The (lack of) wealth post

Long story short, even most millionaires haven’t got much.  For households with a net worth above 500k, the mean and the median are both around 1 million dollars including home equity.  This means that the air gets pretty thin once you hit about a million in total assets.  And home equity is on average 30% of total assets for all groups, so even millionaires are vulnerable to losing that status with a few bad housing market years.

Black people are younger and disproportionately live in smaller, unmarried households with less than one full time worker.  The racial wealth gap is partly a gap of not living in a married+kids household with 1.5-2 full time workers.  The other part is not being 65 and long-married.  Demographic lag means old married white couples have asset appreciation, and that there are still enough of them to keep the white wealth median in the six-figure range.  Old married black women have a tiny asset gap, but there are just not very many of them as a group. Young and even middle-aged marrieds of any race have perhaps 100-150k in assets, including home equity.  If you have more than 150k in assets, especially without home equity, you are flying pretty high.

As for overall net worth, despite the gaps, 1/4 of black households have six-figure or greater net worth.  A little more than half of all white, non-Hispanic households have a six-figure or greater net worth.  This roughly tracks in both cases with the marriage percentage.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Survey of Income and Program Participation, 2014 Panel, Wave 1
Internet Release Date: 6/1/2017

There are surveys of net worth that get into more detail, but surveying people on savings and assets just reveals that over the last 30 years there’s been a lot of volatility, with the basic numbers not budging much for the young and middle-aged once you account for real estate or stock bubbles inflating and popping.  Sticking money in the bank is the most sturdy savings and it piles up the absolute slowest.  The “we’ll all put a dollar in and pull four out in 30 years” has turned out to not lead to everyone getting to pull four dollars out.  Weird!


“I raised a family on 40k and you can too!”

I think a lot of people who have kids, and particularly those who are in the vicinity of conservatives have heard some variation on this theme from older folks.  The exact amount varies, but it’s usually 30-50k.  I took the midpoint for this post.

Anyway, here’s a little chart of what 40k in 1970, 1980, 1990 and 2000 would be in current-year dollars.

Decade Annual Household Income in Dollars What It’s Worth In 2018 Dollars
1970 40,000 260,000
1980 40,000 125,000
1990 40,000 75,000
2000 40,000 55,000

I didn’t go back further because most people who say this were raising kids to college ages in the mid-70s to mid-90s.

Feel free to copy-paste this chart in any discussion of costs to raise kids. Calculator used is here and I lowballed a little.

Saturday is not so all right for writing.

I agree with this guy a little.  But mostly because research is all I’ve had any time or physical ability to do the last couple of weeks.  The research has been very useful for world-building, but I just haven’t had the energy to carry it into the world of the stories.  I built the firewood pile, but I’m too depleted to carry in some logs for the evening’s fire.

I never did get around to posting on Sundays, so I’ll put up a wealth post Monday.  I’d like to figure out some fiction writing system, but with the current upheavals, it looks like I’ll just have to wait until the big yellow ball in the sky is visible more than half an hour twice a week.  Because then the kids can run around under the sunshine and I can write in the shade.  We have a grove, although not as nice as the one we left behind in the deepwoods.   So at least for me, all accountability on writing fiction did was reveal that I need to restart in summer and hope the progress I make is enough to get me into a routine that can go toe to toe with the brutalizing winter and spring.



In 2017, there are about 1 million black people married to nonblack people in America.

About half have kids under 18, and 70% are black guys married to nonblack women, while 30% are black women married to nonblack men.

There’s about 63 million married couples, of which around 24 million have kids under 18.

There’s about 4 million black-black married couples, of which 1/3 have kids under 18.  This means interracial marriage makes up 25% of black married households for school-aged kids but only 1/6 for black married households with no kids under 18.


Saturday update #2

Haven’t written any fiction for the day, but if I manage it today or tomorrow I will post a Monday update.  This week was full of family emergencies that weren’t compatible with writing what I wanted to.  A poll about posting excerpts is below.  It’s worth considering.

Hippies of the Religious Right, Chapter Two: The Counterculture

So in Chapter Two, Shires has a brief discussion of the counterculture.  He drops all the right names (Roszak, Ellul) and along the way breaks down the appeal of the counterculture for what became Christian hippies.

The major thing for the “Chrippies” was that they wanted to keep the Golden Rule, freedom and expressive individualism of their parents’ modernist, secular approach to life and belief, but drop the conformism and money-hunger.  They “logic trapped” their parents by pointing out their obvious hypocrisies.

We in the future now might look at how easily and smoothly hypocrisy is dismissed as irrelevant in general political discourse, but the younger Silents and older Boomers were able to pull off confronting hypocrisy because their parents were in fact behaving in an untraditional way.  The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit was two-faced in a way that was historically rather new and thus freshly and particularly susceptible to cries of Hypocrite.  And the children of these parents took advantage of it, pressing that advantage as hard as they could most chances they got.

When you present an adulterer as a moral exemplar people might think you’re a hypocrite.

But the eagerness to trap their parents and authority figures in nets of hypocrisy exposed something Shires presents rather neutrally, the way in which freedom as a movement and ideal superseded the Civil Rights Movement rapidly.  People born from 1944-1960 had an 86% rate of formal religious training (Sunday school, catechism class, and the like) and while this filled many of them (the future Chrippies, what Shires terms the “spiritually sensitive”) with a longing for faith as a seamless garment, with life and belief as one, in practice they sought freedom from orthodox spiritual direction, instead delving into drugs as a path towards that goal of a seamless garment of life-faith.

The use of drugs for individualized spiritual awakening is an interesting contrast to the Dexedrine housewives of the postwar and 1950s timeframe.  The mainstream use of drugs to enforce conformity, particularly with women’s highly constrained and very modern form of the housewife role, is not mentioned by Shires, being outside the scope of his work.  But it something to consider for the era he’s speaking of.

Shires also discusses the original “We have to be intolerant of intolerance!” that was a prominent theme among these seekers and spiritually sensitive youth pursuing an ideal of pure love.  Weirdly, he downplays the sex-cult aspects that arose out of this love-worship.  He mentions an example of humane, saving love from M.A.S.H. the movie, in which a suicidal doctor is brought back with the love of his coworkers via them staging a pretend Last Supper and dosing him with a sleeping draught…only for him to be revived in “Heaven” where a beautiful nurse has sex with him.  Not exactly Biblically grounded (a recurring phrase Shires uses regarding the spiritually sensitive who became what I’m terming Chrippies or Christian hippies).

Shires describes the nurse as “compassionate and compliant”.  This implicit approval for “free love” with Christian sprinkles explains some of the odder acceptable fringes that flowered in the wake of the Jesus movement and the Christian hippies it produced.

Shires’ own language reveals some telling things about what roles women were to play as some of them rebelled against the artificial and novel form of the housewife role their parents and older sisters were performing.

Anyhow.  On to Chapter Three!

Saturday writing update #1

Going to try something new to get more fiction done and “out in the world”.  And that is the one thing I haven’t tried: stating what I’ve done at regular intervals.

I usually work on two projects at a time out of a project pool of 10-12 ideas.  Currently I’m working on a “hard sf” novella and a post-apocalyptic or far-future short story.  The novella is complete as a story in its current form, but I have some backstory and details of the local setting I want to add in that will probably double the length.  The short story is perhaps 5-7 days in a row of writing to complete and yes I have performance/success anxiety over taking that last little step.  The other little catch with the short story is that it’s part of what I think will be 3-8 interlinked stories set in a common world.  Something like “The World Inside” by Robert Silverberg without all the pervotron parts.   So my brain doesn’t think of finishing one story as completing the mission, and maybe simply writing that out will help me over the hurdle and do the other stories too.

Anyway, long story short, this week I watched a documentary for backstory details on the novella and got some great ones to work in and I made no progress on the short story.  The plan for next week (I start weeks on Sundays) is to finish the short story and do an outline of the revisions to the novella.  I don’t think I need to see more than two or three more documentaries to get the kinds of details I want in the novella (food, social customs, male and female roles, clothing, how the houses and buildings look).

I have a lot on my plate this calendar year and the biggest obstacle to getting back to writing fiction regularly (3x/week or more) is that my days are filled up with kid-related logistics until next school year or another child is potty-trained, whichever comes first.  I used to find it strange how people would go off somewhere and binge-write for a few weeks a year and then nothing the rest of the year.  It’s usually a man thing, but it might end up being a mom thing in my case.  We’ll see how these updates help with avoiding that.