Here is another Pop Quiz. Jot down your ideas as you go. The answers are below.

  1. What is the median household income of a family with two children, nationwide? And in California?
  2. How much is needed to maintain a middle-class, two-child-family lifestyle, as routinely depicted in TV commercials and comic strips such as Blondie? Clarification: this would cover buying a median-priced home in a decent area, two decent cars, typical consumer goods and services, health care, child care, college, vacations, entertainment and dining, and savings and retirement.
  3. Why can so few Americans afford this lifestyle?
  4. Which country has the greatest inequality in the industrialized world?
  5. In which advanced country are you most likely to stay trapped in poverty?
  6. What are America’s main fiscal problems? Does Social Security make them worse?
  7. What is the happiest country on earth?
  8. Is the typical American Joe Blow still the richest worker in the world?
  9. Who is the most popular politician in America today?
  10. Which Republican president said That Democrats do a better job of managing the economy than Republicans?
  11. Does Pope Francis believe in (a) hell, (b) the Big Bang, (c) evolution, (d) Reaganomics, (e) global warming?
  12. How many manufacturing jobs did America lose between 1999 and 2011?
  13. Do Americans think the Democratic Party is “in touch” with them?
  14. Has the International Monetary Fund issued any warning to America?


Here are the answers, in rounded numbers:

  1. $56K nationwide, before tax, and $64K in California, from Census data.
  2. Vastly more. As my rough estimate, this lifestyle would cost $100K nationally, $150K in California; $200K in Ventura County; $250K in San Francisco.
  3. Starting in 1975, wages flattened out. Gains from economic growth went to the top 1 percent. This was due to Republican-driven policy choices producing “shareholder value,” union-bashing, and the invisible transfer of wealth upward via the tax code (policies now called Reaganomics). So-called “free trade” came later, ruining millions of workers.
  4. America, by far, according to the “Great Gatsby curve.” America is almost at Third World levels of economic inequality and social immobility. Every time Americans voted Republican, these got worse. See the You-Tube video, Wealth Inequality in America.
  5. See 4.
  6. Give-aways to corporations and inadequate taxes on the wealthy are America’s main fiscal problems, increasing annual deficits. Social Security is not a problem according to President Reagan: “Social Security is totally funded by the payroll tax levied on the employer and the employee. Social Security has nothing to do with balancing the budget or lowering the deficit.
  7. Norway, per the 2017 United Nations World Happiness Report. Norwegians have a very high standard of living due to the economics and politics of Democratic Socialism (as advocated here by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont). The top 10 happiest countries have high marginal tax rates, socially funded education and health care, and high social cohesion. Denmark was No. 2; Iceland was No. 3; Switzerland was No. 4. America managed to come in at No. 14.
  8. Not even remotely. The 2017 Global Wealth Survey by Credit Suisse gave the following numbers for median wealth (i.e., Joe Blow’s net worth or “stash”): Iceland, $445K; Switzerland, $229K; Australia, $195K; Norway, $131K; Italy, $125K; Canada, $91K; Korea, $68K; USA, $56K. But in 1975, the prosperity of the typical American worker was unrivaled. We are now last in this list due to the pernicious results of Reaganomics.
  9. By far the most popular is Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) according to Fox News and Harvard-Harris polls last year. Unlike “real Democrats,” he generates enthusiasm among voters.
  10. President Donald Trump on CNN on March 21, 2004 (see You-Tube). Once in office, he approved tax cuts increasing national debt at least $1.5 trillion. He should have reduced debt by raising taxes on the wealthy.
  11. (a) Hell, no; (b) Big Bang, yes; (c) evolution, yes; (d) Reaganomics, no; Francis decries Reaganomics, being a genuine Christian; (e) global warming, yes; he is a scientist with a chemistry degree.
  12. Six million manufacturing jobs were lost, per The Economist, Special Report on the Global Economy. This is due to “free trade” policy, taxation policy, automation, weakened labor unions and the 2008 Crash.
  13. According to a Washington Post/ABC poll in April 2017, 67 percent of Americans thought the Democratic Party was “out of touch” with them.
  14. In June 2016, the IMF criticized the adverse consequences of America’s economic inequality, saying that 1 in 7 people were living in poverty, a problem that needed to be tackled “urgently.” The Republican tax act, however, passed in December 2017, will certainly make inequality even worse.