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Reality Check

US News tells us that in 2007 the median¹ wage for women was $35,102 and the median wage for men was $45,113. The Bureau of Labor reports that in 2007 women made up 46% of the workforce. That means the median wage for all workers in 2007 was $40,507.

A lot of people are throwing around the median wage for “households” which is higher because many households have multiple wage earners. The problem with doing that is that most “benefits” are tied to the individual, not the household, and many households with seemingly high income don’t have any benefits.

People are talking a lot about 401(k) plans. In my area almost no one who is still working has one, so they don’t have any idea what a 401(k) is. If they have any kind of a pension beyond Social Security it is because they work for the government at some level or they have an IRA. People are overwhelmingly employed by small businesses, not corporations. All of the breaks go to corporations, so small businesses rarely get large enough to actually be able to afford to offer benefits, and the first benefit they go for is health insurance, not retirement plans.

The majority of voters don’t work for corporations that are connected to Wall Street. They don’t own stock. A lot of them don’t have a checking account, but are paying someone to cash their paychecks because that’s cheaper than bank fees.

Congress doesn’t get it – the majority of voters don’t see any personal connection to what is happening on Wall Street, so they are not going to be persuaded that a bailout is necessary.  Until and unless Congress can make the connection for the majority of voters, voting for a bill that helps Wall Street is going to make them decidedly unpopular.

1. The “median” is the point at which 50% are above and 50% are below. Anyone who quotes “average” should be immediately arrested for fraud.