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Household Income Short of $68K? Welcome To the New Poverty

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Have you been laboring under the delusion that you're still part of the tiny, rapidly vanishing Middle Class? Happy April Fools Day! A new study proves that a family of four needs $67,920 a year (pre-tax) to survive in America. And that's basic: no vacations, no fancy dinners, no wine tastings, no fun-box deliveries from Amazon or Zappos or whatever every couple of months to break up the crushing monotony of work and eventual death. You will, however, spend an average of $12,000 a year on car insurance and payments on your crappy mid-sized sedan, because we don't have much in the way of public transportation in this country. And you'll spend another $12,000 a year on child care, because we don't like to provide socialism in these parts, ha ha. Freedom isn't free, after all.


Not much left after $12,000 a year in rent and utilities, either. Don't forget to pay $9,000 in taxes on that $67,920! Who do you think you are, General Electric?

The median household income in the United States is $52,029 -- nearly $16,000 shy of what it actually costs to keep your head above water if you've got a two-income two-child household.

The DC-based nonprofit Wider Opportunities For Women has been compiling the numbers for exactly what it takes to have basic economic security in this country -- housing, food, transportation, child care if you have little kids, utilities, and a tiny contribution to savings for your old age -- and the numbers are more than triple the ridiculous official poverty levels:

A single worker with two young children needs an annual income of $57,756, or just over $27 an hour, to attain economic stability, and a family with two working parents and two young children needs to earn $67,920 a year, or about $16 an hour per worker.

That compares with the national poverty level of $22,050 for a family of four. The most recent data from the Census Bureau found that 14.3 percent of Americans were living below the poverty line in 2009.

Yes, families of four are most certainly living in abject poverty at $22,050 a year. And they're still a few paychecks away from disaster at $50,000 or $60,000 a year. Of course there are regional variations here, with big city housing costing the most and energy bills highest where the weather is extreme and the cost of living often being lower where there are, uh, no jobs or schools or anything. As for you single people, the government says anything beyond $10,830 means you're not in poverty. This new study gives a more realistic number, based on the actual cost of basic shelter and food and electricity and getting to your shitty job if you're lucky enough to have a shitty job: $30,012 a year. It almost seems like enough until you start paying for groceries and rent ....

If you're in the top 20% of income earners in this country, you're doing better with $180,000 in annual income -- but not so much better that you feel especially comfortable, and you're relatively free from the danger of being "rich." We reserve that special category for the 1% who control 70% of the wealth in this country and have household incomes above $400,000. (And because it's a day of such mirth and fun, we will not even type the household income levels for the top tenth of a percent.)

So we are now officially living in a country where more than 60% of households are not making enough money for a basic household -- the bottom three quintiles of American household income top out at $62,000. [NYT/Wider Opportunities For Women]

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'Bella" by Wonkette Operative 'IdiokraticSubpoenaKommissar'

Sunday already, which means a substantial portion of US America is preparing to be astonished/heartbroken/outraged by the series finale of that show with the dragons, while another portion is just going to stay off Twitter for three days because nothing will make any sense. Yr Dok Zoom tends to come very late to trendy things, so get ready for our own thoughts on the gamy thrones show sometime in about 2023, or never. But we'd be glad to tell you just how much we enjoy the brilliance and humanity of the Cartoon Network series "Steven Universe," which debuted in 2013 and we started bingeing on the Hulu last month, late again.

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Get Me Roger Stone

Roger Stone, his wife would like you to know, is broke. And he is not dealing with it well. Once in khaki suits, gee, he looked swell, full of that yankee-doodle-dee-dum, but now no one calls him Al anymore and he has to stand on a street corner singing "Brother Can You Spare A Dime?"

Yesterday, the conservative but also kind of Never Trumper site The Bulwark revealed the details of a grifty "fundraising" plea sent out by Stone's wife Nydia, begging supporters to give money to the Stones in order to help them keep up the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed.

It was titled "I am embarrassed to write this."

"Dear Friend," begins the missive. "My husband and I have an urgent new problem and we need your help. I told my husband I was going to write you, one of his most valued supporters. I am embarrassed to write this, but I must."

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"He laid off all our consultants, contractors and employees, and we have 'pulled in our belts' like so many Americans in 'tight times,'" she wrote, sounding for all the world like a plucky working-class patriot, not the wife of a man who made and lost his fortune lying in the service of power.

She should have been more embarrassed.

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