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

#18081 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2021-April-14, 19:52

Chuck Marr, Director of Federal Tax Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said:

Stars are aligning to rebuild the IRS & address tax gap. Here’s our take on need for multi-year discretionary cap adjustment, & a multiyear mandatory funding stream to help pay for recovery legislation– to be combined with increased reporting requirements.

Rebuilding IRS Would Reduce Tax Gap, Help Replenish Depleted Revenue Base

Posted Image

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#18082 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-April-15, 07:31

I think the weakening of the IRS has been a disaster. I hope it gets fixed.

As I have said boringly often, I don't fret about other people having more money than I do. And I expect to be taxed, someone has to pay for what we want done. however the rich are undertaxed to start with, and they have ways to get around taxes by clever legal maneuvers. If it also becomes the case that they regualrly dodge taxes illegally with little fear of being caught, this will be very bad for how I and many others see our government.

Of course I know people often read tax rules imaginatively and sometimes get away with it. I don't demand perfection. But I am getting the idea that holding millionaires to the tax laws today is like it was holding speakeasies to the liquor laws in the 20s. This is not good.

Added: Sure, I realize "millionaire" does not mean what it meant in the time of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. I am using it to mean those with ridiculous wealth.
Ken
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#18083 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2021-April-15, 16:14

Ken, as long as you keep trying to relate things to the life you led growing up, I don't think you'll ever "get it".

You were a white boy growing up in the rural midwest. I grew up in suburban Long Island a generation later, with middle class parents (my father ran the medium-sized family business that my grandfather started). We had decent school systems, which prepared us to go to college and become whatever we wanted, and we had little trouble paying for it (my parents paid for almost all my college expenses, the only debt I took on was the $7500 Guaranteed Student Loan that was available to everyone at the time).

The only people who had better prospects than us were children of parents who were already filthy rich. White girls who wanted to become wives and mothers also had it good; but if they wanted careers, they were mostly SOL unless they were interested in a few specific jobs (teacher, nurse); there were also some jobs like secretaries and sales clerk that were usually just temporary until they found a husband, not long-term careers.

But this is not the life that many Americans live these days. Income hasn't kept pace with the increases in costs of college and health care. There are far more single-parent families, and two-parent families often require both parents to work to afford a decent lifestyle. There are far more people below the poverty line; getting out of it is difficult, and even harder if you're a minority. Income inequality is orders of magnitude worse now than it was when you were growing up, and the rich have the means to keep it that way unless drastic changes are made by the government (which is unlikely because the GOP is firmly in the pocket of big business, and even Democrats need corporate donations).

Your folksy anecdotes about your life are fun reads, but they offer little in the way of ideas about how to solve the problems that all these people have. They mostly just highlight how different things are now.

#18084 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2021-April-15, 16:38

Yes, that's one thing I missed when discussing "living with median family income, 1960 vs 2020" (1990, really). Child care has gone up much more than inflation, because for many (including "most" median income families), child care cost "$0" - the wife stayed at home and was child care and maid and cook.

Median family income was 90% one-income; it's now maybe 15%.

I was an outlier (for white urban children) in the 1970s being from a two-full-time-income household; I remained an outlier in the 1980s when I now came from a one-income (but also one-parent) household. Both of those things are much more common now.

(no comment about the number of two-parent families that would have been one-parent households if a certain parent had a full-time job and *could* leave. That is, I'm told, a significant factor.)
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#18085 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-April-15, 17:57

View Postbarmar, on 2021-April-15, 16:14, said:

Ken, as long as you keep trying to relate things to the life you led growing up, I don't think you'll ever "get it".

You were a white boy growing up in the rural midwest. I grew up in suburban Long Island a generation later, with middle class parents (my father ran the medium-sized family business that my grandfather started). We had decent school systems, which prepared us to go to college and become whatever we wanted, and we had little trouble paying for it (my parents paid for almost all my college expenses, the only debt I took on was the $7500 Guaranteed Student Loan that was available to everyone at the time).

The only people who had better prospects than us were children of parents who were already filthy rich. White girls who wanted to become wives and mothers also had it good; but if they wanted careers, they were mostly SOL unless they were interested in a few specific jobs (teacher, nurse); there were also some jobs like secretaries and sales clerk that were usually just temporary until they found a husband, not long-term careers.

But this is not the life that many Americans live these days. Income hasn't kept pace with the increases in costs of college and health care. There are far more single-parent families, and two-parent families often require both parents to work to afford a decent lifestyle. There are far more people below the poverty line; getting out of it is difficult, and even harder if you're a minority. Income inequality is orders of magnitude worse now than it was when you were growing up, and the rich have the means to keep it that way unless drastic changes are made by the government (which is unlikely because the GOP is firmly in the pocket of big business, and even Democrats need corporate donations).

Your folksy anecdotes about your life are fun reads, but they offer little in the way of ideas about how to solve the problems that all these people have. They mostly just highlight how different things are now.


But I have asked a clear question. What family income would be required for a child to grow up as I did? Btw, I don't think of St.\Paul as rural. But I picked St. Paul because (1) I know it and (2) it's probably somewhere in the middle for costs. As I mentioned, the z value of the house I grew up in 70 years ago is something like 350K.

My idea is this: If we want to accomplish something, we should be clear on what we are hoping for and have some idea of what it would cost.

Let me be very specific: Suppose a married couple have one kid and a family income of 80K. Suppose they plan to live in St. Paul. Is it reasonable to think that the kid could grow up being comfortable about the basics (housing, food, clothing), get a decent start in life from the school system, have a bike, but nooks, go to moviesd? Is 60K enough? Not enough? Easily more than enough?

If we hope to make a life better, I ask for some details of what we hope for and what sort of family income would suffice to bring it about.
Ken
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#18086 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2021-April-15, 18:54

View Postkenberg, on 2021-April-15, 17:57, said:

But I have asked a clear question. What family income would be required for a child to grow up as I did? Btw, I don't think of St.\Paul as rural. But I picked St. Paul because (1) I know it and (2) it's probably somewhere in the middle for costs. As I mentioned, the z value of the house I grew up in 70 years ago is something like 350K.

My idea is this: If we want to accomplish something, we should be clear on what we are hoping for and have some idea of what it would cost.

Let me be very specific: Suppose a married couple have one kid and a family income of 80K. Suppose they plan to live in St. Paul. Is it reasonable to think that the kid could grow up being comfortable about the basics (housing, food, clothing), get a decent start in life from the school system, have a bike, but nooks, go to moviesd? Is 60K enough? Not enough? Easily more than enough?

If we hope to make a life better, I ask for some details of what we hope for and what sort of family income would suffice to bring it about.


The answer Ken, is that you are asking the wrong question.
Your "clear" question: "What family income would be required for a child to grow up as I did?" suggests that your life is the optimal life and that if other people had a particular "family income", they could replicate it and all would be well with the world.


The clear implication is that if we could add 'Income=X' to 'Child=Y', then 'Happy life = Z'.


It's a wonderful equation. Mr Smith should take it to Washington.


Tragically, your relationship is not a physical law. Merely a correlation that worked out well in your case.
Nothing that happened to you in your life had very much to do with your family income.
Ask Bill Clinton or Lyle and Erik Menendez.


A "Happy Life" does not come out of a wallet.
non est deus ex machina; även maskiner behöver lite kärlek, J'ai toujours misé sur l'étrange gentillesse des robots.
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#18087 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-April-15, 19:50

I think Ken asked a valid economic question; however, I don’t think it went far enough. Once “x” is determined, the question is how likely someone is to be able to earn that figure if white compared to black and Hispanic and Asian
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#18088 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2021-April-15, 23:24

View PostWinstonm, on 2021-April-15, 19:50, said:

I think Ken asked a valid economic question; however, I don't think it went far enough. Once "x" is determined, the question is how likely someone is to be able to earn that figure if white compared to black and Hispanic and Asian


Once again, I don't think that there is much of a relationship between [(ethnicity, gender or anything else) X (money)] and happiness.

What you are alluding to is a different question.

In medicine, for decades (centuries), there was a problem that goes by the fancy name "homosocialization". This term has appropriated by Wikipedia writers to mean the "process by which LGBT people meet...".

What the term was originally used to describe was the process by which people maintained their own community to the exclusion of others.
In medicine, this meant that unless you were a white Anglo-Saxon male, it was tough to get into medicine.

So bad was the situation that the London School of Medicine was founded.

The problem was that Medicine (like the Priesthood) was a secure, well-paying, highly respected sinecure. Nice work if you can get it.
It's different in some countries. Medicine in the Soviet Union sucked if you wanted wealth and status, so women were common - except in Senior posts, of course.
If you read Mikhail Bulgakov's book "A Country Doctor's Notebook", you'll find out why.
Instead of enjoying the opportunity of walking along the beach and meeting charming villagers in Port Wenn (Doc Martin).
You had the opportunity to be eaten by wolves and nearly freeze to death (they made a TV series about it starring Harry Potter).

(You are interpreting) Ken's question is relevant to the way that the "have's" prevent the "have nots" from getting their fair share - or as David Gilmour wrote (in distinctively 7/4 time):

Money, get away
You get a good job with more pay and you're okay
Money, it's a gas
Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash
New car, caviar, four-star daydream
Think I'll buy me a football team

Money, get back
I'm alright, Jack, keep your hands off of my stack
Money, it's a hit
Ah, don't give me that do-goody-good bullshit
I'm in the high-fidelity first class travelling set
And I think I need a Lear jet


If that's what is being discussed, I'm right there with you.




non est deus ex machina; även maskiner behöver lite kärlek, J'ai toujours misé sur l'étrange gentillesse des robots.
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#18089 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-April-16, 07:57

I interpreted Ken's expression "how I did" to mean with quantifiable objects of x, y, z rather than a question of happiness.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#18090 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-April-16, 08:39

I've always hoped that police were honest but have always had a nagging concern that two officers operating in tandem could lie and send me to prison. That makes this article even more troubling to me.

Combine that with this and it is spooky.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#18091 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2021-April-16, 14:53

View PostWinstonm, on 2021-April-16, 08:39, said:

I've always hoped that police were honest but have always had a nagging concern that two officers operating in tandem could lie and send me to prison. That makes this article even more troubling to me.

Combine that with this and it is spooky.


You're joking. That's really what you thought!

Watch this video http://bit.ly/DuaneDontTalk

I also bought his book.
I live in Australia. The situation is much worse according to lawyers I have chatted to.
non est deus ex machina; även maskiner behöver lite kärlek, J'ai toujours misé sur l'étrange gentillesse des robots.
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#18092 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-April-16, 16:42

My oldest daughter is an attorney so I have been indoctrinated to seek legal counsel any time the constabulary wants answers.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#18093 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-April-17, 06:04

View Postpilowsky, on 2021-April-15, 18:54, said:

The answer Ken, is that you are asking the wrong question.
Your "clear" question: "What family income would be required for a child to grow up as I did?" suggests that your life is the optimal life and that if other people had a particular "family income", they could replicate it and all would be well with the world.

The clear implication is that if we could add 'Income=X' to 'Child=Y', then 'Happy life = Z'.

It's a wonderful equation. Mr Smith should take it to Washington.

Tragically, your relationship is not a physical law. Merely a correlation that worked out well in your case.
Nothing that happened to you in your life had very much to do with your family income.
Ask Bill Clinton or Lyle and Erik Menendez.

A "Happy Life" does not come out of a wallet.


This and comments by others have led me to re-think my formulation. Y had suggested an article, I read it and reproduced a graph (copied below), and commented on the numbers. See post 18070. So I'll try again, but without self-reference. Apparently, the 2019 (and thus pre-covid) median family income, adjusted for inflation, was about 150% higher than that of 1953 (so it was about two and a half times what it was in 1953). Ah, $35,650 in 1953 versus $86,011 in 2019 in adjusted dollars.

My reformulated question: What does this mean in practical terms for a kid growing up today? Which kid? Well, the graph is about median family income so let's think about a median kid. By this I mean a kid such that about half the kids in the country are growing up in a family with a greater family income, and so about half are growing up with less.

I deleted a fair amount of this, I need to understand the numbers better.

Ken
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#18094 User is offline   awm 

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Posted 2021-April-17, 14:46

Inflation is a complicated thing to measure, and I wouldn't necessarily take it at face value. Comparing now to 1953, a lot of things are relatively cheaper. For example, in 1953:

Less than half of homes had a TV.
Similar for a clothes washer, a dishwasher, or air conditioning.
In fact, only about 80% of homes had indoor plumbing!
Not a single home had a mobile phone or a microwave.
All of these things are very common and inexpensive in the US now (most families classed as "poor, but not homeless" have these things).

The cost of food and clothing has also gone down a lot relative to the average income.

So overall standard of living has gone up quite a bit! But at the same time there are certain things like housing costs, medical costs, and university costs that have risen much faster than overall inflation.

The "household income" number is also a bit misleading, because in 1953 there were many "two parent, one earner" households whereas this situation is relatively unusual today. Having both parents working full time can increase the "household income" a lot while also adding significant expenses for child care (that would not exist in families with a full-time stay-at-home parent and thus aren't captured by inflation).
Adam W. Meyerson
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#18095 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-April-17, 15:44

Right Adam, I agree.
Still, I am curious:
Suppose we take what I called the median kid. A kid such that half the kids in the country live in a family with greater family income, half with less. Then imagine a median kid in 1953. Of course it varies from kid to kid, but all in all, which kid, chosen randomly from among the median kids, would you rather be? Which kid has a better shot at a good life? With a substantial increase in median family income over the 66 years, you would think it would be the 2019 kid, a clear choice. But for some of the reasons you mention, I am not so sure.
We had tv, I watched the coronation in 1953. But eating fresh strawberries in the winter? Not possible. Oh, there I go again. But I still wonder: If I could start over as a medina child in 1953 or 1019, which would I choose? Not sure.
I find it an interesting question.

From what you are saying, maybe you find this uncertainty not totally nuts.
Ken
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#18096 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-April-17, 16:04

View Postkenberg, on 2021-April-17, 15:44, said:

Right Adam, I agree.
Still, I am curious:
Suppose we take what I called the median kid. A kid such that half the kids in the country live in a family with greater family income, half with less. Then imagine a median kid in 1953. Of course it varies from kid to kid, but all in all, which kid, chosen randomly from among the median kids, would you rather be? Which kid has a better shot at a good life? With a substantial increase in median family income over the 66 years, you would think it would be the 2019 kid, a clear choice. But for some of the reasons you mention, I am not so sure.
We had tv, I watched the coronation in 1953. But eating fresh strawberries in the winter? Not possible. Oh, there I go again. But I still wonder: If I could start over as a medina child in 1953 or 1019, which would I choose? Not sure.
I find it an interesting question.

From what you are saying, maybe you find this uncertainty not totally nuts.


Ken, I'm not sure median income, no matter how measured, really matters. For example, say "x" is the median income and 150,000.000 are below that figure - the real issue is how much below and how many in say, groupings of $5000 increments. If in 1953 90% of those who were below were within 20% of the median and today only 20% are that close to the median, that is more important than the actual number to my way of thinking.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#18097 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-April-17, 18:30

View PostWinstonm, on 2021-April-17, 16:04, said:

Ken, I'm not sure median income, no matter how measured, really matters. For example, say "x" is the median income and 150,000.000 are below that figure - the real issue is how much below and how many in say, groupings of $5000 increments. If in 1953 90% of those who were below were within 20% of the median and today only 20% are that close to the median, that is more important than the actual number to my way of thinking.


Yes, I agree. but as I said to Adam, still I am interested: Suppose you could go back and become, say, a twelve-year-old kid. And you have a further choice. Here Comes Mr. Jordan, but my variant. You are given a choice. You can become some randomly selected median kid in 1953 or some randomly selected median kid in 2019. Let's suppose the pandemic doesn't exist, this is a fantasy so we can suppose what we like. Which do you choose? Is it obvious to you?

Mostly I just find it interesting. Does the typical kid have it easier or harder today than 66 years ago?

But I think there could be some worthy consequences from thinking this through. It would get at what we actually value.

Sure, I do think that being below median but not all that much below is an issue.

Perhaps no one has stated their choice because they think the question is really stupid. It's ok to say so. But perhaps there are others like me who are not so sure which way they would choose. It's whimsy. But whimsy has its uses. A friend of Becky said her husband has been reading books on time travel. Maybe I should ask him.


This fantasy has probably run its course, so I'll retire it.
Ken
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#18098 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2021-April-17, 19:14

View Postkenberg, on 2021-April-17, 18:30, said:

Yes, I agree. but as I said to Adam, still I am interested: Suppose you could go back and become, say, a twelve-year-old kid. And you have a further choice. Here Comes Mr. Jordan, but my variant. You are given a choice. You can become some randomly selected median kid in 1953 or some randomly selected median kid in 2019. Let's suppose the pandemic doesn't exist, this is a fantasy so we can suppose what we like. Which do you choose? Is it obvious to you?

Mostly I just find it interesting. Does the typical kid have it easier or harder today than 66 years ago?

But I think there could be some worthy consequences from thinking this through. It would get at what we actually value.

Sure, I do think that being below median but not all that much below is an issue.

Perhaps no one has stated their choice because they think the question is really stupid. It's ok to say so. But perhaps there are others like me who are not so sure which way they would choose. It's whimsy. But whimsy has its uses. A friend of Becky said her husband has been reading books on time travel. Maybe I should ask him.


This fantasy has probably run its course, so I'll retire it.

To be fair though I am a big fan of Garrison Keilor so Minnesota murmurings are of interest and fun for me.

Regarding the data.
The figure of >$68,000 comes from the US census.

It is safe to say that anything that comes from a document produced during the Trump administration is, prima facie, false.
This one is no exception. Here is a link to income data from a more reliable source (by which I mean anything untainted by Trump) https://worldpopulat...ome-by-country.

Trump census data excludes vast tracts of the population in the USA that work, live and produce in the US economy.
non est deus ex machina; även maskiner behöver lite kärlek, J'ai toujours misé sur l'étrange gentillesse des robots.
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#18099 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-April-17, 20:52

Ken, I too think the question interesting and I have no answer but I don’t know what public schools are like or how hard it is to find work. I do think it is pretty obvious that in the 50’s there was less emphasis on great wealth and more concern for workers rights and futures
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#18100 User is offline   awm 

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Posted 2021-April-18, 02:00

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.
Adam W. Meyerson
a.k.a. Appeal Without Merit
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