Thursday, August 21, 2008

How much can one reasonably expect from life?

The recent Salon article about a talented writer turning to a food kitchen to feed her kids got its fair share of comments at Jezebel, and was picked up by City Paper.

Most were thoughtful and empathetic. Because really, unless you're Roman Abramovich or Warren Buffet, there but the grace of God you go with a few strokes of bad luck. A few trolls, however, questioned her purchase of Brie and "sense of entitlement" for wanting to pursue a writing career (intellectually stimulating but usually not lucrative) and raise three kids.

Americans in particular are encouraged to reach for the stars, follow their dreams and demand the best. Yet often those who do (like this writer) are berated for thinking they're special and not sucking it up to accept a modest existence.

Contradictory, indeed.

So what IS too much to reasonably expect out of life (before one hits diva territory)?

- A job that pays the bills?
- A job that allows you to raise and support children?
- A job that doesn't make you want to jump off a ledge at the end of the day?
- A job that's reasonably fulfilling?
- A job that achieves transcendance at the apex of Maslow's hierarchy of needs (regardless of market demand and compensation)?

- Three meals a day?
- Three nutritious meals a day?
- The occasional treat of "gourmet food?" (brie, arugula, the usual limosine liberal suspects)?
- Gourmet food regularly in the fridge?
- Stocked fridge, regular restaurant visits and a cook who knows Atkins, Zone and slow-food cooking?

- A roof over one's head (basic shelter)?
- All that with electricity and running water, too?
- Modern conveniences (rental) in a safe neighborhood?
- Homeownership?
- Homeownership in a gated community with a great room and 4.5 baths?
- Something out of Cribs or Kimora's life of fabulosity?

- The ability to feed, clothe and shelter 1-2 kids?
- The ability to do so for as many kids as you want?
- Decent education and a room of their own for each?
- One bathroom per kid, car (used, split insurance costs) at age 16?
- New car, fully funded?
- All that, for an unlimited Brangelina tribe of kids, plus the best private schools, wardrobe, travel and activities?


At 9:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is so loaded with BS it isn't funny.

"Let's say you earn $85,000 annually and you received a raise that brought you up to $90,000. Sounds exciting at first -- until you the do the math and realize your new check is only a couple hundred dollars more than your old one."

That raise is less than a hundred dollars a week gross. Are we talking monthly paychecks here? After all deductions, that raise is likely $60 a week. That's $1.50 more per hour NET. No, it's not huge to somebody making that much money. But (contrary to author assertion) somebody making $85,000 a year is NOT likely to be excited about a raise to $90,000 a year. Such an employee knows full well that the increase is not going to chanhge his or her lifestyle. The poing is pointless. Author sets up and knocks down a strawman.

More money not better. Relax. Enjoy your declining wages, America!

"One of the negatives to earning a high salary is that your marginal tax rate is higher than other people's. While you might be earning more than your co-worker, he or she might be taking home a similar -- or higher -- amount per check because they aren't taxed as much."

They're marginal rates. The ONLY way a lower-paid worker takes home more is because OTHER deductions are different (unless their W-2 exemption numbers are different).

Author states the opposite. Not true. In fact, it's a bogeyman line of bullplop concocted by the wealthy.

More money not better. Relax. Enjoy your declining wages, America!

At 10:18 AM, Blogger globalchameleon said...

I'm assuming that the comment above is referring to the CNN article about the "hazards of a larger paycheck" linked to under "suck it up and enjoy a modest existence." (an interesting read - as is the comment above)

Though my own posts have received the label BS every so often, too:)

At 1:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's tell that to the greedy guys at the top who raking off billions of dollars from the corporations at the expense of the workers. This whole article stinks. if you take less money, you will never make it up. Raises for workers these days don't keep up with inflation, usually 3 to 4%, while the CEO's are getting 40 million dollar bonuses even when the company loses money.

At 3:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm assuming that the comment above is referring to the CNN article about the "hazards of a larger paycheck" linked to under "suck it up and enjoy a modest existence."

Yes, it was. I did not make that clear. I saw the Zupek article on CNN and sought out a place to comment on it, and commented in poor form.

The Zupek article irks me still, for it is full of untruths intended to make the unpaid masses feel sympathy for the well-off.

Human sympathy for the well-off is not wrong. Financial sympathy for folks who make four times as much as I do is just silly. And wrong.

Stating that net pay can be lower for workers with higher gross pay DUE SOLELY TO THE FUNCTION OF MARGINAL TAX RATE WITHHOLDING is a lie.

Further, it is a lie concocted and deliberately promulgated by the well-to-do.

Capital Gains shouldn't be taxes. Capital Gains should be taxed less.

CAPITAL GAINS are, by definition, UNEARNED INCOME. Yet we've got a nation full of folks with sympathy for folks paying taxes on that UNEARNED INCOME. This, despite the fact that the Capital Gains tax rate is lower than those parties' marginal tax rates for EARNED INCOME.

Since when should WORKERS feel sympathy for those who derive income from devices other than WORK? Yet, somehow, this tis the state we are in.

An entire generation of pundits and public swallow and regurgitate this fetid tripe. The unpaid masses have internalized the notion that progressive Capital Gains tax rates are the great barrier to social mobility in this nation.

Meanwhile, it is the regressive tax structure and stagnant wage regime (imposed by those responsible for this falsehood) which are the true problem.


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