The Price of Inequality

An example of what Mr. Romney, and the media mouthpieces who have defended his May fundraiser “observations,” apparently do not understand about the non-income tax paying class that he considers moochers:

“America’s economic divide has grown so large that it’s hard for those in the 1 percent to imagine what life at the bottom–and increasingly in the middle–is like. Consider for a moment a household with a single earner and two children. Assume that the earner is in good health and manages to work a full 40 hours a week (the average work week of American workers is only 34 hours) at a wage somewhat above the minimum: say, around $8.50 per hour, so that after paying his Social Security tax he gets $8 per hour, and thus receives $16,640 for his 2,080 hours. Assume he pays no income tax, but his employer charges him $200 a month for health insurance for his entire family and picks up the rest of the $550 per month cost of insurance. This brings his take-home pay to $14,240 a year. If he is lucky, he might be able to find a two-bedroom apartment (with utilities included) for $700 a month. This leaves him $5,840 to cover all other family expenses for the year. Like most Americans, he might consider a car a basic necessity; insurance, gas, maintenance, and depreciation on the vehicle could easily take up $3,000. The family’s funds are $2,840–under $3 a day–to cover basic expenses like food and clothing, not to mention things that make life worth living, like entertainment. If something goes wrong, there is simply no buffer.”

— Joseph E. Stiglitz, Nobel Prize-winning economist, “The Price of Inequality” (2012)

It’s worth pointing out that this one portrait of the class of Americans that the Wall Street Journal editorial page once referred to as “lucky duckies.”

It’s also worth pointing out that the single father in the example above has not had his income further tapped by the need to provide daycare for his children. If he is fortunate, this lucky ducky’s kids are old enough that they get public-funded daycare in the public school system–at least until 2:30 in the afternoon.

Man, this guy gets all the breaks….


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