NextBurgh, PA          @VannevarB      About      Pittsburgh Murals
May 08, 2011

I've been doing something wrong. Maybe we all have.

Fascinating piece in the Atlantic (naturally), "Chart of the Day: 9% of Americans are Millionaires". The headline requires some clarification. It really means 9% of American households are million-dollar households.

We notice that the percentage was up to almost 11% just before the housing bubble popped.

I think about this and wonder, "What, what, what have I been doing wrong? I'm a one-in-ten kind of guy, I'm nowhere near a millionaire, what have I been doing wrong?"

And the soothing answers trickle back, There, there, it's just that there's a lot of New Yorkers and Californians in the mix, their real estate has such crazy numbers, there's a lot of Silicon Valley / Google types, and there's a lot of Wall Street / finance types, you haven't done anything wrong per se, just go on about your work, keep punching the clock, move along ...

I still think I must be doing something wrong.

I am a Boomer, and in general We tend to avoid attributing flaws, failures, or responsibilities to ourselves and We prefer to project those perfectly understandable foibles onto the larger population. It's not me, it's societal, damn it. I can't be responsible for that.

I look at the papers and teh interweb and the news and I see how we're trying to fix America's clearly established problems - we're going to pay the teachers less, and we're going to strip the cops and firemen of their union rights, and we're going to gut Medicare/Medicaid, and we're going to defund universal health care and instead of reverting to the previous path we're going to design something much more draconian than the old normal.
  • 9% of households are millionaires
  • We're going to fix things by reducing teacher, cop, and firefighter pay and benefits

I think we've all been doing something wrong.


MH said...

Part of this does get at generational differences, at least outside of government work where the 401k has replaced with defined pension. You can do the present value annuity calculations and see that somebody who retires at 65 with spouse at the same age on $4,000 a month pension that is indexed for inflation is basically equal to the couple with a million in a 401k. Things are not exactly equal, assumptions matter a fair bit, and $4,000 is a generous pension by local standards. But, if you retire younger, that cost of the annuity goes up very quickly.

Anyway, baring massive deflation, anybody much younger than a boomer without a government job will need to be close to a millionaire to retire.

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