Monday, May 05, 2008

Dispelling some economy bullshit

Every so often, I see or hear people say this about people's economics situation today:

"Well, they only have two incomes because they want that color TV."
"People are just lazy with credit - they need to buy less and not go into debt."
"If people just got by on less, they could make it on one income."

This is conventional wisdom - it feels right, so it must be right.

Only - it turns out that's not true at all. This video of a lecture by Elizabeth Warren goes over how the three big things - housing, health care, transportation - has increased 70% since the 1970's (adjusted for inflation). The cost of food/appliances/entertainment has *dropped* some 10% or greater. The result? Just to pay for the things you *need* (aka - a house, a doctor, a car) has nearly doubled, while the price of things that you don't *need* (well, except for food) is not only less, but cheaper. The result? Just to buy the first three necessities (house, transportation, health) you need - double the income. But once you do that, child care goes up 70%, and your tax rate goes up (why? Because now you've got more income.)

And then you get less health care for the same dollar (1 night stay in the hospital today used to be 5 nights 30 years ago, assisted nursing care was standard, now *you* are the at home nurse - oh, and if you need those two incomes to pay for your house/car/health insurance, now you just lost half of your income).

It's a horrible look at what's been going on in the middle class - and it's not looking any better.

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