Monday, March 03, 2008

Ain't That America

I found the chart below, which accompanies the New York Times op-ed cheerfully entitled "You Are What You Spend," fascinating. The authors' point is that lower prices for key consumer goods has resulted in a higher standard of living for all.

But I also noticed an anomaly that might apply to many Manhattanites and early tech adopters. I'm in the top fifth in terms of income, but I don't own any of the following, which 90 percent or more of the population do:
  • Radio (I listen online, though I do have an iTrip left over from my cross-country drive a few years ago)
  • Air conditioning (it would spoil my park view, and I don't need it 99 percent of the time)
  • Telephone (I use my cell for everything)
  • Auto (feet, subways, taxis and the occasional Zipcar get me everywhere I need to go)
The consumption data is from 2005, which may explain why 88 percent of the population is shown to own a cellphone, but only 62 percent have internet access.

The 2006 income data also shows that the share of national income going to the richest 20 percent of households rose from 43.6 percent in 1975 to 49.6 percent in 2006, while the poorest fifth's share shrank from 4.3 percent to 3.3 percent, so our current president's once-proclaimed desire to "raise the pie higher" clearly meant the foie gras pie with lobster sauce.

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