Author Topic: You won't believe this Washington Post article.  (Read 17908 times)

FIKristen

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You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« on: April 27, 2014, 06:33:26 PM »
The title of this article is " ‘Happy Days’ no more: Middle-class families squeezed as expenses soar, wages stall."  This is an actual quote from the article, profiling a pitiable $90,000+ year household struggling to make ends meet:

"While they struggle to meet basic expenses, the Johnsons’ home is filled with the electronics that have become a standard part of middle-class life in the 21st century. For $90 a month, a satellite dish provides basic television service for their three flat-screen sets and for the WiFi connections Scott needs when he works from home. They have one laptop and three iPads, and each girl has a computer in her bedroom. The bill for four cellphones runs about $300 a month."

Is this the same paper that profiled Mr Money Mustache a year ago?  For shame.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/happy-days-no-more-middle-class-families-squeezed-as-expenses-soar-wages-stall/2014/04/26/f4a857f0-7a47-11e3-b1c5-739e63e9c9a7_story.html?tid=up_next

the fixer

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2014, 07:13:09 PM »
I got sucked in and read it this morning. I advise others not to bother.

The first sentence begins with something like "on a routine visit to the beauty salon..." That's all you need to know.

I've been trying to figure out what the "point" is. I at least appreciate how the author seems to be pointing out the ridiculousness of the family's possessions as in the quoted paragraph above, but those seem to invalidate the thesis. I suspect it was a fight with the editor over how to make it appeal to the readership better.

Argyle

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2014, 09:05:59 PM »
I think the gist is "Middle-class people used to be easily able to afford average consumer goods, but now they often can't."  Part of that is because the middle class is more squeezed, but another part — that the article isn't mentioning — is that there are many more consumer goods, and they're more expensive, than there were 50 or even 20 years ago.

Someone I know was complaining about this the other day.  "Back in the '50s a family could live on one person's salary!  Now no way!"  I said, "You could live like the 1950s on one person's salary."  Cut out the second car (and the first one has no fancy gadgets), the air conditioning, the dishwasher, the cable TV and Netflix, all the TVs but one, all computers, all internet, all cell phones, all tablets, all voicemail, all texting, all videogames, all gizmos, and most of the fancy appliances — and life becomes a lot cheaper. 

MDM

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2014, 09:31:14 PM »
Fox Butterfield, Is That You?

Abe

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2014, 09:59:53 PM »
I don't have $300 a month worth of things to say to people. They are all probably just playing Candy Crush all the time. I highly doubt their kids have an important reason to be connected to email/texting/internet at all times.

roboto

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2014, 11:35:16 PM »
Quote
“$150,000 a year,” she said, with no hesi­ta­tion. “If we had an extra $60,000 a year, we’d have some breathing room. I’d like to have some extra things. Not just look at them and drool.”

this. facepunch worthy x100

Nords

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2014, 12:15:38 AM »
Someone I know was complaining about this the other day.  "Back in the '50s a family could live on one person's salary!  Now no way!"  I said, "You could live like the 1950s on one person's salary."  Cut out the second car (and the first one has no fancy gadgets), the air conditioning, the dishwasher, the cable TV and Netflix, all the TVs but one, all computers, all internet, all cell phones, all tablets, all voicemail, all texting, all videogames, all gizmos, and most of the fancy appliances — and life becomes a lot cheaper.
Let's qualify that rosy 1950s sentiment a little:  it was mostly applicable to Anglo-Saxon Christian non-farming families with two parents where the male had a stable income. 

I've learned a lot about the history that I thought I knew by reading library copies of:
"The Way We Never Were" and
"The Two-Income Trap".

jdoolin

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2014, 06:31:51 AM »
Someone I know was complaining about this the other day.  "Back in the '50s a family could live on one person's salary!  Now no way!"  I said, "You could live like the 1950s on one person's salary."  Cut out the second car (and the first one has no fancy gadgets), the air conditioning, the dishwasher, the cable TV and Netflix, all the TVs but one, all computers, all internet, all cell phones, all tablets, all voicemail, all texting, all videogames, all gizmos, and most of the fancy appliances — and life becomes a lot cheaper.
Let's qualify that rosy 1950s sentiment a little:  it was mostly applicable to Anglo-Saxon Christian non-farming families with two parents where the male had a stable income. 

I've learned a lot about the history that I thought I knew by reading library copies of:
"The Way We Never Were" and
"The Two-Income Trap".
Thanks for the recommendations Nords.  :-)

paddedhat

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2014, 06:52:06 AM »
Thanks for the recommendations Nords.  :-)

I was in the process of typing that exact sentence, when I got a warning to check a fresh post, prior to posting. So, thanks again, Nords!

Fascinating topic. I'm was born hanging on the tail of the baby boom. I grew up in a town that looked like a set from a 50's sitcom. A few miles from the steel plant, and quickly erected as the boys returned from the war. Miles of identical cape cods, white picket fences, the whole scene. I left at eighteen, deeply aware of the fraud. Town cops that would kick your ass for entertainment. Deeply hidden violence in families, substance abuse, and racism. Success was worshiped, poverty was strictly limited to the other side of the tracks.  Actually diversity was prominent. Every other year, some upper crust family would rent a black kid for the year. Or, to be more PC, they would sponsor a child from Africa, for a year. So typically we had a single minority kid in a school of 800 students.
We also had the bizarre interaction of being adjacent to the "club". A massive private enclave of steel company execs. who ran their own fenced kingdom where they lived, played, ignored their children, schemed to crush their employees, and screwed the babysitter. 
Ah, fond recollections of the good ole' days.

"Golly Ward, you're awful rough on the Beaver"  LOL

austin

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2014, 10:34:45 AM »
Quote
“$150,000 a year,” she said, with no hesi­ta­tion. “If we had an extra $60,000 a year, we’d have some breathing room. I’d like to have some extra things. Not just look at them and drool.”

this. facepunch worthy x100

This just makes me wonder how empty these people's lives must be to think like this.

Argyle

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2014, 10:58:57 AM »
All those things Paddedhat says are true about the 1950s (and are not untrue about many places/people now).  But where we've moved on from those conditions, we didn't move on because we all got dishwashers and air conditioning.  I'm not advocating a return to the bad parts of the 1950s, just to a recognition that people can like satisfactorily without paying up the wazoo for a house full of gadgets.  But I imagine we're all in agreement on that score?

rocksinmyhead

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2014, 11:44:57 AM »
what the fuck kind of "extra things" is she talking about? THEY HAVE THREE IPADS

Eric

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2014, 01:29:06 PM »
what the fuck kind of "extra things" is she talking about? THEY HAVE THREE IPADS

Yeah, but they're last year's versions!  How embarrassing! 

dragoncar

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2014, 02:56:04 PM »
what the fuck kind of "extra things" is she talking about? THEY HAVE THREE IPADS

Well, the iPads don't have their own iPhones yet.

thepokercab

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2014, 03:06:14 PM »
what the fuck kind of "extra things" is she talking about? THEY HAVE THREE IPADS

Well, the iPads don't have their own iPhones yet.

My iPad is constantly giving me shit over this.    Sometimes he gangs up with the AppleTV and they just hassle me to no end.   

Wolf_Stache

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #15 on: April 28, 2014, 04:22:45 PM »
what the fuck kind of "extra things" is she talking about? THEY HAVE THREE IPADS

Well, the iPads don't have their own iPhones yet.

My iPad is constantly giving me shit over this.    Sometimes he gangs up with the AppleTV and they just hassle me to no end.   

LOL, this whole exchange made me laugh. I said about the same thing as rocksinmyhead. What the hell else do they need? They each have a computer in their room, three ipads, they all have smart phones, three big screen tvs.... that is insane!

kite

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #16 on: April 28, 2014, 04:25:49 PM »
Am I interpreting this correctly?

The article -like everything else these days- claims that the middle class has shrunk,  but it claims the percentage of low income households (under 35K) remains unchanged.  Doesn't that not only imply....but come right out and state that the difference is due to some who had been middle class seeing their incomes bump into six figure territory? The authors seem to be using inflation adjusted numbers, comparing today's wages with those from the 1970s.


dragoncar

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #17 on: April 28, 2014, 04:48:21 PM »
Am I interpreting this correctly?

The article -like everything else these days- claims that the middle class has shrunk,  but it claims the percentage of low income households (under 35K) remains unchanged.  Doesn't that not only imply....but come right out and state that the difference is due to some who had been middle class seeing their incomes bump into six figure territory? The authors seem to be using inflation adjusted numbers, comparing today's wages with those from the 1970s.

Nice catch -- they are probably going for some kind of income disparity argument, but used the wrong stats.  For example, if the lower-average middle class salary is declining while the upper middle class salary is increasing (no idea if that's actually true).

Blindsquirrel

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #18 on: April 28, 2014, 05:43:03 PM »
    I did read that article, end to end. Yeesh, put on your big girl panties and get a clue Scott Johnson! "The Johnsons’ $90,000 income is higher than the national household median of $51,000, as well as the $66,500 median in Virginia. But in the broader Washington region that Culpeper is part of, where the median income is $88,000, the Johnsons are just about average."    They need a giant cup of STFU to go with their gallon of Whine. Refi the house to pay a wedding photographer? Seriously? I believe it as we have tenants just as dumb with money.

KathleenTurnerOverdrive

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #19 on: April 28, 2014, 06:04:54 PM »
First of all, cry me a river. We make MAYBE half of what they make, on a good year, after taxes. We don't have iPhones, we don't have iPads, and we don't have multiple TVs. A $300 cell phone bill is outrageous.

Second, at least one of those daughters (I can't find their ages right now, just glancing over the article but I think I remember one of them being 16 or so) should be working outside the home right now to fund those music lessons and girl scout activities. Hell, even the 13 year old might be able to get a job detassling corn or mowing lawns (I did, when I was 14).

Third, I think the middle class needs to lower their expectations. It may well be that you can't get a house, extracurriculars, a family vacation every year, gadgets, ect., any more.

rocksinmyhead

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #20 on: April 29, 2014, 06:38:21 AM »
Am I interpreting this correctly?

The article -like everything else these days- claims that the middle class has shrunk,  but it claims the percentage of low income households (under 35K) remains unchanged.  Doesn't that not only imply....but come right out and state that the difference is due to some who had been middle class seeing their incomes bump into six figure territory? The authors seem to be using inflation adjusted numbers, comparing today's wages with those from the 1970s.

Nice catch -- they are probably going for some kind of income disparity argument, but used the wrong stats.  For example, if the lower-average middle class salary is declining while the upper middle class salary is increasing (no idea if that's actually true).

The lower middle class is getting shafted badly by a combination of a massive increase in low-skilled laborers in the last 50 years, a changing economy that puts a higher value on cognitive over manual labor and offshoring of many jobs. It doesn't help that the lower middle class is more likely to engage in downwardly mobile behaviors like divorce and out of wedlock childbearing, and it REALLY doesn't help that public policy inadvertently incentivizes this and encourages policies to drive down the wages of low-skilled workers. The end result is that the broadly prosperous middle class, possibly the greatest American invention, is getting hollowed out, which is very concerning.

I mean, don't get me wrong. The $90k family are dunderheads, but there are larger structural issues at play.

I think that's why I hate this article so much. we do have serious economic problems in this country, but this family was the WRONG example to use... which basically means people who think we DON'T have a problem can just use it to support their argument. :(

oldtoyota

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #21 on: April 29, 2014, 06:46:15 AM »

The first sentence begins with something like "on a routine visit to the beauty salon..." That's all you need to know.


I was getting interrupted while reading and thought she worked at the beauty salon. OMG. She is **visiting** the beauty salon?

At one pt in the article, the husband said that "after groceries" they do not have money to pay other bills. Well, maybe they need to buy cheaper groceries? Maybe they need to eat less? And music lessons are not required.

I also noticed they live in a four bedroom home in a location that requires a lot of driving. They have a larger home than I do….and my child doesn't take music lessons.

I read this on paper and the article was located right next to Michelle Singletary's column. I think that MS should do a budget analysis of some of these people who claim they can't live on $90K.




oldtoyota

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #22 on: April 29, 2014, 07:20:06 AM »
Someone I know was complaining about this the other day.  "Back in the '50s a family could live on one person's salary!  Now no way!"  I said, "You could live like the 1950s on one person's salary."  Cut out the second car (and the first one has no fancy gadgets), the air conditioning, the dishwasher, the cable TV and Netflix, all the TVs but one, all computers, all internet, all cell phones, all tablets, all voicemail, all texting, all videogames, all gizmos, and most of the fancy appliances — and life becomes a lot cheaper.
Let's qualify that rosy 1950s sentiment a little:  it was mostly applicable to Anglo-Saxon Christian non-farming families with two parents where the male had a stable income. 

I've learned a lot about the history that I thought I knew by reading library copies of:
"The Way We Never Were" and
"The Two-Income Trap".

Thanks. I requested both from the library.

the fixer

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #23 on: April 29, 2014, 10:25:49 AM »
I think it's just simple math. Because of the amount of debt leveraging going on and the lack of consumer savings, it's not possible to sustainably live an average life on an average income. There's a collective illusion that it is possible based on the people we see around us, but all those people are either taking on more debt than they can sustain, they're cutting out something that's not apparent to others (e.g. owning a smartphone but without a data plan), or they're applying skill to acquire their items at a below-average cost.

Ways to fix the problem via government policy would all involve making it more difficult to obtain the very items the middle class subjects of the article feel they're entitled to buying on credit--big house, mobile devices with bundled contracts, rolling over car loans--so I don't see it happening. But I think that in a world where taking on debt was impossible without it being part of an income source (student loans for college granted based on expected salary after graduation, for instance), the middle class wouldn't be having this problem.

randymarsh

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #24 on: April 29, 2014, 12:36:16 PM »
Because of the amount of debt leveraging going on and the lack of consumer savings, it's not possible to sustainably live an average life on an average income. There's a collective illusion that it is possible based on the people we see around us

Mass media has certainly played a role here.

Are there any current popular TV shows with characters that have a truly average lifestyle? Every show has families living in huge McMansions while 20 somethings live in apartments with amazing views of Central Park.

SisterX

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #25 on: April 29, 2014, 02:40:28 PM »
Someone I know was complaining about this the other day.  "Back in the '50s a family could live on one person's salary!  Now no way!"  I said, "You could live like the 1950s on one person's salary."  Cut out the second car (and the first one has no fancy gadgets), the air conditioning, the dishwasher, the cable TV and Netflix, all the TVs but one, all computers, all internet, all cell phones, all tablets, all voicemail, all texting, all videogames, all gizmos, and most of the fancy appliances — and life becomes a lot cheaper.
Let's qualify that rosy 1950s sentiment a little:  it was mostly applicable to Anglo-Saxon Christian non-farming families with two parents where the male had a stable income. 

I've learned a lot about the history that I thought I knew by reading library copies of:
"The Way We Never Were" and
"The Two-Income Trap".

Thanks. I requested both from the library.

:)  As soon as I saw the book recommendation I got on my library's website and found out that they've got both as ebooks.  So, me too!

the fixer

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #26 on: April 29, 2014, 02:46:37 PM »
Mass media is mostly just very effective at showing people what they want to see, except for advertising and product placement. If a show depicting characters wearing Goodwill clothing and talking on landlines or old flip phones got good ratings, the networks would probably make it that way.

Firefly and Party Down both come to mind as TV shows that depicted middle-class characters somewhat realistically (Firefly did so in a sci-fi context). Neither lasted very long. Perhaps Breaking Bad, but I never watched that one so I'm not sure.

It could be argued that people are spending too much time consuming the content they want and not enough time dealing with the world as it is, and that imbalance throws off our expectations. I don't know what the solution to that is.

What I was getting at is just the people we see around us. Perhaps you can see coworkers who are immaculately dressed every day. What you don't consider unless you've been conditioned to (as many of us probably have) is those people's credit card balances, but their appearance will register subconsciously. Outside of work it's even more nebulous because you may have no idea how much the random people you meet make in their day jobs; in some cases their toys and luxuries might be totally affordable.

MicroRN

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #27 on: April 29, 2014, 06:44:34 PM »
I don't doubt that expenses there are high for a family.  I grew up nearby in Alexandria, where my parent's modest 3 bedroom 1970's house currently appraises for $700K, almost entirely due to location.  I have friends renting small apartments for what it costs us to rent a 2500 sf house.  However, the family profiled here were definitely not the ones to use to garner sympathy or concern.  If they had some crushing medical issues that weren't covered by insurance, sure.  The Ipads, flat screen TVs and music lessons are all extras.   

I'll ditto "The way we never were."  Excellent book.  I haven't read the other one, but I added it to my list.   

Insanity

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #28 on: April 29, 2014, 06:47:23 PM »
Reasons for wage stagnation: (in the US and maybe abroad?)

1) Increased workforce. I hate to sound sexist, but this started when the two income family became the norm and mothers didn't stay home (now, don't get me wrong, fathers could also and I wouldn't care but it is still a simple math problem - more people able to do work, more people in demand of work, the lower the cost of the labor). It increased further with offshoring.

2) Increased dependency on employment rather than being an employer.  This is a result of healthy care being made a benefit of employers and the view  that employers will pay for it, so health care insurance can raise their rates much higher than if individuals or a single payer system would allow.

3) Demand of Things.  Like this article suggests.  More people need jobs. Lower the labor.

4) Things beaten into them from most parents - Get an education, get a good job, get married.  Note, there is nothing in there about "make your own job".  there is a fear of going out on your own (I'm just starting to get over it after almost a year of doing it).


Unique User

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #29 on: April 29, 2014, 07:18:51 PM »
I wish articles would focus on someone that isn't so easy to ridicule.  We make a bit over what they want, but live on less than half after tax because we are maxing out all our accounts, 401k, IRAs, HSA.  We don't have all the stuff or cell phone bills and don't go to the beauty salon and don't buy gas guzzlers or finance cars. 

I wonder if articles focused more on people who lived within their means, but aren't seeing their wages increase, then they might be better received.  My husband received a 1.23% raise this year as merit increases have been eliminated at his very large Fortune 100 company, well except for the CEO who received a 16% increase.  Luckily we don't need an increase, we are doing just fine.

Most of the comments are awesome, lots of Mustachians, one even mentioned the website! 

Nords

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #30 on: May 03, 2014, 11:30:36 PM »
Someone I know was complaining about this the other day.  "Back in the '50s a family could live on one person's salary!  Now no way!"  I said, "You could live like the 1950s on one person's salary."  Cut out the second car (and the first one has no fancy gadgets), the air conditioning, the dishwasher, the cable TV and Netflix, all the TVs but one, all computers, all internet, all cell phones, all tablets, all voicemail, all texting, all videogames, all gizmos, and most of the fancy appliances — and life becomes a lot cheaper.
Let's qualify that rosy 1950s sentiment a little:  it was mostly applicable to Anglo-Saxon Christian non-farming families with two parents where the male had a stable income.    [emphasis added]
I've learned a lot about the history that I thought I knew by reading library copies of:
"The Way We Never Were" and
"The Two-Income Trap".

Usually I would challenge what appears to be more revisionist history BS.  However, Nords, you seem to be a sharp guy so like some others I just placed library holds for both of these books.  Thank you for the recommendations.
These are well-researched and well-written.  Both authors wrote follow-on books, but these are the best of the bunch.

You may recognize one of the authors who's gone on to achieve significant publicity in the financial industry and politics.

zataks

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #31 on: May 03, 2014, 11:45:31 PM »
A $300 cell phone bill is outrageous.

No doubt!  I was irritated with my $31 bill this month considering it is talk/text only!  Seriously thinking of jumping from Ting to Republic.


deborah

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #32 on: May 04, 2014, 12:35:59 AM »
In the 50's (according to Bill Bryson) Australia was considered to have the highest per capita standard of living in the world - everyone could afford an electric jug (kettle).

ch12

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #33 on: May 04, 2014, 03:36:36 PM »
Someone I know was complaining about this the other day.  "Back in the '50s a family could live on one person's salary!  Now no way!"  I said, "You could live like the 1950s on one person's salary."  Cut out the second car (and the first one has no fancy gadgets), the air conditioning, the dishwasher, the cable TV and Netflix, all the TVs but one, all computers, all internet, all cell phones, all tablets, all voicemail, all texting, all videogames, all gizmos, and most of the fancy appliances — and life becomes a lot cheaper.
Let's qualify that rosy 1950s sentiment a little:  it was mostly applicable to Anglo-Saxon Christian non-farming families with two parents where the male had a stable income.    [emphasis added]
I've learned a lot about the history that I thought I knew by reading library copies of:
"The Way We Never Were" and
"The Two-Income Trap".

Usually I would challenge what appears to be more revisionist history BS.  However, Nords, you seem to be a sharp guy so like some others I just placed library holds for both of these books.  Thank you for the recommendations.
These are well-researched and well-written.  Both authors wrote follow-on books, but these are the best of the bunch.

You may recognize one of the authors who's gone on to achieve significant publicity in the financial industry and politics.

Elizabeth Warren!!! Immediately went to put the The Two Income Trap on hold at my local library - Nords has evidently triggered a gold rush in this thread.

First of all, cry me a river. We make MAYBE half of what they make, on a good year, after taxes. We don't have iPhones, we don't have iPads, and we don't have multiple TVs. A $300 cell phone bill is outrageous.

Second, at least one of those daughters (I can't find their ages right now, just glancing over the article but I think I remember one of them being 16 or so) should be working outside the home right now to fund those music lessons and girl scout activities. Hell, even the 13 year old might be able to get a job detassling corn or mowing lawns (I did, when I was 14).

Quote
Scott and Robin Johnson were each divorced when they met through Girl Scouts. Scott’s 16-year-old daughter, Taylor, and Robin’s daughters, Emily and Charlie, who are 13 and 10, are all active in the organization.

16 is old enough to contribute to your own extracurricular expenses. At that age, it's perfectly legitimate to ask your kid to pitch in for her own music lessons, if she wants them.

Also, I have lived in the DC region. 90k/year after taxes becomes slightly less, but they should still be perfectly capable of taking care of themselves with their take home.
Quote
“Probably me,” said Robin, who was accustomed to spending as little as possible. When the time came to buy school photographs for her daughters, she usually ordered the smallest, cheapest package.

Scott, whose salary is more than triple Robin’s, insisted on ordering the biggest package.

“I don’t care if we don’t eat next week, I’m going to get the kids’ photos,” he said. “That’s what you hold onto.”

mm1970

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #34 on: May 04, 2014, 07:04:43 PM »
Ha!  I also put holds on the books in the library...

capital

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #35 on: May 04, 2014, 11:18:32 PM »
The town of Culpeper mentioned in the article appears to be far enough out of the DC Metro area that houses are pretty cheap, probably around $200k for a house like in the article. So I'm not really sure where that $90,000 is going.

TrulyStashin

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #36 on: May 05, 2014, 07:52:26 AM »
Virginian here.  Culpeper is a LONG ASS way from DC.  No joke.  I grew up in Woodbridge in the 80's and at that time Woodbridge was as far south as you can go and still be "metro DC."   Now, it's Fredericksburg, which is another 30 miles south of Woodbridge.  Or Leesburg to the NW. 

But CULPEPER?!  Culpeper is still the sticks, middle-of-nowhere.   Anyone who lives there and attempts to commute to a NoVA or DC job is a blooming idiot. 

If you lived in Culpeper with a job in or near Culpeper, it could be great as it is a cute little town with a neat historic area.  But that's easily a 2-hour commute each way.  Insane.

sleepyguy

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #37 on: May 05, 2014, 12:56:58 PM »
On a routine drive to the beauty salon...

... The couple from Culpeper, Va., were already masters at scrimping.

HELL NO!

This is GOLD...

But reliable transportation was not a luxury, so in late February the couple bought a used 2012 Dodge Caliber.

Ever hear of a used Camry or Civic?  Those suckers run til 600KM.  I can't read it anymore... omg.


Wow...

They have one laptop and three iPads, and each girl has a computer in her bedroom. The bill for four cellphones runs about $300 a month.

« Last Edit: May 05, 2014, 02:19:19 PM by sleepyguy »

Mrs.FamilyFinances

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #38 on: May 06, 2014, 07:07:03 PM »
This article made me feel rich! Granted, we make 20k less than them, but our bills are paid, our savings is growing rapidly, and we have very little financial stress. The sad thing is that they truly believe another 60k in income would solve their problems. It wouldn't.

MooseOutFront

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #39 on: May 07, 2014, 01:50:41 PM »
I liked how the lady was honest that she wished they made $60k more so she could buy more stuff.


Basenji

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #40 on: May 13, 2014, 09:07:18 AM »
The couple from Culpeper, Va., were already masters at scrimping.

Um...I beg to differ.

The couple’s retirement savings are meager. The college fund? Nonexistent.

When the time came to buy school photographs for her daughters, she usually ordered the smallest, cheapest package. Scott, whose salary is more than triple Robin’s, insisted on ordering the biggest package. "I don’t care if we don’t eat next week, I’m going to get the kids’ photos," he said. "That’s what you hold onto."

Scott seems mentally incapacitated. Those school photos are so ugly and crap. And really, you aren't going to EAT next week? Riiight.

Taylor is starting to think about college. "It scares me," she said of the future, adding that she may have to attend community college to save money.

Oh Lordy! What fresh hell!

Sorry, I'm just annoyed.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2014, 09:09:06 AM by Basenji »

Jamesqf

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #41 on: May 13, 2014, 11:55:46 AM »
When the time came to buy school photographs for her daughters, she usually ordered the smallest, cheapest package.

You know, I honestly had no idea that they even made photographic film any more.  And I have to wonder who's getting a cut from the 'school photograph' racket.



CarDude

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #42 on: May 13, 2014, 01:53:15 PM »
Someone I know was complaining about this the other day.  "Back in the '50s a family could live on one person's salary!  Now no way!"  I said, "You could live like the 1950s on one person's salary."  Cut out the second car (and the first one has no fancy gadgets), the air conditioning, the dishwasher, the cable TV and Netflix, all the TVs but one, all computers, all internet, all cell phones, all tablets, all voicemail, all texting, all videogames, all gizmos, and most of the fancy appliances — and life becomes a lot cheaper.
Let's qualify that rosy 1950s sentiment a little:  it was mostly applicable to Anglo-Saxon Christian non-farming families with two parents where the male had a stable income.    [emphasis added]
I've learned a lot about the history that I thought I knew by reading library copies of:
"The Way We Never Were" and
"The Two-Income Trap".

Usually I would challenge what appears to be more revisionist history BS.  However, Nords, you seem to be a sharp guy so like some others I just placed library holds for both of these books.  Thank you for the recommendations.

Just a quick thought experiment can reveal how few Americans got to partake in the "dream" back then. How many adults or children of color did you see in Leave It To Beaver? How many shows of the epoch featured women who worked full time outside of the home? How many shows featured individuals with any form of disability? Back then, if you weren't white, you weren't living in the suburban home with the TV, radio, fridge, and picket fence. If you weren't white and male, you weren't earning your own bread, because you probably weren't going to college, and if you did, you weren't going to earn a college salary once you were done. If you needed a wheelchair or special education services as a child, you weren't in the same schools (never mind in the same classroom) as your typically-developing peers. If you were able-bodied but wrong-colored, forget it. You weren't on the college track. You weren't even on the union or factory track in a lot of cases. Welcome to generational poverty, and why so many people you see today don't seem to "have it together", in terms of going to college, having college-educated parents, being raised in two-parent homes, having inheritances, etc.

Most folks are familiar with the joke of GWB being born on 3rd and believing he hit a triple; we don't realize how many of us were born on 2nd and think we hit doubles, while so many around us never even made it out of the dugout.

It's incredibly easy to forget that so many of the doors open today were closed and locked tight back then for so many parts of our population. Heck, you couldn't even *marry* people with different complexions in a lot of states back then.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2014, 01:58:23 PM by CarSafetyGuy »

Basenji

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #43 on: May 13, 2014, 02:26:40 PM »
When the time came to buy school photographs for her daughters, she usually ordered the smallest, cheapest package.

You know, I honestly had no idea that they even made photographic film any more.  And I have to wonder who's getting a cut from the 'school photograph' racket.

And I was thinking of the school photos I had from high school. Really not very memorable. My favorite photos are snapshots and candid photos. I just think the whole pose in front of a landscape or some such is from a time when no one had a good camera. Now most people (including, as pointed out earlier, that girl) have a phone with a camera better than any film camera I ever owned.

RetiredAt63

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #44 on: May 13, 2014, 03:05:00 PM »
Definitely veering off topic here, sorry.
People think what they grew up with is "normal" - I have met people from Sudbury who grew up while it was blighted, and thought it was normal for kids to play in a moonscape. 
My Mom's generation - women had to quit their jobs (not careers) when they married.  There were three choices open to a respectable middle-class girl - secretary, teacher, or nurse.  Sexism was rampant.   
In Quebec (my home province) the Church (that is the Catholic Church) was incredibly important in dictating what people did, schools were Catholic or Protestant, and anyone not Catholic or Protestant was an "honourary Protestant" in terms of what school they went to (they sure were not allowed in the local Catholic school).  Ontario was in some ways even stricter - you didn't do anything other than Church on Sunday, because nothing was open.  Actually, Ontario is still really weird in some ways, the "Beer Store" sounds OK but is the dreariest, most repressive atmosphere you can imagine.
It is no wonder feminism took off.  I have read that what really radicalized middle-class young white women in the US was being involved in the civil rights movement, and realizing they were being treated worse than the people they thought were down-trodden.  It wasn't so bad in Canada that way (we were the destination of the underground railway, after all) but women's role in Canadian society was pretty much the same as their role in the US.

Back to the previously scheduled programming.

It's incredibly easy to forget that so many of the doors open today were closed and locked tight back then for so many parts of our population. Heck, you couldn't even *marry* people with different complexions in a lot of states back then.

sheepstache

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #45 on: May 13, 2014, 04:30:09 PM »
The other reality is that if she had a prodigiously talented child, she wouldn't need to pay for music lessons if she wasn't able. Many teachers will take on a truly brilliant student pro bono because their achievements enhance the reputation of the teacher and studio. My husband has gotten a lot of music training for free, and most teachers I know take on a student gratis. There are even foundations and schools that will provide loaned instruments for gifted students that can't drop a small fortune on a cello.

I think this brings up part of the mindset that gets overlooked sometimes.  A lot of parents wouldn't seek out free music lessons because part of the middle class mindset is to believe they should be able to "pay their own way" in everything.  Put another way, part of the beliefs/requirements of the middle class is that there is someone else who is less well off and we shouldn't take away "handouts" from them.

The school photos are another good example.  With so many digital gadgets in the house, these kids' childhoods must be way more well-documented than mine was.  The dad's feeling of pain didn't stem from the idea of not having the photos but from the thought of going without.

This goes back to the point about there simply being less to buy in the "golden era" of the 50s.  America is the "house of yes."  We don't care what we have so long as we have it all.  We've redefined poverty so that it has less to do with not having something and more to do with the potential of not having something.  The moment you suggest strategically using one's resources to get as much as one can out of them, you conjure up ideas of hardship.

rob in cal

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #46 on: May 26, 2014, 04:52:54 PM »
This article is truly hilarious.  I don't know what on earth I could possible do with another 60k a year, outside of just investing it or giving it away.  I'd love to see a monthly breakdown of their budget.  Concerning the 1950's, one reason its portrayed as such a racially white place, is that the US was close to 88% white back then and about 10% black.  It was the demographic changes brought about through the immigration law changes in 1964 which have altered that 88% ratio.

Rollin

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Re: You won't believe this Washington Post article.
« Reply #47 on: May 26, 2014, 09:35:10 PM »

Someone I know was complaining about this the other day.  "Back in the '50s a family could live on one person's salary!  Now no way!"  I said, "You could live like the 1950s on one person's salary."  Cut out the second car (and the first one has no fancy gadgets), the air conditioning, the dishwasher, the cable TV and Netflix, all the TVs but one, all computers, all internet, all cell phones, all tablets, all voicemail, all texting, all videogames, all gizmos, and most of the fancy appliances — and life becomes a lot cheaper.
+1 - good comparison.