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CTD Donating Member (732 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 09:57 AM
Original message
Forbes: What it costs to live well in America
For a good laugh, check out the links below to a Forbes "Special Edition" on "What it costs to live well in America".

They define "living well" as-

"We are not talking about great riches; there are millions of Americans who work hard to be able to afford the best for their families... Their goals are more grounded: a good education for their children, a nice house, a weekend place, the occasional trip, a night out once a week and a little money in the bank."

To do this, Forbes estimates that it takes ~$312/yr in the Washington, DC area, ~$282K/yr in Seattle and ~$484K/yr in New York (to pick just a few cities).

Um, please put down the crack pipe.

Here are the links:

Article- http://biz.yahoo.com/special/live05.html

List by city- http://www.forbes.com/static_html/lifestyle/charts.shtm...
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SCDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 09:59 AM
Response to Original message
1. A weekend place?
that is a bit extreme - I guess I did not grow up "well"
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alarimer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 01:42 PM
Response to Reply #1
57. That's what struck me
I have never know anyone among my parents' family or friends who had a weekend place. Unless you count the shack where they went duck hunting.
Family vacations used to involve renting a cabin or house and vacationing with all the cousins but there was never a "weekend place".
I can't afford to own my own home, much less a second one.
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SCDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 01:50 PM
Response to Reply #57
59. Ours was camping
Sounds cheap but actually with 4 kids and the drive to get there and the gas for the boat etc it was a lot for a vacation. But weekend place sounds like a bit more to me.

I guess we can complain to our parents that we were not brought up well :) Actually I will not because I did grow up quite comfortably although I guess uncomfortable by these standards
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alarimer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 03:24 PM
Response to Reply #59
62. I know my dad never made 200k
He might have aproached half of that but I doubt it.
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htuttle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 10:00 AM
Response to Original message
2. Just think -- people used to be able to 'live well' by those standards...
...with nothing but high school diploma and a factory job (and ONE breadwinner per household).

Guess that's "progress" for ya...

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SCDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 10:02 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. I think they have living well as quite extravagant actually
a weekend place? That is better than leaving well.
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theHandpuppet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 01:02 PM
Response to Reply #3
45. Yeah, that one got me, too
Whoever wrote this piece needs a visit to the real world!
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DBoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 10:04 AM
Response to Reply #2
6. This lifestyle only seems wealthy
Edited on Thu Jul-28-05 10:07 AM by DBoon
because Americans have had their expectation lowered so severely over the last 25 years (since you-know-who was president and gutted the private sector union).

If you tokk the salary of the average unionized manufacturing worker in the 1960's and allowed it to increase at the same rate as the overall economy, that average worker would be able to afford this lifestyle.
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borlis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 05:46 PM
Response to Reply #2
85. excellent post htuttle!!!
Edited on Thu Jul-28-05 05:54 PM by borlis
And so much like my childhood. My mom didn't work, we had a decent house in the burbs, pool in the yard. We always had a Cadillac or Lincoln. My dad worked his tail off and paid off our house in 8 years. We even had a condo on the beach in Florida which we visited every year. My dad was a ceramic tile setter, a total blue collar union job. Life was REALLY different then.
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MadAsHellNewYorker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 10:03 AM
Response to Original message
4. WTF?!?!?!
Other then the big wigs where i work, I don't know a single person who even comes CLOSE to making that much money a year. If it really costs almost $300,000 to live well on average, the majority of america must be living in boxes and under rocks.

:puke:
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 10:03 AM
Response to Original message
5. Go to hell, Forbes
For me (and, I expect, for a good fraction of the populace), living well would be defined as not being suffocated by unavoidable and inescapable debt, not having to decide whether to buy food or pay the heating bill this month, and not having to decide whether you or your wife will get to go to the dentist this year. Also, living well would entail not having to work until Im in my grave just to have enough to pay for the funeral.

Forbes can go $crew itself.
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anarch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 10:54 AM
Response to Reply #5
23. right on!
that's pretty much what I was about to type, so I'll just agree.
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patcox2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 12:27 PM
Response to Reply #5
36. What is "unavoidable debt?"
Is that when the credit card company comes to your house and puts a gun to your head and makes you charge?

Just wondering.
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Pithlet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 12:38 PM
Response to Reply #36
41. No
Unavoidable debt would be the tens of thousands of dollars of medical bills from having the gall to get ill without health insurance. That would be one example. I'm sure someone else will come along with others. There are plenty.
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Nikia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 04:00 PM
Response to Reply #41
67. Even with insurance, you can have medical debt
Depending on your insurance plan, an illness requiring surgery and a hospital stay can still cost you over a few thousand. That may be difficult to pay if you were already living pretty tight, especially if it is the primary bread winner who that happened to.
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 12:58 PM
Response to Reply #36
44. Oh, that's clever. Pithlet gave one good example; here's another
It's winter. Your inexpensive but necessary car breaks down, your furnace breaks down, and you just cracked your crown on a piece of popcorn--the last of your solid front teeth, since your shitty insurance doesn't put dental care within financial reach for you, your spouse, and your children. Also, you haven't been able to amass any savings because you haven't had a real-dollar raise in fifteen years, and your family has to eat.

Suddenly you need $5,000 by tomorrow, and all you have is a credit card.


Or are you telling me that you'd forget the car and let your family freeze and gum your food for the rest of your life?

Just asking...
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patcox2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 01:10 PM
Response to Reply #44
49. Sounds like something has got to give, there.
One of two possibilities. That household either needs more income, or fewer expenses, so that there could be enough for a little savings to cover such things.

I read crap from so many helpless people on this board, people who think they are trapped and have no choices. "I can't move to a place with more job opportunities or higher wages, I can't get an education or training, I can't put up with temporary privation in the interest of getting ahead." There are always tons of reasons, too.

But then in my professional life I see so many new immigrants who came here with absolutely nothing, truly starting from zero. And they come to me to do the closing on the 4th income property that they've bought in the 5 years they've been here.

I wish I knew the difference, and actually, I have an inkling of what it is. I think that having a little can be the worst thing for someone, because once they have a little, they become soo afraid of losing what they have, of falling down, that it paralyzes them and prevents the kind of sometimes drastic action necessary to change one's situation.

Whereas people who start with nothing, absolutely nothing, have nothing to lose. "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose."
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 01:19 PM
Response to Reply #49
52. Obviously you've got it all figured out
I dont need tons of reasons. I work with a widowed mother who holds down an additional part-time job and who lives in assisted housing with her two kids. Im not talking about the dual-income $100K families that spend beyond their means; Im referring to people who have worked really hard for decades with nothing to show for it.

You spin a delightful anecdote. Bully for these hypothetical immigrants; Id love to hear more about them. Riding the bus I see dozens of people on their way to or from one of their several jobs because the employment market within 100 miles sucks, and the real estate market sucks even worse. Its not as if these people can uproot and move to a better area, because that, like, costs money too, you know?

If you think that having a little is the worst thing that can happen, then youve clearly never dealt with someone who has nothing. No house, no car, no credit history, no college education, and no means of procuring a better job because shed have to take an unpaid sick day at her current job just to go to the interview, and she cant afford a fancy new outfit for the interview, either.

"Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose."
Yeah, well. Kris Kristopherson can go fly a kite.
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patcox2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 03:39 PM
Response to Reply #52
63. Well, you are right there.
There is a whole range of situations out there. When I referred to people who are held back by having achieved a little, I was talking about something different from people who truly have nothing.

The hypothetical immigrants are very real, they impressed me greatly, I wish I knew how they did it. My impression is that they did it by sheer willpower, they did it by just doing it.

I am an attorney. I work with succesful business people and, as an assigned guardian ad litem and as a public defender, with indigents. I have represented a homeless woman in an action by the state to take her child from her, to terminate her parental rights, mostly because of the simple fact she was homeless.

I have always wondered, as I look at the people I represent, why does this one "succeed," and that one fail, why is this person a wealthy individual, and that one struggling just to eat. Why do some make it and others not. Its a fundamental question of social justice, don't you think? I am not some republican moralist asshole who thinks all succcess is deserved and all failure equally deserved as the result of some moral failing.

In fact, it seems to me that in most cases, its not anyone's fault, some people just aren't able to handle the harshness of the world, for a variety of reasons. And some can. But beyond that, I also see people of relatively equal abilities and temperaments, where there is no obvious reason why one is making it and the other is not.

And my observation about the helplessness of some people is really confined to this situation. Some people are too inclined to say "that'll never work, I can't do that, I can't move, I can't go back to school." Whereas others just blindly forge ahead, sometimed because they are too dumb to know that it shouldn't work. And its odd, to me, how often smart people fail because they convince themselves of all the reasons they should fail, and these real dummies I know are very sucesful, because they are too dimwitted to be aware of the obstacles and hindrances, and thus just ignore them and forge ahead and do it.
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xchrom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 04:41 PM
Response to Reply #49
76. "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose."
and the hits just keep on coming.

you are a veritable fountain judgementalism.
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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 06:05 PM
Response to Reply #49
86. How they do it.. Our across the street neighbors are an example
Edited on Thu Jul-28-05 06:06 PM by SoCalDem
There are at least 5 adults living there. one guy sleeps in a chair in the garage most of the time.Some of them may or may not be "legal".. They all work, and no doubt the house was bought at a bargain price, since it stood vacant for a while.. they fixed it up, put in a yard,and will probably sell it soon.. With the money the make, they may buy 2 fixers, and flip them too. they do this with cars too..

My son's fiancee's dad did this for years when the kids were small.. buy a crappy house with pooled money, fix it, sell it..rinse & repeat..

Sometimes it works, and if you get lucky a neighborhood will suddenly boom, and you can make a ton of money..

"Traditional" households with Mom & Dad & kids are usually too hard up for cash to do this, or too afraid to take in "paying" strangers to help defray the mortgage costs..
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Terran Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 01:08 PM
Response to Reply #36
48. Um, will you be visiting our planet for long?
Maybe you should learn some things about how reality works here, you know, so you can blend in.
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patcox2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 01:17 PM
Response to Reply #48
51. I have always lived on this planet.
Some of the time barely making it, I started from absolute zero. And now I live well, as Forbes defines it.

It is my firmest and strongest belief that anyone who works a full time job in this country should be able to live well, close to what Forbes is describing, without the excesses. Thats why I am a democrat.

Someone else noted that the average union factory workers pay from the mid-50s or 60s, if adjusted for inflation, would equal something like $100,000 or $150,000 today. Thats the way it ought to be.

This attacking of the vercy idea that one would want to succeed materially is just so, I don't know, it comes off as sour-grapes whining mixed with righteous self-pity.
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xchrom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 04:37 PM
Response to Reply #36
75. what a charming, simple-minded sentiment you
Edited on Thu Jul-28-05 04:37 PM by xchrom
express in your question.

can you see shades of grey? what about colour?
just black and white?
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Spider Jerusalem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 10:04 AM
Response to Original message
7. Hm.
Edited on Thu Jul-28-05 10:04 AM by Spider Jerusalem
"Good education" must mean "private education"; "nice house" must mean "oversized 3K sq. ft. suburban monstrosity"; "weekend place" must mean something like a charming little cottage on Cape Cod or similar...in other words, this is what it costs to live as very few people in the US can afford to. But then this IS Forbes...
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Dora Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 10:05 AM
Response to Original message
8. How Forbes defines it.
This is how they define living well:

Forbes.com totaled the cost of living well for a city in each state, with a four-bedroom house in an upscale neighborhood; a vacation home in an upscale resort area; a BMW 325i sedan and a Lexus RX 330; eating out at a pricey restaurant once a week; taking three luxury trips a year; and sending one child to a local private school and one to private college.


:mad:

I sure wish there was a smiley that expressed scoffing.
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Spider Jerusalem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 10:06 AM
Response to Reply #8
12. Ha! I pegged it without even reading the article.
Edited on Thu Jul-28-05 10:07 AM by Spider Jerusalem
And I think the smiley you want is this: :eyes:
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Dora Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 10:25 AM
Response to Reply #12
17. Ah, you must be one of them....
those hoity toity wine-drinkin' liberal elite.

I can't find any in my house. I've looked and looked, but my husband insists that we just don't earn enough cheese to attract those kind of rats.
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pitohui Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 10:09 AM
Response to Reply #8
14. well then to forbes readers i say
if you can't feed em don't breed em

what crybabies

support your public schools, real people live very well without sending their kids to groton and hah-vahd

don't buy a vacation home and for far less money you can travel the world for your vacations

dumb-a$$es

rich people couldn't survive for a day on my income, they are too stupid
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MsTryska Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 10:29 AM
Response to Reply #8
19. just goes to show how out of touch with regular people
these folks are.
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sweetheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 12:36 PM
Response to Reply #8
40. I wonder what his living wage is?
I think he's on to something. If he could define a living wage for us,
perhaps the republicans will listen to him.
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Rich Hunt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 04:02 PM
Response to Reply #8
68. these people are delusional
Edited on Thu Jul-28-05 05:02 PM by Rich Hunt
They are completely motivated by the fear of how others might view them. You have to have a certain kind of house and go to a certain type of school and eat at certain restaurants because "it just isn't done" any other way.

It's as if any sense of identity has been pounded out of them and replaced with the perceived desires of their "peer group".

Sounds a bit like a cult, actually.
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bunny planet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 04:06 PM
Response to Reply #8
69. Guess I'll never be living well then. Never wanted a Lexus or a BMW, and
that's good because I couldn't swing either one anywey, can't even afford one luxury vacation a year, and public and state schools all the way for us. Bought the house in the upscale neighborhood long before it was considered upscale, otherwise wouldn't be able to afford to live here.

Boo hoo for me. This Forbes standard is such a ridiculous idea of what living well is. I guess there are lots of people who don't consider themselves happy or content unless they have those things. I would just be happy to have job security, own my home free and clear, have a great thriving,organic vegetable garden, be able to send my kids to college, food, clothing for my family, and have the planet at peace and the environment recovering, and an honorable, ethical, healthy democracy. I live in the NY area , make nowhere near the 500K they say I need to be living well, not even close.
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EmperorHasNoClothes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 10:05 AM
Response to Original message
9. Saving 1% a year
when you're making $500k. That's good planning. :eyes:
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Stephanie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 10:05 AM
Response to Original message
10. That's right.
A NYC attorney I know was recently complaining that he's not being paid what he should be, which according to him was around half a million. And yes, he needs it for mortgage payments on the city place and the country place. Life's rough, eh?
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MadHound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 10:06 AM
Response to Original message
11. This isn't a guide to "living well"
This is a guide to living the nouveau riche style. Vacation home :wtf: Travel bills annually amounting into the tens of thousands, again :wtf:

Sounds and looks like an article to prod more weak willed, keep up with Jones type people into thinking that they aren't doing enough, that they aren't living well, and thus getting them to wrack up more consumer spending, mostly via credit cards.

I'm sorry, but growing up, I lived well on my parent's salaries, one a full time teacher, the other a stay at home Mom. I went to good public schools, had all kinds of fun and activities, was never afraid of the neighborhood I lived in, and we didn't have a vacation home, nor did we spend tens of thousands of dollars on travel each year.

It is sad to see what a consumptive society we have become. Most of the best qualities that compromise living well are free, thus Forbes, that most crony capitalistic of magazines, has to pull expensive money shit out of their ass in order to prod the consumers into feeling that they aren't providing the good life for their spouses and kids, meanwhile ignoring the most important qualties, a loving, secure home and parents.

What utter BS.
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LSK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 10:09 AM
Response to Original message
13. the sad thing is people try to live like that making only 1/3 salary
Edited on Thu Jul-28-05 10:09 AM by LSK
And they go into big debt.
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crispini Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 10:12 AM
Response to Original message
15. Hahahahahaha!
These people have no sense of proportion. I wish I could send them overseas with the Peace Corps. How ridiculous. The truth is, when you look at the American lifestyle, the "average" American will probably have a car, live in a house with air conditioning and heating, have food, and have money left over for some fun amenities such as TV, computer, movies, etcetera. All of which means that 90% of us are indeed "living well in America" as we ALL have far more palatial lifestyles than many people overseas.
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sinkingfeeling Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 10:18 AM
Response to Original message
16. The cheapest is only $189,300. How many households are there
with over $200K per year? And these are the ones that got most of the tax cut!
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atommom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 10:25 AM
Response to Reply #16
18. And that's with a $775K home! I want to know what these people
are smoking.
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ultraist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 11:49 AM
Response to Reply #16
30. Only 2% of Americans earned over 200k
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/01/national/01tax.html?e...

excerpts

The Nontaxpaying Affluent Grew by 15% in One Year
By DAVID CAY JOHNSTON

Over all, the top 2 percent of earners, the 2.5 million filers with income of $200,000 or more, paid almost 27 cents in taxes for each dollar of income they reported in 2002, other I.R.S. data showed. This group accounted for 53.5 percent of the income tax paid by all Americans.

Among that high-income group, however, almost 83,000, or one in 33, paid less than a dime in taxes for every dollar of income. An additional 79,000 paid less than 15 cents. The average for all Americans was 13 cents.

Congress taxes Americans on their worldwide income. Of the 5,650 individuals and couples who paid no income taxes to the United States, only 728 paid any to a foreign government, while 4,922 lived completely free of income tax.

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Kathy in Cambridge Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 10:32 AM
Response to Original message
20. $407,152 in Boston
:wtf:

I think it's high because the housing costs here are nuts.
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CTD Donating Member (732 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 10:37 AM
Response to Reply #20
21. For Boston, it assumes...
Boston:

Net Income after Taxes: $407,200

Primary home cost: $2,600,000
Annual home payments: $144,059
Vacation home location: Nantucket, MA
Vacation home cost: $1,900,000
Annual Vacation home payments: $105,438
Cars: $18,500
Dining out: $12,480
Food at home: $12,480
Travel: $21,500
Health care: $4,600
Utilities: $5,600
Private school: $26,000
College: $30,300
Other: $22,100
Savings: $4,100
Local state taxes: 10.1%


This level of data detail is buried in the section.

And, yup, that would be a $1.9M vacation home. :rofl: "Living well" indeed.
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undergroundpanther Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 10:44 AM
Response to Reply #21
22. I wonder what forbes would do on
500 bucks a month..because that's what I live on.
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newportdadde Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 10:56 AM
Response to Reply #21
24. 12,480 a year for 'dinning out', 21k for traveling...
Man that is some crazy world they are living in.

12,480/12 = 1040 a month or 260 a freaking week for 'dinner out'. They said eat out once a week.. that is some meal out. Hell when my wife and I get two subs at Mr Goodcentsand then eat it back home after the little one is asleep we call that eating out.. lol sometimes we get crazy and get BBQ take out which costs 13 bucks.

If I had their Net income.. I would have my house paid off(decent house in the midwest) in about 2 months. I would then hord it all for about 6 years, retire at 34 and live off CD interest for the rest of my life.
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Kathy in Cambridge Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 10:57 AM
Response to Reply #21
25. On Nantucket, that's a cheap vacation home-seriously
but you can buy an 'affordable' vacation home on Cape Cod for about 400K, depending on what you need in a vacation home.

Oh shit, that's AFTER tax income? Crazy...
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CTD Donating Member (732 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 11:02 AM
Response to Reply #25
26. In my original post, I did say, "For a good laugh..."
It's amazing what they consider "living well".

Remember the quote I included in the OP,

"We are not talking about great riches..."

Um, sure.
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MN ChimpH8R Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 11:09 AM
Response to Original message
27. I'll have what they are smoking
Minneapolis: $1.2 million for a home??!! $775,000 for a vacation home??! $13,000 each for food at home and dining out??!! :rofl: :grr: :rofl:

Jeebus H. Bald-headed Tap-dancing Christ on a pogo stick - what do these morans think is necessary for living, anyway?? :grr: :grr:

"I wonder what the poor people are doing tonight, Lovey?" :nuke:

Eat the rich, us poor folks are tough and stringy.
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ultraist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 11:46 AM
Response to Original message
28. $312,000 is upper middle class according to Forbes?
LMAO! According the USCB, upper middle class income is spprox 75k-190k. The national median income is 58k.

Only 2% of Americans earn over 200k!
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Jamison Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 11:57 AM
Response to Reply #28
32. LOL
If upper middle class starts at $75K, then I should be completely destitute and living in a cardboard box under a bridge somewhere. :sarcasm:
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ultraist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 01:28 PM
Response to Reply #32
54. Well, the national median income is 58k
Just quoting the stats from the USCB.
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sandnsea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 05:16 PM
Response to Reply #54
80. that's married family income
household income is around $44,000 and actual individual income is somewhere around $36,000.

CEO median compensation is around $10 million. They aren't rich because they don't own a company. Upper middle class, doncha' know.
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JanMichael Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 05:18 PM
Response to Reply #54
81. That's the "Average" Household Income IIRC. The Median is in the mid-40's.
I think so at least.

I don't feel like trudging through my excel files right now.
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Lannes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 11:48 AM
Response to Original message
29. Thats not living well....
Thats living very well.Of course Forbes wouldnt know the difference.
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ultraist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 11:54 AM
Response to Reply #29
31. I agree
In the South, you can live well on 120k a year. A decent house, (250k buys a 2000 sq ft house in a nice area), nice cars, vacations, and all of the basics (health insurance, some eatting out, etc). AND there is some left over for investments or savings.

That is what I would consider upper middle class, 120k-180k per year as does the US Census Bureau.
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patcox2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 12:26 PM
Response to Reply #31
35. You are right, but there are huge regional variations in costs.
You are right about that, 120K to 180K is upper middle, which Forbes seems to be describing. But in some cities that would cost a lot more. But even in those cities, it could be done for far less, with some judicious choices.
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ultraist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 01:40 PM
Response to Reply #35
56. Yes, COL is very regional
Certainly, in NYC, Boston, SF and other high cost of living areas, you could not live an upper middle class lifestyle on 120k. That's why I noted, "in the South." Although, I really mean the traditional Southern states, which exclude places like Miami, FL.



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patcox2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 12:24 PM
Response to Reply #29
34. You shouldn't have such low standards
My grandfather, a union utility company worker, had a vacation house. He sent his kids to private schools.

I spend $200 a week on groceries, thats $10,000 a year. I don't think I am extravagant.

He is describing a standard of living that, with some variations based on modern social mores, which call for some more extravagances, in the 1950s and 1960s was actually within the grasp of a working person with a decent factory job.

Now it seems over the top and excessive.

Thats sad. To live like that should be an attainable goal for anyone who is honest and hardworking. Its wrong that its not.
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 02:03 PM
Response to Reply #34
61. You're making two different and incompatible arguments
Edited on Thu Jul-28-05 02:06 PM by Orrex
Argument One
You argue that these goals--which have not been attainable by the average citizen for at least four or five decades--should in fact be accessible to the average citizen. That's a laudable wish, probably shared by most people who aren't working feverishly to protect their portfolios from the ravenous proletariat.

Argument Two
You argue that these goals are in fact readily attainable by the average citizen, even those who, in your words, start from absolute zero. You argue this in spite of the obstacles that the leisure class has spent decades fortifying and solidifying. You argue this in spite of the fact that, contrary to Horatio Alger, opportunities are not always laying around waiting to be seized.

Additionally, you should know that anecdotal examples, be they your grandfather, you, or immigrant land speculators, are not sufficient refutation of the reality that millions of people work as hard as they can and to the best of their ability and are still barely able to get by, much less drive their Jetta's to the waterfront to tool around in their yachts.

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patcox2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 03:52 PM
Response to Reply #61
65. I did not say that these goals are readily attainable to the average.
I say the opposite, I believe my words were "Its sad its not."

The tone around here is like the resentment typical in peasant societies towards one of their number who gets ahead, its the attitude thats killing the unions and has so many average people resentful of government workers.

Here is the attitude, as succinctly as I can put it: Too many people in the US, on hearing that someone else has it good, are inclined to say "that sonofabitch shouldn't have that, he/she doesn't deserve that." You hear it when some average working people talk about union members who have good pay and benefits, you hear people talk that way about teachers, even (who can make over $60,000 a year where I live).

Its the wrong attitude. The attitude should be "I should have that too." I continue to be a committed democrat despite my yacht because I want to see the government foster policies to ensure greater equality by allowing more people to achieve what I have.

I will leave this party in a second if it decides its going to ensure equality by taking away what I have.

Thats the tone of all the posters here, not one has said "we have to give every working person a reasonable shot at a life like that (maybe not so excessive). Instead its all "fuck them, bastards" and other resentful sniping indicating generally that living that life is evil.

Well, fuck all those who think so, Im loving it myself.
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 04:11 PM
Response to Reply #65
70. First, level the playing field. Then we'll all play ball.
The attitude, as I read it, isn't "kill the guy who succeeded from nothing." Rather, it's "nuts to the guy who was given a huge and un-earned leg-up and who then told the rest of us that we could succeed too if only we worked harder."

With due respect, if you identify these as the attitudes of an irate peasant society, then surely you must realize that your sentiment of "mine all mine and you can't have it" is equally reminiscent of an entrenched entitlement-class. I don't care whether you got there through sweat and toil or through a vast inheritance; the absolutist "it's mine" position is a classist position anathema to democracy, whatever party you identify as yours. Sure, no one has the right to take it from you summarily, but to pretend that you are somehow fundamentally entitled to it is to miss the underlying argument.

And you should recognize also that the tone of this whole thread is in direct response to Forbes magazine issuing its righteous proclamations from atop a vast pile of gold. Those bastards can go fuck themselves. We don't march around en masse, torches at the ready, to burn them in their Lexuses (Lexi?); instead, we object to the holier-and-wiser-than-thou attitude that they vomit forth while passing judgment on those who can't afford the price of admission.

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SlavesandBulldozers Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 04:35 PM
Response to Reply #65
73. can i just say "fuck them bastards"?
fuck them bastards.

ok, thanks.
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Rich Hunt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 05:01 PM
Response to Reply #65
78. but come ON

Someone else posted a statistic that said only 2% of the population can afford what Forbes says is "living well".

It just seems as if all of the prices are inflated in this survey.
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Nikia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 04:35 PM
Response to Reply #34
74. But people were content to live in 2,000 square foot homes
As middle class/upper middle class people. Their homes cost much less in relation to their income.
I grew up in a formerly prosperous community, which has lately fallen on hard times, which had lots of high paying factory jobs and successful small business people. There are many of these homes in that town. Now they cost around $100,000-$150,000 but the buyers in the 1950s paid much less in real dollars. With few exceptions, even the rich in town, did not build huge mansions outside the city, like everyone wants to do now for status. When they did, they didn't build them right next to another one.
Vacation homes were more reasonable as well.
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patcox2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 12:16 PM
Response to Original message
33. Sounds like a reasonable definition of "living well."
Having a vacation home used to be common for working people. My grandfather had one in the 30s and 40s, he was just an average union utility company worker. Its a reasonable thing to desire.

You don't need to have two new cars all the time, but hey, its not obscene extravagance.

Whether your kids go to public or private school is a reasonable choice to be able to make, depends on the kids and the school. To me, it would indeed be "doing well" to have the financial freedom to make that choice, rather than being "committed to the public schools" without any real choice as to that commitment.

To be able to eat out once a week is nice.

To me, his idea of "living well" is just a picture of what many people, if not most people, would aspire to. What people would consider "success."

It can be done on less. I think I am there, but on a considerably smaller income than he would say I need for my area. Instead of a vacation home, I have a 34 foot classic (meaning old, but restored) trawler yacht we spend weekends on the water in, a very reasonable alternative considering the skyrocketing cost of vacation properties. It would cost me 20 times the cost of the boat to buy waterfront property, and I have 360 degree water views.

Instead of a Lexus or BMW, I drive a diesel Jetta.

I am sending my son to a catholic school, which I doubt Forbes would actually consider a "private school," the tuition is relative pennies, way less than daycare was when he was younger.

I eat lobster whenever I want (and I am sad to say, it gets old), because I never go out to restaurants, I am a fanatical amatuer chef and for $40 I can make my wife and I a dinner that would cost $200 out.

Between my boat and my Jetta, I probably spent less than the average yuppie spends on his BMW. Fortunately we bought our house 6 years ago for only $160,000, even then it was way below what we could afford, so we are not house poor. The house has skyrocketed in value, thats just luck, though.

I like his definition of "living well," actually. The fact that it can be done for far less, if you have some imagination and restraint and avoid ostentation is a good thing, it means more people can get there.
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Strawman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 12:31 PM
Response to Original message
37. translation: this is how much you need to make to matter as a human being
Edited on Thu Jul-28-05 12:31 PM by Strawman
$275K after taxes to be upper middle class in Detroit? Wow. That's absurd. Guess I'm poor white trash then.
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DJ MEW Donating Member (432 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 12:33 PM
Response to Original message
38. Sustainable standard of living
The average standard of living in America is unsustainable, from an ecological and economical view point. That standard is way below what Forbes is talking about.

Americans consume more then any one else and the planet would not be able to supply the needed resources to sustain that level of life across the entire world. We live it up at the cost of the third world countries, basically. This greed that Forbes is advocating is ridiculous.

The sustainable level, by the way, could be achieved across the globe if everyone learned to live at the level of the people in Sweden.
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info being Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 01:05 PM
Response to Reply #38
46. Are you saying the Swedes have achieved a sustainable lifestyle?
I doubt that if everyone lived as well as Swedes, we'd have a sustainable economy. They don't drive cars? They don't throw away garbage? Come on.
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ultraist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 01:35 PM
Response to Reply #46
55. Sweden has a very low child poverty rate
Edited on Thu Jul-28-05 01:35 PM by ultraist
http://www.wsws.org/articles/2000/jun2000/pov-j16.shtml

Significantly, the report found that the United States has one of the highest rates of relative child poverty of all OECD members. In the US, 22.4 percent of children live in poverty, a number second only to Mexico, with 26.2 percent. Countries with high rates also include: Italy (20.5 percent), the United Kingdom (19.8 percent) and Turkey (19.7 percent). Countries with slightly lower poverty rates include: Canada (15.5 percent), Australia (12.6 percent), Germany (10.7 percent) and Hungary (10.3 percent). The lowest levels of child poverty are to be found in countries with relatively high social expenditures, including: France (7.9 percent), Finland (4.4 percent) and Sweden (2.6 percent)

Poverty rates are closely associated with sustainability. The lower the poverty rate, the more sustainable the community.
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DJ MEW Donating Member (432 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 01:51 PM
Response to Reply #46
60. I got that statement from my prof.
of Environmental Problems and their Impacts on Society. It is my understanding that the standard of living over there is less consumptive then here and therefore is more likely to be a globally sustainable life style.
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dean_dem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 12:34 PM
Response to Original message
39. Let me add to the chorus of people saying
Edited on Thu Jul-28-05 12:38 PM by dean_dem
A vacation home? Is that a common thing to have these days? I would think that would almost double your normal expenses. Especially considering vacation homes are going to be ridiculously expensive simply because they are located in resort areas. Not too mention having not one but two $40,000 cars.

I'm not losing any sleep over people who think those things are necessities. I mean, I know this is studying what it takes to "live well," but even by those standards a vacation home seems a bit extravagant.

Edited to add: After looking at the chart, that's exactly what happens with the vacation homes, they double your normal expenses. If you look at the bar charts, most vacation houses cost as much if not more than a primary house. And $1,200,000 in the DC area will buy you a pretty nice house. And $1,000,000 for a house in Richmond, VA to "live well"? We're talking a 8 bedroom monstrosity on 5 acres overlooking the James River! That's beyond just living well as far as I'm concerned. This survey looks extremely skewed.
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ultraist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 01:46 PM
Response to Reply #39
58. About 14% of Americans own second homes
And many of those second home owners, rent out their vacation homes, most of the year, thus, they don't pay all of the carrying costs out of pocket. The rental income pays for most of the mortgage, taxes, insurance and maintenance.

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Rich Hunt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 05:11 PM
Response to Reply #58
79. yes, of course

Sheesh. That's part of the point in buying a "vacation" property.
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Nikia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 04:24 PM
Response to Reply #39
71. We live close to more reasonable vacation homes
When we first moved here a few years ago, we went to an open house close to the place that we had just looked at. It was a nice $150,000 house, 2,000 square foot, on a minor lake where one could boat and water ski. The agent said that many of the people living along the lake owned these houses as vacation homes, but that the owner of this house had lived there year around. We have seen less nice, small houses that are referred to as resort property for just over $100,000.
Although this extra expense still is unaffordable to many is affordable to many more families on closer to middle incomes especially if they put a priority on this and skip the expensive vacations by hanging out there instead. Of course then the hypothetical Forbes family would risk hanging out with large numders of people who are actually middle class and perhaps even working class friends and realtives, rather than rich.
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The Sleeper Donating Member (229 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 12:42 PM
Response to Original message
42. Yes, Aspire to that......
stop thinking for yourselves. Only money can make you happy, and this is what EVERYONE wants, correct ??

Now repeat after me:

"My name is Elmer J. Fudd. I am a miwllionaire. I own a mansion and a yacht."

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info being Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 01:06 PM
Response to Reply #42
47. I'm much happier...
Edited on Thu Jul-28-05 01:08 PM by info being
With a lifestyle that involves creating music with my hippie-freinds in Eastern Europe on a Saturday night, staying up too late, drinking too much, and then eating watermellon in bed in the morning.

Maybe it's just me, but THAT's living well.
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jpgray Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 12:44 PM
Response to Original message
43. Forbes: Only 2% of Americans Are Living Well
That should be the headline of the article.
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opihimoimoi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 01:13 PM
Response to Original message
50. And they wonder why the WORLD Hates/despises/etc us.....
The World hates us for our WASTE, our Arrogance, our Selfishness...etc
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Just Me Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 01:20 PM
Response to Original message
53. Forbes: too rich to be grounded in reality.
That's all I have to say.
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kohodog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 03:49 PM
Response to Original message
64. There's going to be a rush on Wtchita
Only $189k to be ok there!

But where the hell would I buy my vacation house? Oz?
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Rich Hunt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 03:57 PM
Response to Original message
66. uh-huh

I guess no one is trying to live a middle-class dream anymore - they're trying to live an upper-middle-class dream.

Used to be that the UMC was for doctors, some other professional types, and some "old money" families.

The problem is that people have delusional notions about what is a "proper" upper-middle-class life ("middle-class" isn't good enough anymore, I guess).

Many of the things these people want are either unnecessary or overpriced because their lifestyle is so lacking in self-reliance.
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Rex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 04:29 PM
Response to Original message
72. Good thing class warfare is just a liberal myth!
Dam peons! Why can't they just work 60 hours a week with no overtime pay!?!?! It really hurts those poor corporations on welfare to pay overtime. :eyes:
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Deja Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 04:50 PM
Response to Original message
77. The same people who blame offshoring on the American worker...
Forbes is a joke.
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rumpel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 05:21 PM
Response to Original message
82. So the poverty level income is $319! what percentage of population is that
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WeRQ4U Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 05:21 PM
Response to Original message
83. How the hell can they say "We are not talking about great riches"...
And then follow it up by talking about people owning "a weekend place"? That seems odd to me.

Whatever though.
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TheFarseer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 05:24 PM
Response to Original message
84. If only we had a flat tax everyone could live well
:sarcasm:
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