Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Are You Better Off Than You Were Four Years Ago?

I'm going to be in and out most of today, so let me give you a question to kick around with each other. According to the Gallup, 56% of Americans say they are not better off than they were four years ago, 40% claim they are better off. That's pretty much the kiss of death for an incumbent. So tell us, are you better off today than you were four years ago? How so? How not so?

80 comments:

Joel Farnham said...

Food is way more expensive. Jobs are hard to find and not as lucrative.

TJ said...

I work as an Administrator for a team of real estate agents and in January of 2009 I was told that they couldn’t keep me on. I started looking for a new job, but just before my last day my boss offered me a proposal to stay on. My pay would be cut to about a quarter of what I was making, but they would increase my bonus pay from 1% of their commissions to 15%. The bonus is paid when we have a sale close and the agent is paid a commission. My husband, who was already working only 20 hours a week (he homeschools our kids), was asked to cut his hours to 8. Needless to say, it’s been tough to manage on reduced salaries. We’ve had to take money out of my retirement account several times to make ends meet. It took my husband two and a half years to finally find a full time job and we are still struggling. So I think it’s safe to say we are not better off than we were four years ago.

TJ said...

Okay, Blogger must not like my comments. This is twice now that I have had one disappear. This is what I posted just a few minutes ago and has now vanished:

I work as an Administrator for a team of real estate agents and in January of 2009 I was told that they couldn’t keep me on. I started looking for a new job, but just before my last day my boss offered me a proposal to stay on. My pay would be cut to about a quarter of what I was making, but they would increase my bonus pay from 1% of their commissions to 15%. The bonus is paid when we have a sale close and the agent is paid a commission. My husband, who was already working only 20 hours a week (he homeschools our kids), was asked to cut his hours to 8. Needless to say, it’s been tough to manage on reduced salaries. We’ve had to take money out of my retirement account several times to make ends meet. It took my husband two and a half years to finally find a full time job and we are still struggling. So I think it’s safe to say we are not better off than we were four years ago.

T-Rav said...

A union activist friend of mine regularly boasts about how he's just doing better and better over the past four years. I trust I don't need to say who he'll be voting for.

I don't know of anyone else who says they're better off than in '08, though.

BevfromNYC said...

Okay, I haven't had a raise in 4 years, yet my cost of living has skyrocketed - rent, food, transportaion costs all higher and no cost of living raise to cover. My health insurance premiums have gone down along with what it will cover, but my deductible has skyrocketed. Crime is up, roads are crumbling, and like never before I do not trust any politician or our Government to work for the People. And I'm a lot crankier than I've ever been with people to whom I do not share a political affiliation.

But, I credit Obama and his policies with my new found interest in politics! Without him, it would never have been necessary for me to make my opinion known to anyone who would listen and I never would have gone to Washington to protest anything. So thanks Barack - you woke me up!

LawHawkRFD said...

I'll be paying $4.19/gallon for the trip to Bakersfield today for food shopping and a doctor's appointment. Food's up, gas is up, and my income has been static for three years. Need I say that I won't be voting for Obama?

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, All true.

AndrewPrice said...

TJ, Sadly, that's not an uncommon story. Even when people don't lose their jobs, a lot of people have been taking pay cuts or hour cuts or having things like bonus slashed or eliminated. There is no doubt these are difficult economic times for people.

(Sorry about the comment, it was in the spam filter -- Blogger is touchy.)

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Interestingly, the union people I know are not doing better -- up in the rust belt. Most of them have been all-but-permanently laid off.

The one guy who is doing better left the union and went to work for Walmart! It's hilarious listening to him talk about how much he loves it and how great a company it is and how he never knew the union treated him so poorly for all those years.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Excellent list of cons and pros! I think that is a list most people can sympathize with.

Your con list is the perfect model for complete government failure. We are living in an age of government incompetence.

And your pro is even more interesting. In fact, I suspect that Obama has "inspired" millions of Americans to get involved and speak their minds. Let's hope it lasts because they are the ones who will change the country and fix it.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, It's funny that I haven't heard a thing about gas prices in the news... are they up? ;)

Kelly said...

I'm actually better off than I was four years ago, but that's not because of anything Obama did. To the contrary, I suspect I would be even better off if none of his crappy policies had passed.

Ed said...

I'll be better off when I can feel proud of this country again, which I can't with this doofus running the show.

Ed said...

Aside from that, I agree with Bev's list. Jobs are hard to find, pay is frozen, prices are soaring, crime is up, the streets have bigger potholes, everything feels less well maintained, and there's no hope that anything will get better. And I too have much less tolerance for liberals. I really no longer want to speak to them because I know they are delusional liars.

rlaWTX said...

I live in a weird part of the world. All of our prices are up - but it's partially because of the influx of folks taking advantage of oil field jobs - but it is REALLY hard on those of us not in the oil field. We still have sky-rocketing apartment/housing and vehicle prices to deal with even though we aren't getting the compensation that oil field folks are. Yeah, we could jump ship to oil field jobs, but many really don't want to/can't. And while supply and demand is raising some wages, it doesn't affect everyone.
In my crotchety way, I'd like the last 20K who moved here to GO HOME! [too many people on the roads, in the stores, in the way!!!]
Seriously, though, we aren't really hurting from the economy. But there are enough folks who understand that TOTUS would be delighted to squish us and the oil economy in a second term... I hope that the rest of TX (a lot of whom are seeing the residuals of a not-bad-economy) keep seeing the fed govt, and TOTUS specifically, as grabby, pushy, and overbearing...

StanH said...

The Misery Index is back in spades, no pun intended. I contend that this much of this is by design, escalating energy prices, Barry said, “…energy prices would necessarily skyrocket.” When he took office gas prices were around $1.87, now $3.72. My electric bill went from $234.00 to $425.00. Energy prices rise everything cost more, all goods and services. Barry said, “…spread the wealth,” to Joe the Plummer. By hamstringing America’s economy, it will in theory leave more goods for the rest of the world. 1 in 5 Americans are on Food Stamps, SSD is exploding as people give up. Barry said, “he’s like an uncle to me.” referring to Rev. Wright, a leader in Black Liberation Theology, read about this destructive theology, and some understanding of why he does what he does, he’s evening a score.

I’ve always thought that much of this is by design as described, and affirmed in Dinesh D’Souza’s movie “Obama’s America: 2016.”

By business has been down 10 to 20% since the Fall of ’08. I’ve been able to preserve my employees so far, but it has been very tough. We work with the some of the largest companies in the world, they are holding put as well. Very scary stuff. We must fix the mistake of ’08.

AndrewPrice said...

Kelly, Glad to hear it and, yes, you would be even better off if none of his policies had gotten into place.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, this guy's been drinking the Kool-Aid far too long to stop now, God love him. This isn't a very union-heavy area, though, so I don't know how most rank-and-file members feel about the Obama administration. They tend to be conservative on social issues (especially guns), so that might be worth something.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, It would be nice to be proud of our government, wouldn't it?

I'm finding I have a lot less tolerance for liberals too. I've found that it's pointless to speak to them because they are intellectually dishonest. They ignore facts they don't like, they use fault logic, and they simply ignore anything they don't like. It's like trying to talk to someone in a cult. They really need to be deprogrammed.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, It's difficult when a town suddenly changes like that. And when the oil goes away it will be even worse as everything goes into reverse suddenly.

I think you're right that no one in the oil business could possibly see Obama as a friend or ally. So why should they attribute anything good in their industry to him?

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, I know a lot of small businessmen right now who are positively hurting because there just isn't the economic activity they need to maintain the cashflow they need to keep their businesses running and their employees paid. These are hard times and it didn't help at all that Obama has wasted trillions in tax money on his friends, who did nothing with the money.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, The union guys I know are confused. They agree with the Republicans on everything and HATE the Democrats on everything... except the union issue, and so they vote Democratic. It's bizarre. If these idiots woke up, the whole rust belt would swing far right overnight.

BevfromNYC said...

rlaWTX - The economy has been generally more stable in Texas, but that is because of Texans (if I do say so myself) and not anything that Obama or his policies have done to help. THere are many reasons for this, but mostly, the price of real estate never got so overinflated like they have in NY, Florida, Nevada etc. The price of homes in Texas has remained affordable for a wide range of incomes and not like NY where $450K will get you one room without much light in a 5th floor walk-up.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Colorado is the same way, for the most part, home values never shot up so they didn't have too far to fall. So we don't have these vast abandoned suburbs like California does. Also, our economy was more stable because it wasn't premised on flashy boom/bust stuff like California's.

And, like you say with Texans, Coloradans are just different people than you find in the big liberal suburbs. We are more stable and less interested in showing off. So that tends to make the economy more self-sustaining.

Individualist said...

No

Some of it is my own fault but a lot of it is because property values tanked.

AndrewPrice said...

"No." A simple and elegant answer! ;)

Property values are going to continue to hurt people for a long time is my guess.

tryanmax said...

Nebraska has historically done a good job of weathering economic downturns, and this time is no exception. But at the same time, we’ve got a Democrat mayor in Omaha who’s taking every chance to give paydays to his buddies. We’re all accustomed to higher-than-average family income combined with lower-than-average cost of living, so when we have to go down on notch on the belt here, we know it’s worse everywhere else.

Grocery prices are up the most. There’s a lot more doing without between routine trips to the store, and I’m buying more chicken than beef for the first time ever, which is shameful in this state. Turning to gas prices, I certainly don’t drive anymore than I have to, which means a leisurely drive is no longer a way to kill a Sunday afternoon. (Yeah, some folks still do that.) And I’ve had to turn down invitations to things simply because I can’t afford the extra trip in gas.

Gladly, my company is very stable and, frankly, the weakened dollar has boosted international sales. Not that we’re really happy about that. But even still getting annual raises, I seem to be moving backwards against the economy overall.

Ed said...

I should also say that I feel like for some strange reason, my life will get better in November! :D

Ed said...

tryanmax, Nebraska is a high income state? So is this idea that farmers are poor a myth?

tryanmax said...

Ed, to say the very, very least.

tryanmax said...

To elaborate, farmers aren't necessarily rich. They have ends to meet and I appreciate how tough it can be. But in the modern ag world, poor farmers go out of business.

Ed said...

tryanmax, I never knew that. We always hear how farmers are poor and always on the verge of bankruptcy. Hence Farm Aid 1-999.

tryanmax said...

There was a time, and it wasn't all to long ago, but the reality is, farming is a business like any other. If you're bad at it, someone else will rise to take your place.

Ed said...

True.

As an aside, I saw this article at Yahoo a bit ago. They mention that the size of the middle class is down and that the middle class is less optimistic than they've ever been about the economy. It fits in iwth today's topic.

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/shrinking-middle-class-less-optimistic-future-161300333.html

Doc Whoa said...

Ed, I saw that article. Depressing. Andrew did a piece too about how middle class incomes have been falling for more than a decade and it was really depressing. It tells me something is very wrong with the system.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I think all our lives will get better in November! :)

AndrewPrice said...

Ed and tryanmax, I'd always heard that farmers are dirt poor, on the verge of bankruptcy, etc. etc. Then I started looking into it and I learned that farms of any good size tend to be awash in cash -- especially the big commercial ones. The people who are in trouble are the small family farms that don't have much land and basically live year to year. But they are a tiny minority today.

So it's interesting that the entire industry manages to wrap itself in the image of the most vulnerable members of the industry when the truth for most of them something almost completely reversed.

AndrewPrice said...

Doc and Ed, I did indeed write a couple articles about the damage being done to the middle class. They've been under attack from our government since the mid-1970s. And the best thing anyone can do to fix this country would be to end that attack and reverse the job killing regulations and taxes that have made it so hard on them.

Here's your link: LINK

Patriot said...

I'm imagining the day when Obama and the global Left just "write-off" all outstanding debt....to the Chinese, the Germans, and all those other countries who have been lending money.

It will start here first when we write-off student debt, then mortgages, etc.... ("It's the right thing to do. It's only fair")

Probably California will be the first US State we "bail-out." As goes CA so goes the US.

We sure have got ourselves in a pickle and it is only going to get worse. We CAN improve, but the productive-class, the hard-working people, will have to see that our Gov't is serious about addressing our massive debt before they turn loose. Right now, the only trigger for that will be a Romney Presidency and for this far-left administration to be tossed out on their "equality of outcomes" ears.

Someone said it earlier.....This President and his lackeys really do not understand this country and it's exceptionalist mind-set.

K said...

Andrew: You don't "undo" four years of screw up in a few days. Even if Romney gets in, don't expect major improvement for at least two years. See Reagan administration.


If Obamacare isn't repealed or replaced, then it could be even longer. Thanks Todd!


AndrewPrice said...

Patriot, I am honestly scratching my head wondering why Obama hasn't declared something like: "When I'm re-elected, I will pass the Obama-debt bill, which will forgive all mortgage and student loan debt."

It would have no chance of passing and would probably be unconstitutional, but it would certainly electrify the left and buy him a TON of votes. I honestly think it would make the difference.

AndrewPrice said...

K, I know. And in this case, Romney needs to undo 12 years of bad policies. It's going to take time.

But the thing is that there is so much that can be done to free people up to be productive that he can certainly start turning things around really quickly.

The question is, will he?

And yes, until ObamaCare is repealed, it will take years to turn things around because no one will start hiring people until they know what ObamaCare will cost them.

Patriot said...

...and about the only ones who would probably agree that they are better off today than 4 years ago would be:
1. Union Bosses (Where did the billions in "stimulus" end up?)
2. Union Pensioners
3. Any entity dependent on gov't funds (Union Teachers)
4. Some top-level fin svcs executives
5. Dem large donors with risky "Green" businesses

Most others are tightening their belts and paying more for home-goods and essentials...non-luxury items.

I'm not an Eeyore but this will be hard to come back from.

AndrewPrice said...

Patriot, That's a pretty good list of the people who benefited over the past four years.

ellenB said...

In truth, I'm financially better off than I was. But I don't feel it. My job feels less secure. Things cost more. I don't get the sense things are getting better. So I don't feel better off than I was.

NightcrawlerER said...

I've been in school the whole time, so I feel the same. But now I need to get a job and there is nothing out there.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, and the irony is that most farm programs are specifically structured not to assist the struggling farmers.

obiwan2009 said...

Andrew, now that you're bringing up union labor. In Southern PA plenty of retailers with union labor, including Supervalu™ chain Acme™ are resorting to hiring extensively part-time employees to the tune of 20-30 hours/week. If anything, there are pay cuts going down, but like a lot of political talk, it gets explained in sort of technobabble terms

T-Rav said...

My uncle is a farmer (and my grandpa before him), and....well, the nature of the work means that you're rarely completely financially secure; years like this one can really eat into your income, what with bad harvests and all. But, I can't say that I've ever seen my farmer relatives in straits even approaching bankruptcy. Granted, I'm not privy to a balance sheet or anything, but even this year he and his wife have managed to take trips and stuff, and they have a nice house and several vehicles and so on. That's not to suggest anything about them personally; as far as I know, they have Republican leanings. But if my family's any indication, the farmers are doing pretty well.

rlaWTX said...

My family in S Idaho are farmers/ranchers. They homesteaded in ID in the mid 1950s (yes, 19). A couple of their sons farm. One of their granddaughters will probably take over for them. They are rather conservative overall (some random weird grandkids, which seems to happen to the best of 'em).
We joked that they are considered one of TOTUS' "rich" as a family business/farm. But they WORKED (and WORK) hard. I love them dearly, but I am always glad I was NOT raised in a farm family - I am waaaay to lazy!
Anyway, what they call "big farms" are taking over - family operations (maybe with investors) that farm larger quantities of land than a single family can do - but not to the level of "commercial" farms that we see in the news in the midwest.
Their big problem is hired hands (in my fam. these are generally called "Mexicans" because that's where they are generally from). Some dairies (commercial and family-based) have moved in, and they pay way better than family farms. So, farmer gets a new guy semi-trained to irrigate, etc and he is now eligible for a job at the dairies. New guy, same process. For my cousins, who are getting elderly (70s/80s), this is getting harder, but he doesn't quite want to retire either... scared he'll go downhill if he doesn't have something to do. They are amazing people.
(Their granddaughter is presently an ag teacher near Boise. There is nothing she can't do!! Amazing young woman!!!!)

Joel Farnham said...

Any union activist guy who boasts that he is making more money and reaping more benefits should be asked, when does he think the benefits and the increases will end. If he says it won't, then point to all the union jobs that used to be in Detroit. If he is in a union government, you can point to union busting that is going on at various states. Then ask him another question, did this happen prior to Obama being elected?

T-Rav said...

Joel, they don't think there's any reason they should end. The few I've talked to who think about these things at all are entirely on board with the Keynesian logic, and believe that if you continue to borrow and "spend wisely" (their one concession to reality), everything will just solve itself. Math really has no impact on them; the most common comeback is, "Well, the numbers wouldn't be that way if the rich weren't so greedy and paid their taxes!" This is the level on which you have to engage them.

Joel Farnham said...

T-Rav,

I understand, but they can't answer the question about the busting of Government Unions. Prior to Obama, that has been a pipe dream that only occurred during the Reagan Presidency. He broke up the Air-Traffic Controllers Union.

If they are talking about greedy rich people, point out to the Union Activist that very soon, he will be the greedy Rich who don't pay enough in taxes. If he continues with borrowing money, ask to borrow some money from him since he is so rich, or better yet ask him to put you on his benefits package so you can receive that operation you have been meaning to get. Doesn't matter what operation, just ask for it. If he stomps away, start laughing. If you can manage a cackle worthy of Phyllis Diller, you will at least have the last laugh. ;-)

NightcrawlerER said...

obiwan, I'm hearing that a lot of companies who used to recruit at my college now hire part time people.

ScyFyterry said...

I'm better off because I'm older and wiser. I'm worse off because the country has gone to crap and is really becoming a nasty place. I'm worse off money wise (10% pay cut last year). I'm better off because I have hope things will change in November.

ellenB said...

Did anybody see the poll where Ryan is loved by seniors? LOL! So much for their attack plan!

Koshcat said...

I'm better off because my children are getting to the age where they are fun. Financially about the same but impossible to get any kind of home improvement loan. Oh, I can get a loan to buy a boat or RV, but not to replace the deck that is falling apart. Would it be wrong to let it fall on someone and then collect the insurance?

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, Speaking as an attorney, no, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. ;)

AndrewPrice said...

Ellen, That the other thing about the current economy. Even if you have a job, there's a question about how secure the job is.

AndrewPrice said...

Nightcrawler, Stay in school forever... you're better off!

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That wouldn't surprise me in the least. That seems to be how the government works -- bend over backwards to help those who don't need it and then crush those who do need it.

AndrewPrice said...

obiwan2009, Hiring part timers is the way around complex employment contracts. Europe is doing that too where it's impossible to fire full-time employees.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Sounds like we need a rich farmer tax.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, I'm glad some people want to be farmers because it's not something I would want. Not to mention, I have a black thumb and if you all were relying on anything I grew to survive, you'd die. :(

AndrewPrice said...

Joel and T-Rav, I doubt very much that union guys think the benefits will ever end. The ones I've spoken to really don't understand economics or common sense and they honestly think that companies can just print cash.

AndrewPrice said...

Terry, I'm older, but not wiser. In fact, I'd say my wisdom is down 2.9% year-on-year compared to last year. :(

ScyFyterry said...

Andrew, Another day older and deeper in debt... ;)

DUQ said...

Ann Coulter is suggesting a write-in campaign for former Missouri Senator Kit Bond. Does anyone know anything about him?

Jen said...

Better off than four years ago? Ha! Surely you jest. I still haven't totally recovered from three years ago.

My electric bill has more than doubled since last year, and it can't be blamed on the summer heat. This first occurred during the spring.

Food safety is an issue that comes up quite often. In order for me to provide a safe product, I need electricity for properly cooling.

AndrewPrice said...

Terry, Yes, exactly. We all owe our souls to the company store. :(

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, I know little about Bond, except that he was popular in Missouri.

AndrewPrice said...

Jen, Everyone is talking about their electric bill these days -- and their gas bills.

EricP said...

Not making as much as I was 4 years ago, but still have a steady -- knock on Formica -- job (also work in an internationally minded market), so consider myself fortunate in that regard. So much of the rest of the country's worse off, though, and more than obvious we need to cue the Peter Brady -- "When it's time to change, you've got to rearrange ..."

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Not better off. I'm retired Navy, and the military, including the retirees is where democrat-controlled government always cuts first.

The price of food is up, gas is way up, utilities is waay up, our military insurance is due to go up again, and if Obummer is elected he may get his wish in charging veterans more at the VA.

AndrewPrice said...

"Patriot, I am honestly scratching my head wondering why Obama hasn't declared something like: "When I'm re-elected, I will pass the Obama-debt bill, which will forgive all mortgage and student loan debt."

Hell, he may just do that by executive order.
Maybe that will be the October surprise. Sure would be more effective than bombing Syria or Iran (as far as getting votes that is).

He has already done so with other issues, ignoring current laws and our Constitution in the process.

I'm not worried about Romney and Ryan winning as much as I'm worried we won't take the Senate due to that idiot Akir.
Without the Senate, all Romney and the House can do is slow down the debt train and poke holes in Obamacare.

I haven't had healthy thoughts about that egomaniac Akir or Obama lately (who is also an egomaniac. In fact, he's a psychoegomaniac with delusions of grandeur.

Obama will probably never see himself as he really is: a fascist punk who needs beotch-slapped back to Chicago, bless his seared little heart (actually, I wonder if he really has one).

Other than that I'm doing hunkydory (I forget, is that one word or two? Oh well, at least I can do math, pronounce "corpsman" and spell Ohio).

AndrewPrice said...

Eric, I get the feeling that a lot of people are making less than they were, and even more, people feel insecure about their jobs.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, Executive Order won't work. For one thing, he just doesn't have that power -- not even close.

But even more importantly, to get voters, you need to promise future action. They won't turn out just because of something you did -- especially if you failed. So it would need to be a promise of future action if he gets re-elected.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I agree, Andrew, Obama should not have that power, but he has already used executive fiat to defy legislation and laws, so I expect he will keep doing that (to show how much he cares and that Congress is the problem).

I wouldn't put it past him, at any rate. You're right he will use promises of more to come as well to show how merciful he is, bless his heart (sarc).

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, It's just not something he can do. It would be like declaring that everyone must now leave the country. He can write the order but it's meaningless. And he knows that so he won't try it because trying and failing is worse than never trying in this case. It's better to make a false promise.

Anonymous said...

Its an odd thing in some respects. A middle sized manufacturer near me, post election pre Christmas 2008 downsized about 1000 jobs nationwide. Forecasts were doom and gloom, turns out they were right. I won't say I am better off. I have a small machine shop. I am working more hours and running tighter margins. Its a fairly respectable gross but a pretty small net. Most farmers are the same way. Farming and machining both have $1 million plus investments to get to a reasonable gross income with a pretty small precentage of it not going through to someone else. Don't kid yourself, if you farm you better not be afraid of working your tail off. And in the end you won't be rolling in dough until you sell the real estate... oops, forgot about taxmageddon, even then half of it goes to tax.

AndrewPrice said...

Anon, I think a lot of people forget that even when businesses make tons of money, that doesn't always translate into profits. I ran my own legal shop for years and I would make a good deal of money each year. If you just looked at my gross, then I was doing really well. But once you subtracted salaries, equipments and things like expert fees, that huge gross vanished and my net was a lot smaller.

Factor in something like equipment investment or buildings for a manufacturer and a huge gross can quickly turn into a very small net and an even smaller ROI. But a lot of people don't want to hear about that, they just see the sale figures and want to tax those.

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