Monday, April 11, 2011

Who's got the money?

Reading the New York Times continues to be an interesting change of view.

The amount of wealth represented by the ads and articles in the New York Times is astounding.

I guess it makes sense -- the top 5% richest people are most likely subscribers.

But I can't figure out who buys those Castles in Spain.

Now that my income and net worth more nearly approaches the supposed "averages" in the U.S.A., I think I'm even more confused by what I see around me than before.

Before, when I was operating on minimum wage, the big cars and fancy restaurants and Euro vacations were so far beyond me, that I took it for granted, somewhat, that those who were partaking of these luxuries could afford it. (Of course, I also suspected that people were living beyond their means, on credit...)

But now that I am presumably closer in income to those I see living that way -- it STILL seems mostly out of reach, except in very, very moderate steps.

So what accounts for this discrepancy?

1.) A few years of near "average" income do not catch me and Linda up. Lots of backfill going on.

2.) We are having to put way more into retirement late in our career, whereas other people have pensions or higher social security payouts or have saved money longer.

3.) I'm overestimating the spending by others. Maybe they're Leasing those big S.U.V.'s not buying. Going out to dinner once or twice a month, not once or twice a week. Bought their big houses when they weren't so expensive, or turned over a bigger house in California.

4.) I'm just too cheap and conservative. (But if that was true, wouldn't I have money left over at the end of the month?)

5.) Family money. They aren't living just off their income, but from other means. Living off the fat they accumulated earlier in their career.

6.) People are incredibly smart in getting deals; on vacations, on meals, on all kinds of stuff. Coupon clippers, mileage accumulators, wheeler dealers...

7.) People are going big time into debt.

8.) People are not saving for the future at all. Eat, drink and be merry!


OHDG said...

If American government is setting an example for it's "children," then yes, plenty of Americans are in debt and living beyond their means.

RDC said...

7 and 8 most likely.

Most people look at cash flow and not wealth creation. Oh, can't afford the car just stretch out the payments longer. So what if you have credit card debt you can still make the minimum payment can't you.

The number of people that make over $100,000 per year that live paycheck to paycheck is remarkable.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"But now that I am presumably closer in income to those I see living that way -- it STILL seems mostly out of reach, except in very, very moderate steps."

You are "closer" in the sense that somebody standing on a stepladder is "closer" to Alpha Centauri than somebody standing on the ground, but you are still light-years away.

It is difficult for middle-income people like you and me to begin to comprehend what life is like for people with annual incomes in the tens of MILLIONS of dollars.

H. Bruce Miller said...

I believe all eight of your theories are correct.

Also, I suspect you set the bar for high living pretty low. Being able to afford a big SUV, an occasional dinner in a fancy restaurant and an occasional trip to Europe doesn't qualify somebody as rich. For me, "rich" begins at a seven-figure annual income.

Anonymous said...

Krugman has taken off the gloves with the OREO, this is bigtime.

Finally someone in the USA has the ball's to call the OREO for what he is, ... hell even Marc Fabin is calling OREO a prostitute.

But for Krugman to call OREO a spineless whore, .. this is bigtime

Talking about the NY-TIMES

Anonymous said...


I really want to answer your rhetorical question. My bud here in Singapore gracefully answers your question. Throughout history folks have never gone where the debtors live, they have gone where the money is.

Today the money is in Singapore, which is why I now live here.

Sincerely, buster

Please sit through this 1 hour talk, and you'll undertand all about money today.

Duncan McGeary said...

Sorry it took so long to get the messages up. I was on the road.

Anonymous said...

Let's change the debate here a little on dunc's rhetorical question of the day.

Say you all live in a leper colony, and lets call it 'bend-over-orygun', then some newbie comes to town and asks who has the most beautiful skin?

The fact is the USA is now a leper colony of the world, this couch talk about who has the most money, or the best looks is a total joke. In about 2 years nobody in the USA will even show up on the 100 richest folk in the world list.

Yep them ameriiikans are riche folk, they got so many credit cards, and day drive dim new cars in such fer free wit nuttin down. Yep, all dim ameriiikans are nigger-riche just like the lead nigger himself da OREO. Who is the richest person on the plantation not counting the plantation owner? It's quite a laugh to listen to this beer-hall talk coming from a 3rd world country such as the usa.

Anonymous said...

You are "closer" in the sense that somebody standing on a stepladder is "closer" to Alpha Centauri than somebody standing on the ground, but you are still light-years away.


This hbm is why the field niggers of Bend are so self righteous cuz they're on the steps of the plantation owners house as house-niggers. Blue collar or white collar they're still niggers.

For real wealth you have to go to hong-kong or singapore to see the real, where its still safe for real rich to display their wealth in public.

Bend's future is largely that of a large k-mart of real-estate buyers, now every low-life critter knows there is a blue-light special on real-estate in Bend-Oregon, and they're all moving to Bend.

Just 5 years ago Bend was going to be the next Aspen, now its going to be the next Walmart.

But your right hbm, for anybody that ain't sitting on their ass in front of some outlet mall in Bend pan-handling, then they're almost high enough on their own 2 feet to touch the star's.

H. Bruce Miller said...

Some perspective on what REALLY having money means in America today:

Actually you don't even have to use the link -- just read it.

Our economy is set up to reward the pirates and parasites and penalize those who actually produce something.