Saturday, April 5, 2008

This blog has a new title

Please update your files and records accordingly.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Free Market Friday

Overkill - Hello From the Gutter

Another king and another queen
Living in the shadows so they can't be seen
Remember all the world lies at your feet
And the Big Apple's rotten
Rotten in the heat

Skyclad - Inequality Street

Come lords and ladies, raise glasses in toast
To the other half dying to eat
'Cause they who receive feast deserve it the most
It's a literal dead-end inequality street

Metal Church - Date With Poverty
(note: if Yahoo Video doesn't show up in your browser, try YouTube)

I pay out money with a check, I never use the cash
Collectors closing in on me, is this some kind of test?
Borrow is my middle name, the banks give graciously
With interest rates that terrify, they knock you senselessly

Update: 3:40 p.m. - A familiar name, Jeannine Aversa, AP Economics reporter, chimes in:
Employers buffeted by talk of recession slashed 80,000 jobs in March, the most in five years and the third straight month of losses.

At the same time, the national unemployment rate rose from 4.8 percent to 5.1 percent, the clearest signal yet that the economy might already be shrinking.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Court in the act

Not that I was really in love with the Supreme Court of the U.S.A., but Dahlia Lithwick at Slate articulates quite well the daffiness of the high court:
I sometimes fall for the old line that there's no such thing as politics at the high court; there are merely different interpretational tools. Not today. Today we have four liberals rediscovering the beauty of local government and judicial restraint and five conservatives poised to identify a fundamental personal right that will have judges mucking about in gun cases for years to come. After all these years of deep conservative suspicion of turning over policy matters to the courts, the Roberts Court has fallen in love with a new constitutional right. And while they don't seem much concerned about how the judges will manage it, they've just about ensured that judges around the country will soon be ruling in gun cases the way they used to rule on speeding tickets.
The law can be measured only in how much it serves your ideology; if it dips below your threshold, then it's time to change the law.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Another look at income

In early March, I discussed true poverty in New Jersey. Today, I'd like to take a brief look at the real middle class:
The NJ STARS program pays college tuition and fees for high schoolers who finish in the top 20 percent of their class -- starting with two years at community college followed by the chance to move to a four-year public school.

But it has grown so large and costly that it has become a target for a budget cut by Gov. Jon S. Corzine, who has proposed excluding students from families who earn $90,000 or more.

The change, part of the budget paring Corzine proposed last month, would put a cap on a program that in its first four years won rave reviews from lawmakers and students for keeping bright graduates in New Jersey and making college affordable.

"The STARS program has been a grand slam homer," said Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan, D-Middlesex, chairman of the Assembly Higher Education Committee. "We should do everything we can to preserve it as is, in my mind."
* * *
Diegnan said that in New Jersey, $90,000-a-year is still a middle class income.
At first blush, $90,000 seems like quite a bit. But when you consider that is just $45,000 per year per adult in a two parent home, well, that kind of seems like middle class. I noted that $44,824 in 2005 dollars ($48,586 adjusted for 2008) in Middlesex county was the minimum self-sufficiency standard for a family of four with two adults. A family of four earning $90,000 is not even double $48,500 (that's a little math for you math fans out there).

Furthermore, keep in mind that Standford University is offering free tuition for families who make less than $100,000.

I wonder if salary increases have kept up with inflation. My gut reaction is no, and if I did the research I doubt my answer would change. It's a terrible thought to think that a family of four making $60,000 combined is probably not middle class.