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Comment Re:is it just me? (Score 2) 611

How do you define middle and upper-middle class?

I personally like nice even fifths. The bottom 20% are lower class, next 20% lower-middle, next 20% middle-middle, next 20% upper-middle, and the top 20% as upper class. The middle class, being the bulk of the population, can be those three middle fifths, which leaves quite a spread but focuses nicely on the middle of the bell curve.

So where does a household (solitary individuals, other non-family households and families combined) earning $250K/year sit in that breakdown? In the 2009 tax year (the most current data), there were roughly 2,372,000 households earning $250K+/year out of a total of 117,538,000 households in the US. That puts a household earning exactly $250K/year above 97.98% of the whole batch. That seems quite a lot towards the upper end to me, and not very middle at all.

So how do the fifths break down?

Lowest: $0 - $20,453 (Mean $11,552)
Second: $20,454 - $38,550 (Mean $29,257)
Third: $38,551 - $61,801 (Mean $49,534)
Fourth: $61,802 - $100,000 (Mean $78,694)
Fifth: $100,001+ (Mean $170,844)

And for good measure, the top 5%: $180,001+ (Mean $295,388)

I would imagine that the vast majority of new businesses created are created by people earning substantially less money than you claim. I see a lot of small firms of professionals, construction & trades contractors, mom & pop corner retail stores, basement tech startups, or even just entrepreneurs with a crazy big idea they try to make real. Some may have had a sweet job earning the big bucks before striking out on their own, but I doubt it's anywhere near most. A lot of people mortgage their houses to get startup money, then seek out venture capital as things get rolling. Many fizzle and fail in the first year.

Where you have a point about business creation is for people earning $250K+/year in investment income. They tend to be able to start businesses left and right, and can afford to have a few fail without disrupting their portfolios. But we call those rich people, because they usually have net worths in the multi-millions.

Comment Out of the ashes... (Score 1) 611

If the top-heavy international finance economy centered in the US collapses, all of the necessary factors will be in place to quickly reinvent the US as a new economic superpower. There are many good reasons why the US is the wealthiest country on the planet in spite of its mistakes, and those reasons will survive any potential economic collapse.

You have a large and educated workforce. (And any recent undermining of the education system can be easily reversed.)
You have a well-developed nation-wide transportation infrastructure. (Maybe a little light on rail, but just look at Canada for comparison and it looks fantastic.)
You have vast tracts of rich agricultural land and substantial areas of year-round growing seasons.
You have immense mineral wealth, including a very good supply of rare earth elements and nuclear fuels.

If things continue to decline, and in a period of turmoil the old way cracks apart and topples, it seems likely that a new paradigm could develop that focuses on long-term economic health rather than short term gains to share value or dividend of stocks, one that is inclusive of the working class and even more favorable to the innovative class. If that happens, the turnaround will be awe-inspiring.

Comment Re:Hah! (Score 1) 338

Actually, imprisonment for non-violent drug offences has some direct parallel to imprisonment for practicing a banned religion.

Members of the Native American Church are allowed under law to use peyote in their religious practices. A new age spiritualist distributing personal-use quantities of psychedelic mushrooms to a group of followers so they can have an entheogenic experience qualifies for a massive amount of time in prison, potentially a de-facto life sentence based upon the number of individuals involved.

Or you could always just compare legal vs illegal intoxicants. Alcohol and GHB have similar impairing effects, are both strongly associated with nonconsensual sex, and both cause a statistically significant number of deaths among their users from accident and overdose. One is legal for adults over 21 to put into their bodies, as the potential harm they cause themselves through its use is within their rights over their own persons, and the other is illegal for adults to put into their bodies, as those rights over their own persons vanish because the chemical is not an approved intoxicating substance.

I personally find rights over one's own person to be powerfully similar to freedom of religious practice, as both are purely personal choices, and would suggest that any nation that espouses personal liberty has no just grounds to interfere with either. The USA is a nation that incarcerates a massive number of citizens for abusively lengthly terms for either engaging in prohibited practices over their own persons or enabling others to do so. The difference between the prohibition against drugs and a prohibition against masturbation or tattooing is minimal at best.

Submission + - Google bids $900M on Nortel’s patents (venturebeat.com)

suraj.sun writes: In lieu of waiting for actual patent reform, Google announced today that it has bid $900 million on Nortel’s patent portfolio to protect against wanton patent litigation. If Google wins the auction, it will have access to some 6,000 patents related to wired, wireless, and other communications technologies. The company will likely utilize some of those patents to fend off litigation against Android — like Oracle’s complaint from last summer.

Nortel, once a telecom equipment giant, filed for bankruptcy in January 2009 and is currently in the process of selling off its individual units piecemeal.

Submission + - What data mining firms know about you (time.com) 1

storagedude writes: "Time writer Joel Stein spent three months learning what data mining companies know about him. After learning everything the companies had profiled about him (some of it inaccurate) — social security number, age, marital status, religion, income, debt, interests, browsing and spending habits — he had a surprising reaction: complacency.

"... oddly, the more I learned about data mining, the less concerned I was. Sure, I was surprised that all these companies are actually keeping permanent files on me. But I don't think they will do anything with them that does me any harm. There should be protections for vulnerable groups, and a government-enforced opt-out mechanism would be great for accountability. But I'm pretty sure that, like me, most people won't use that option. Of the people who actually find the Ads Preferences page — and these must be people pretty into privacy — only 1 in 8 asks to opt out of being tracked. The rest, apparently, just like to read privacy rules."


Submission + - Google Draws Fire From Congress (nationaljournal.com)

bonch writes: Democrat Herb Kohl, the Senate's leading antitrust legislator, has vowed an antitrust probe into Google as one of his top priorities. Others in Congress are criticizing the search giant over several flubs, including scanning personal data over neighborhood WiFi, collecting Social Security information from children in a doodling contest, and sidestepping net neutrality rules through a deal with Verizon. They're also concerned over ties with the administration--Eric Schmidt is a technology advisor to President Obama, Andrew McLaughlin serves as Obama's deputy chief technology officer, and Sonal Shah leads the White House Office of Social Innovation. Google spent $5.2 million last year on federal lobbying, but critics say their increased Washington presence has made more enemies than friends.

Submission + - Prepare for Massive Wave of Earthquake Scams (securityweek.com)

wiredmikey writes: Today’s tragic events of the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and resulting Tsunami, as sad as it is, is a dream for scammers and fraudsters around the world. Tragic events are always something scammers use to their advantage, helping them prey on and exploit innocent victims.

Scams are already spreading across Facebook, which started in a matter of minutes after the news broke of the earthquake in Japan. As I write this, scammers are hard at work, registering new domains and cranking out templates for their fake donation sites. This will be followed with massive volumes of email spam, Tweets through Twitter, and Facebook posts, as scammers gear up to solicit donations from around the world. Users also need to be aware that cybercriminals also use these events to help spread malware, via malicious links via spam, twitter and other fake Web sites.


Submission + - Google Introduces Block Domain To Search

An anonymous reader writes: Aimed at stripping search results of pages from 'low-quality' sites, a new Google Chrome extension was introduced to block specified websites from appearing in search results. Now, Google has introduced a new feature that hide results from unwanted domains. This is yet another way to find more of what you want on Google by blocking the sites you don’t want to see at all in search result. This was frequently requested by many slashdotters. The so-called "experts exchange" or "online eHow to guide" would be first on my blocked list.

Submission + - Novell Sale Delayed Until April Due to Patents (internetnews.com) 1

darthcamaro writes: Novell's $2.2 billion dollar acquisition by Attachmate isn't going to close as soon as first expected. A key part of the deal is the sale of 882 patents to a consortium of vendors led by Microsoft. The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the patent deal and is now pushing out the close until at least April 12th. Does this mean the deal is in trouble?

Submission + - US Lawyers Target Swedish Pirate And His Unicorn (torrentfreak.com)

Chaonici writes: When a Swedish citizen identified as Ryan heard about US movie studio Liberty Media's plan to get copyright infringers to confess and voluntarily pay up, he couldn't stop himself from sending them a satirical email promising that he will pay 'from the pot of gold I got at the leprechaun at the end of the rainbow', regardless of scathing criticism of the studio from his unicorn. However, despite his location, the jesting nature of the email, and his insistence that he has never downloaded anything for which the studio is suing, Liberty Media's lawyers have taken the 'confession' seriously, and have issued a subpoena to Google for personal information related to Ryan's Gmail account. In a phone call, the legal team affirmed their determination to 'hunt him down, all the way to Sweden if need be.'

Submission + - Anonymous Git Hosting for PS3 Tools (gitbrew.org)

Anonymous Coward writes: "Gitbrew.org maintains a decentralized git server for all the code and tools Sony has been trying to remove off the internet. No logs are kept of user access, ip, etc and no owner names are given out. We hope to provide the PS3 Homebrew community with a comprehensive list of software and tools for hacking the PS3 all hosted in one place.


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