Government Income Taxes in History

income tax brackets rates through history united states usa

income tax brackets rates through history united states USA

(click graph to see full size version) I was just looking at this really interesting infographic of the income tax rates for the United States over the last century or so. It is an interesting graph because it makes it very clear that the wealthiest people are paying the lowest taxes by percentage of any time in our country’s history. By contrast the low and middle class are paying the most they’re paid or close to the most. 

I’m not sure how the government got away with a 90% tax rate in any time period, but it sure looks like they did. As much as I think the wealthiest people need to pay more again, nobody deserves that.  It makes the 5-10% increase in taxes we need on the wealthy people making over 1 million a year now seem paltry and insignificant. 

According to the graph the yellow areas say that in the 50’s and 60’s if you made more than $10 million you gave 90% of it to the Government. Wow. (9 million?) That doesn’t really seem plausible although they tell a story about boxing matches being held only yearly for this reason. There has to be something between 90% and 35% though because these people are the cash cows of our country/economy and are the only ones that can actually pay for the fancy jet security and government health care. 

Also I found it interesting that in the early 90’s people making less than 10K had to go from 0% tax to 15%? That is a big loss for the part-time workers of the country and it happened just in time for me to start working at my first job. Someone making 9K would lose $1350 to taxes, a huge sum for someone who may be just scraping by. Previously in history this tax bracket was taxes between 10-20%, so it has been higher, but the logic seems difficult that the people who make the least are losing the least also. Maybe if more government programs like healthcare actually give back to this income bracket this will be a more justified expense.  

I am also surprised looking at the top income bracket at 50% through the 1980’s and it re-frames how to think about Ronald Regan’s presidency (known for cutting taxes), but seeing that he got a larger percentage of paychecks to finance things with during a time of de-regulation and government cuts, no-wonder he was able to make things work. I doubt he would have believed that the tax rates should go as low as they are today though seeing how much government is expected to provide. 

Seeing over time how high these income tax rates have been in order for the country to survive and knowing what people expect from government right now (more services), I think we will have to return to the previous income tax rates and raise business tax rates at the same time to make up the difference even in a good economy. We have a huge budget deficit, increasing costs and government loans that are ballooning (bonds that are declining in value). Things aren’t looking good. It’s all our civic duty to pay taxes and the country can’t survive without it.

Why FriendFeed is no big deal

I am so lost on why so many people are gaga about friendfeed. Of all the web apps that have come out this one has the least technical savy and is not at all new in function. Is it useful? Yes, but has it been around somewhere else since 2002? YES!

I started using Livejournal in 2002 and one of the things that hooked me about it was that all my friend’s LJ blog feeds were listed in reverse cronological order on a friends page. This was great. I didn’t have to go to each blog individually to read them and I could scroll and scan through a day’s worth of posts in a few minutes. Later they added the ability to add other RSS feeds into LJ for reading as a friend. I added everything I was watching at that time. I fed everything from fickr feeds to blogs like Scoble into the mix. They even allowed you to categorize your friend feeds into different groups for more organized reading commenting was also possible direct from the feed although if it was not an LJ blog the comment would not be submitted back to the original site, just on LJ.

All this was great but almost too great. I stopped using RSS all the time in about 2006 because there were too many feeds to read and too much information to process. I couldn’t keep up. It was taking hours to get through everything even just scaning and skimming. I pretty much abandoned the feed page there even though I still post occasionally.

So, basically I am not excited about FriendFeed since it is just another incarnation of something I already have and there were limits to how much information and how many feeds and posts I could reasonably process a day. I have actually gone backwards in tech terms now and I use link buttons in my browser for the blogs or sites I read daily and I know that when that row across the top of the browser is full, one has to go if I add one. It’s is kind of a limit to how many I can monitor and keeps it under control. I also use the feedbliz email subscriptions a lot too. It creates a lot of extra email, but it is easy to scan and delete if it isn’t pertinent info and if there isn’t good info for a month I unsubscribe.

Anyway, maybe some day soon people will come to their senses and find a way to balance being aware and alert of what is happening on the net but not wasting an entire day following blog posts and feeds. It is a huge hit to productivity in America because the discovery process is buzzy and addictive when you find something huge and you always think it will be there and then your day is lost.

How to keep learning new skills as we get older

I used to think that it was weird to not be learning all the time. You spend 9 years in grammar school, 4 years in high school and if you are lucky, 4 years in college. All total,  that is 17 of your first 21 years in school with daily lessons, lectures, homework, required reading, tests, quizzes, projects, essays and exams. Then you have to make the jump to the working world whether it is in business or other areas and you still have to learn, but it is everything not included in your schooling. How your company works, how people work, what is required there and all their multitude of processes and products.

At that point you usually meet someone much older than yourself that has no idea what is happening in technology. And not just high technology, they don’t get basics that most people use just to function daily like email, pivot tables or search engine optimization. What you don’t know is that they are the future you. They don’t want to change because they say they have just done things this way all these years and it has always worked with paper files, binders, phone messages and post it noes. You look at them and their outdated clothes and rows of beanie babies around their cubicle like they have 3 heads. How can they work this way? How do they get anything done? How can a company value someone antiquated like this over me who has all this knowledge and ability (yet with 0 experience). 

Then time marches on. You become acclimated with the business environment and get promoted or jump to a better job a few times. You balance social, personal and work life stuff and think wow it’s a lot to manage and are always tired. Then some of you have kids and are even more tired. Then you wake up one day and realize that you have become that antiquated person you ran into years ago because they hired some younger workers that are all gung ho about getting ahead and talk about things you don’t understand. Now all college grads come to work knowing how to build databases and web sites even if they got a degree in English? How can they know so much so fast? 

You wonder how 10 years flew by and you haven’t really added anything new to your skill set because you work 50 hours a week, have a relationship on weekends and laundry/dishes/cat/cleaning/reading/few social things weeknights. (you don’t even watch TV for god’s sake) How can you go to school at the same time? If you have kids, how can you exist on less than the 4 hours of sleep you get now just so you can spend time learning? And when will you ever get around to painting the garage? How is this possible when some mornings you come to work 1/2 asleep with 2 different shoes on?

Are companies going to only hire new youngsters for all the positions because they make less money and have more tech skills? How much does experience matter?  Why did it piss me off for weeks when the new wordpress.com backend system was launched, and nothing made any sense anymore? I didn’t have time to spend looking for hours for where everything had been moved to and was just mad that it wasn’t where it was before and it took forever to post. And there was no communication from those adsense loving wordpress people about where everything had been moved to. They thought this was self explanitory? (Not!)

I think I started to recognize some of these changes happening to me in the past few months. I never planned on stopping learning and the things I chose to learn about in my spare (and fleeting) time were never really panned out useful things. So, back to the drawing board. I feel like I need a lot more technical skill to remain ahead of the curve in my job and be able to keep finding great work over the decades to come. And I want to do that along with have a family and marriage and the whole kit and kaboodle. I don’t think this is a women’s issue anymore either really. Men face the same questions as they get off the fashion bus and start looking, sounding and working more and more like their fathers.

Another thing I realized the other day is that I may try and shop at more contemporary stores, but I basically dress exactly like my mom. And she is 67 and I am 32. I used to hate how my mom dressed, and now I am her?  Is this just the arrival of the long plateau of middle age? Are the middle ages of me going to be anticlimactic and uneventful? Or how can you bridge multiple generations, technologies and social groups all at the same time while still getting 8 hours of sleep at night? 

I don’t know how this is all going to work. I suppose many people don’t write about it on blogs, or maybe even recognize the change until they can’t find bleached jeans and high tops at Kohl’s anymore. But it bothers me because I don’t want to stop learning and get left behind. Especially when the economy keeps changing so much every year and the jobs go with it. How do you not get outsourced when literally everything can be outsourced today? How do you keep going to school when most universities require full time attendance of a degree program and not piece mail courses as you need them? How do you find time to do homework when you have bills to pay and garbage to take out and emails from your boss? Even reading was hard to get back into after years of not focusing like that for an extended period of time.

Here is what I have been doing about it and working on over the past years and what I would like to continue to work on:

1. About 2 years ago I started reading books again. I read TIME every week, but that is pretty short. I found it hard at first to just read for an hour at a time because I had gotten so multitask happy with the internet and channel flipping.

2. I also decided it was time to start pushing back sometimes at work and saying No. You literally can’t do that when you start out, and sooner or later you have to set limits and not do everything for everyone else when you have a limited time to do it. The whole idea of urgency and priority come into play and they shouldn’t be anyone else’s priority or urgency but yours. People will negotiate and try and get as much from you as possible but it’s not in your best interest if it’s not really in your job description.

3. The last year was one where I decided it was time to have a self hosted blog. Everyone and their sister had one but me, and it wasn’t supposed to be impossible or anything. So, I bought a url and went to town for about 2 days straight truing to figure out how this wordpress thing worked, researching themes, plugins and all the possibilities and building it. It was a great learning experience although it has nothing to do with my work.

4. This year I had a client that insisted on a different data process than what we usually provided and I had to learn Pivot tables. I still don’t know them to the extent I need to probably, but it helps immensley. I still have more of the high end Excel stuff to learn.

5. I also had to learn Access. I guess 2 days in a class can’t really teach you everything though so I should either retake the class or take another one because my skills there still don’t match what I need them to.

6. I also wonder about math and statistics. I should really go back, take the prerequisites and then statistics. This is what I get for not taking it initially because I didn’t want to work in business. Sheesh. This is by far one of the hardest things to do because, I am not fantastic at math, it has been about 14 years since I have taken a math class and it means driving back to the community college I attended a million years ago. It also entails weekly classes and weekly homework. This could be 10 hours a week or more. Where am I going to find 10 hours a week? Where do people who have kids find that time?  Is sleep allowed?

7. I also think it is time I got better at this friends/networking thing at work and outside it. I have never been that great at the social stuff, but I am meeting more and more people who weren’t necessarily either, but because there are some ground rules in business and no need to act like Jr High kids anymore, they are pretty good at it now. This helps get things done faster when they need to be, and it makes work and life generally more fun. It also helps not to work with assholes.

8. What I would also like to do more of is learn about web pages and building them, coding and sleuthing out issues with them. This comes up with work and would be an asset.

9. Long term I have to get into databases and SQL. I have no choice. It will mean more classes and more time than I know I can find and afford, and that isn’t even the expensive part like tuition.

But what is the alternative? To be outsourced in a few years? To be relegated back to the minimum wage jobs that we had back in college but would be even more difficult to get since they would rather hire energetic young people now, with better tech skills?  The way I see it, the only way to survive is to go onwards and upwards. I have to keep learning things whether I have time for it or not.

Poking fun at technology – Did TIME copy this NAA Ad?

time magazine invention year, naa adI have seen these ads from the national newspaper association of america for a long time now, they poke fun at the web and all its gangly wires when all you really need is a piece of paper for your news. I noticed today that TIME did a very similar photo shoot making fun of how you need all kids of contraptions and wires to do everything that an iPhone does. So does this mean that technology always makes fun of clunky? Or that the newspapers are 2 levels behind (web and mobile) instead of just 1?

Who is Howard Miller?

clockI have heard a lot about this Howard Miller guy lately. I was shopping the other day and saw some displays for grandfather clocks by him and the prices were pretty steep. They were kind of an heirloom type fancy clock that gets passed down from generation to generation. My parents have one and my relatives did too and we inherited that one as well. So what’s modern about a big tall clock that bongs? I guess it is about carrying on the tradition in a modern way. The designs aren’t always real traditional but yet they are very fancy. New Grandfather Clocks and Howard Miller clocks are a nice addition to a home and if I had a house I would be interested in buying one. And with daylight savings time happening now, a big clock that makes the time viewable and noticeable when you’re off by a few hours could be a great help. I know I have been running late and not able to figure out what time it is since. My whole day has been off. Plus both my watches had their batteries die and I have been without reliable time management all week.

What are Vampire Electronics? Do I own any?

Vampire Electronics?

Ok, the topic of saving electricity either for the purpose of saving money or saving the environment or both is getting more popular. I just read in TIME magazine about this new term called Vampire Electronics. They are electronics you have in your home that still suck down electricity and energy while they are not in use. Things that are in this category according to the blurb were coffee makers and cell phone chargers. I would also think that computers in sleep mode (better than being on though) DVD players, external hard drives, radios and your kitchen appliances would fit in this category too since they all have led lights, clocks or some kind of process running in the bakground at all times. Some of these things are necesities (you can’t unplug the fridge when you leave to go to work) but others are not. Unplugging the toaster, coffee maker, cell phone charger and dvd player when not in use can add up to $2-$5 bucks savings in a month by my best guess. If you have many of them (and a lot of electronics in general) you may save a lot more if you just shut down completley and unplug them.

Decorating Ideas

Ugh I have been dragged along on so many trips for home decorating and furniture buying that I am almost happy that I have old furniture now. It really has been a bit much. Yes crate and barrel (what does that name mean anyway?) Macys and John M SMithe’s stores are fun initially but then you really just want to stop battling Saturday afternoon crowds for parking spaces especially since the holidays are coming up. But my friend is still trying to furnish her new home. (heh they bought before the market crashed this fall)

I have to wonder though what makes a good furniture store? Not many of these stores seem to have a lot of buyers when we are there. And at those prices I can see why. How many sofas do they have to sell to make a profit? How many different ways can you twist up posts to make styles of brass and metal beds? Why won’t they listen to me when I suggest hillsdale furniture shopping online instead? Oy! Anyway I have resigned  myself to the fact that I won’t be able to sell my condo any time soon and get a new house or place so it’s just a bit much right now to be spending this much of my weekends shopping with her. I think its time for a new hobby.