Author Topic: Income Inequality  (Read 23606 times)

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Offline jam40jeff

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1320 on: September 13, 2018, 04:13:06 PM »
I also don't agree with the fact that public transit can get you to a grocery store in the same amount of time it takes to drive somewhere in the country.  This is only true if you time your trip to get to bus stops at the right time, don't have a transfer, and have frequent bus service.  If it's a Saturday or Sunday, you might only have one bus per hour on your route.  God forbid you have to transfer.  Oy.

Not to mention what a pain it is to lug a bunch of groceries around on the bus.  People with smaller houses and those that use public transportation are much less able to buy in bulk from large stores, which means they usually end up paying more.

Also, fast food is crazy cheap and convenient.  For people working two jobs, time is money, and a $3 fast food meal is unfortunately quicker and easier than going grocery shopping to spend a comparable amount (or more) on ingredients that then need to be prepared.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2018, 04:16:53 PM by jam40jeff »

Offline jmecklenborg

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1321 on: September 13, 2018, 04:17:56 PM »
A lot of poor people walk or take a bus to the grocery store, then take a cab back. 

Offline freefourur

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1322 on: September 13, 2018, 04:18:53 PM »
A lot of poor people walk or take a bus to the grocery store, then take a cab back.

This is true but it adds a lot of cost to that "cheaper" food.

Offline X

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1323 on: September 13, 2018, 04:25:17 PM »
I also don't agree with the fact that public transit can get you to a grocery store in the same amount of time it takes to drive somewhere in the country.  This is only true if you time your trip to get to bus stops at the right time, don't have a transfer, and have frequent bus service.  If it's a Saturday or Sunday, you might only have one bus per hour on your route.  God forbid you have to transfer.  Oy.

Not to mention what a pain it is to lug a bunch of groceries around on the bus.  People with smaller houses and those that use public transportation are much less able to buy in bulk from large stores, which means they usually end up paying more.

Also, fast food is crazy cheap and convenient.  For people working two jobs, time is money, and a $3 fast food meal is unfortunately quicker and easier than going grocery shopping to spend a comparable amount (or more) on ingredients that then need to be prepared.

It really isn't that cheap though.  A $3 fast food meal isn't actually much food, for one.  If you're feeding a family that gets more expensive quickly, too.  Unfortunately this "eating healthy is expensive" rhetoric is very counterproductive.  The convenience argument is more convincing, but if you're making minimum wage it can get economical to cook for yourself and your family (and do other things for yourself) and work a few less hours pretty quickly.  I think the barrier is more about knowledge/skills.

Offline freefourur

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1324 on: September 13, 2018, 04:30:03 PM »
^ I agree with your point as well.

Offline jmicha

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1325 on: September 13, 2018, 04:30:10 PM »
It's a problem of education, the fact that cheap junk IS most readily accessible (that isn't rhetoric, it's one of the huge premises of food deserts and is well documented), and an inability to be flexible with time. The reality is that the lower income you are, the less likely you are to have control over when you work and often work hours that don't align with the needs of your family. As a result it's the convenience factor that comes into play with prepared food, fast food, junk food, etc.

Offline jam40jeff

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1326 on: September 13, 2018, 04:41:11 PM »
The convenience argument is more convincing, but if you're making minimum wage it can get economical to cook for yourself and your family (and do other things for yourself) and work a few less hours pretty quickly.

How many minimum wage jobs cater to your desired schedule like that?

Offline jam40jeff

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1327 on: September 13, 2018, 04:43:30 PM »

Offline X

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1328 on: September 13, 2018, 04:51:23 PM »
The problem with that study is they compared it on a per-calorie basis.  Healthy food tends to be more sustaining per calorie then processed foods.  Ever notice how easy it is to eat 1,000 calories of chips or candy and still be hungry?

And it's possible to eat healthier even if dinner isn't at 6:00 pm every day.

Offline GCrites80s

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1329 on: September 13, 2018, 05:02:08 PM »
I'm sure today's smaller families are forced to throw out much more food than the 6-kid households of the past.

Offline jam40jeff

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1330 on: September 13, 2018, 05:02:58 PM »
The problem with that study is they compared it on a per-calorie basis.

Quote
Both prices per serving and per calorie were assessed because prices can vary depending on the unit of comparison.

Offline Ram23

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1331 on: September 13, 2018, 05:07:37 PM »
Unfortunately this "eating healthy is expensive" rhetoric is very counterproductive.

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/healthy-vs-unhealthy-diet-costs-1-50-more/

I just skimmed that, but if I did so correctly it looks like they associated costs to calories? You can get equally as full eating a bag of chips as you can a bag of celery sticks. The chips might get you 250+ calories, whereas the celery will get you 15 or so. The chips are far cheaper per calorie, but they're empty calories and aren't making you feel any fuller than the celery. If you're routinely eating things like bags of chips, you're probably eating well over 2000 calories a day, whereas you could cut your calorie intake, be healthier, and save money by opting for lower calorie healthy foods.

I slowly stopped eating most junk food about halfway through college and it was a big cost savings for me. All I've got are anecdotes, but they're pretty simple ones: a whole fresh chicken is much cheaper than a bag of frozen chicken tendies, a 5 pound sack of potatoes is cheaper than a 1lb bag of potato chips, etc.

Offline jam40jeff

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1332 on: September 13, 2018, 05:13:20 PM »
Again...

Quote
Both prices per serving and per calorie were assessed because prices can vary depending on the unit of comparison.

I'll take a Harvard study over your anecdotes any day.

Offline DEPACincy

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1333 on: September 13, 2018, 05:21:02 PM »
A lot of it is about how much longer junk food keeps than fresh food. When you're poor, a lot of times you are only able to make it to the real grocery store once a month.

If you live out in the countryside, then maybe.  Or if we're talking about people so poor that they don't even own a refrigerator and freezer.  But even looking at people around the poverty line, that isn't usually the case.  Most poor people are urban and therefore are highly likely to live closer to a full-service grocery store than most living in outlying townships.  Even if the wealthy person in the township has a car and the poor person in the city has to use slower public transportation, the travel time to a grocery store is often quite similar.  Food deserts do exist but they're a lot rarer than some people think.

Most poor people are not urban. That is just a stereotype. Per the Census, about 43% of the poor population lives in central cities. Combined, the suburbs and rural areas make up a larger share, and poverty rates are highest in rural areas. I grew up in Appalachian Ohio and I can assure you that there are lots of families who have a hard time getting to the grocery store.

I grew up very near Appalachian Ohio, too (Licking County isn't considered Appalachia but Muskingum, next county over, is).  Getting healthy food was not an economic hardship that would be beyond the financial capabilities of even most of the poor people there.  Fruits and vegetables are not that expensive, including when canned or frozen to last longer.

Haha, ok. Not to be flippant, but Licking County has the 13th highest median household income of Ohio's 88 counties. I grew up in Adams County, which has the second lowest. Go talk to some folks in the hollers down by the Ohio River and tell me something about economic hardship and getting healthy food.

Offline taestell

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1334 on: September 13, 2018, 05:32:18 PM »
It's a problem of education, the fact that cheap junk IS most readily accessible (that isn't rhetoric, it's one of the huge premises of food deserts and is well documented), and an inability to be flexible with time. The reality is that the lower income you are, the less likely you are to have control over when you work and often work hours that don't align with the needs of your family. As a result it's the convenience factor that comes into play with prepared food, fast food, junk food, etc.

Combine that with the fact that for very low income people, fast/junk food is one of the few cheap pleasures that they may be able to afford in life. No one believes that a Big Mac and a Coke are healthy, but chomping down a Value Meal down might be the only moment of delight that someone experiences between the two awful minimum wage jobs that they work. So in the moment they don't really care about the fact that it's unhealthy.

Offline Gramarye

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1335 on: September 13, 2018, 05:40:06 PM »
I grew up very near Appalachian Ohio, too (Licking County isn't considered Appalachia but Muskingum, next county over, is).  Getting healthy food was not an economic hardship that would be beyond the financial capabilities of even most of the poor people there.  Fruits and vegetables are not that expensive, including when canned or frozen to last longer.

New Albany, Granville, and Reynoldsburg are in Licking County.  Those are straight up suburban, the opposite of Appalachian.  So it really depends on what part of Licking County you grew up in, but I have a feeling you're stretching this one for your benefit.

Heh.  I didn't grow up in New Albany, and back when I was there, New Albany was not like it is now.

That said, no, I'm not suggesting Kirkersville was like the rougher parts of Adams County.  But it sure as heck wasn't Granville or modern New Albany.  Per the 2000 census, men's median income in the town was about $35k, women's about $25k.  Adams County might well be lower (and certain communities within it I'm sure are).  But I doubt it would be by that much.

Offline Gramarye

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1336 on: September 13, 2018, 05:44:15 PM »
I also don't agree with the fact that public transit can get you to a grocery store in the same amount of time it takes to drive somewhere in the country.  This is only true if you time your trip to get to bus stops at the right time, don't have a transfer, and have frequent bus service.  If it's a Saturday or Sunday, you might only have one bus per hour on your route.  God forbid you have to transfer.  Oy.

Not to mention what a pain it is to lug a bunch of groceries around on the bus.  People with smaller houses and those that use public transportation are much less able to buy in bulk from large stores, which means they usually end up paying more.

Also, fast food is crazy cheap and convenient.  For people working two jobs, time is money, and a $3 fast food meal is unfortunately quicker and easier than going grocery shopping to spend a comparable amount (or more) on ingredients that then need to be prepared.

That argument for people working two jobs applies just as equally to people with two jobs with a combined income over $200k, since it's a point more about time than money.

I'll be interested to see whether grocery home delivery services get much penetration in poor areas in coming years.  It's definitely a growing sector.  It could definitely save some families time they don't have (again, regardless of whether their income is 10th percentile or 90th).  I haven't seen enough information on it to draw any kind of conclusion or make any kind of prediction, though.

Offline X

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1337 on: September 13, 2018, 05:55:02 PM »
Again...

Quote
Both prices per serving and per calorie were assessed because prices can vary depending on the unit of comparison.

I'll take a Harvard study over your anecdotes any day.

I'm not sure that a "serving" of chips is equally as filling/sustaining as a "serving" of something healthier.  I'm, in fact, not sure that "serving" is really a legitimate unit of measure, as it seems that manufacturers change serving sizes to make the calorie and nutritional counts come out looking as good or not bad as possible.

Offline GCrites80s

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1338 on: September 13, 2018, 05:59:12 PM »
There's also an enormous difference in how much food volume it takes to make different people feel full. Like when you go into a White Castle and see people accustomed to eating massive volume take in 3500+ calories since everything is tiny but has very high calorie density. They think that they're eating light!

Offline X

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1339 on: September 13, 2018, 06:38:23 PM »
One big question in a study like this is what substitutes out for what.  So if healthy protein means fresh fish instead of hamburger, that drives the price of the healthy diet through the roof.  If pulse/cereal combinations (i.e. rice and beans) are substituted for the burger, the healthy diet is probably cheaper.  In fact it is the meat/protein in their breakdown of the diet that makes the biggest price difference in that Harvard study.

Offline DarkandStormy

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1340 on: September 13, 2018, 06:43:35 PM »
We save a bunch buying produce and making our own meals vs. pre-prepared meals or fast food.  I've done the calcs on a per meal basis.
Very Stable Genius

Offline jmecklenborg

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1341 on: September 13, 2018, 07:09:07 PM »
I never had anything from the meat counter or seafood counter growing up.  Everything was frozen or canned.  I honestly didn't know what those people were doing.  Both the people working there at those counters and the customers.  I think I thought that they were packaging the meat and seafood.  I do not recall ever setting foot in a butcher shop or knowing why they existed, except for the fact one of my friends dad's worked at one and we'd ride our bikes there on hot days and hang out in the meat locker with the cows and pigs.  But again, I didn't know that people actually bought the meat to eat because it tasted better than frozen meat or that there was anything "low-class" about frozen and canned food.  I thought that was what food was. 

I also didn't know that spinach was a leaf.  I thought it was ground up mushy stuff that came out of a can.  The first time I realized that spinach was a leaf was when I saw it as a pizza topping.  I expected a little pile of canned spinach. 

Offline GCrites80s

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1342 on: September 13, 2018, 08:30:37 PM »
I've heard a lot of people who grew up in the '90s and later refer to '70s/'80s parenting as "lazy" due to the prevalence of frozen food, TV dinners, Manwich, Hamburger Helper, Rice-a-Roni, macaroni and cheese, and fewer organized activities for children, the fact that we all know the same TV shows, grew up eating fast food etc. They see what TV commercials were like when they weren't dominated by medical stuff and trucks.

Offline jmecklenborg

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1343 on: September 13, 2018, 09:06:19 PM »
People all watched the same shows because there were only 3 channels. 

Also, people don't understand that the Depression-era people grew up eating 100% "locally sourced organic food" but then had their diets greatly expanded by canning and refrigeration.  Suddenly you could eat stuff that was otherwise perishable or otherwise went out of season.  People in the interior ate very little fish other than what they themselves caught. 

I saw a very interesting youtube comment once below a very early 1950s country music TV appearance.  The guy was old and remarked how he remembered how common the bony physique of those guys was in the south when he was young.  A lot of that was caused by a lifetime of under-eating and never eating any foods from outside their region which had nutrients they never got. 

At first blush, the people you see from back then were healthier because they were thinner and ate all "locally-sourced organic meat and produce".  But at the same time, they were probably much less healthy in other nutritional respects than their obese and sedentary offspring. 

Offline Ram23

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1344 on: September 14, 2018, 10:01:38 AM »
Again...

Quote
Both prices per serving and per calorie were assessed because prices can vary depending on the unit of comparison.

I'll take a Harvard study over your anecdotes any day.

I looked at the details of that study. They compared prices for items like lean vs. higher fat content ground beef (the lean is more expensive), chicken with skin on vs. chicken with skin removed (you pay more to have someone else take the skin off), white meat vs dark meat (dark is always cheaper), etc. These seem like trivial points with foregone conclusions. The researchers did not compare healthy food to junk food, which is what we're talking about here. The health differences between the items compared are pretty minor compared to the health differences between those items and junk food, fast food, etc. I'm not really talking about going the extra mile to eat an all organic, natural, local, health store, Whole Foods diet - which is what that study is looking at. I'm talking about giving up fast food, prepared foods, junk foods, etc. for fresh produce, poultry, rice, beans, etc.

Here's a study that's more along the lines of what I'm talking about, that concludes such a healthy diet is much cheaper than a junk food diet.

https://globalnews.ca/news/3290064/healthy-eating-food-prices/

[i/]Using prices from two major stores, the Institute of Economic Affairs found that the average cost for a “wide range” of healthy foods was about £2 per kilogram (C$3.25), compared with £3 a kilogram (C$4.90) for less-healthy products such as processed and ready-made foods.

Offline DEPACincy

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1345 on: September 14, 2018, 10:33:04 AM »
I grew up very near Appalachian Ohio, too (Licking County isn't considered Appalachia but Muskingum, next county over, is).  Getting healthy food was not an economic hardship that would be beyond the financial capabilities of even most of the poor people there.  Fruits and vegetables are not that expensive, including when canned or frozen to last longer.

New Albany, Granville, and Reynoldsburg are in Licking County.  Those are straight up suburban, the opposite of Appalachian.  So it really depends on what part of Licking County you grew up in, but I have a feeling you're stretching this one for your benefit.

Heh.  I didn't grow up in New Albany, and back when I was there, New Albany was not like it is now.

That said, no, I'm not suggesting Kirkersville was like the rougher parts of Adams County.  But it sure as heck wasn't Granville or modern New Albany.  Per the 2000 census, men's median income in the town was about $35k, women's about $25k.  Adams County might well be lower (and certain communities within it I'm sure are).  But I doubt it would be by that much.

I don't want to get in a pissing match about who grew up poorer, but there is really no comparison between Adams County and anywhere in Licking County. The MHI in Kirkersville in 2000 was $45,833. The MHI in Adams County was $29,315. The MHI in West Union, the county seat, was $20,566. My hometown's MHI was $21,250. In 2010, it was $21,285--basically unchanged.

Now think about the difference in the lives of a family making $45,000 per year vs. a family making $20,000. It is night and day. In Adams County, we had a word for families who made $45,000 per year. That word was "rich."

Offline GCrites80s

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1346 on: September 14, 2018, 11:01:25 AM »
I lived in Portsmouth for four years. Things are just way worse in Adams, Lawrence and Scioto counties than anywhere else in the state.

Okay, Vinton. And Monroe has really bad numbers also but everyone knows each other, half of them are related (to me) and everything's paid off -- so there's not much destitution.

Offline DEPACincy

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1347 on: September 14, 2018, 11:06:40 AM »
I lived in Portsmouth for four years. Things are just way worse in Adams, Lawrence and Scioto counties than anywhere else in the state.

Okay, Vinton. And Monroe has really bad numbers also but everyone knows each other, half of them are related (to me) and everything's paid off -- so there's not much destitution.

I'd add Pike and Meigs to that list, but yea basically.

Offline 327

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1348 on: September 14, 2018, 11:20:47 AM »
FWIW, in my personal experience, the healthy food I buy is often lost to spoilage.  It takes very little change in my schedule to dash my cooking plans, and it takes very few of those to cause waste.  If my work was more predictable, totally different story.

Offline Gramarye

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Re: Income Inequality
« Reply #1349 on: September 14, 2018, 12:03:34 PM »
That was definitely the case when I lived by myself.  Less so now with a family of four.  But I have a Whole Foods 365 on my commute home and a stable marriage, meaning I can stop for groceries three or four times a week if I have to (or I can pick up the kids and my wife can hit the store if we want to work things that way) (or heck, she can send one of the kids with me if it's a good idea to separate them at that particular moment).

I remain convinced that eating healthy is possible even on a poverty budget, particularly in a developed area (even if a depressed one, e.g., Youngstown) that still has reasonable cost of living.  Even with respect to those in far-flung rural counties, again, unless we're talking about those without access to refrigeration and freezing, while fresh produce may be hard to keep for the entire interval between shopping trips, it's still possible to have a fairly healthy diet with a lot of canned and frozen foods.  (Of course fresh is better, I'm not arguing that, but I'll definitely argue that canned or frozen produce still allows for preparing healthier foods at home, and at the same or lower cost, than a typical fast food meal.)

I think taestell's explanation is closer to the heart of the matter, and I'm less forgiving than he is of those kinds of self-destructive decisions.  No amount of reduction of income inequality would plausibly solve that cultural issue.  Also, this relationship is probably not entirely one-way.  Keeping yourself healthy is one way not just of making more of your income (because less will go to managing avoidable chronic health conditions), but it really does make a difference in career prospects and advancement.  I get that some people are physically disabled or suffer genetic handicaps that cannot in good conscience be held against them, but many more either create or compound their built-in issues with their own health and nutrition choices.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2018, 12:05:39 PM by Gramarye »