Best estimate is that it takes about $50,000 a year to support a family of four in a middle class lifestyle, which includes a modest home and a new car once a decade and a decent hope of retirement, with the kids managing college on their own (one way or another) and no expensive luxuries like boats or quarterly vacations or-or-or.
Median income has declined since 2000, and is now where it was in 1995 when the dollar was worth more than it is now. In 1995 you could buy an economy car for $12,000; now they start at $15k and rapidly climb to $18-20k if you want more than basic transportation. Butter did not cost $4 a pound in 1995, and neither did ground beef, nor did bacon cost $6 a pound.
As the article points out, "The way that our economy is structured now, both parents usually have to work as hard as they can just to pay the bills."
Just to pay the bills. Utilities, food, insurance, housing--forget about saving for retirement or taking a vacation. Yeah.
And because of this, people are starting to economize everywhere possible, even with personal care products. Faced with the choice between $5 shampoo and $1.50 shampoo, people are starting to choose the cheaper product because they don't have the money to spend on the premium brands.
(I've used the cheap stuff for decades, because I realized that the $15 a bottle stuff I got from the hair stylist didn't do anything the cheap stuff didn't do, and regardless of what I wash my hair with I always have bad hair days. If my wife ever lets me have a crew cut, I'll start using soap instead.)
* * *
It turns out, incidentally, that we didn't really vote for this. 1.4 million fraudulent votes cast in the 2008 election, cast by people who are not eligible to vote--and who do you think they voted for? (Hint: not John McCain.)
There is one major political party which consistently opposes any and all attempts at requiring a photo ID to vote--something as simple as showing an election judge your driver's license or state ID before you're given a ballot--on the nebulous theory that this is somehow racist. Just one party opposes it...and it happens to be, coincidentally enough, the party that benefits most from all those illegal votes being cast.
(Again, hint: it is not the Republicans.)
If you are not angry about this, you're either stupid, or a Democrat.
* * *
The first part of my hell day is over; I got to work at 7:30 and was there for 2.5 hours.
I rode the bike today, too, because the weather report promised no rain. It was cloudy, hazy, and chilly, but I had a fine ride in, and an even finer ride home. I'm going to do this as often as is reasonable for the remainder of the year, but I don't know how many decent riding days there are left. What I do know is that temperatures below about fifty degrees will be officially "too damned cold" for riding to work, so that'll have to be my benchmark.
I stopped at the store on the way home to pick up onions, green peppers, and ginzo bread, because this past week Mrs. Fungus and I had a ham, the bone-in kind. It was a medium-sized one, and we had it for dinner one night, then had ham sandwiches for dinner the next; I've had a few other ham sandwiches besides that and this morning I took pretty much the last of the usable meat off the thing. So, into the crock pot with an onion, green pepper, minced garlic, and the contents of a 15-bean soup mix (minus the powdered soup stock packet). On low, it should be ready to eat by the time I get home from work tonight, and I will enjoy it.
Right now, however, I have a few hours to myself, and I think I want to get a little more shut-eye.