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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 21, 2007 / 11 Kislev 5768

Income confusion, Part II

By Thomas Sowell


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | When most of us look at income statistics, we are not just being numbers junkies. We want to find out something about actual flesh-and-blood human beings — specifically what their standard of living is like.


But you cannot always just take statistics at face value — or, worse yet, with the spin that politicians and the media put on them.


Income, for example, is not the same as earnings, and neither is the same as the economic resources on which people's standard of living is based.


Since most of us get our income by earning it, it might seem that any difference between income and earnings would just be some technicality that only economists or accountants would bother with.


In reality, the difference can be huge, depending on the income bracket and the age of the individual.


Most of the income received by people 65 years old and up is not counted statistically as earnings. Only 24 percent of their incomes are earnings. Most of their incomes are from pensions or other sources known as "unearned income," such as returns on investments.

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It should hardly be surprising that people who have been around a long time would have accumulated more money in the bank and maybe have a little nest egg in a mutual fund, each of which provides a stream of income during their retirement years, even if that income does not get counted as earnings.


Despite a drumbeat of political rhetoric depicting the elderly as being in dire economic conditions, the actual incomes of the elderly are more than four times what their earnings statistics might suggest — or what politicians can claim, citing those statistics.


When it comes to wealth, the average net worth of people 65 years old and up is several times that of people under the age of 45. The highest average net worth in any age bracket belongs to households headed by people aged 70 to 74.


Although income is often confused with wealth, as when people currently in high income brackets are referred to as "rich," the elderly average lower income than middle-aged people, but more wealth.


Since 80 percent of the people who are 65 and up are either homeowners or home buyers, their housing costs tend to be lower. Among those 80 percent, their median monthly housing costs in 2001 averaged just $339 a month.


That includes property taxes, utilities, maintenance costs, condominium and association costs for people with such living arrangements, and mortgage payments for those who do not own their homes outright.


There are of course some elderly people who are poor, just as there are some poor people in every age bracket. But statistics cited by politicians, journalists and others who inflate the number of the poor need both scrutiny and skepticism.


The elderly are not the only people whose standard of living is grossly understated by those who cite statistics on earnings or income.


Those statistics do not include income received by low-income people as transfer payments from the government, such as welfare checks, much less various in-kind transfers, such as subsidized housing and subsidized medical care.


As of 2001, about 78 percent of the economic resources used by people in the bottom 20 percent of income recipients were in the form of either cash transfers or in-kind transfers.


To judge the standard of living of low-income people by income statistics is to leave out more than three-quarters of the economic resources used by them.


It is understandable that those who have either a political or an ideological vested interest in exaggerating the numbers of "the poor" would use statistics that greatly understate the standard of living of low-income people, as well as that of the elderly.


But that is all the more reason for the rest of us to be aware of what statistics do and do not mean — and beware of those who want us to believe the worst, whether for their own political advantage or because that fits their ideological vision.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment on JWR contributor Thomas Sowell's column by clicking here.

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