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Has U.S. Democracy Been Trumped? Bernie Sanders wants to know who owns America?

#18061 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2021-April-08, 20:57

David Brooks at NYT said:

What is the quintessential American act? It is the leap of faith. The first European settlers left the comfort of their old countries and migrated to brutal conditions, convinced the future would be better on this continent. Immigrants all crossed oceans or wilderness to someplace they didn’t know, hoping that their children would someday breathe the atmosphere of prosperity and freedom.

Here we are again, one of those moments when we take a leap, a gamble, beckoned by the vision of new possibility. The early days of the Biden administration are nothing if not a daring leap.

I asked Anita Dunn, one of President Biden’s senior advisers, to reflect on the three giant proposals: Covid relief, infrastructure and the coming “family” plan. What vision binds them together? What is this thing, Bidenomics? Interestingly, she mentioned China.

This could be the Chinese century, with their dynamism and our decay. The unexpected combination of raw capitalism, authoritarianism and state direction of the economy could make China the dominant model around the globe. President Biden, Dunn said, believes that democracy needs to remind the world that it, too, can solve big problems. Democracy needs to stand up and show that we are still the future.

I asked Cecilia Rouse, the chair of Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers, where our vulnerabilities lie. It is in our public goods, she said, the degradation of our common life.

“The model of the past 40 years has been to rely on the private sector to carry the load, but that sector is not best suited to deliver certain public goods like work force training and infrastructure investment,” she told me. “These are places where there is market failure, which creates a role for government.”

Brian Deese, the director of Biden’s National Economic Council, said that Bidenomics has three key prongs: an effort to distribute money to those on the lower end of the income scale, an effort to use climate change as an opportunity to reinvent our energy and transportation systems, and an effort to replicate the daring of the moon shot by investing big-time in research and development.

Some people say this is like the New Deal. I’d say this is an updated, monster-size version of “the American System,” the 19th-century education and infrastructure investments inspired by Alexander Hamilton, championed by Henry Clay and then advanced by the early Republicans, like Abraham Lincoln. That was an unabashedly nationalist project, made by a youthful country, using an energetic government to secure two great goals: economic dynamism and national unity.

Bidenomics is a massive bid to promote economic dynamism. It’s not only the R&D spending and the green energy stuff; it’s also the massive investment in kids and human capital.

If, as expected, Biden’s American Family Plan includes universal pre-K education and free community college, that would mean four more years of free schooling for millions of young Americans. As Rahm Emanuel said to me, when was the last time we achieved something as big as that?

It’s also a unifying agenda. For the past several decades the economy has funneled money to highly educated people who live in large metro areas. That has created a ruinous class rift that divides the country and fuels polarization. The Biden measures would funnel money to the roughly two-thirds of Americans without a bachelor’s degree — who work on road crews, in manufacturing plants, who care for the elderly and are disproportionately unemployed.

It’s kind of interesting to me that the Democrats, the party of the metro educated class, are promoting policies that would send hundreds of billions of dollars to, well, Trump voters.

Because the Biden plan owes more to Hamilton than to socialism, it’s not only progressives who love it, but moderates, too. Jim Kessler, an executive vice president at the moderate Democratic group Third Way, sent me an email this week with the subject line, “Why Mods Love Biden Jobs Plan.”

Is it a risk? Yes, a big one. If your historical memory goes back only to 2009, then you think there’s no risk to going big on spending and debt. But history is filled with the carcasses of nations and empires that declined in part because they took on too much debt: imperial Spain, France in the 18th century, China in the 19th.

The Biden plan would have us pouring money into some of our least efficient sectors. As Fareed Zakaria noted recently, American infrastructure projects often cost several times more than European projects. Adding just two miles of new track and three stations to the New York subway system ended up costing $4.5 billion.

You can pour a lot of money into American infrastructure and get relatively little back.

But we’ve had 20 years of anemic growth and a long period of slow productivity growth. The current trendlines cannot continue. These are necessary and plausible risks to take if America is not to drift gentle into that good night. Look at the cities, like Fresno, Calif., and Greenville, S.C., that have surged back to life in recent years. What did they do? They invested in infrastructure and community colleges. The Biden plan is what has already worked locally, just on a mammoth scale.

Sometimes you take a risk to shoot forward. The Chinese are convinced they own the future. It’s worth taking this shot to prove them wrong.

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#18062 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2021-April-08, 21:03

Imani Moise at FT said:

A huge rise in US government spending will boost the world’s largest economy over at least the next two years, said the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase.

Jamie Dimon offered the upbeat outlook in his annual letter to shareholders, in which he asserted that high savings rates, stimulus programmes, a potential infrastructure package and “euphoria around the end of the pandemic” were likely to jump-start the US economy.

“It is possible that we will have a Goldilocks moment — fast growth, inflation that moves up gently (but not too much) and interest rates that rise (but not too much),” Wall Street’s leading banker said, adding that sustained spending could fuel a years-long hot streak.

Both consumers and companies appeared to be in great financial health as the country starts to emerge from the health crisis, said Dimon, who heads the largest US bank by assets.

Even before Joe Biden’s $1.9tn stimulus package was passed last month, JPMorgan estimated that retail customers had roughly $2tn in excess savings. Large companies, meanwhile, are carrying a sizeable $3tn cash cushion on their balance sheets.

Additionally, expansionary actions taken by monetary authorities around the world should have “a compounding global effect”, Dimon said.

If such a boom emerges, high-flying valuations in equity markets could be justified, though an oversupply of US debt would make it hard to support the price of Treasury bonds, he added.

Dimon repeatedly advocated in his 34,000-word missive for higher government spending to address some of the country’s glaring issues, such as ageing infrastructure, unaffordable healthcare and widening economic inequality.

“Spent wisely, it will create more economic opportunity for everyone,” he said, acknowledging that sometimes too much money was jammed up in inefficient bureaucratic programmes.

His comments came as the Biden administration has turned its attention to passing a $2tn infrastructure plan on the heels of roughly $5.8tn in stimulus spending throughout the pandemic.

Supporters have cheered the infrastructure proposal as a long-overdue investment, while critics have said the additional spending, in the wake of costly stimulus packages, risked overheating the economy and sending the US into recession.

Though the “Goldilocks” scenario was probable, Dimon assured investors that JPMorgan was also prepared for the possibility of runaway inflation or yet another wave of lockdowns. 

“And, of course, being who we are, while we are going to hope for the Goldilocks scenario — and we think there is a chance for that to happen — we will anticipate and be prepared for two other negative scenarios,” he said. 

Though Dimon did not directly address the most controversial aspect of the US president’s infrastructure plan — an increase in the corporate tax rate to 28 per cent from 21 per cent to help pay for the measures — he maintained that the country needed a globally competitive tax structure.

“Even if that capital is distributed in dividends or stock buybacks, it is simply being put to a higher and better use — this is completely normal capital reallocation,” he said.

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#18063 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2021-April-09, 02:35

I've been watching the Floyd murder trial, and a key pillar of the defence appears to be something along the lines of:
"Yes, there was a knee on his neck, but if he didn't have an underlying condition (in this case, drugs in his system), then he would have survived.
I'm not a lawyer (caveat) but,


I thought that (certainly in Australia) it is NOT a defence in a murder trial to assert that the victim was to blame.
I thought there was a legal principle that said (something along the lines of) "you take your victim as you find them".


I can see where they might argue that he was a police officer who is entitled to use force to restrain a person, but isn't it still the case that the policeman needs to apply only the amount of force needed to achieve the purpose of restraint.

Even in wartime, the ROE do not permit the killing of restrained combatants - or anyone else that is restrained adequately.

Any lawyers out there?
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#18064 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-April-09, 06:58

View Postpilowsky, on 2021-April-09, 02:35, said:

I've been watching the Floyd murder trial, and a key pillar of the defence appears to be something along the lines of:
"Yes, there was a knee on his neck, but if he didn't have an underlying condition (in this case, drugs in his system), then he would have survived.
I'm not a lawyer (caveat) but,

I thought that (certainly in Australia) it is NOT a defence in a murder trial to assert that the victim was to blame.
I thought there was a legal principle that said (something along the lines of) "you take your victim as you find them".

I can see where they might argue that he was a police officer who is entitled to use force to restrain a person, but isn't it still the case that the policeman needs to apply only the amount of force needed to achieve the purpose of restraint.

Even in wartime, the ROE do not permit the killing of restrained combatants - or anyone else that is restrained adequately.

Any lawyers out there?


Of course I am not a lawyer and I try hard not to need the services of a lawyer. But the jurors are probably not trained in law either. The judge will presumably be explaining relevant laws to the jurors, but then judgment will be required.



If I see someone violating the law, or if someone tells me about it, I have the option of walking away. A policeman has been hired to not walk away. And, basically, I have (through my government) hired him to not walk away. His job is inherently dangerous, his job is to do things I would not do. We have to consider this when we judge. But it of course does not give him carte blanche. So judgment is needed by the jurors.

I have life experiences that I could bring to bear, no doubt the jurors have as well. For me, this case is clear-cut. If I were on the jury, I would listen to the testimony and to the arguments. But I find it very hard to see a justification. Floyd's ill health or drug use, if these are facts, are irrelevant. If you put your knee on someone's neck for nine minutes you really can't claim surprise that it kills him.


I think that supporting the police, and I often do support the police, includes recognizing when an action is clearly wrong.






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#18065 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2021-April-09, 12:00

Philip Stephens at FT said:

Europe has a lot to learn from Joe Biden’s audacity

https://www.ft.com/c...1b-c83b33e6d63c

Politics throws up two sorts of leader. There are those forever reaching for an umbrella and others, far fewer in number, who set out to change the weather. Western democracies have lately boasted a superabundance of politicians sheltering from the storm.

Youth and energy are supposed to be synonymous. But it seems the task of rediscovering the power of agency has fallen to the 78-year-old who has moved into the White House. Still short of his first 100 days in office, Joe Biden has already shown that government can change things.

The west’s story has become one of democracies at the mercy of what British prime minister Harold Macmillan called “events”. The global financial crash, the rise of China, Russia’s military adventurism, populist insurgencies and most recently Covid-19 — all have elicited defensive responses. Ambition has been replaced by damage limitation. And then politicians wonder why voters have lost faith.

Barack Obama’s victory in 2008 promised to mark a break. As it turned out, presidential audacity did not measure up to hope. How strange then that it is Biden, his loyal, scarcely visible vice-president, who is now summoning up the energy and resolve that often eluded Obama. 

This was not in last year’s election script. Former president Donald Trump dubbed his opponent “sleepy Joe”, mocking his opponent’s age and linguistic snarl-ups. Many of those cheering Biden from the sidelines harboured concerns of their own. Biden’s designated role was narrowly defined: beat Trump, restore a measure of integrity to American democracy and rebuild old alliances. A return to normality would be enough.

Instead, we have seen the most ambitious economic expansion programme since Lyndon Johnson’s 1960s Great Society. Biden wants the $1.9tn economic stimulus bill already passed by Congress to be followed by an infrastructure and education package that could be worth $3tn. Comparisons with Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal look anything but fanciful.

The eye-wateringly large sums of money are only part of the story. The real significance, symbolised at once by a new federal allowance to alleviate child poverty and a plan to raise the taxes paid by global multinationals, lies in a bold reassertion of the responsibilities of government. “There’s so much we can do,” Biden said at his first White House press conference, nailing down the coffin on swim-or-sink laissez-faire.

Sceptics might say Biden has done no more than capitalise on the Covid “moment”. The havoc wrought by the pandemic has brushed aside fears about “big” government. It is true that the president has seized a moment. The goal, though, is anything but fleeting. It amounts to a fundamental rebalancing of the market economy.

Ironically, Europeans, long cheerleaders for a softer-edged capitalism, have the most to learn. The defensive incrementalism of the recent past has had no truer champion than Europe’s most powerful leader, Angela Merkel. The German chancellor’s approach to politics has been to drain it of energy.

France’s president Emmanuel Macron has been alone in challenging the status quo — and been thwarted at every turn by Berlin. True, Merkel consented to a €750bn Covid recovery fund, but in scale and timing, this pales against Biden’s plans. Germany still marches under the banner of fiscal fundamentalism. Never mind that weak growth, insecure employment and stagnant incomes provide rich feedstock for the populist politics of grievance.

There is no guarantee that Biden will succeed. The divisions in American society run deep. Trump still stalks a Republican party in the embrace of identity politics. As with Roosevelt’s New Deal, the rich will fight back against proposed tax increases. And piling such a fiscal expansion on to historically loose monetary policy will surely carry some risks.

Biden’s audacity, though, must be measured against the dismal results of the politics of inaction. Democracy is under siege because its elites have allowed unfettered markets to ride roughshod over the postwar social contract, leaving voters trapped in a lethal equilibrium of low growth and rising inequality. 

Liberals never cease fretting about how to meet the threat from the world’s autocrats. Whatever the eventual fate of his experiment, Biden has come up with the answer. Democracy flourishes when the system works for everyone.

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#18066 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2021-April-09, 14:23

"Democracy flourishes when the system works for everyone."

Good grief - who writes trite drivel like this.
Why is so much political commentary just anodyne drivel?

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#18067 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-April-10, 18:30

Your posts convinced me some time back to get a digital subscription to the NYT. And now perhaps the FT? Where will it end?
I was just reading
https://www.ft.com/c...ee-82e64ba9c6c3

The prospect of actually having to understand this stuff is daunting.



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#18068 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2021-April-12, 08:51

View Postkenberg, on 2021-April-10, 18:30, said:

Your posts convinced me some time back to get a digital subscription to the NYT. And now perhaps the FT? Where will it end?
I was just reading
https://www.ft.com/c...ee-82e64ba9c6c3

The prospect of actually having to understand this stuff is daunting.

I enjoy FT's perspective and Martin Wolf's commentary. In today's paper, Wolf and Larry Summers discuss Summers' take on Biden's fiscal policy which Summers worries is "substantially excessive" and "could lead to overheating and wasted resources" (these points are well covered in previous WC posts).

Quote

If Summers is wrong, it will matter little. If he is right, the hopes for a transformative presidency are likely to end in catastrophic economic and political disappointment. It is an immensely important argument.

https://www.ft.com/c...5b-d213816e9073

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#18069 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2021-April-12, 09:43

David Leonhardt at NYT said:

https://messaging-cu...896ed87b2d9c72a

Alec MacGillis, the author of an excellent new book about Amazon, called “Fulfillment,” points out that Amazon’s warehouse jobs have a lot in common with the industrial jobs of the past. They are among the main options for people who graduate from high school or community college without specific job skills. They are also physically demanding and dangerous.

MacGillis is careful to remind people about the injuries and deaths that came with old factory jobs, and he documents the similar risks that warehouse jobs can bring. Jody Rhoads was a 52-year-old mother and breast cancer survivor in Carlisle, Pa. Her neck was crushed by a steel rack while she was driving a forklift in an Amazon warehouse, killing her. (“We do not believe that the incident was work related,” an Amazon manager reported to the federal government, falsely suggesting her death was from natural causes.)

As Spencer Cox, a former Amazon worker who’s now writing a Ph.D. thesis at the University of Minnesota about the company, told my colleague David Streitfeld, “Amazon is reorganizing the very nature of retail work — something that traditionally is physically undemanding and has a large amount of downtime — into something more akin to a factory, which never lets up.”

But for all of the similarities to factory work, Amazon jobs also have crucial differences. They are more isolating, as MacGillis explained to me. Rather than working in teams of people who are creating something, warehouse workers often work alone, interacting mostly with robots. Amazon jobs also pay less than many factory jobs did.

MacGillis tells the story of three generations of Bodani men who worked in the Sparrows Point steel mill, near Baltimore. The youngest, William Bodani Jr., was making $35 an hour in 2002 (about $52 in today’s dollars), along with bonuses. That’s enough for a solid middle-class income.

With the steel mill gone from Sparrows Point, Bodani instead took a job at the Amazon warehouse that occupies the same land. He was in his late 60s at the time and was making a fraction of what he once had.

It would be one thing if this sort of downward mobility were a reflection of the U.S. economy’s overall performance. But it’s not. Economic output is much higher, per person, than it was two decades ago and vastly higher than it was in Bessemer’s 20th century heyday. The bulk of the gains, however, have flowed to a narrow slice of workers — among the upper middle class and especially the affluent.

For many others, an Amazon job looks preferable to the alternatives, even if it is also part of the reason that so many American families are struggling.

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#18070 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-April-12, 12:37

I looked at that article by Leonhardt. There is a graph that I am not sure I am understanding correctly, reproduced below. And I was not understanding it correctly.


Posted Image By The New York Times | Source: Federal Reserve
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#18071 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2021-April-12, 13:32

What I think you may be missing is that real median family income has not increased at the same rate as real GDP per capita since 1980. If it had, it would be more like $126,000 than $86,000.

Did something happen in 1980? Perhaps our friend from Oklahoma has a theory?

Real median family income was $35,650 in 1953 and $86,011 in 2019.

Real GDP per capita was $16,574 in 1953 Q4 and $58,490 in 2019 Q4.
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#18072 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-April-12, 14:33

View Posty66, on 2021-April-12, 13:32, said:

What I think you may be missing is that real median family income has not increased at the same rate as real GDP per capita since 1980. If it had, it would be more like $126,000 than $86,000.

Did something happen in 1980? Perhaps our friend from Oklahoma has a theory?

Real median family income was $35,650 in 1953 and $86,011 in 2019.

Real GDP per capita was $16,574 in 1953 Q4 and $58,490 in 2019 Q4.


No, I got the part about family income increasing more slowly than the GDP. But, roughly speaking, so what? I was 14 in 1953 and I cannot recall ever thinking "Gee, I wonder how my family income compares with the GDP".

Also, you must have misplaced a comma. $35,650 in 1953? I never thought of my family as poor, or as rich either, but in the mid-50s a friend was dating a girl whose family made 20K a year and, he said, they were having financial problems. I thought that was impossible. In the mid-50s no one could make 20K a year and have financial problems, other than figuring out what to do with all that money.
The minimum wage in 1953 was 75 cents an hour, which gives $1,500 a year.

Anyway, I am at least a bit serious in hoping to understand this. I understand that part of it could be expectations. Still, I don't get it.
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#18073 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2021-April-12, 14:39

View Posty66, on 2021-April-12, 13:32, said:

What I think you may be missing is that real median family income has not increased at the same rate as real GDP per capita since 1980. If it had, it would be more like $126,000 than $86,000.

Did something happen in 1980? Perhaps our friend from Oklahoma has a theory?

Real median family income was $35,650 in 1953 and $86,011 in 2019.

Real GDP per capita was $16,574 in 1953 Q4 and $58,490 in 2019 Q4.


These 'posts' that you keep dumping here are extremely frustrating.
Throwing out numbers without a denominator is a well-known journalist trick to excite readership.

It's just clickbait.
Dropping slabs of text into a Forum without meaningful analysis is uninteresting - if you want to use them to make a point, fine - otherwise, I don't bother reading them.
But, thanks for telling me that other people are thinking.

The real question is not "real median income" but purchasing power.

Other important factors are access to education and health care.

A common metric is to look at the multiple of median income and compare that with median home cost.
In 1938 it cost $3900 to purchase a new house with an average income of $1731 - or to put it another way, roughly double.

Today the price is about $65,000 compared with an average income of $28,671 - or to put it another way, roughly double.

Remember that in 1938 families were larger, women - and anyone that was not a white male from an English-speaking background - were treated like s**t and families were much larger.

Do you think about data or just look at it?

Would you rather be alive in 1938 or now?

The absolute last, bottom of the barrel crisis that we face at the moment in 1st world countries is real median income.

In Australia, successive conservative governments have so eviscerated science (and scientific thinking) that nobody here can produce a vaccine - or deliver one.
At the same time, I hear the same people on the radio rambling about how we must do more to attract people from overseas who have skills.

I find many of these people in Australian Bridge Clubs - they think they know everything because they can play a card game.
Give me a break.







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#18074 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2021-April-12, 14:45

View Postkenberg, on 2021-April-12, 14:33, said:

Also, you must have misplaced a comma. [size="2"]$35,650 in 1953? I never thought of my family as poor, or as rich either, but in the mid-50s a friend was dating a girl whose family made 20K a year and, he said, they were having financial problems. I thought that was impossible. In the mid-50s no one could make 20K a year and have financial problems, other than figuring out what to do with all that money


The Y-axis of the graph says "2019 CPI-U-RS Adjusted Dollars". So, they've taking the actual 1953 median family income, and made an adjustment for inflation to project what that would have been in 2019. The CPI-U-RS series is AKA IRS CPI for Urban Consumers Retroactive Series from 1978 to the present. It's not clear what index they are using for years before 1978.
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#18075 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-April-12, 15:14

Yes, as I was making tea it struck me: $35,650 in 1953 means the 1953 median income brought up to modern dollars. Maybe 2019, maybe 2021, Anyway, yes now that number seems plausible. The graph said they had adjusted for inflation but the numbers were just percentages.

If we use https://www.aier.org...ing-calculator/ to convert we get a factor of about 10. So a family 1953 income of $3,565 seems like a reasonable median family income The family income in my family was about $5,000. More than $3,565, but far short of the $8.700 or so that would be two and a half times $3,565 .


We lived comfortably.


So what's going on?


If we multiply that $8.700 by 10 we get 87K, very close to the 86K you quote.


So are we really saying that my family in the 50s could live comfortably on 5K, equivalent to 50K today, but people are really finding it tough to live on 87K today?




As I said, I am really not trying to argue here, I am trying to understand just what is being said.
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#18076 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-April-13, 08:42

I hope you will excuse my persistence but I find this substantial increase (after the adjustment for inflation) in family income to be interesting, and as we climb out of covid and begin programs intended to help others, I think it could be useful as well as interesting.
So I am going to try an approach, perhaps an odd approach, to understanding.
Growing up, I had food and housing, and every expectation that I would continue to have food and housing. The neighborhood was safe. I had a bicycle, ice skakes, a sled. There was a decent elementary school walking distance away. I went to the movies and I bought books. You get the idea.

Suppose we were to set that as a goal. What family income is needed today for the kids to have such a life?

Perhaps I should indicate upper bounds on what we had. When we went fishing we rented a small boat and powered it with a three and a half horsepower outboard motor. I learned about water skiing, and for that matter snow skiing, in college. These were not part of family life as I grew up. But I would consider it a success if the worst a kid could say about his life is that he never learned to water ski.

I realize this is personal, and I have noted comments about that. But if we want to make life better for others, it seems we should have some idea of what we would like to achieve.

Of course, it is more expensive to live in San Francisco than in Omaha. Maybe take a non-extreme case such as St. Paul. The last time I looked on Zillow, the house I grew up in has a z value of about 350K. Randolph Heights Elementary is still there, as is Edgecumbe playground. So what sort of family income would be required to live there? Or somewhere like it.
A clear answer to this seems far more useful than graphs.
Ken
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#18077 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2021-April-13, 09:12

There are things that have gone up much faster than inflation in the United States:
  • University education
  • Housing
  • Health Insurance

At random, just off the top of my head. Conclusions from this are left as an exercise to the reader (including the chance of achieving median family income with insecurity in any of those things).

I would also suggest that median income undifferentiated by location, especially in a United States that includes San Fransicso, metropolitan New York and D.C., and Detroit or Minot N.D., is not helpful in understanding "indexed by inflation" costs. You mention this, of course.

What you're looking for (besides that) is income frequency charts; it would not surprise me if there was a bell curve that includes the median on the upswing, dying off pretty quickly around $60K, with a big spike at "minimum wage family" levels. Even a "25%/50%/75%" graph would help with this.

The key to this graph is to see that out of the excess of what is being produced, about half of what would be expected in 1953 has gone to the producers, and the other half (in addition to the 1953 owner's expected increase, not instead of) to the owners. It doesn't help necessarily with understand how or why this is less livable than before. If it was used to make that point, it probably was the wrong graph to use.

As a final point, it would be taken for granted that in 1953, there was a "decent [] school" for you, as long as you were white [and urban, I guess]. That was never true for other communities, and it's no longer necessarily true for anyone. The money the government spent on that? Didn't go back to the "median income" folks, or the 30percentile folks. No idea where it went[/s].

[Edit: It looks like I missed stating my basic point. It's not surprising that a family in the U.S. making the median income can have a comfortable life (barring a health emergency that racks up $1M before blinking, I guess), ignoring those insane CoL places. Is it a sign of a happy society that "more than 50% of U.S. families aren't struggling"? Should that be closer to 90%? 99%?]
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#18078 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-April-13, 10:03

View Posty66, on 2021-April-12, 13:32, said:



Did something happen in 1980? Perhaps our friend from Oklahoma has a theory?




Ayn Rand was elected president?
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#18079 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-April-13, 14:03

View Postmycroft, on 2021-April-13, 09:12, said:

There are things that have gone up much faster than inflation in the United States:
  • University education
  • Housing
  • Health Insurance

At random, just off the top of my head. Conclusions from this are left as an exercise to the reader (including the chance of achieving median family income with insecurity in any of those things).

I would also suggest that median income undifferentiated by location, especially in a United States that includes San Fransicso, metropolitan New York and D.C., and Detroit or Minot N.D., is not helpful in understanding "indexed by inflation" costs. You mention this, of course.

What you're looking for (besides that) is income frequency charts; it would not surprise me if there was a bell curve that includes the median on the upswing, dying off pretty quickly around $60K, with a big spike at "minimum wage family" levels. Even a "25%/50%/75%" graph would help with this.

The key to this graph is to see that out of the excess of what is being produced, about half of what would be expected in 1953 has gone to the producers, and the other half (in addition to the 1953 owner's expected increase, not instead of) to the owners. It doesn't help necessarily with understand how or why this is less livable than before. If it was used to make that point, it probably was the wrong graph to use.

As a final point, it would be taken for granted that in 1953, there was a "decent [] school" for you, as long as you were white. That was never true for other communities, and it's no longer necessarily true for anyone. The money the government spent on that? Didn't go back to the "median income" folks, or the 30percentile folks. No idea where it went[/s].

[Edit: It looks like I missed stating my basic point. It's not surprising that a family in the U.S. making the median income can have a comfortable life (barring a health emergency that racks up $1M before blinking, I guess), ignoring those insane CoL places. Is it a sign of a happy society that "more than 50% of U.S. families aren't struggling"? Should that be closer to 90%? 99%?]


You are focusing on things that I think are important. One way to put it: How much money is needed to do what?

Univ education. I started at the University of Minnesota in 1956. Tuition was $72 a quarter, so $216 a year. Around 1956 it went up to, I believe, $84 a quarter, so $252 a year. Minimum wage was $1.00 an hour but it was easy to get even part time jobs for more than that. So pretty manageable for many. What happened? Well, back then it was common for profs to teach four three hour courses. Now two three hour course, or even one three hour course for someone with a highly active research program, is common. And, of course, there are many more students. This creates a push on the budget. A solvable problemm? Perhaps, but it's a problem.

Expectation that a nearby elementary school is 'decent": Well, maybe sort of still true. Mostly I think the range of quality has drastically changed. A grandson went to a good high school (and a good middle school and a good elementary school but I don't recall that so well). Like many, he took AP this and Ap that. My trig teacher in my senior year was fine, I thought highly of him, but I seriously doubt he would have scored well on an AP Calculus exam. By the time I was a high school senior most of my friends went to a different and better public high school than I was attending, but the difference was not large. They were not taking calculus, their physics course seemed to be much like mine and so on. And the few kids I knew from private schools did not seem to be in a different league either. Now the very good schools are very very good and the bad ones are horrid (to borrow from a nursery rhyme). I think the range is less dramatic at the elementary school level.


But what do we need to do? I doubt the answer is easy.
Ken
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#18080 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-April-14, 12:15

Something that seems undiscussed is the effect of the rather recent disparity in the sharing of the benefits of productivity gains. In the past there was a more equitable sharing but in today’s stock price driven world hoarding of those gains has become the norm.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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