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

#18101 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-April-18, 06:48

View Postawm, on 2021-April-18, 02:00, said:

Keep in mind that in 1953 we still had segregation in most of the country! The KKK was much stronger than today, you could be fired (or even lynched) for being gay, and women had a lot fewer rights in the workplace (and in marriage). Even asking Ken's question suggests a bit of white male privilege.

If we assume white/male/straight/Christian background, there are still a number of things that were worse in 1953. For example, you were fairly likely to be drafted to fight in a military conflict (Korea or Vietnam) which doesn't really happen today. While the existential threat of climate change was an unknown in the 1950s, you had the threat of nuclear war which might have been even scarier. The polio vaccine hadn't been developed quite yet and this was a pretty scary disease. Schools and teaching were more uniform but also less developed, so if you were the type of kid who has trouble sitting still and learning by taking notes from a lecture you were probably worse off in the 1950s.

Of course, if we're focusing solely on economic issues (for the presumed white/male/straight/Christian kid) things might've been better in the 1950s. Digging around the web, I found some numbers from a decade later in 1969:

For high school dropouts (finished 1-3 years of high school) the average salary in 1969 for men was $7,958; for high school graduates without college it was $9,100. After inflation this comes to $58,248 and $66,812. Some more modern data gives $520 and $712 as weekly incomes in 2017 (this translates to $29,203 and $39,986 yearly after inflation). This is a pretty massive difference (basically double for high school dropouts)! Of course the latter numbers are for everyone (not just men) and removing the lower salaries for women (yes we still have a gender gap today) will boost it a little, but nowhere near as high as 1969.

If you want the 1960s level of income, you basically need a wife who works full-time too or you need to get a college degree. Of course this is just the median (some people drop out of school and start their own software company and make billions!) but this is behind the modern drive to get a college degree. The problem is that the cost of college has become quite high currently reaching $35,720 per student per year. Of course some schools are cheaper than others (public in-state costs are only around $25,615 per year) but it's easy to see how people come out with $50,000 in debt even assuming they work part-time during school and/or get some help from parents or scholarships. With a bachelor's degree the average earnings look similar to the 1969 earnings above ($1,173 weekly comes to $65,876 per year after inflation and again it's a bit more for men because of the persistent gender gap).

So the basic story is that college grad income today looks like high school grad income in the 1960s and that college comes with a lot of debt that takes time to pay off on the typical income. So Ken's typical white/male/straight/Christian kid was better off economically years ago.


I like to hope the last sentence is not the case. I can argue it either way.

But think about the implications. There really are not a large number of people who say "Oh yes, if we continue on our current path my kids will be worse off but someone else's kids will be better off so sure, let's keep doing what we are doing".

The argument for liberal programs that comes most naturally to me is "Look, if everyone has the opportunity to develop their strengths then this will be good for the country and good for all of us in it". This is more of a practical argument than a moral argument, but I think people often respond better to practical arguments than they do to moral arguments. At least I do. So I really hope it is a correct argument. It is, more than a little, based on faith rather than careful analysis of data. And this might make it less practical than I would like it to be.





Ken
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#18102 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-April-18, 14:57

I was just looking at GDP per capita versus Median Household Income over the last few years. Data sources seem to vary but I am getting the idea that the percentage growth in the household over the last few years has outpaced the percentage growth in GDP per capita. That seems to be consistent with the earlier graph. I'll look into it a bit more.
Ken
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#18103 User is offline   awm 

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Posted 2021-April-18, 15:18

My impression is that:

1. Median income for men (inflation adjusted) has not changed much in the US over the years. However, this hides the fact that today’s work force is much more educated, so the average time/expense of schooling to reach that median income is much higher now.
2. Median income for women has improved significantly, although it still lags the income for men. The fraction of women in the work force has also increased significantly.
3. The typical family has substantially higher inflation adjusted income, but this is mostly because both adults are working and making similar salaries (whereas years ago most married women weren’t employed full time).
4. However, this increased income comes with costs (such as college loans, child care costs) and these costs can also make it difficult to afford a home (meaning money is wasted on rent and loan payments instead of building equity).
Adam W. Meyerson
a.k.a. Appeal Without Merit
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#18104 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2021-April-18, 15:23

View Postawm, on 2021-April-18, 02:00, said:

If you want the 1960s level of income, you basically need a wife who works full-time too or you need to get a college degree.

I am sure the general picture you paint is true, but there's one bias that may be tricky to account for:

The college/noncollege distinction doesn't mean quite the same today as it did in the 60s. My dad had a master degree which was something quite special in his generation. Even completing high school was reserved for less than 10%. So non-college educated people would include a lot of middle class people. Policemen, primary school teachers, nurses, secretaries, estate agents and many technicians or accountants who would end up in management position in middle-sized companies usually did not have college degrees and often not even high school degrees. Even when I started university, the perspective was that unless you specifically aimed at becoming a priest, lawyer or physician, you would basically end up as a high school teacher since there were very few other jobs for which a university degree would be useful.

Today, college degrees are much more common. So the non-college-degree population is much more specifically (lower) working class today than it was in my parents' generation.

So maybe a better comparison between now and 1969 would be something like the 25% income quantile, rather than median for non-college educated people.

(This is a Danish perspective but presumably the situation in the US is at least somewhat similar).
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#18105 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2021-April-18, 17:07

One difference between the USA and the rest of the world as far as college/university education is concerned may be the "Servicemen's readjustment bill" of 1944.
Here is a nice table that compares the percentage of adults with a university degree.
Canada 48%, NZ and Japan 41%, Norway and Australia 34%, My house 100% (not including the poodles).
http://bit.ly/AdultsUniversity


There are University degrees and University degrees, Doctorates and Doctorates.
When you put the letters after your name, they all look the same.

non est deus ex machina; även maskiner behöver lite kärlek, J'ai toujours misé sur l'étrange gentillesse des robots.
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#18106 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-April-18, 19:13

Here is one way to think about it: If it is true, for a husband and wife of about average education and talent, that they need to both work full time to support a reasonable lifestyle, and if, say, fifty years ago a married could of the same general abilities could have a reasonable lifestyle with only one of them working, that would seem to say that life today is tougher than it was fifty years ago. Yes, maybe both wish to have a career or maybe they don't, but if a reasonable lifestyle requires that they both work, want to or not, then that seems like life is tougher.


There was an interesting book review in WaPo today, discussing Cold War America. It's all over the map, Andy Warhol, George Kennan, Pauline Kael, you name it, much of it I knew little about. Still, I found the review interesting.
He quotes the author's comment on George Kennan:
"He thought that Americans needed to be realists because they could not trust themselves to be moralists."
https://www.bridgeba...st&f=26&t=72022
Ken
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#18107 User is offline   thepossum 

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Posted 2021-April-19, 03:13

View Postpilowsky, on 2021-April-18, 17:07, said:

One difference between the USA and the rest of the world as far as college/university education is concerned may be the "Servicemen's readjustment bill" of 1944.
Here is a nice table that compares the percentage of adults with a university degree.
Canada 48%, NZ and Japan 41%, Norway and Australia 34%, My house 100% (not including the poodles).
http://bit.ly/AdultsUniversity


There are University degrees and University degrees, Doctorates and Doctorates.
When you put the letters after your name, they all look the same.



I'm not sure what is the intent behind the graph or final comments but I think there is also something called quality and merit in this world which statistics and politics can hide

I was always somewhat fascinated and dismayed after being brought up in a country that competed in World Championships against the rest of the world when I found there was a country whose World Championships only applied to them

Oops nearly forgot when people started creating multiple World Championships to deal with things

There is a case I imagine where as the population increases the need for multiple world champions needs to grow proportionately - otherwise you can get inflation due to excess demand. But it can go the other way

You certainly do not increase quality and merit by making it easier to achieve something or by thinking that simply giving someone the same title (words and letters) it is equivalent

What we need is a graph of titles/letters per capita over time :)

I may sound privileged and elitist but I actually believe there are ways of increasing accessibility without damaging merit and quality

Regarding quality, value, and merit one possible way of looking at possible deflation in value is looking at the level of job description for which certain letters are required. Maybe the jobs became more demanding but I certainly don't think that is always the case. Then of course there are the associated problems of wasted resources (costs) in people being overtrained for what they do and potentially even more dangerous the mismatch of expectation and reality. That mismatch works both ways - for those massively overqualified and for those crowded out from access to the letters required for something they are quite capable of.

Also what happens to the suppliers of those letters when their industry (I hate the use of that word in this case) becomes compromised in that way. Self-regulation is easily corrupted or destroyed by self-interest. For me those institutions went from being able to be independent and self-sustaining to requiring external funding and changing their model to a totally different model which has compromised the whole world. My view may be wrong but that is certainly how it appears. How you balance up access/competition/independence/privilege/quality I do not know but to me at least it is frightening in its consequences

I remember many years ago reading about a rather patronising (attempting to be consoling) statement that everyone is good in something. So to take the above model to the limit everyone gets to be the world expert in that thing etc etc But do you need all those years of schooling and research experience and publication for each area of expertise and respect - sadly some profit from that aim

Finally (and I mean it this time) while people have debated progress forever and whether it is possible, the world genuinely seemed to be progressing in terms of fairness and access. But the last few years have given some forces a chance to push it backwards and almost cement lower merit in power for the foreseeable future/forever. I see the last few years as totally brutal and destructive to global progress and justice. It's like very dangerous and fascistic musical chairs without another round of music
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#18108 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2021-April-19, 04:22

As in the teacher saying "Everyone is unique."
Or as I sometimes read in the media - such and such is "very unique."
non est deus ex machina; även maskiner behöver lite kärlek, J'ai toujours misé sur l'étrange gentillesse des robots.
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#18109 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2021-April-19, 05:39

From Today’s children face tough prospects of being better off than their parents, Stanford researchers find:

Quote

Young people entering the workforce today are far less likely to earn more than their parents when compared to children born two generations before them, according to a new study by Stanford researchers.

The findings show that the fraction of kids earning more than their parents has fallen dramatically – from 90 percent for kids born in the 1940s to 50 percent for kids born in the 1980s.

One of the defining features of the American Dream is the ideal that children have a higher standard of living than their parents,” Chetty said. “We assessed whether the U.S. is living up to this ideal, and found a steep decline in absolute mobility that likely has a lot to do with the anxiety and frustration many people are feeling, as reflected in the election.”

On this economic dimension, it looks like kids born in the 40s and 50s were better off.

The chart kenberg posted tells different stories for the median family in 3 different eras. As a white, straight guy. I'll pick 1953 as my birth year and take my chances on the bomb and getting drafted although I think it's more important to be able to pick your parents than your birth year.
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#18110 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-April-19, 07:33

View Posty66, on 2021-April-19, 05:39, said:

From Today's children face tough prospects of being better off than their parents, Stanford researchers find:


On this economic dimension, it looks like kids born in the 40s and 50s were better off.

The chart kenberg posted tells different stories for the median family in 3 different eras. As a white, straight guy. I'll pick 1953 as my birth year and take my chances on the bomb and getting drafted although I think it's more important to be able to pick your parents than your birth year.


I very much agree that picking your parents outweighs picking your birth year (although I might try to avoid the Black Death years of the 14th century). f we keep the choice to 1953 versus 2019 then choice of parents would be a clear winner.
Ken
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#18111 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2021-April-19, 09:26

View Postkenberg, on 2021-April-18, 19:13, said:

Here is one way to think about it: If it is true, for a husband and wife of about average education and talent, that they need to both work full time to support a reasonable lifestyle, and if, say, fifty years ago a married could of the same general abilities could have a reasonable lifestyle with only one of them working, that would seem to say that life today is tougher than it was fifty years ago. Yes, maybe both wish to have a career or maybe they don't, but if a reasonable lifestyle requires that they both work, want to or not, then that seems like life is tougher.

Someone above mentioned all the labor-saving devices that either didn't exist or were far rarer in the 50's. So housekeeping was much closer to a full-time job, and it usually wasn't practical for both parents to work (unless you could also afford a housekeeper). There also weren't day care centers, so you'd have to hire a nanny to care for the kids.

These things have feedback effects -- typical salaries took into account the expectation that the worker would be supporting an entire family, not half.

#18112 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-April-19, 11:33

View Postbarmar, on 2021-April-19, 09:26, said:

Someone above mentioned all the labor-saving devices that either didn't exist or were far rarer in the 50's. So housekeeping was much closer to a full-time job, and it usually wasn't practical for both parents to work (unless you could also afford a housekeeper). There also weren't day care centers, so you'd have to hire a nanny to care for the kids.

These things have feedback effects -- typical salaries took into account the expectation that the worker would be supporting an entire family, not half.


This last sentence is something I have thought about. Let's suppose that a typical salary of a typical worker is no longer enough for the typical family to live decently on the salary of one worker. I agree that this supposition is probably true. I believe it is also true that there are far more single-parent families than was the cast back in 1953. It seems we have come to a messy situation. There is a lot to think about.
Ken
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#18113 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-April-19, 12:28

View Posty66, on 2021-April-19, 05:39, said:

From Today's children face tough prospects of being better off than their parents, Stanford researchers find:


On this economic dimension, it looks like kids born in the 40s and 50s were better off.

The chart kenberg posted tells different stories for the median family in 3 different eras. As a white, straight guy. I'll pick 1953 as my birth year and take my chances on the bomb and getting drafted although I think it's more important to be able to pick your parents than your birth year.


I have been thinking about this. I expected my idea that, well just maybe, being born when I was would be better than being born today would be seen as a really nutty idea. Now perhaps, as I can well imagine, an Afro_american, male or female, might say "Ok, sure, today is better but it sure isn't great". So who is happy?

If just about everyone is mad as hell and not going to take it anymore, we can see how this might lead to political problems. And we seem to have political problems.
Ken
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#18114 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2021-April-19, 13:32

Fun read: The problem with facts by Tim Harford
If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#18115 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-April-19, 14:27

View Posty66, on 2021-April-19, 13:32, said:

Fun read: The problem with facts by Tim Harford


The role of facts is an interesting question.

The Brexit example:
The article speaks of the false claim that the UK was sending 350m pounds a week to the EU. And then later implies 240m would have been more accurate.
I ask:
How many voters, if they saw this, would say "Oh, I was going to vote Leave because of the 350 million figure but now that I see that the correct figure is 240 million I will vote to stay"? Very few, I think. Both figures fall into the "a lot" category and if a voter thought that sending a lot of money was a solid reason to vote Leave, I doubt very much that they would care whether it is 350m or 240m.

So if claiming 350m gets Remainers to say "No, no, That's false, it's only 240m a week" then the job is done. Voters have received the message that a lot is sent. I guess the fact-checkers would agree with that.

As for tobacco, I started smoking (a little) in 1953, the year mentioned for the study and upped the amount in 1954. I still cannot explain this other than by saying that I was a teen-age boy. Dumb. Seriously dumb.

I agree with the article that we need to address the problem.
Ken
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#18116 User is offline   shyams 

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Posted 2021-April-19, 14:48

BBC website said:

The White House has acknowledged there was little evidence that Russia had offered Taliban militants bounties to kill US soldiers in Afghanistan. A spokeswoman for President Joe Biden said the claim had "low to moderate confidence" from US spy chiefs.

Russia has denied paying the bounties. In last year's US election, Mr Biden heavily criticised Donald Trump for not confronting Russia over the claim. The intelligence assessment was first reported last June by the New York Times, and was cited by Mr Biden on the 2020 presidential campaign trail to accuse then-President Trump of not standing up to Russia.

Mr Trump at the time called it "fake news" and a "fake issue". He later tweeted that he was not briefed on the subject because US intelligence agents had not deemed it credible.

At a White House news briefing on Thursday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the intelligence community had determined it had "low to moderate confidence" in the claims. She said this was due to the fact that the information was said to have come from interrogations of Afghan detainees. "It's challenging to gather this intelligence and this data," she said.


Sometimes it feels like all of politics is smoke & mirrors. If there is any correlation to the outcome of the Presidential election, I am not bothered. I am happy that Trump is gone.

However, the idea that the establishment will gladly manipulate the people en masse is worrying.
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#18117 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2021-April-19, 16:08

Weapons of mass destruction all over again.
Here is how Generals explain to political advisors about going to war.
http://bit.ly/GoToWarExplained
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#18118 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2021-April-19, 16:22

View Postshyams, on 2021-April-19, 14:48, said:

Quote

Russia has denied paying the bounties



Russia has denied interfering in the US 2016 and 2020 elections, has denied the Novichok poisonings in Salisbury, has denied poisoning Navalny, denied sending Russian forces to Crimea, has denied the Solarwinds hacking, etc, etc, etc.

The Kremlin has just slightly more credibility than the twice impeached Manchurian (ex)President, but he has zero credibility so that's not exactly a favorable comparison. One of the reasons the bounties can't be dismissed is that this is exactly the type of thing that Putin like to do.
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#18119 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-April-19, 17:00

I read today that Biden said the intelligence on this is low to moderate confidence. That doesn’t mean it’s not true but not solid enough to bet the house on
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#18120 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2021-April-19, 17:14

View PostWinstonm, on 2021-April-19, 17:00, said:

I read today that Biden said the intelligence on this is low to moderate confidence. That doesn’t mean it’s not true but not solid enough to bet the house on

I do not believe that the UK regards the intelligence of Russian involvement in Salisbury as "low to moderate" and that is independent of the same men "coincidentally" leaving the Czech Republic on the same day as an explosion that has now been linked to Russia.
(-: Zel :-)

Happy New Year everyone!
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