Archive for The Middle Class

Are Millennials Entitled?

Entitled Millennial

Claim: Millennials are lazy and entitled narcissists. They take for granted what previous generations did for them.
Fact: Millennials are maturing into what’s likely the most difficult US economy in which to earn a living wage since pre-New Deal times. Baby boomers for example matured into an economy with more affordable/free college, and quicker access to a living wage that rarely even required higher education.

There appears to be a growing belief that millennials are an entitled group. This is expressed in various internet memes including a video which recently went Read more

The Rich Pay “All the Taxes” (Myth)

unions middle class

An article recently surface claiming that the rich pay “all of the taxes.”  The reasoning behind the claim: The top 40% pay 109% of the federal income tax (lower income earners actually receive tax credits—hence why the seemingly impossible math, is in fact possible). The obvious problems here:

  • The bottom 60% (actually, the bottom 80% or so) continue to make less money relative to rising costs of living
  • A greater portion of the wealth continues to coagulate at the top income levels
  • Merely being in the top 40% does not make one “rich”
  • Focusing on the federal income tax rate ignores taxes on capital gains, payroll, and state/municipal taxes
  • The actual rich generally make their wealth from capital gains (which are taxed at a lower rate than income)
  • Payroll taxes eat up a much larger portion of the lower income earners’ paychecks

The bottom 60% (actually, the bottom 80% or so) continue to make less money relative to rising costs of living

Over the last 40 years, middle and lower income earners have seen their wages drop relative to rising costs of living, while an ever-increasing percentage of their labor is paid at the top.  The disparity in income tax payments largely reflects the disparity in income itself.

income disparity - rich taxes

Read more

Income Disparity and the Middle Class: A few Myths and Misconceptions

income inequality us

As noted countless times in this blog, the shift to a more supply-side (aka Reaganomics/trickle down economics) economy has not led to a stringer middle class. The disparity in wealth and income between the top 1% and everyone else (especially the bottom 4 quintiles) has only widened and left many of the lower quintiles barely able to afford the costs of living.  Nevertheless, apologists have used a few distortions to diffuse this inconvenient fact.

Wealth inequality - myth and misconception

 

income inequality us

Using average income gains instead of median
If Bill Gates walks into a bar, the average income of the people in the bar rises dramatically.  But it doesn’t mean anyone in the bar now actually makes more money.  Likewise, the last 30 years has seen a sharp rise in wealth for the very top earners, so indeed, the average has risen.

Focusing household income instead of individual income
Double income households are far more common than they were 30 years ago.  So while Read more

California Minimum Wage vs Community College Unit Cost

Community colleges have traditionally offered an excellent opportunity for students from lower income households and have served as a bridge to 4-year Universities.  So it’s interesting to note how the cost of community college units in California have far outpaced the state’s minimum wage.  It’s important to note that CA has one of the highest minimum wages in the US and community colleges in CA have traditionally been among the most affordable in the country.

california minimum wage vs community college unit costsSources:

Until 1985, community college units in CA were actually free.  But starting this year, they were $5/unit, and at this time the minimum wage was $3.35/hr.   In 2000, Read more