Many of my friends are aware that I have a thing for numbers. Maybe a little bit of obsessive-compulsive disorder. I count stairs and paces from place to place. I reduce things down to their unit cost.
Why am I bringing this up? The debt ceiling, unemployment, corporate profits and other indicators of our economy are the lead news stories. All involve numbers.
Percentages can be used in many ways. As an example, imagine a town of two people. They have twins. Population swells 100 percent. The twins grow up and move out, population falls by 50 percent.
When Exxon Mobile declares a 41 percent second quarter 2011 increase in profit, should this alarm us? Should we be happy for them? Heck, it was only $10.68 billion. They did not make the record profit they made in the third quarter of 2008. That was $14.83 billion. So should we say they are down almost 40 percent? Hmmm, quite the quandary. Their stock is up 34 percent in the last year on revenue increases of 36 percent.
How’s your revenue increase going?
Following that thought, the Pew Foundation reported a decrease in personal wealth in the U.S. since 2005 of 16 percent. That’s for white families. Hispanic families lost 66 percent and black families were right behind at 53 percent.
The interesting opposite of these numbers is that white families had average personal wealth valued at $113,149. That’s 1,800 percent and 2,000 percent that of blacks ($6,325) and Hispanics ($5,677) respectively.
The catch phrase of the debt ceiling debate has been “the job creators.” We cannot increase taxes. Period.
Funny thing about numbers: sometimes they tell an interesting story. In the 1990s, with higher tax rates, 22 million jobs were created. In 2000, we had a budget surplus. In 2001, we gave massive tax breaks to “the job creators.” More tax breaks came in proceeding years.
Net result to these tax breaks was negative job growth from 2001-2008 of an estimated 8 million jobs, while corporate profits soared, as did deficits. The wealthiest 400 people in the U.S. have 60 percent of the money. You do the math.
Craig S. Chisesi
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