Just Merveilleux?

Life at № 42

Artificial realities and income

Just found this in today’s El Pais

 

And I had this one for France already:

Image result for salaire moyen 4000 france

Does anyone have examples for other countries?

You’d never guess those are the real numbers, right? The impression we get from everyday life is that people are making much, much more. That starts off a cycle of artificial reality, because no one wants to admit they’re worse off than the next guy (I used the masculine there intentionally.)

It’s a very convenient fiction, I think most successful in the US. Remember Joe the Plumber asking questions about his imaginary 250k income? That happens much less in Europe and I imagine even less so in the Scandinavian countries where one’s income is a matter of public record. I think if there’s to be a serious shift in policy, the first step might have to be people accepting the reality of their position in the financial hierarchy.

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18 comments on “Artificial realities and income

  1. Hariod Brawn
    July 5, 2017

    The impression I get, largely because it’s a fact, is that real incomes [i.e. adjusted for inflation] for the least well-off in Western Europe and North America have been in decline since 1974.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      July 5, 2017

      Yes, but quality of life has improved drastically, so I think that measure doesn’t paint a good or clear enough picture. The life of, let’s say, a street sweeper today is incomparably better to that of their counterparts 40 (or 100) years ago.
      The more important (and dangerous) point, as I see it, is the pretence that the bar for average is much higher than it actually is. Only 1% of people in France make more than 8,000 per month (I’m not one of them 😦 ), but from television to magazines to conversations, that seems to be what people think is the “standard”.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hariod Brawn
        July 5, 2017

        I’m largely bashing Neoliberalism in its most recent manifestation — Thatcherism, Reaganomics and their continuance to this day — so, the last 35-40 years. I’m not so certain that the quality of life has ‘improved drastically’ for the poor in that period. Union protections have been eroded, and with that collective bargaining, and I’m unconvinced that mere regulations and legal protections have necessarily compensated. One thinks of Grenfell Tower, if that’s not being too emotive, where the poor in London were deemed unworthy of being housed safely. The same situation arises in scores of other blocks of social housing across the U.K., despite regulation. On your other point, then yes, the perception of everyone else doing well, getting their rewards for being hard working and aspiring to better themselves, is all part of an illusion created to suggest that Neoliberalism, rampant free markets (though many are cartels), are a good thing. I think we differ on that last point, Pink. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • The Pink Agendist
        July 5, 2017

        I agree with all of that, except that I don’t think it was actually better in that window of the post-war era to Thatcher. The life of a miner was misery. Bargaining rights are necessary but how do you bargain dying from lung disease before 50? In exchange for free coal?

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Pink Agendist
        July 5, 2017

        Put another way, did you see the recent interview with Anson Chan (Hong Kong)? Mrs. Thatcher told her at the time of the deal that *everyone in Hong Kong* was happy about it.
        In the case of income, the illusion that’s created is that everyone does really well, and if you don’t go along with that, you’re the failure. An artificial reality by consensus where if you tell the truth, your position in the social hierarchy is diminished.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hariod Brawn
        July 5, 2017

        Good point. I hear the early Middle Ages were bloody awful! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sirius Bizinus
    July 5, 2017

    I have no clue what to make of economic data these days. I agree that the artificial reality tends to pressure people into inflating their perception of income, but I also found that some things might be cheaper to get today than in previous years (adjusting for inflation). That caveat is concerning, because it still puts conditions on what income reality might be.

    So far, I’ve found no suitable comparisons for income. This means income as an idea makes zero sense (to me at least). What use is a number without context? Without having that context, we can’t define poverty or income disparity, let alone make decisions based on it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      July 5, 2017

      All true. I think how cheap so many things have become plays a huge role in the illusion. Many of the markers of wealth of 30 or 40 years ago (big screen tv’s, music systems, cell phones etc.) are now at everyone’s reach.

      Like

      • persedeplume
        July 5, 2017

        But are they without credit? Imagine for a moment a “cash” economy. Who would pay 1200+ a year for a cell phone and service? The cheapest autos in the US start at around 14K and go up considerably from there. We can put men on the moon but we can’t make a modestly priced vehicle that would last 20 years with routine maintenance?
        So:
        Credit
        Manufactured Obsolescence
        Service Economy
        These are designed features of inflationary Consumerism that “allow” us to continue thinking we’re better off than we actually are and to pay way more than the actual value of goods and services.

        Liked by 2 people

      • The Pink Agendist
        July 5, 2017

        Speaking of manufactured obsolescence… There’s a light bulb here in the basement of number 42 that the maid that used to work here told me has been there since long before she started working here in the 60’s. It’s much bigger than a normal bulb, and it still works 🙂

        Like

  3. acflory
    July 6, 2017

    Being asset rich and cash [VERY] poor, I notice one reality a couple of times a week – the price of food keeps going up, especially meat. I love cooking poor man’s food from scratch but these days, I’m no longer doing it from choice but from necessity. As for manufactured goods, our TV is at least 5 years old, the fridge is pushing 12 and my car is pushing 30. Yet I consider my standard of living to be relatively high. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      July 6, 2017

      Bingo. You’re right. 63% of workers in Spain fall into the “Mileurista” category. Mil meaning one thousand + Euro-ista. That means people making around 1000€ per month. Technically they include everyone making between 800 and 1200. From that you have to deduct social security, rent, utilities, insurance, transport, food…
      No Wisteria Lane/Desperate Housewives lifestyle for them. Life is a struggle for most people.

      Like

  4. Helen Devries
    July 6, 2017

    You would not believe the price of an Audi here….we like them…our last but one lasted for twenty years plus having been bought second hand and the latest was donated to a young cousin when we left Europe..he is still running it without problems some ten years down the line. Can`t afford them here…you have to be a narco, a politician or a senior bureaucrat to be able to buy one.
    The high level of fines for misconduct with vehicles astounds me…no way people on basic incomes can pay them, so they continuee to drive without legal papers. When we took on our current employee Leo paid up his outstanding fines in order to enabe him to drive us about…
    Much lower incomes than in Europe and sky high fines. No wonder people turn to underhand ways of making money.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bela Johnson
    July 6, 2017

    Okay so maybe this point is moot or obvious or … ? But? If one makes 175k/yr and their Adjusted Gross income comes to 50k, well, that’s what they would claim as income. This is not too far fetched, numbers wise, in fact. Another way numbers deceive? But it’s the legal ‘income’ in the US. The AGI, that is.

    Liked by 1 person

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