Posts Tagged ‘Economy


Not very much – really?

Income inequality is a hot topic lately.  If you’re running for President, the conventional wisdom is that it’s a good idea to stay on top of the trends. I’m not sure that worked so well for candidate Mitt Romney when he was talking about income:

My last 10 years, I’ve — my income comes overwhelmingly from some investments made in the past, whether ordinary income or earned annually. I got a little bit of income from my book, but I gave that all away. And then I get speaker’s fees from time to time, but not very much.

What does “not very much” actually total? $374,327.62 1  Worth noting is that the “not very much” amount, as a stand alone annual income, is more than the annual household income 98% of the US population. 7

The US median family income was S49,445 2 in 2010, according to the US Census Bureau.  Thus “not very much” is 7.57 times the average median income in this country.

For American Indians, “not very much” is an even more striking contrast, since the household income is lower among that population group. What Romney earned in speaking fees alone over a year is over 10 times the average household income of $37,348.3  And that’s for the average – the median family income for American Indian and Alaska Natives is $33,627.26.6 Thus “not very much” is actually 11 times the median.

“Not very much” is 7.10 times the cost of a year at Harvard for undergraduate work ($52,652 for tuition, room, board and fees combined). 4 The fact that the cost a year at Harvard is greater than the median US family income is striking in itself, and the subject of a related, but different discussion.

In addition, “not very much” is 1.7 times the median new home price in the United states in 2010 5 Clearly, “not very much” is a relative concept.  I’ll admit that Romney’s idea “not very much” could affect my life in some appreciable ways, and I suspect that’s true for many of us.  My idea of “not very much” is an amount I’m willing to spend on a whim, or that I’m comfortable losing if I found myself in a competitive poker game.  And it’s way less than $374,327.62.  By a couple of orders of magnitude.  What’s “not very much” to you?