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Wed Jul 11, 2012, 09:20 AM

When 50% of the country is making $250 grand a year I will consider that middle class

When teachers, firefighters, cops , EMT's, factory and construction workers, postal employees, IT techs, office workers, etc., are making $250,000 a year then I will agree that amount is middle class.

But until then no deal.

Isn't that fair?

Don

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Response to NNN0LHI (Original post)

Wed Jul 11, 2012, 09:22 AM

1. Your definition would be described as "novel" by polite economists

 

The Dismal Science it is indeed.

But seriously, inflation will eventually put us there.

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Response to NNN0LHI (Original post)

Wed Jul 11, 2012, 09:24 AM

2. What I wonder about that debate on here....

Is this: Do the people on here who are saying that $250K or within range of $250K is "middle class" actually believe that, and sincerely do not get that when only 5% of the country makes that or more that is not middle class? Or are they just advocating for that position because they know that the Democrats and Obama are going to cave on it and need to start the pre-emptive spinning about how it's really not that bad, and that they had no choice and that really those working stiffs making $250K are just regular middle class Joe and Jane 6 Packs?

I'm tending to think it's more the latter than the former.

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Response to vi5 (Reply #2)

Wed Jul 11, 2012, 09:27 AM

4. Shit, some of the Southern and border-state Dems are holding out for

 

$1 million as the cut-off point.

to keep from

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Response to vi5 (Reply #2)

Wed Jul 11, 2012, 10:21 AM

9. Yes there are people who believe that

in certain areas of the country, 250k is part of the middle class. I don't think there are many people who believe that for EVERY part of the country 250k is middle class. If you'd like to have a serious dicussion about why, then I'd be happy to dicuss. If you want to flame then I won't respond further.

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Response to taught_me_patience (Reply #9)

Wed Jul 11, 2012, 10:36 AM

11. I live in the NY Metro area...

So I know what things cost here and I know people that work in NYC.

My take on this debate is that it is all about choices.

If someone makes $250K in Manhattan, and chooses to live in a very desirable neighborhood in Manhattan where their rent is very high and where their grocery bills are high because they have to shop in the city then I can agree that they will have a lot less disposable income on hand after their bills are paid.

But here's the thing......that's a choice. I know plenty of people that make at or close to $250K in Manhattan and choose to live in the city and choose to also have a car and choose to send their kids to private school. They don't have a lot of disposable income after their bills. That doesn't make them middle class.

I know other people who make at or close to $250K working in Mahattan who choose to live in NJ suburbs and commute to the city because housing is less expensive as are their taxes. They send their kids to public school so they don't have that expense. And they are able to shop at A&P and Shop Rite where food costs are less expensive than at Balducci's or Dean and Deluca.

To me this discussion comes down to what of the expenses that people are discussing are choices and which ones are not. Because someone making $75K has a lot fewer choices in how they live their life and what they spend their money on than someone making $250K.

I come to this discussion as someone who lives in one of those very expensive areas, and who with his wife has a household income that is less than $250K although considerably more than $50K. And I can tell you that I would not compare my situation to someone making $50K even in rural Idaho. Would I consider myself wealthy? Not at all. Is my situation similar to between 40-60% of the population? No. Not at all. I don't have to struggle, and I have choices that a lot of people don't have. I make those choices so that I save for a rainy day, and I make choices that don't overextend my families expenses so that if something happens to us medically, or work-wise or whatever we are not able to handle it. But make no mistake about it, those are choices and those choices are a luxury that the large majority of households in the country do not have, whether they live in Manhattan or San Franciso or whether they live in Jonesboro Arkansas.

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Response to vi5 (Reply #11)

Wed Jul 11, 2012, 03:48 PM

15. Thanks for the reply

It is serious and thought provoking and comes from a person who is living in an expensive city.

I'm going to try to explain from a statistical perspective and use Los Angeles as the base city, because that is where I live and what I'm familiar with. I'll only talk about 250k household income because that's where the upper tax threshold is proposed to be. I think that 200k personal income is beyond middle class anywhere in the U.S. Median household income statistics are misleading because there can be extraneous factors that skew the data. The first, obviously is that "households" can have either one or two incomes which can dramatically affect the median household income data. Take an area like Westside LA (Santa Monica, Venice, Mar Vista, Marina Del Rey, and Culver City), which has a high density of condos/apartments with younger, single households and a mix of single family homes... the median income is skewed lower. You've got old people who bought a house in 1960 for 50k living on social security that also skew the median income lower.

A two income household should be measured against other two income households in the area, as those are the cohorts that determine the prices of houses in the area. I would guess that the median two-income household on the Westside LA is probably 175k. Middle class, two income households, probably ranges from 120k to 300k on the Westside and because of that houses in Santa Monica typically average 1.5M, Venice 1M, Mar Vista 900K, Marina Del Rey 850K, Culver City 800K. Homes in Culver City would cost 200k in Houston... a typical middle class neighborhood... these are not mansions. The Westside is a 10 miles swath, and the same analysis could be done on South Bay, Long Beach, Seal Beach, Huntington Beach... etc. If you are funding an 800k mortgage, even with 250k income, you are living a life of luxury usually associated with being "rich".

And... about choice... are you really "rich" if you have to commute an hour away from your job because you cannot afford to live nearby? A middle class lifestyle should be to be able to afford a modest home in a nice neighborhood, save for a rainy day, drive a decent car that won't break down, plan for retirement, raise kids.... and in many neighborhoods around LA, 250k is in the range of what it takes to do that.

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Response to taught_me_patience (Reply #15)

Wed Jul 11, 2012, 05:23 PM

16. See I think the last paragraph says it all..

And thank you for your response.

The thing is that to "be able to afford a modest home in a nice neighborhood, save for a rainy day, drive a decent car that won't break down, plan for retirement, raise kids.... and in many neighborhoods" are not all considered basic expenses by many, many people.

I agree that those things shouldn't be considered luxuries, anywhere in the country. And a "middle class" income no matter where you are living should be able to provide those things. But the fact is that it doesn't, and for many people in the middle class those things you listed are luxuries. Things that would be nice, but have to come after paying the bills and all the expenses. It's sad that it's come to that, and for my parents generation and even my grandparents generation that would be true and those things would be essential parts of a middle class existence. But those days are long gone.

Saving for a rainy day is great, and I do it because I am able to do. But as has been listed and stated in a lot of other threads that is not an expense. It is not something without which you would be homeless, or unable to go to work, or unable to keep your lights on, or unable to put food on your table. Those things are non-negotiable expenses.

The fact is that even in LA (and I know plenty of people who live in LA as well) $250 may not be "rich" or "wealthy" but it still is not middle class. You can get a decent home, drive a decent car, and put food on your table. Which are the essentials of a middle class lifestyle. You may not get to live in as luxurious a house as you would like but you are not struggling and you are still getting to live in an area that most people in the country could only dream of. But you also have the ability to spend on other things that many people in the middle class anywhere in the country cannot.

The fact is that when we're talking about this we're not talking about certain areas. We're talking about everyone who lives everywhere in the country, put together. If a person makes $250K, they have options. They have many options. Even in LA, and even in NYC and even in San Francisco. They have options that even someone making $50-75K in other parts of the country do not.

Thanks again for the response.

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Response to NNN0LHI (Original post)

Wed Jul 11, 2012, 09:25 AM

3. Eminently. I think the median national income right now is about $50K (meaning, that

 

half earn above $50K and have earn below it). IMO, therefore, $50-75K is 'middle class'. $250K is 'upper-class.'

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Reply #3)

Wed Jul 11, 2012, 10:03 AM

5. What these debates choose not to recognize...

Is that regardless of what "class" someone making $250K is considered, the fact is that someone with that income, even with a family has a lot more choices in their life than someone making $50K-75K.

Yes, they might not have much money left over if they choose to work in and live in Manhattan. But again....choice. I know plenty of people that live in Manhattan and commute from more suburban, less expensive parts of NY/CT/NJ. Or they choose to live in smaller, more modest apartments. Or they choose to not send their kid to private school. Or they choose to have or not have a care living in the city.

The fact is taht someone making $50-75K with a family has a lot fewer choices at their disposal.

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Response to vi5 (Reply #5)

Wed Jul 11, 2012, 10:08 AM

6. Excellent points. As the band Timbuk 3 put it so

 

eloquently in "The Future's So Bright": "50 Thou a Year\Will Buy a Lot of Beer."

They penned that line back in the mid-80s

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Response to NNN0LHI (Original post)

Wed Jul 11, 2012, 10:08 AM

7. Sounds fair to me.

nt

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Response to NNN0LHI (Original post)

Wed Jul 11, 2012, 10:20 AM

8. when 50% of the country is making 250K a F150 will be running $89,000 for a base model

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Response to NNN0LHI (Original post)

Wed Jul 11, 2012, 10:34 AM

10. Household or individual?

Obama's previous proposals made a clear distinction between individual and household income. $200k individual, $250k household.

The latest speech doesn't bother--but also is a bit thin on details. It's not a policy speech, it's a campaign speech. Looking at his speech, he's ambiguous. The tax code typically still has the distinction, even if Obama doesn't see a point in making it. Or perhaps he's just overlooked it. (Or the really big news is that he wants a law to make individual and household income taxed identically.)

I'll assume he hasn't changed his proposal, in which case the $250k is for households.

I know a family grossing well over $150k a year, though--a teacher and a firefighter. (The firefighter makes over 2/3 of the family income.)

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Response to NNN0LHI (Original post)

Wed Jul 11, 2012, 10:36 AM

12. I don't think you should be that hung up on this subject

Politicians talk about the mythical middle class because the majority of people think they are middle class. They target their speaking style to attract the most listeners. People on both ends you know probably shouldn't think of themselves as middle class often tell you they are and want to hear politicians talk about them, not the poor or the lower upper class or whatever people want to classify it. On the other hand when politicians actually do legislation they should be vastly more selective and progressive in things like tax brackets in their progressive income tax. I get why politicians talk about the "middle class", I don't get why their tax code policies start center right and aren't very progressive. Well actually I get that too

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Response to NNN0LHI (Original post)

Wed Jul 11, 2012, 12:39 PM

13. I am stunned that people in leadership positions are that clueless...

... or that much of a tool for the 1%.

The big argument against raising the Payroll Tax Cap used by the "Centrists" inside the Democratic Party is that it would "hurt the Middle Class"!!!



What ever happened to the guy that was going to Raise the Cap?




You will know them by their WORKS,
not by their excuses.
Solidarity99!
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Response to NNN0LHI (Original post)

Wed Jul 11, 2012, 01:59 PM

14. Add to that the FACT that you have to MAKE closer to $500K in order to have $250K in TAXABLE INCOME,

 

and your comment goes even further.

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Response to NNN0LHI (Original post)

Wed Jul 11, 2012, 06:30 PM

17. Census found that less than 4% of households make over $200,000

And yet they call it the middle class. Four percent? No way.

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