quiddities and agonies of the ruling class - a rolling new york times thread

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed
Not all messages are displayed: show all messages (8169 of them)

so that makes him a normal middle class dude? ...

Tracer Hand, Friday, 15 May 2009 22:36 (5 years ago) Permalink

his story is really about his failed marriage and his unwillingness to face his new situation - something you can fall into regardless of salary bracket - but he's trying like hell to make it sound like he's been forsaken by wild circumstance

Tracer Hand, Friday, 15 May 2009 22:39 (5 years ago) Permalink

and the editor waves it into print as testimony from the front lines of financial desperation

Tracer Hand, Friday, 15 May 2009 22:40 (5 years ago) Permalink

For the demographics of the place, sure. Montgomery County is full of millionaires. It's like the sixth-richest county in America. $120,000 would be a pretty middling salary there.

xxp

naturally unfunny, though mechanically sound (Pancakes Hackman), Friday, 15 May 2009 22:41 (5 years ago) Permalink

oh this guy was interviewed on all things considered today. i missed the beginning of the interview and was all confused as to why he kept invoking "the love of my life" as the reason he was in dire financial straits. he used the phrase "the love of my life" like nine times in two minutes, guys.

horseshoe, Friday, 15 May 2009 22:44 (5 years ago) Permalink

According to this, median income in Mo Co was $91,835 in 2007, $30,000 higher than the median for the state. So he was making more than the median, but not much more. Also, cost-of-living index there is 123.8, based on a US average of 100. For comparison purposes, New York County, which includes Manhattan, has a COL index of 187 and a median income of $64,217.

naturally unfunny, though mechanically sound (Pancakes Hackman), Friday, 15 May 2009 22:45 (5 years ago) Permalink

oh this guy was interviewed on all things considered today.

well knock me over with a feather.

Tracer Hand, Friday, 15 May 2009 22:55 (5 years ago) Permalink

Let's not get into an argument about average salaries, given that I never said his was average. I said, speaking of economic events over the past couple years:

it's all called into question the sustainability of a whole mainstream/normal middle-class existence that is built on suddenly shaky things like debt and home values

^ I think the above is true for a pretty broad range of incomes, from families bringing in $60k a year to families bringing in $180k -- the latter family is surely financing nicer stuff, but the fundamentals of a debt-based and home-value-centric middle-class existence are pretty similar, and I don't think they change significantly until you hit a kind of wealth that goes far beyond A Nice Income and enters a whole other kind of financial organization.

If you ask me how "normal" I think he is, I would probably say -- for those same reasons above -- that I think most American families bringing in $120k-$180k a year (especially, yes, in some specific places) live an economic life that's not so markedly different from their normal/mainstream middle-class peers who bring in less. The houses are bigger and the cars and clothes nicer and the vacations longer, but the fundamentals or debt and assets won't vary too much, I don't think.

I agree, though, that the main glaring thing here is the special circumstance that more than half of his income was suddenly going to alimony and child-support payments.

nabisco, Friday, 15 May 2009 23:03 (5 years ago) Permalink

oh this guy was interviewed on all things considered today. i missed the beginning of the interview and was all confused as to why he kept invoking "the love of my life" as the reason he was in dire financial straits. he used the phrase "the love of my life" like nine times in two minutes, guys.

Yeah, I heard that segment and the "love of my life" stuff was interesting. Sounds a lot like he's trying to talk himself into believing it, considering that there's a lot of resentment for her bubbling under the surface of that NYT book excerpt. Sounds like she wouldn't or couldn't accept the austerity measures he knew they needed to institute, and he was too much of a pussy to insist.

resistance is feudal (WmC), Friday, 15 May 2009 23:11 (5 years ago) Permalink

So basically by "normal" I mean:

(a) being dependent on debt to cover not only a slightly inflated standard of living, but more necessary things like bills, repairs, things for children, etc., and

(b) having your financial existence completely tied into homeownership, home value, equity, and debt leveraged against that real estate

which I suspect describes more or less the bulk of American families

nabisco, Friday, 15 May 2009 23:15 (5 years ago) Permalink

btw can someone explain me alimony in This Day And Age etc etc in anything other than extraordinary circumstances?

butt-rock miyagi (rogermexico.), Friday, 15 May 2009 23:27 (5 years ago) Permalink

(btw i get it in e.g. 20-year marriages where one party developed a career and the other faire'd the menage... but i know people who were married briefly and young and are still paying out to their former spouse. it just seems weird.)

butt-rock miyagi (rogermexico.), Friday, 15 May 2009 23:46 (5 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, I heard that segment and the "love of my life" stuff was interesting. Sounds a lot like he's trying to talk himself into believing it, considering that there's a lot of resentment for her bubbling under the surface of that NYT book excerpt. Sounds like she wouldn't or couldn't accept the austerity measures he knew they needed to institute, and he was too much of a pussy to insist.

yeah, but his shitty divorce isn't her fault. maybe she resents him!

MRSA Marchant (get bent), Saturday, 16 May 2009 00:02 (5 years ago) Permalink

i think this guy may have made a lot of dumb decisions in his life, just sayin'.

MRSA Marchant (get bent), Saturday, 16 May 2009 00:04 (5 years ago) Permalink

A+++ truth bomb

butt-rock miyagi (rogermexico.), Saturday, 16 May 2009 00:11 (5 years ago) Permalink

Sure, he might have been median income for the DC 'burbs - but he was still stupid enough to a) live there and b) buy too much house for the area.

'Unwilling to accept life situation/actual income bracket, makes bad life decisions, decides to gamble everything on too much mortgage to support new life/family he shouldn't be" = wait, he is pretty much the face of the mortgage/credit crisis! Except that he's extra stupid because he admits to knowing his lifestyle was impossible to maintain and that he was already teetering on the brink before he took out $2700/month in a mortgage. (Not sure if that's his actual mortgage, not including taxes - which must be horrible by themself.)

My vagina has a dress code. (milo z), Saturday, 16 May 2009 00:35 (5 years ago) Permalink

In November 2005, she was hired as a full-time editor at a nonprofit organization with a salary of $60,000 a year. The problem, I told Bob, was that things were so bad that even Patty’s new job wouldn’t be enough to rescue us. Chase was now charging us 13.99 percent on our platinum card, and the rate on our SunTrust card was up to 27 percent.

2005! This still wasn't even the height of the market! And seriously how the fuck do you have a card with a 27% rate?

butt-rock miyagi (rogermexico.), Saturday, 16 May 2009 00:38 (5 years ago) Permalink

Tracer Hand, Saturday, 16 May 2009 00:43 (5 years ago) Permalink

i mean

Tracer Hand, Saturday, 16 May 2009 00:43 (5 years ago) Permalink

wait that's not an onion piece is it?

butt-rock miyagi (rogermexico.), Saturday, 16 May 2009 00:48 (5 years ago) Permalink

(though it does suggest a sense of humor peeking out from under the gray lady's hem)

butt-rock miyagi (rogermexico.), Saturday, 16 May 2009 00:49 (5 years ago) Permalink

the new wife would probably be doing fine on her own (sans lunkhead) with that $60,000 -- that's enough to rent a nice apartment and have a decent clothing/entertainment budget even in an expensive city. hell, i'll take it.

MRSA Marchant (get bent), Saturday, 16 May 2009 00:49 (5 years ago) Permalink

Tracer Hand, Saturday, 16 May 2009 15:28 (5 years ago) Permalink

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=104192406

(also, quiddities? you mean quibbles?)

"the whale saw her" (gabbneb), Saturday, 16 May 2009 15:36 (5 years ago) Permalink

keep up, gabby!

Tracer Hand, Saturday, 16 May 2009 16:45 (5 years ago) Permalink

More from McArdle, who has read the book.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 18 May 2009 19:32 (5 years ago) Permalink

Andrews spends a lot of time defending not feeling bad, because after all, the banks shouldn't have lent him money. This is true, they shouldn't, and anyone who did should be profusely apologizing to their shareholders. But when you read the book, what you discover is that while the book is ostensibly about our Great National Borrowing Binge, for Andrews, the debt is really a sideshow. He couldn't afford to get married. At all.

After his alimony payments, Andrews was taking home $2770 a month, or about what I took home when I was a junior web editor at The Economist. On this, he expected to support a wife and several children who came attached to a meagre $700 a month in child support.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 18 May 2009 19:33 (5 years ago) Permalink

And from the comments:

---

mrmanley May 18, 2009 3:09 PM

This is the point I make when I say that middle-aged men need to think very deeply before they marry again, especially to women who have children from another marriage. In a financial sense, marriage is all downside to the man: huge expenses, legal obligations, dealing with the ex and the ex-extended family, and very little protection if (when) things go south. As I said in another thread: you better be in love, chum, because your love is all that's going to keep you warm when she takes all your s**t after the divorce.

I forget which comic first made the observation, but men would often be better served by simply picking an attractive female at random and then simply giving her half his assets. It would save time and emotional wear and tear.

But the heart wants what it wants, and expenses be damned.

(Why, yes, I am divorced. How can you tell?)

Bergamot (Replying to: mrmanley) May 18, 2009 3:17 PM

"Why, yes, I am divorced"

It's hard to imagine why...

Ned Raggett, Monday, 18 May 2009 19:35 (5 years ago) Permalink

he was still stupid enough to a) live there

wild guess about major factor in this: kids; DC public schools vs. DC suburban public schools

how the fuck do you have a card with a 27% rate

make one late payment

new wife would probably be doing fine on her own (sans lunkhead) with that $60,000

given that she has multiple kids in custody and is allegedly the one with the spendy habits, not so sure about this

nabisco, Monday, 18 May 2009 19:47 (5 years ago) Permalink

make one late payment

in 2008/2009, sure. but this is in 2005, when revolving credit issuers were falling all over themselves to get in on the whole giving-money-away party. you couldn't open a mailbox without a dozen ZERO ZERO ZERO APR offers spilling out. that's aside from the UNSECURED LOAN UP TO $20K!!! and "o hai here are some checks" etc etc "offers"

i understand he had some credit challenges but the only way you can be holding a 27% apr card in 2005 is if you just like and enjoy touching hot stoves.

butt-rock miyagi (rogermexico.), Monday, 18 May 2009 20:26 (5 years ago) Permalink

well if you're asking why he wouldn't convert that to something lower-rate, the answer given in the article is pretty much that he did (by borrowing against home equity, paying off cards, and then refinancing the house at a lower rate)

nabisco, Monday, 18 May 2009 20:33 (5 years ago) Permalink

I don't think he is that wicked a bastard or that different from most. I wish I had made better decisions, too, and it's way easier o hold everyone else to some Warren Buffet standards than it is to do it yrself.

cant go with u too many bees (Abbott), Monday, 18 May 2009 20:37 (5 years ago) Permalink

^^^ this

Hatfail of Hollow (Nicole), Monday, 18 May 2009 20:39 (5 years ago) Permalink

What bugs me about saying that 100K/year is middle class in NYC or DC is that living in those places is a luxury, not a right. There are lots of places in this country where 100K a year is rich. You might look down on those places and not want to live there, and I wouldn't blame you. And maybe you wouldn't be able to do the kind of work you want to do in those other places. But not getting what you want is a lot different than saying the middle class lifestyle in the US is slipping away.

dulce est desipere in loco (Euler), Monday, 18 May 2009 21:45 (5 years ago) Permalink

what if you're born in those places? and your whole family is there? and it's all you know?

$20K a year is a lot to make in some parts of the world too you know...

s1ocki, Monday, 18 May 2009 21:47 (5 years ago) Permalink

and chances are if dude lived somewhere cheaper, he would be making less for the same type of job, so what's your point really?

s1ocki, Monday, 18 May 2009 21:49 (5 years ago) Permalink

What bugs me about saying that 100K/year is middle class in NYC or DC is that living in those places is a luxury, not a right.

tell that to the people who were born there and can't afford to move (or have job security there, or just don't fucking want to be displaced)

xposts

elliot easton ellis (get bent), Monday, 18 May 2009 21:49 (5 years ago) Permalink

Ha! Hahahahah. Living in an inner city area (if they're still called that) is a "luxury"? How modern of you.

But not someone who should be dead anyway (Laurel), Monday, 18 May 2009 21:51 (5 years ago) Permalink

i say this as someone who was born there -- i really feel for other natives who are being squeezed out.

elliot easton ellis (get bent), Monday, 18 May 2009 21:52 (5 years ago) Permalink

south bronx = luxury!

elliot easton ellis (get bent), Monday, 18 May 2009 21:53 (5 years ago) Permalink

I thought the thread was about the ruling class, b/c the article is about educated people who are choosing where to live?

dulce est desipere in loco (Euler), Monday, 18 May 2009 21:54 (5 years ago) Permalink

and yeah, living wherever you want, instead of just going where the jobs are, is a luxury, in the economy that we're a part of.

dulce est desipere in loco (Euler), Monday, 18 May 2009 21:55 (5 years ago) Permalink

i wouldn't conflate "educated" and "ruling class."

elliot easton ellis (get bent), Monday, 18 May 2009 21:55 (5 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, that's the thing -- there are lots of job sectors and skill sets where if you weren't making X pay in a more expensive urban area, you'd either be jobless entirely someplace cheaper, or making a salary that was adjusted to the lower cost of living elsewhere, or probably doing a different sort of job entirely. (If a dude makes $100k covering a DC beat for the Times, what's the advice here -- "why don't you just live someplace less expensive and commute in from West Virginia?" Or is it "why don't you make less than half that covering something for a West Virginia paper?")

When people point out the higher cost of living in these urban centers, all they're saying is that the salary figure can't be directly compared to the same figure some other places. It takes slightly more to afford the same standard of living you could get a bit more cheaply elsewhere. This isn't a big deal, just sort of something to keep in mind about the numbers.

nabisco, Monday, 18 May 2009 21:56 (5 years ago) Permalink

I'm just trying to follow the title of this thread and the article that it links to.

dulce est desipere in loco (Euler), Monday, 18 May 2009 21:56 (5 years ago) Permalink

living wherever you want, instead of just going where the jobs are, is a luxury

This DIRECTLY CONTRADICTS WHAT YOU JUST SAID, because if you are a journalist who covers national-level economics, DC is where the jobs are, and someplace less expensive is "wherever you want" -- like I said, there are lots of industries and skill sets where you're more tied to expensive urban areas. That's not something that needs to be pitied, or anything, it's just where people are, but when they're making $Xk/year it's handy to remember such things.

nabisco, Monday, 18 May 2009 21:58 (5 years ago) Permalink

I don't know what the advice is, nabisco: it's a really tough question! But I think we should avoid a sense of entitlement to do the kind of work we want to do. If we can, it's wonderful.

dulce est desipere in loco (Euler), Monday, 18 May 2009 21:58 (5 years ago) Permalink

and yeah, living wherever you want, instead of just going where the jobs are, is a luxury, in the economy that we're a part of.

where are the jobs, anyway? call centers in india? sweatshops in cambodia?

elliot easton ellis (get bent), Monday, 18 May 2009 21:58 (5 years ago) Permalink

that was an xpost but I think it applies to your newest post too. It's great to be able to be a journalist who covers national-level economics. It sucks that those markets command more than journalism jobs pay.

dulce est desipere in loco (Euler), Monday, 18 May 2009 21:59 (5 years ago) Permalink

get bent, do you think you have a right to a job wherever you want, doing whatever you want? You're making it sound like this is a no-brainer.

dulce est desipere in loco (Euler), Monday, 18 May 2009 22:00 (5 years ago) Permalink


You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.