Living the American Dream?

American Dream

Price tag for the American dream: $130K a year.  The first few times I encountered that statement on social media, I dismissed it.  Finally, I decided to check out the story or, more precisely, read Howard R. Gold's July 4, 2014, USA TODAY article with that title. While I hesitate to define the American dream solely in economic terms, I recognize it is the simplest place to begin.  Household finances have become an area of greater concern and awareness thanks to the Great Recession.  This Read More …

Education & Low Wage Work

Low Wage

It is a widely held assumption that higher levels of education are associated with higher paying jobs.  This data has long been used to argue for the vale of higher education. A  new study by the Economic Policy Institute finds that low-wage workers (those in the bottom 20% of income) have far more education now than they once did.  More specifically, the percent of low-wage workers with varying levels of educational attainment has shifted a great deal from 1968 to 2012, including percent Read More …

Income Statistics: A Reality Check

usa map

I regularly hear people make assumptions about wealth and income.  I encourage my readers to take a look at a powerful tool provided by the New York Times that allows you to input an annual household income figure then see how that amount ranks compared to those in one or more of 344 different zones or areas across the country. So What? I entered several figures and found both how that income level compares to others in the nation and in my local area.  Here are a few Read More …

Church Giving in the Future

LJ Money

The Spring 2013 edition of Leadership Journal focuses on money, emphasizing how congregations can fund ministries in ways that are consistent with their DNA.  While many articles within this edition's pages offer considerable practical insight two that consider the longer term are of particular note. In "Why I Won't Give to Your Church," Robert Jewe explains why as a 23-year-old he may hesitate to fund congregational ministry and mission (p.37).  His honest appeal requests that churches honor Read More …

Religious Taxes

religious taxes

A week ago today, Germany’s top administrative court sided with Roman Catholic bishops by upholding the longstanding practice of allowing the Catholic Church to deny full access to the church to German believers who refused to pay a special church tax.  Under the current system registered Catholics, Protestants and Jews pay a monthly tax to the government, and the government distributes those funds to the appropriate religious communities. With this system, the tax provides the most Read More …

Who Are Americans?

scale

In the Sunday paper, I encountered a half-page AP article written by Calvin Woodward and Christopher S. Rugaber that offers incredible insight into our changing nation.  Consider these facts: Closer Together: Cities and closely surrounding suburbs are growing faster than farther-off suburbs for the first time in over 20 years Less Mobile: Mobility (defined by the percentage of population that moved in the last year) is at lowest it has been since the Census Bureau started tracking it 60 Read More …

1 in 2 Americans = Low Income

income

Over the last few days I have encountered many people talking about the same data but using very different language to do so.  Some examples of what I have encountered include: 50% of Americans are now living in poverty The middle class is on its collective deathbed - people are now either wealthy or in poverty Half of the country receives food stamps or some other form of government assistance While each of these statements is false, many who proudly make the claims do so loudly and Read More …