich don't pay taxes - they collect taxes. The scheme known as "taxing the rich" is just a sophisticated method of getting the lower middle class to pay higher taxes. Think standard of living instead of dollars and its easier to see. Who's standard of living declines as taxes are raised? Not the rich. They just change the numbers to adapt. The people who truly pay the cost of taxes are those with no power to adapt - and they pay it in the form of a reduced standard of living. All taxes, regardless of form, are ultimately regressive.

P.S. And before all you Republicans out there start citing the percentage of taxes paid by the top so and so percent, I understand that you all are turning in the checks. But you're not really paying. The people who gave you the money you're turning in are the people who are paying.

Posted by: Randy on September 5, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

"I hear that a lot. Sorry, I just fail to see how paying higher taxes, or raising taxes on the rich which I will end up paying through higher prices, or shutting down trade agreements which will result in higher prices, or being forced to contribute a greater percentage of my income to the things you think I should have (e.g., health insurance, social security, etc.) are in my best economic interests. Nope, not seeing it at all."

You don't want higher prices? What do you think will happen if no one pays taxes, and the government doesn't have enough revenue to effectively regulate the excesses of capitalism? You don't think there will be price gauging? Price collusion? Monopolization? Insider trading? Securities fraud? The victims: the middle class.

As for health care, how much are the middle class currently spending on health care premiums, co-pays, deductibles, etc? Do you seriously think universal health care will (per capita) be more expensive than the exorbitant amounts people spend on health care now? Countries like Japan and Canada demonstrate the answer is a huge NO. And why do people continue to think that it is somehow better to give your health care dollars to corporate executives at insurance companies (who are accountable to profit) than to the government and elected officials (who are accountable to the people)?

Posted by: confused on September 5, 2006 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

Confused,

I'm not against paying taxes. Certainly there is need for some government. I just know who's actually paying (please see my post above to Jason). Once you understand who's paying the tab, you really have to question just how much government we really need. Income redistribution, for example, doesn't make much sense once you understand that we're just giving the money back to the same people we've taken it from - after the politicians take a cut, of course.

Posted by: Randy on September 5, 2006 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

Alan Vanneman, regarding the news posting you placed, I call this to your attention:

The author, Nicholas Eberstadt, is a Fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, http://www.aei.org/scholars/filter.all,scholarID.62/scholar.asp

If you're not familiar with the AEI group, you might be interested to know that "...it has emerged as one of the leading architects of the Bush administration's public policy. More than two dozen AEI alumni have served either in a Bush administration policy post or on one of the government's many panels and commissions"

So take your article somewhere else.

I see on a daily basis what "poverty" can do, and I submit to you that simply because laura ingalls wilder didn't have an IPOD, and yet a kid in the ghetto does, does not make much of a difference in quality of life, or opportunity.

Posted by: Destardi on September 5, 2006 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

Jason,

It doesn't surprise me that you're missing the point. It took me awhile to see it. The myth of progressive taxation has been deeply embedded in our culture since the time of the French Revolution.

Let me try another approach. In the middle ages, the king taxed the nobles, who collected from the serfs. It was simply easier for the king to collect from a few than from the many. If the king needed more, the serfs just went hungry. Though sometimes, in his great mercy, the king would distribute relief from the treasury. The difference between now and then is that the serfs were aware that the ultimate burden was theirs, while today's lower classes honestly believe that someone else is paying their way. They honestly believe that the king is truly merciful.

I'm not saying that the rich shouldn't have to pay taxes. I'm saying that it is impossible to tax them. That it always has been impossible, and that it always will be impossible. There is no end run around power.

Posted by: Randy on September 5, 2006 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK
...That is a claim about the "real" purchasing power of the median income. republicrat at 6:24 PM
That is right, real median income has dropped, which means that the purchasing power has also dropped. Listing a few toys that most people purchase rarely doesn't change that basic fact: some toys are cheaper, some more expensive; most necessities are more expensive. That's what it measures. Posted by: Mike on September 5, 2006 at 11:41 PM | PERMALINK

"I'm saying that it is impossible to tax them." Does that mean we should give up? In the 80s, people with incomes over $1 million saw their taxes fall by about 35%. I wouldn't want to see taxes raised during this administration, as it would just go to corrupt military contractors and abstinence education, but at some later date, why not restore some of the taxes that the rich have been evading?

Posted by: * on September 6, 2006 at 1:35 AM | PERMALINK

The argument that taxing the rich only makes prices go up is hogwash. I know a several multi-millionaires, and if their taxes were to go up, there's no way they could influence the price of anything I buy.
However, it might slow the sale of Maybachs and Italian superyachts for a while, and since I'm not a German engineer nor an Italian yacht designer, I don't know what impact that would have on me nor any other American.

Posted by: Drew on September 6, 2006 at 3:42 AM | PERMALINK

Until 1994, the U.S. Census did not gather the same information on households with incomes above $300,000 as they did for households at lower income levels. In 1994, the bar was raised to households with incomes over $1 million, meaning that those households were excluded from many economic reports and analyses. This downward shifting of the scale gives an inaccurate picture of Americans relative financial status, which is verified by the U.S. Censuss Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) methodology description:

"The distribution of wealth in the United States has a large positive skew, with relatively few households holding a large proportion ofthe wealtha household survey should heavily oversample wealthy households to obtain a better representation of the less commonly held assetsthe Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), conducted by the Federal Reserve Board, oversamples households likely to be wealthy. SIPP, however, does not oversample wealthy households (indeed, it oversamples lower-income households), and its estimates of average net worth and total aggregate net worth are significantly lower than the estimates from the SCF average or mean net worth in 1998 from SIPP was $149,629 (in 1998 dollars), compared with $282,500 (in 1998 dollars) from the SCF. The two surveys estimates of median household net worth for the same year were substantially different from each other but much closer: $47,887, and $71,600, respectively."

A direct comparison of median net worth between the skewed U.S. Census report and the more inclusive Federal Reserve report illustrates why many upper-middle class Americans consider themselves the actual wealthy, when their average income places them solidly in the middle class. For 1998, the U.S. Census claims a median net worth of $161,174 for the highest 20% of households (Net Worth and Asset Ownership), whereas the Federal Reserve reports a median net worth of $1,019,000 for the highest 20% of households (Evidence from the 1998 and 2001 Survey of Consumer Finances).

Considering themselves wealthy despite a median income that averages 15% and less of that of the wealthy class, many lower-middle- and middle-class voters support pro-wealthy conservative politicians, believing they will reap the benefits of tax cuts and reduced social spending, when their income level actually excludes them from the lions share of the benefits.

One of the strongest examples of this collective delusion was a 2000 Time magazine poll in which 19% of Americans said they are in the richest 1% and a further 20% expect to be someday. The Republican political strategy of skewing statistics, perpetuating altered perceptions of class status and use of election rhetoric focused on red herring values issues such as gay marriage to divert attention from core economic issues has proven to be very cunning and difficult for centrist and socialist political parties to counter. The traditional left-wing voter base has been effectively split, as it has caused many working class voters to shift their support to the right. This has given the right a virtual lock on government control.

In 2004, the Republican Party acquired control of both the executive and legislative branches of American government for the first time since the 1920s, when their pro-wealthy government policies contributed to the Great Depression of the 1930s. Signs of a repeat performance are on the horizon, as numerous articles of legislation have been made into laws that greatly benefit wealthy corporations and individuals, such as tax cuts funded by future federal budget deficits, the pro-finance Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, and the pro-energy company Energy Policy Act of 2005.

The object of right-wing politics is not to create new wealthy Americans, but to enrich those who are already wealthy, and increase the difficulty level for all others to become wealthy as well.

"Deficits Don't Matter" - Dick Cheney

Sources:
*************************
"Evidence from the 1998 and 2001 Survey of Consumer Finances." 24 Feb. 2003. Federal Reserve Board. 16 May. 2005 http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/oss/oss2/2001/bull0103.pdf

"Net Worth and Asset Ownership"
http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/p70-88.pdf

Posted by: highpowered on September 6, 2006 at 7:39 AM | PERMALINK

*,

Re; ""I'm saying that it is impossible to tax them." Does that mean we should give up?"

It means that we should give up on the idea that someone else is going to pick up the tab for us. If means that if we want the government to do something for us, we are the ones who will be paying for it. Not that any of that is a bad thing. Perhaps we can stop wasting time on resenting the rich and start discussing just what it is that "we" really want from government - and what "we" are willing to pay for.

Posted by: Randy on September 6, 2006 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

Drew,

Its true that prices aren't the only method of responding to higher taxes - though certainly prices are a significant method. Yachts are a good example of an alternative. The rich will still have their yachts when the tax rates rise. But the yacht maker will be paid less, and the yacht maker will pay his employees less, and the employees will stop buying as many pizzas, and the pizza maker will stop hiring as many delivery drivers. Who paid the tax? The employees who can no longer afford pizza, and delivery drivers who must now take their next best option of employment - if there is such an option. And the rich will still have their servants, cars, mansions, jewelry, dinners, travel, employees, etc. But the providers of each will be paid less.

Taxes aren't paid in dollars. They are paid in standard of living. They are merely collected in dollars.

Posted by: Randy on September 6, 2006 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

"if we want the government to do something for us, we are the ones who will be paying for it"

This is not the attitude of the wealthy, who want the government to subsidize and protect their wealth, and who derive the most benefit from government, yet are still the most adept at avoiding taxes and military service.

Posted by: * on September 6, 2006 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

*,

The wealthy are useful in helping to create the wealth needed to do the things we want to do. That's a good thing. Getting wrapped up in the inability of the less powerful to control the more powerful is counter-productive. We will simply expend effort that could be better used actually accomplishing something.

We don't need the wealthy. All of the social programs currently in existance have been paid for by the lower classes. The fact that the wealthy aren't really contributing to them doesn't mean that the programs are bad. People are still being helped, its just that it is we who are helping them, not the rich. It may be a hard pill for some to swallow that income redistribution is a myth, but it doesn't change the basic fact that people still need help. Our cost-benefit analysis is due for an update - that's all.

Posted by: Randy on September 6, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Following previous statements I see answers and more questions. For example someone said auto fuel was up 100% and food 75%. This makes me think that the cost of gas alone made the jump in food costs. I ask why not 100%. I figured there was either efficency in it's transportation or wholsale discounts for the fuel. A possibility is that the growers and grociers are spreading some of the pain themselves? In any case we all want to live better. A simple WORD war with a few pieces of proof in a jigsaw puzzle really helps none of us. Post proof of a greater picture that the Democrats can solve the US problems and they have my vote. Same for Repubs. Flip side they have had the reigns for a while now and there is too much negative coming from them. Loss of rights,money,lives,quality of life,morality,and world respect. As far as war making ability the US is a deadly enemy. With all these gurrila wars we don't have an easy victory in them when the enemy also uses news propoganda against us. We are the worlds police and there is a great cost. If we don't step up who will? Do we want them in charge? As for Democrats and Repubs. If the Repubs. can't do much more for us on energy prices what makes you think the Democrats will? Ya alternative energy. Well when that finally gets pushed out there 10 years later we might see something. Unfortunetly ALTERNATIVE power costs us $10 for every $2 saved due to GREED,RED TAPE,COSTS,EFFCIENCY and Procrastination. It's not about RED vs. BLUE. It's about corruption and corporations.

Posted by: RealityCheck on September 6, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Bush can lick my nuts!

Posted by: Joshsion on September 6, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Previous remark on positive note for DC. That is because DC is becoming the Illuminti cultural center. It explains in the slight increase in salary.

Posted by: Dangel on September 6, 2006 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

Politicians are freeloading off the system way to much these days. They don't know how to do anything but protect their jobs and outsource everything, or hire someone else to outsource everything.

Posted by: Contracting on September 6, 2006 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

Two words: Republicans suck.

They are treasonous too. They should be run out of the country (after being shot.)

Posted by: James Radcliffe on September 7, 2006 at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK

"My point has been that lots of things are cheaper, maybe even almost everything..."

Except that they aren't, not by the classic definition of the word "cheaper." You have been trying to make the point that some things are effectively "cheaper" because we are getting more for our money now. While this may be technically true, the trouble with this sort of overly simplistic analysis is that in most of your examples, it still takes more money to purchase these items.

Yes, it's terrific that I can now get air bags, a DVD player, anti-lock brakes, etc., in my new car, but if the end result is that the overall price for this new car is up by 20%, I'm out that additional 20%. The fact that I may be getting an additional 30% of value does not change the fact that I'm now hit harder in my wallet and it does not ease my economic pain.

Posted by: PaulB on September 7, 2006 at 1:31 AM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, I am late to the party, but a cursory examination of the map, and just a little common sense would reveal that the Detroit Free Press journalists have messed up. Here are the historical data from the government on household income in inflation adjusted dollars. I did a quick calculation on a number of the states using the time frame discussed and have concluded the authors of the Detroit article are either idiots, or simply idiotically dishonest.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on September 7, 2006 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

As Jane Galt points out, the statistical methodology used to produce this map is garbage. If Kevin Drum has any intellectual integrity, he will add an update to this post, stating that the numbers are meaningless. Not holding my breath.

Posted by: sean on September 7, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

1) The numbers.
The Census Bureau says that:

"Nationally, 2005 marked the first year since 1999 in which real median household income showed an annual increase."
http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/income_wealth/007419.html

and their numbers show the same thing if you scroll past the "current dollars" charts to the 2005 dollars charts: http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/histinc/h08.html

The 2005 dollars bear out that nationwide, median household income in 1999 was higher than it is today.

2) The anecdotal.
Just out of curiosity, how many posters are actually earning within 10% of the alleged median? Better yet, how many are NOT earning six figures within their household?

My familys income has been approximately $50k/year for a decade. No one in my household, or anyone in my neighborhood, is going to spend $2-10 for an energy-efficient light bulb when they can get a pack of 4 incandescent bulbs for $1.69, despite all the hoopla over savings.

Utilities/commodities are all more expensive, from the gas in your car to the heating bill (for the Northern states) to electricity. My college tuition nearly doubled in the 5 years I was a student (at a state school, no less), and the amount of money available for grants and such has decreased. State funding has not even kept pace with inflation. Furthermore, when you're looking at prices doubling or trebling in a matter of half a decade, arguing whether or not inflation is 3% or 6% or nonexistent is irrelevant. I could pay $1.10 for gas in summer '99, whereas this summer it was close to, or above, $3.00 everywhere. The heating, water, and electric bill have all more than doubled in the last 6 years in my staunchly blue-collar, staunchly lower-middle to middle class neighborhood. Oh, and part of the reason people can buy newer, (arguably) nicer things can also partly be attributed to things like taking out a second mortgage on their home to pay off the debts they've racked up (look at the average debt people carry today as opposed to 1999).

Even my cell phone costs more, and the service is *worse* with the newer phone Why? Because packing 15 different (equally useless) functions into it drains the battery and makes the signal strength weaker. Furthermore, how many people owned their vehicles in 1999 vs. 2006? The prevalence of leasing and financing has skyrocketed in recent years, especially with regard to length. Your monthly payment may be less, but you're deeper in debt than ever before on that new car purchase.

There are ways in which we are better off, such as the ability to buy a functioning, relatively high-end computer for under $1000, but where is that cash coming from when I have to spend much more every day on gas and food and my earnings are stagnant? Also, things like a computer are a LUXURY item, not a necessity. I must put gas in my car to drive to work, I must pay for clothing and food, but I do not have to go online to argue over whether or not were better off.

Incidentally, since most workers are now working MORE HOURS today than in 1999, thanks to the recent trend of compulsory, non-compensated overtime, I have less leisure time to get online to do such things anyway.

What it all comes down to is this: If we were really in any measurable way better off today than 6 years ago, the argument would be about why the growth rate of our incomes isn't higher (the Dems saying it would be higher if Bush wasn't screwing up, the Reps saying essentially the same thing they are now). When the argument is around why the negatives really aren't negative, our economy is in the dumps, plain and simple.

~ If you string together enough anecdotal data, viola! A statistic. ~

Posted by: Kanis Sapphirus on September 7, 2006 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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