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What People Earn.
March 4, 2002 1:54 PM   Subscribe

What People Earn. Parade magazine went around shooting pictures of people and finding out what they make. $18k for making tombstones in Minneapolis sounds good. They also have a "Salary Showdown" game.
posted by owillis (47 comments total)

 
$18,000 isn't very good if you actually want to reside in Minneapolis...
posted by mrbula at 2:04 PM on March 4, 2002


Wow! The real money is in home grills, not home computers. Typo problem, maybe?
posted by ColdChef at 2:10 PM on March 4, 2002


The database didn't distinguish between full time and part time workers - I highly doubt the $6000 a year baseball umpire works a 2,000 hour year.
posted by PrinceValium at 2:12 PM on March 4, 2002


Went on to Round 10 and won the game without falling once. Someone invite me to an office party.

Does this survey take into account cost differences in different states ? Some of it doesnt make any sense. Like the crops duster earning more than his employer, the farmer, generally speaking.
posted by adnanbwp at 2:14 PM on March 4, 2002


It's interesting to see what we really value.
posted by ColdChef at 2:15 PM on March 4, 2002


Wait a minute, I make less than a meter reader, otter trainer and a tattoo artist? Why the hell did I go to college ( and what am I doing in NY? )
posted by remlapm at 2:17 PM on March 4, 2002


Whoa, your cops and firefighters earn darn good money. As you can see though, it's mostly the people who own their own businesses/self-employed who are making the real money.. doctors, entrepreneurs, and such.
posted by wackybrit at 2:29 PM on March 4, 2002


Sorry for the double post, but.. Howard Stern earns $30 million a YEAR?
posted by wackybrit at 2:32 PM on March 4, 2002


Sorry for the double post, but.. Howard Stern earns $30 million a YEAR?
posted by wackybrit at 2:33 PM on March 4, 2002


It sounds like a lot, but I think it compares pretty favorably to the ad revenue he brings in for CBS which is probably in the hundreds of millions.
posted by owillis at 2:37 PM on March 4, 2002


Note that Michael Dell (Dell Computers) may only make 2.6 Million a year in salary, but he is a billionaire. Probably the richest guy on the list.
posted by jeblis at 2:51 PM on March 4, 2002


The Matthew Effect: To those who have much, more will be given. To those who have little, more will be taken away.
posted by luriete at 2:53 PM on March 4, 2002


Actually, just about everyone makes more than farmers, even businesses like cropdusters and suppliers of fertilizer who are more like their employees.
posted by trox at 3:04 PM on March 4, 2002


Could this be the first MeFi link to Parade magazine? Wow, Ask Marilyn is here too!
posted by rex at 3:06 PM on March 4, 2002


Do not mock Marilyn Vos Savant. She knows all.

I wonder how much she earns?
posted by kokogiak at 3:08 PM on March 4, 2002


Marilyn is wrong.
posted by owillis at 3:23 PM on March 4, 2002


Then she should have her pay docked.

Great link though.
posted by kokogiak at 3:48 PM on March 4, 2002


The Matthew Effect: To those who have much, more will be given. To those who have little, more will be taken away.

Or, to put it another way, them that has gets.
posted by Danf at 4:02 PM on March 4, 2002


I was raised to think it was rude to inquire what somebody else made, and even ruder to boast about what you made yourself. So seeing faces and names attached to the salaries made it seem nosey and exploitative to me.

I would have felt cleaner if it was just a salary survey, but I suppose it would have been a drier read then.

The worst thing is, I used to feel like a young fogey. Now just turning into an old fogey.

But a highly-paid one ;-)
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 5:39 PM on March 4, 2002


$18k for making tombstones in Minneapolis sounds good....

*Slightly off topic*
My grandfather spent much of his working life making tombstones in Vermont(I have no clue what he got paid for it), including his own. He took me to see it when I was 12, there it stood elegantly carved in Vermont granite:"Angelo B******* 1914-19 ". Of course, then the milennium rolled around with my grandfather still very much alive, leaving Nonno with a unique variant of the famous y2k problem.
posted by jonmc at 6:34 PM on March 4, 2002


Wow. His last name was "Bastard?" Cool.
posted by ColdChef at 7:45 PM on March 4, 2002


Chef, you son-of-a-b****, I just blew beer out my f***** nose and it's all your fault. Although an entire family of Bastards would be an interesting idea, "Who lives in that house down the street?" "The Bastards" "You really don't like 'em, huh?"
posted by jonmc at 7:56 PM on March 4, 2002


"Aw, Honey. Look at all those little Bastards playing in our yard." "Oh, that little Bastard just fell down. How cute!"
posted by ColdChef at 8:10 PM on March 4, 2002


The Matthew Effect: To those who have much, more will be given. To those who have little, more will be taken away.

How do I get this to apply to me? Adding up federal, state, city, sales, and other taxes, over half my income last year was paid in taxes. Close to 40% of the population paid no taxes at all. This is really unfair. Ever since i joined this list I've been hearing about all the special breaks well-off people get. Myself, and a good number of my well-off friends would like to know exactly how to go about getting them. Thank you.
posted by MidasMulligan at 8:58 PM on March 4, 2002


Yeah, you deserve breaks. You can buy a new Lexus, while the poor ass person can't afford shoes for her kids.
posted by andryeevna at 1:11 AM on March 5, 2002


MidasMulligan - Pay your taxes and thank your lucky stars. Those 40% of the population who paid no taxes are having trouble making ends meet, and they still donate more proportionately. Could you live on this budget? And that doesn't seem to include kids. What about if Jane was a single parent with two kids? I'd imagine I'm not the only one not feeling sorry for you.
posted by jacobw at 1:17 AM on March 5, 2002


That salary showdown game would be cooler if the pictures didn't show the link in my status bar as "right(#).html" or "wrong.html"
posted by jacobw at 1:39 AM on March 5, 2002


Of course some of those 40% unnecessarily take unfair advantage of the system.
posted by gyc at 2:31 AM on March 5, 2002


I used to think 40k a year was a good salary. I make 27k right now doing tech support. Then I started looking into what houses cost. Being middle class, according to many media sources and campaigning presidents, means making $60k +
posted by mecran01 at 4:25 AM on March 5, 2002


gyc: Of course some of those 40% unnecessarily take unfair advantage of the system.

Point, please? It's a pretty anecdotal example; that's one writer's story, not the plight of all 40%-ers; some of every tax bracket probably takes advantage of the system to varying degrees. And the "taking advantage of the system" here basically meant finding alternate ways to meet some of the basic needs on a low salary. It's not as if that person isn't working or is using the system to live at a level of luxury they haven't earned (a la the mythical black welfara mamma driving the Rolls Royce, a myth that sprung fully formed from Reagan's psychosis), they just aren't pursuing the maximum income they could possibly make in lieu of a more fulfilling job. Actually, upon reflection your statement that the writer is "unnecessarily" taking "unfair" advantage of the system seems to imply there are people who are genuinely and necessarily condemned to need such services- which seems to suggest the economic system that rewards some to such excess while others can't meet their basic needs may itself be in need of serious tinkering.
Finally, "some of those 40%" are compared to, um, what percentage of those in the topmost bracket? Your comment seems specifically directed at jacobw's mention that the 40%-ers aren't exactly living high on the hog, lower taxes or no, as if to imply that the 40%ers are corrupt abusers of the system; it seems only fair that we ask what percentage of the "wealthiest 1%" play by the rules themselves.

MidasMulligan: How do I get this to apply to me? Adding up federal, state, city, sales, and other taxes, over half my income last year was paid in taxes.

While I have my doubts you actually pay over half your income taxes (I've heard that claim by right-wingers trying to make a point, but I don't believe it actually happens and have had accountants tell me that any decent accountant could shelter and avoid high or anytaxes on a large part of a wealthy person's income and/or investments), I'll presume you're being honest and accurate here, though, and respond thusly. When you factor in paying a lower income tax but a much higher FICA and SS tax among other payroll taxes, plus the sales tax applying to a much larger percentage of income (unless MidasMulligan is living paycheck to paycheck, spending all of his money on food, shelter and other costs-of-living, which I seriously doubt) and various other taxes, you may find that the average person pays a pretty stiff tax penalty themselves, if not quite 50%. And most folks can less survive "half [their] income" disappearing than someone of greater wealth; half of- to pick a random "wealthy" income- $200,000 a year is still $100,000, a veritable king's ransom to all but maybe a percent of the world's population, if that. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to pay less taxes, who wouldn't- but the rich should be last in line for any lowering of taxes. If high taxes are the price we must pay for a civil, compassionate society that takes care of its own- a goal we don't always live up to regardless of our tax code- then dammit, high taxes are the price we must pay. When you're reduced to being a toothless beggar because of high taxes on the wealthy, then you may come to me with your high-tax sob story and I'll gladly offer you a hot bowl of soup and my comforting shoulder for you to cry on. After which I'll tell you to quit freeloading and get a damned job. :)
posted by hincandenza at 4:40 AM on March 5, 2002


How do I get this to apply to me? Adding up federal, state, city, sales, and other taxes, over half my income last year was paid in taxes. Close to 40% of the population paid no taxes at all.

Your statement is simply not correct. You're including all taxes in getting to your "over half" figure. Are you claiming that 40% of the population paid no payroll or sales taxes? Are you talking about children under 18? How about a source?
posted by anapestic at 6:47 AM on March 5, 2002


Adding up federal, state, city, sales, and other taxes, over half my income last year was paid in taxes. Close to 40% of the population paid no taxes at all. This is really unfair.

You are comparing the wrong factors. The taxes you pay are proportionate to the benefit you accrue by living in this country. Presumably you earn vastly greater sums of money than that 40 percent of the population you seem so worried about. Do you really think this is unfair? You should realize that your prosperity is only possible because of the security and stability afforded you by federal, state and local governments, and the ways in which they support and maintain the economy and your freedoms. If you still think this is unfair, the solution is easy -- join that 40 percent.

The fact is, however, that while you have the option of joining them, they don't have the option of joining you. Which was exactly the point of the remark that, those that have, get. You have opportunities that that 40 percent you are so jealous of can only dream of.
posted by mattpfeff at 9:11 AM on March 5, 2002


mattpfeff - The taxes you pay are proportionate to the benefit you accrue by living in this country.

Wrong. They are highly disproportionate. That is the irreducible nature of progressive taxation (which I support, even after learning that a friend paid less in taxes all year than I paid in a 2 week period).
posted by NortonDC at 9:48 AM on March 5, 2002


Prosperity is only due to security and stability that we pay for? How about hard work and effort? Skill? Intelligence?

Taxes are not proportionate to anything. They're a huge convoluted mess and have nothing to do with fairness whatsoever. Anyone who has done their own taxes or anyone elses knows that.

The perception that rich people get away with things is annoying. What is 'rich', anyway? Is it $100,000? or is it $500,000? Is there a difference? Probably the $100,000 guy will get hit with the alternative minimum tax, and end up shouldering more of the 'percentage' burden than either the $500,000 guy or a person earning $50,000.

The guy earning $50,000 just won't be as high on the tier as the $100,000 guy, yet the $500,000 guy does have more ability than the $100,000 to hire professionals to watch his money, invest it, pass it on to kids, and otherwise wrangle the system. He won't get out of paying more taxes on a pure dollar basis than the $100,000 guy or the $50,000 guy, but he won't pay the same percentage.

The only fair system is the flat tax, no deductions, across the board, companies and individuals.
posted by rich at 10:40 AM on March 5, 2002


If you're in Illinois, you pay higher taxes if you make less money (see page 10).

"In 2000, the 20 percent of Illinois residents with incomes under $15,000 paid 13.0 percent of their income in Illinois taxes. The middle 20 percent of Illinois residents, with average incomes of $36,000, paid 10.0 percent of their income in Illinois taxes. And the wealthiest one percent of Illinois residents—with average incomes of $1.2 million in
2000—paid 6.0 percent of their income in Illinois taxes."

Sounds fair to me.
posted by gramcracker at 10:43 AM on March 5, 2002


Rich: take a look at the earned-income tax credit. I think it tries to even the playing field while encouraging people to work.
posted by gramcracker at 10:46 AM on March 5, 2002


Prosperity is only due to security and stability that we pay for? How about hard work and effort? Skill? Intelligence?

Not only, obviously. But here, consider this scenario. Imagine no government -- zero, zilch, nada. No collective resources. No infrastructure, no army, no nothing. No central bank, no police, no public utility.

See any billionaires?
posted by mattpfeff at 10:57 AM on March 5, 2002


rich - Progressive taxation has built-in effeciencies compared to flat taxation in that the more money the government takes away from the poor, the more the government has to replace in welfare services. It is much more effecient to just let the poor keep a greater percentage of their income, and it results in a leaner government apparatus.

gramcracker - A quick scan of your link leads me to believe they are comparing non-income taxes to income. This is useful as a demonstration of the regressiveness of sales and other non-income taxes, but not as a measure of the fairness of Illinois's income taxes.
posted by NortonDC at 11:04 AM on March 5, 2002


Norton - I'm not sure what you're saying. Progressive taxation I don't like, but I don't think it takes more money from the poor just to fund the poor's welfare programs. If anything, it hits the middle class harder than other classes. The 'borderline' poor are hit the hardest ebcause they are considered middle class, but the 'poor' poor are hardly burdened by tax levies.

mattpfeff,

by the same token, you would need to say that the same institutions that the 'rich' pay for in order to be rich also are funded to institutionalize poverty.

You're mixing too many things together. Government has more to do with the social and community needs of human beings more that it has to do with creating billionaires. The fact that people are able to thrive in a society with social structures doesn't have to do with the various mean of support of the social structure.

If there was no government, ad-hoc structures would create themselves and have their own unique class systems - either family or clan based or whatever. You might as well be arguing socialism, communism, capitalism, dictatorships and every other social structure instead of complaining that people excel.

In a y social system, you will have people that excel, both through personal merit as well as due to the support structure of their society. Depending on the support structure will, of course, provide some influence on who excels, but only because it influences what is valuable to the community at large (the more valued members are rewards more, either intrisicly, or extrinsically - in our society, those areas that haven't been co-opted, management-wise, by the government (like teachers, social services, etc) are more often extrinsically rewarded.)
posted by rich at 11:11 AM on March 5, 2002


rich, I'm afraid I simply have no idea what you're talking about. All I'm saying is, security and stability make greater wealth possible. If it weren't for the large populations of productive consumers and employees that make it possible for companies to be successful, for example, very, very few people would get very rich. And that is only one way in which the rich benefit from the government systems that protect their populations.

On the other hand, the poor people would not lose nearly so much should they find themselves stripped of government protection. Whereas the rich would likely lose their fortunes (if not directly to crime, then indirectly to the loss of their sources), the poor have no such fortunes to lose.

In other words, the rich benefit from government (and the taxes that support it) in ways that poorer citizens don't.

Are you denying that this is the case?
posted by mattpfeff at 11:41 AM on March 5, 2002


I agree that security and stability make greater wealth (either intrinsic or extrinsic or both) possible. But I don't agree that poor people would not lose nearly as much if they found themselves stripped of government.

Social/community systems like governments are meant to benefit all its members. I'm not saying that some benefit more and others don't benefit less - but that isn't because the system is set up to explicitly 'help the rich.'

You're trying to correlate money wealth to government and it doesn't fit. Sure, 'the poor' don't have much in way of monetary fortune to loose if suddenly there weren't any government - but the government doesn't have anything to do with their monetary fortune.

Saying the rich benefit from the government in ways the poorer citizens don't is nonsensical. The rich aren't rich because the government made them that way, and the poor aren't poor because the government said 'you will be poor.' That's too simplistic a statement.

If it weren't for the large populations of productive consumers and employees that make it possible for companies to be successful, for example, very, very few people would get very rich. And that is only one way in which the rich benefit from the government systems that protect their populations.

See, here you're saying that productive consumers and employees are what are responsible for people to be able to be rich. But then you say this is all some governmental construct that benefits rich people. You're making leaps like 2+2 = 7 1/2.
posted by rich at 12:23 PM on March 5, 2002


The rich aren't rich because the government made them that way, and the poor aren't poor because the government said 'you will be poor.' That's too simplistic a statement.

Well, yeah. I never said any such thing. I haven't said any of what you seem to be responding to. I don't deny that governments serve various purposes. And I by no means deny that poor people wouldn't lose some freedoms and some opportunity for prosperity without government. All I'm saying is, without security and stability, the rich lose more wealth than the poor do. Therefore, when they pay more taxes than the poor do, it is somewhat proportionate to the wealth that they are thereby protecting.

See, here you're saying that productive consumers and employees are what are responsible for people to be able to be rich. But then you say this is all some governmental construct that benefits rich people. You're making leaps like 2+2 = 7 1/2.

Nowhere do I say any such things. I still don't know where you're coming from. It's not a question of responsibility -- it's simply the case that, without those productive consumers and employees (among other things), the wealth you see today would not be possible. That's it, that's all I'm saying. I could care less what purpose government is theoretically intended to serve. I'm just making an observation, and it's one you haven't denied. The leaps of which you speak or not anywhere in what I have written, they're in your own head.
posted by mattpfeff at 12:50 PM on March 5, 2002


rich - Some people can not earn enough income to support themselves even without taxation. These people depend upon welfare programs, and would continue to do so under no taxation, progressive taxation, or flat taxation.

Another group of people can earn enough to support themselves without taxation, but under flat taxation would lose enough of their income to become dependent upon welfare programs.

Under a progressive taxation system, the people in the second group may simply be allowed to keep their money and continue to support themselves rather than pay taxes to the government and then turn around and get those taxes back in the form of welfare assistance.

My assertion is that using progressive taxation to let the people in the second group keep their money is more efficient than taking it away and then giving it back. I would be very surprised if you were to argue against this assertion.
posted by NortonDC at 1:07 PM on March 5, 2002


mattpfeff - Among other problems, you are treating wealth and income as if they are interchangable. They are not.
posted by NortonDC at 1:09 PM on March 5, 2002


Ok, matt, I understand what you're saying now.. proportionate taxes according to wealth. I was having trouble pulling that out from what you were saying. My bad.

Norton, while I can agree that the theory of progressive taxation is good, in practice, I don't think the current taxation system fairly assess taxes.

I'm not sure if a flat tax would be a killer, though. You wouldn't be flat taxing at a 40% rate, or even a 20% rate, since there wouldn't be any loopholes for the more weathly (and corporations) to reduce their burden.

Honestly, I haven't done any research into this since 1996, so I'm a bit light on the pros and cons list of flat taxing. I agree it's better to let people keep their money than taking it and giving it back, but under progressive taxation, don't you have that same kind of dynamic with filing every year?
posted by rich at 1:23 PM on March 5, 2002


rich - Loopholes, wacky tax laws and deductions are not the product of progressive taxation, they are the product of using the tax code as a tool of social engineering (and not in the hax0r sense). The government rewards certain behaviors monetarily through the tax code to encourage those behaviors, such as loaning money to the government (tax-free bonds), saving money for retirement (401k's), producing more tax-payers(exemptions for dependents), etc.

The temptation to do this exists whether the government sets the tax baseline via progressive taxation or flat taxation. The only difference flat versus progressive tax would make is in the value of the number you read out of the back of the booklet.

I agree it's better to let people keep their money than taking it and giving it back, but under progressive taxation, don't you have that same kind of dynamic with filing every year?

No.
posted by NortonDC at 2:05 PM on March 5, 2002


If you want to pay less in taxes, my suggestion would be to do what I did, which was to invest in a copy of TurboTax and spent a weekend playing with different methods of declaring the same facts. Or, get a really good accountant.
posted by SpecialK at 8:56 AM on March 6, 2002


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