Resolved: The United States is Getting Poorer

Discussion in 'Politics & Current Events' started by Karl K, Jan 5, 2006.

  1. Karl K

    Karl K Member

    Oct 25, 1999
    Suburban Chicago
    Over on the "Dangerous Ideas" thread, there's was a bit of sideline debate going on between MattR and me, and I think this one deserves it's own thread, framed in the form of a traditional debate proposition.

    I am going to be busy this afternoon, but I will definitely get back to it. In the meantime, here are the initial posts on the subject.

    Let's get read to rummmmbbbbbbbbleeeeeeee!!!

    emphasis mine.

    My response:

    MattR's counter response:

     
  2. obie

    obie New Member

    Nov 18, 1998
    NY, NY
    Club:
    New York Red Bulls
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Define "poorer".
     
  3. Matt in the Hat

    Matt in the Hat Moderator
    Staff Member

    Sep 21, 2002
    Brooklyn
    Club:
    New York Red Bulls
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    "However, the bottom two tax brackets are listed at 10% and 15% for those making less than $10,450 and $39,800, respectively. The median US income is $44,000. If you know the definition of median, it's pretty easy to see that about half of the country makes less than $40k a year."

    This is where I have a problem with his argument. The median is just the center and does not take into account how many are above or below the median line. If there are three people, one with one orange, one with two oranges and one with 12 oranges, the median of the three is two oranges

    I would like to see what the mean income is, especially with the top and bottom 5% eliminated as outliers. I think that is a more accurate measurment of what people make.
     
  4. Freestyle2000

    Freestyle2000 Moderator

    Feb 6, 2000
    LA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    --other--
    Do you mean exactly the opposite of this, or am I misreading it?

    The median is two oranges because exactly one person has more and one person has less. It *only* takes into account how many are above or below the median line.

    RS
     
  5. Matt in the Hat

    Matt in the Hat Moderator
    Staff Member

    Sep 21, 2002
    Brooklyn
    Club:
    New York Red Bulls
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Yes. The median is just the middle number.
     
  6. John Galt

    John Galt Member

    Aug 30, 2001
    Atlanta
    Your example offers a good reason to use the median instead of your preferred mean. If you were to claim that the average person had 5 oranges, you would have a misleading statistic suggesting that people had more oranges than they really did.

    As to the substance, the two posters are clearly talking past each other -- no surprise. To the extent it does not devolve into a preening/pissing contest, my prediction is that solid arguments about the growing gap in incomes and net wealth (suggesting the poor are growing) will be responded to with data about GNP and economic indicators (suggesting the economy is doing well).

    In the end, the mean and median of this thread will be one apple, one orange.
     
  7. MikeLastort2

    MikeLastort2 Member

    Mar 28, 2002
    Takoma Park, MD
    And also the most relevant one when considering incomes.
     
  8. Matrim55

    Matrim55 Member+

    Aug 14, 2000
    Berkeley
    Club:
    Connecticut
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Nah, I prefer the mode.
     
  9. obie

    obie New Member

    Nov 18, 1998
    NY, NY
    Club:
    New York Red Bulls
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Anyone who is arguing GDP or mean income will end up on Keller's side because the wealthy are getting remarkably wealthier here, at a faster rate. If you argue the median, it's a lot muddier.

    If all of your income is as a wage-earner, you are more likely to be stagnant in your earning power now than any other time in the past 20 years. If you have a substantial percentage of income coming from capital investments, you were doing well before and you're still doing really well now.
     
  10. MikeLastort2

    MikeLastort2 Member

    Mar 28, 2002
    Takoma Park, MD
    With a big enough sample, the median and the mode are usually pretty close to each other, aren't they?
     
  11. Smiley321

    Smiley321 Member

    Apr 21, 2002
    Concord, Ca
    The good news is that prices on LCD Hidef TV's are coming down and even the poor can afford them soon
     
  12. argentine soccer fan

    Staff Member

    Jan 18, 2001
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Club:
    CA Boca Juniors
    Nat'l Team:
    Argentina
    Yes, I am told the USA is getting poorer. Maybe I should seriously consider moving back to Argentina.
     
  13. peledre

    peledre Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    Sioux Falls, SD
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Generally, if you remove the outliers they'll be very close with a sample size of ~ 285 million.
     
  14. peledre

    peledre Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    Sioux Falls, SD
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    If you've got a $2000 debit card from FEMA they are apparently very affordable....

    (not based on any facts whatsoever)
     
  15. MikeLastort2

    MikeLastort2 Member

    Mar 28, 2002
    Takoma Park, MD
    Which is why the median and/or mode make more sense than the mean. The mean does not remove the outliers. The median and mode both do.
     
  16. Michael Russ

    Michael Russ Member

    Jun 11, 2002
    Buffalo, NY
    How do you know that?

    The problem I have with the analysis of the "gap between the rich and the poor" is that there is this assumption that individuals stay in one group.

    When you think about it, most people start off poor. When you graduate from school and go out on your first job you usually do not make a lot of money. but in time you get promotions and move up the ladder and your wages increase. Eventually you start thinking about retirement and you even start to invest. Then you retire and your wages go to nothing.

    This is a natural cycle. We are always replenishing the "poor" with new young people, and immigrants.

    The fact that the gap between the rich and the poor is widening could possibly be an indicator that there are a lot of opportunities in this country for people to realy improve themselves over the course of their lives.

    Is that really a bad thing?

    I think a better standard would be, what are the living conditions of the "poor" in this country. can anyone seriously argue that the actual living conditions of the "poor" are worse now, than say 100 years ago?
     
  17. peledre

    peledre Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    Sioux Falls, SD
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    They scary thing is that they could both be right at the same time.

    In one sense average income could be going up (if the top 10% get richer), and there could be increasing numbers of people earning under the poverty line (if the bottom 90% get start earning less) at the same time. I'm sure someone will bring up WalMart within the next 20 posts...
     
  18. Calexico77

    Calexico77 Member

    Sep 19, 2003
    Mid-City LA
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Wait - this thread title is misleading. Mods, please remove the "Resolved" until we, as a group, can get to the bottom of this.
     
  19. MikeLastort2

    MikeLastort2 Member

    Mar 28, 2002
    Takoma Park, MD
    Resolved: your posts are truly amazing.
     
  20. Dammit!

    Dammit! Member

    Apr 14, 2004
    Mickey Mouse Land
    I agree with Michael Russ... or at least, makes sense.

    I think, however, that an increase in the "poor" could be either: 1. an increase in young or immigrants as he suggests or 2. An increase in the # of people unable or unwilling to escape the poverty level.

    The other problem is that the definition of poor is set by the govt. and changes often as new definitions occur to bean-counters. I don't where you live, but in California, $8,000 is not just poor, it's DIRT poor. Here in Florida, it's dirt and grass poor. Who came up with this number?
     
  21. obie

    obie New Member

    Nov 18, 1998
    NY, NY
    Club:
    New York Red Bulls
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    No, it's debate nomenclature. "Resolved:" means it's what we are debating, not that it's actually resolved to be the truth.
     
  22. MikeLastort2

    MikeLastort2 Member

    Mar 28, 2002
    Takoma Park, MD
    With regard to what I bolded in your post - do you really think that there are people who purposely choose to be poor?
     
  23. obie

    obie New Member

    Nov 18, 1998
    NY, NY
    Club:
    New York Red Bulls
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    In a macro sense, they do. People who are born poor are the most likely to be poor in adulthood, and people who are born rich are the most likely to be rich in adulthood. This isn't rocket science. And while we can trot out a bevy of self-made millionaires who are the exception to that macro truth, it doesn't change the macro truth.
     
  24. Foosinho

    Foosinho New Member

    Jan 11, 1999
    New Albany, OH
    Club:
    Columbus Crew
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Assuming a normal distribution, yes.
     
  25. Shaster

    Shaster Member

    Apr 13, 1999
    El Cerrito, CA, USA
    No. USA isn't getting poorer.

    You can argue the poorest groups in USA may not get better but they are not getting worse. And the richeset groups get richer so you end up with the whole country gets richer.

    1) The poorest--people live in welfare, etc. You still get government housing project, you still got food stamp, and cash asistance. All those are inflation adjustable. And inflation isn't too much at all. You probably don't have a car--good, saving gas money, insurance money, etc. And you don't have to pay big house payment because you cannot affort one so no bank can rip you off. Food is much cheaper so those clothes made in China. You may not better, and you may not worse.

    2) The richest--no matter what, they always get richer.

    3) People in the middle. Well, at least economy still is going so a little wage increase even though it is small. Big boost on house price, so everyone has the paper wealth and many dip into HEL to spend a heck of it. Here I see the only problem is at the low end of this group. Very small saving, then a big illness may broke them regardless have insurance or not.

    Totally the nation is getting richer. But of course, the whole world order was set to let USA gets richer. But if US dollar one day is no longer a base for whole world finance and economy, then after that USA will get poorer.
     

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