Toban B. sent us a link to an infographic that included data that put U.S. spending on the military into perspective:


See also this post looking at where our tax dollars go.


Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Matthew Ygelsias posted a graph showing that, for those 25 and older, education-level is correlated with rates of unemployment: the more educated you are, the less likely you are to find yourself unemployed. This relationship appears to be uninterrupted by the current recession.

Red = less than a high school diploma
Purple = high school graduate, no college
Green = some college
Blue = bachelors degree or higher



Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

According to the Economist, beauty spending–on make-up, diet and exercise, fragrances, skin care, hair products, and cosmetic surgery–adds up to a $160 billion-a-year worldwide.  To illustrate this, Lauren Greenfield calculated the monthly spending of six women and photographed them undergoing their beauty treatments (slideshow here).  Thanks to Karl B. for sending along the link!

26 year-old, Ginger spends $650 a month on her physical appearance. At Manhattan’s store Sephora, Ginger shops alone for cosmetics because her friends know she will spend hours. She is so obsessed with makeup that she founded her own line of cosmetics, Ginger Luxe.

PR-Company owner, Claudine (29) compares prices at Duane Reade drug store in Upper East Side Manhattan. Claudine spends only $80 each month on her personal grooming. Her philosophy is ‘the less stuff I use, the better I look’.

New York City actress Cameron (25) spends $620 a month on her personal grooming. Cameron reveals that her hair is the key to her personality, ‘I spend so much time with my hair-stylists, they’re like my family’.

New York City hedge-fund exec Suzanne (36) spends $1720 a month on personal grooming.  At ‘Skin & Spa’ cosmetic surgery center, Suzanne receives Botox from Dr. Howard Sobel, a treatment that she receives 3 times a year.

25-year-old Manhattan publicist, Laura gets her eyebrows threaded, an Indian technique where hair is pulled out at the roots. Laura spends $145 a month on her personal grooming, but her mother is a hair stylist who cuts and colors Laura’s hair monthly for free.

Fashion company spokeswoman, Jennifer, 27 receives a spray tan at a top New York salon. Jennifer spends $865 on personal grooming, ‘My spa time’s not a splurge-it’s a necessity!’

For more on beauty and spending, see our posts on the scientizing of beauty products (here, here, and here), our post on how Dove and Axe are in bed together, and this post on the economics of beauty over a lifetime.

Also see Lauren Greenfield’s work on girl culture and photographs of children at a weight loss camp.

Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Using the same OECD data set that produced this graph on time spent eating and BMI, Floyd Norris at the New York Times brings us a new finding. The “10 countries where people spend less than 100 minutes eating and drinking each day have, as a group, consistently shown higher economic growth than those that took more than 100 minutes to savor their daily repasts.”

eatquicklyAs before, the statistics are far from conclusive, but the data continues to invite a discussion about food and culture.

It also invites a discussion of atheoretical data analysis. Last year, Chris Anderson’s article in Wired Magazine (The End of Theory: The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete) argued that our ability to generate vast amounts of data, made theory unnecessary, and that scientists were starting to look at correlations as a sufficient analysis level of analysis.

Cross-posted at PolicyMic.

I recently came across two really fascinating figures.  The United States has a system of “progressive taxation.”  This means that the richer you are, the more you pay in taxes.  This first figure, found at The American Prospect, shows the percentage of total income earned by Americans (split up into quintiles) and the tax rates for each group.   The poorest quintile, then, pays 4.3 percent of their income to the government, but only makes 3.9 percent of all income dollars each year.  In contrast, the richest quintile brings home 55.7 percent of all income dollars each year, and pays 25.9 percent of that in taxes.


Ezra Klein writes:

When you look at percentage of total tax liabilities, the rich do in fact bear a heavier burden. But it’s because they have so much more money. They are not bearing a heavier burden as a percentage of their incomes. They’re bearing it in relation to everyone else’s incomes… People hear that the top 20 percent pay almost 70 percent of the country’s income taxes and nod their head. That’s unfair! But it mainly seems unfair because people don’t know the top 20 percent accounts for almost 60 percent of the national income.

This second figure (from Matthew Yglesias via Thick Culture) illustrates increasing income inequality.  It compares the average after-tax income for each  quintile, and then the top 1 percent, in 1979 and 2006.  During that time, the poorest fifth saw their incomes increase 11 percent, the middle fifth saw their income increase by 21 percent, and the richest fifth saw their income increase by 87 percent.  Check out the percent increase for the top one percent!


(For more great illustrations of income inequality in the U.S., see here, here, and here; for a comparison of income inequality in the U.S. and elsewhere, see here.)

What does fair look like?

Is this kind of income inequality fair?  Is it fair to take a higher proportion of taxes from richer people?  Should we be taking even more from the rich?  Should we be taking less from any group?

Does it matter where the money is going?  I have to admit, I was feeling a little crappy about taxes when we were spending billions of dollars on war, but now that we need to kick start the economy and deal with our debt, I feel fine about them.

Has the economic crisis affected your opinions on (progressive) taxation?  How?

Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

I recently posted about how the economic downturn isn’t affecting all of us equally.  We can say the same for the rash of home foreclosures.  Some people, of course, are losing their homes and other’s aren’t.  But, in addition to that, some people are seeing the value of their homes go down more than others due to the housing crisis.  For example, if you don’t lose your house, but lots of other people in your neighborhood do, the value of your house will fall moreso than the values of homes in neighborhoods with little to no foreclosure.  Photographer Camilo Jose Vergara draws our attention to yet another unequal casualty of the housing crisis: owners of duplexes who are, disproportionately, working class and urban. 

How are owners of duplexes uniquely affected by foreclosure?  First, if the other half of your duplex is abandoned or under foreclosure, your half is significantly devalued.  And, second, as Vergara writes:

Those living in the occupied home often have their lives made more difficult by what happens on the other side of a shared wall…  people throw trash in the front and back yards of the vacant unit, causing foul smells and attracting rats. Physical problems in the empty shell cause accelerated decay in the occupied house. Water may be left running in the unoccupied unit, causing moisture to migrate next door. In cold weather, pipes burst. Joists rot and collapse, tearing bricks out of the shared wall. And if the empty dwelling is not properly sealed, prostitutes and drug addicts may break in and start fires.

The images:







Via the Daily Dish.


This PostSecret secret offers me an excuse to go on a rant:

Instead of an opportunity to start a national discussion about class, the recession appears to be stimulating a bunch of nationalist, and obfuscatory, rhetoric about our common condition.

If you listen to most media outlets they say that “America” is in recession.  But not everyone in America is feeling the pain of this economic downturn equally.  I, for example, have not lost my job, have not seen my pay cut, have not lost any benefits, and however much 401k money I’ve lost is rather irrelevant as I’m in my 30s and have no need for it right now.  I am not suffering in this economic depression.   In fact, I’m taking a junior sabattical next year and going half pay BY CHOICE.

Further, I keep hearing things like: “This is a great time to buy a house!” and “Stocks are cheap!  You should invest in [insert random company here]!”  (This advice is lost on a person who comes from humble beginnings and is voluntarily going half pay next year, but I digress.)

So, for many people, this economic downturn is kind of fantastic.  Houses are cheap, stocks are cheap, and companies are offering great deals just to stay afloat.  Plenty of people I know who are upper middle and upper class are considering this a great time to invest (see here for an example).  They look forward to ultimately benefitting from this economic disaster.

Lots of other people around me are suffering.  If you’re already poor or working-class, out-of-work, near retirement or retired, struggling under an adjustable rate mortgage, (and I’m sure there are others I’m forgetting), you may be screwed.

So I wish we would stop talking about how “America” is in recession.  This recession is hurting some kinds of people more than others.  On the whole, those people who were underprivileged before the downturn are taking the brunt of it.


For more on the economy, visit these posts: increases in household debt, job loss and unemployment (herehere, here, and here), cessna responds to the attack on private jet travel, Walmart encourages moms to make the difference, an animated explanation of the credit crisis, images of  the economic depression in Las Vegas (here and here), slumping car sales and overstocked lots, measuring the recession with beer sales, and changes in immigration.

The desperate economic situation of Detroit, Michigan is in the headlines these days.  From the New York Times:

In one sign of distress, in the first nine months of this year [2008], some 130,000 Michigan residents who had lost their jobs remained out of work so long that they ran out of regular unemployment benefits. By the middle of this month, 63,000 people (who had already run out of their ordinary maximum benefit — as many as 26 weeks, at as much as $362 a week) also ran out of an extension authorized by Congress.

This figure shows the unemployment and forclosure rate in Michigan as of Oct. 2008.  It shows that Michigan in general, and Detroit especially, is doing much worse than the national average:


Today’s numbers reflect not just the current recession, but 30 years of decline.  A figure from Spiegel reveals that the marketshare of U.S. automakers have been steadily dwindling:


Spiegel reports that the city has lost more than half its inhabitants since the 1950s (from close to 2 million, to 917,000 in 2009).  The tax base has plummeted and city services, in turn, have been cut.

The conditions in Detroit are dire, and they contrast greatly with the city in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Then, Detroit’s shipping and manufacturing economy, innovative for its time, made it a rich and vibrant city.  Today, the ruins of that vibrancy still occupy the city.

Detroit’s main train station, opened in 1913 has not been used since 1988:


Constructed in 1893 in the once-elegant Brush Park neighborhood, this home, designed by architect Albert Kahn, was moved from its original location several years ago by preservationists who hoped to preserve it. It was demolished last year:


Many of the city’s Catholic schools have been closed, though the churches they are affiliated with remain active:


One of the city’s most prominent skyscrapers, this 35-story tower once housed the offices of many doctors, lawyers and dentists. It has been virtually empty since the 1980s. Developers hope to convert the building to residential units by 2010:


This spectacular Spanish Gothic theater, built in 1928, was closed in the 1970s:


Once one of the most luxurious residential hotels in Detroit, Lee Plaza closed in the 1990s:


The Farwell Building:


Photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre write: Detroit’s “splendid decaying monuments are, no less than the Pyramids of Egypt, the Coliseum of Rome, or the Acropolis in Athens, remnants of the passing of a great civilization.”

Images first found here.