How Will the Fiscal Cliff Affect You?

Like the vast majority of people living in the United States, after reading the handy WSJ infographic I have absolutely no idea.  To borrow a line from Lindsay Beyerstein, I do especially like the fact that the single mother valiantly trying to scrape by on a measly $180 $260 grand a year is portrayed like someone in a dust bowl photograph commissioned by the Farm Security Administration.

84 comments on this post.
  1. Cody:

    Holy Shit.

    So the only question is: Does the WSJ think that the average single mother makes 180,000 a year? I guess they probably do. That’s the “poor” people they got out and talked to.

    On a side note, where do I sign up to join this infographic? I’ll settle for 2 kids 180g income a year. Don’t call me greedy.

  2. R. Porrofatto:

    The sad single mother has to make do with $260k, not $180k. So it’s not as bleak as you make it out to be. There will be some food on the table, at least on a few days a week.

  3. Gin & Tonic:

    No, that poor, poor single mother is trying to scrape by on $260k/yr. It’s that retired black couple who’s destitute on $180k/yr, and still looking miserable even though their taxes aren’t going up at all.

  4. Hogan:

    Yeah, thank God for that $35K in investment income or she’d be in Sophie’s Choice territory.

  5. JKTHs:

    They must assume that people below $180K either are illiterate, don’t have computer access at all, can’t afford or figure out how to get the paywall, and somehow don’t pay the payroll tax.

  6. Dirty Davey:

    And of course, the black people don’t have any tax increase at all.

  7. NonyNony:

    Clearly the WSJ knows their own audience.

  8. Mudge:

    Some math. The poor single mother earns $260,000 a year and pays roughly $80,000 in taxes (Federal I assume). Net $180,000. She pays roughly $3500 more in tax. $1500 is from raising the investment tax to 20% from 15% (5% of $35000, oh the pain) and $2000 of that is from THE NONRENEWAL OF THE PAYROLL TAX HOLIDAY (2% of roughly $100,000, thank you Republicans).

    It’s all Obama’s fault

  9. RedSquareBear:

    Well duh. They didn’t raise taxes on t-bone steaks and Cadillacs!

  10. Cody:

    It’s important to note she’s a job creator according to Republicans, so now we’ll have that many less jobs!

  11. somethingblue:

    Certainly not. In fact, jackbooted representatives of the U.S. government will shortly be arriving at your house to confiscate and sell your children’s stuffed animals in order to give the black people a rebate on taxes they never paid in the first place because Benghazi.

  12. Snarki, child of Loki:

    Yeah, well the ConserviTards *have* been saying that $250K/year doesn’t make you “rich”.

    Except if you’re something like a schoolteacher or city bus driver, in which case $30K is living in the lap of luxury.

  13. Brandon:

    Wait, where is that retired couple getting the other $100k+ of their income if investment income is only $52k? Some kick-ass pensions that the WSJ would typically argue should be eliminated?

  14. Mudge:

    They could get maybe $50k a year from Social Security and the rest from two pensions of $35,000 or so each. The lack of any tax increase is strange, however.

  15. chris y:

    OK, let me guess. This graphic was put together by some really deep entry Trotskyist mole who’s been quietly burrowing away on the WSJ for the last 30 years, waiting for the perfect moment to issue a provocation that’ll make the masses pouring out of theaters showing Les Mis march straight to the Journal offices and storm them like the Bastille.

  16. JKTHs:

    And if you’re unemployed, even better.

  17. (the other) Davis:

    The average single mother *who reads the WSJ* probably does. I suspect they know their audience here.

  18. J.W. Hamner:

    It’s so heartbreaking to think that poor woman won’t be able to buy so many new suits this year.

  19. Julian:

    The preferred nomenclature is Trotskyite

    I’m 0-1 on correcting people today, help me out here

  20. RedSquareBear:

    Nope. Trotskyist is the self-applied label, Trotskyite is a pejorative diminutive applied by Stalin et. al.

    (That al is such an asshole…)

  21. joe from Lowell:

    “A hundred eighty grand in retirement income? How are we supposed to make someone who makes $180,000 year when they’re retired look like they’re not rich?”

    “Um…we could make them black?”

    “Genius! Someone get this guy an office upstairs!”

  22. Brandon:

  23. (the other) Davis:

    One of my Facebook friends pointed out some further absurdity in those numbers:

    For the single mom, I’d like them to footnote how much principal she invested to throw off that kind of investment income, then explain how in the world it was accumulated on that salary in those circumstances.

    My hypothesis is that she had the good sense and foresight to inherit it.

  24. Alex:

    You may laugh, but the sellers of Pink Himalayan salt and $1800 kitchen gadgets curse your name, your family, and the ground upon which you walk.

  25. Incontinentia Buttocks:

    Don’t discount a lucrative divorce settlement (bet he regrets not insisting on that pre nup, amirite?).

  26. Sherm:

    What do you expect from that rag? Its for right wing, elitist assholes who think that they’re too smart and sophisticated to read the NY Post.

  27. RedSquareBear:

    Fresh Market (the Whole Foods clone in my area) sells pink salt in a grinder-thing. It’s like a buck more than the other salt grinder-thing. I don’t get what you’re trying to say.

    It’s legitimately pretty good salt, I’d recommend it.

  28. Julian:


    I’ve never seen trotskyist anywhere, probably not well-read enough.

  29. RedSquareBear:

    Sorry bro. I can make some mistakes if you’d like:

    1. I am a Historian
    2. The Democrat party stands for Socialism
    3. If you write me that ticket I’ll call the Attorney Generals for our respective states (which are totally allowed to succeed from the union).

  30. NonyNony:

    He’s making fun of Megan McArdle.

  31. catclub:

    I think there is an absolute maximum amount paid by SS,
    and apparently it is $2315/month = $30156/yr.

    Ah, one each and it gets to $60k for the two of them.

  32. RedSquareBear:


    The nomenclature of obscure early-20th century left wing sectarian disputes: pretty good at.

    Well known (if questionably credentialed) libertarian business columnists in (fairly) major and (Scientology notwithstanding) legitimate print and online journals: not so good at.

  33. Tracy Lightcap:

    And what a coinkidink! The one couple who don’t see their taxes going up is – wait for it – black!

    Isn’t that special?

  34. Jon H:

    “and still looking miserable even though their taxes aren’t going up at all.”

    And of course it’s the black folks who are the lucky duckies with no tax increase (honorary 47%ers?), and making the lowest income of all the examples.

  35. Left_Wing_Fox:

    Poor Corgi!

  36. Jon H:

    And if you buy it as a salt lick for horses it’s about 1/3 the price of the stuff in gourmet drag.

  37. JKTHs:

    They have one of those rare mythical defined benefit pensions I’ve been hearing about?

  38. Steve LaBonne:

    Lucky duckies!

  39. Scott Lemieux:

    I dunno, does she live in New York or Chicago? If so, I don’t think $260K comes close to the poverty line.

  40. Crackity Jones:

    Re Comment 29: Attorneys General.

    Sorry. Couldn’t help it.

  41. Chuchundra:

    My daughter likes the pink salt. Anything pink is better than anything not pink when you’re a four year-old girl.

  42. Joshua:

    What I would be interested in knowing is how that woman become single. Normally, being a single mother is VERY BAD for future income, but this woman is doing just fine (maybe not by WSJ standards, but by reality). Either she is an insanely-driven and ambitious person, in which case, good for her, she is reaping the rewards with that fat income.

    Or… she married well and got a nice big divorce settlement, in which case she’s also getting some decent child support too. In that case, good for her, she’s doing just fine.

  43. Substance McGravitas:

    This is worth seeing again.

  44. JKTHs:

    Oh, I assumed that she had managed to put her surplus pennies per month into stocks that generated +1000000000000% returns.

  45. joe from Lowell:

    It’s like “courts martial” or “fillets-o-fish.”

  46. Malaclypse:

    4 Obama’s proposed changes to gun laws proves he is about to declare Marshall Law.

  47. Hogan:

    But you’re OK with “succeed from the union”?

  48. cpinva:

    those aren’t her kids, wsj rented them for the article. i want to be adopted by the married couple. a small room in the basement will be fine, as long as it has cable tv/internet service.

  49. JoyfulA:

    I have one of those. It pays me $110.00 a month.

    (To be fair, I worked there only 13 years, including part-time in college, and was barely vested, and I chose survivor benefits for my younger spouse instead of $142.00 per month.)

  50. JoyfulA:

    That sounds like a big divorce settlement.

  51. GFW:

    The Massey prenup has never been penetrated.

  52. Malaclypse:

    Perhaps she chose the same mix of funds as Mitt Romney’s IRA?

  53. malraux:

    Hell, the local Meijer (midwest walmart clone) sells the stuff now.

  54. MAJeff:

    So does Costco.

  55. Anon21:

    in (fairly) major and (Scientology notwithstanding) legitimate print and online journals

    Nah, she’s at the Daily Beast now.

    Which I suppose only proves your point. Curses!

  56. elm:

    Fresh Market? You a Tallahassee resident or are there more than one of them?

  57. wjts:

    “Whoppers Junior” is the canonical fast food example.

  58. RedSquareBear:

    They expanded a couple stores into the (relatively speaking) tony bits of Milwaukee one of which my (rather less tony) suburb happens to border.

    They’re pretty good. Good cheese and beer sections. The deli is nothing special though.

  59. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    Yes. Go, Riley.

  60. RedSquareBear:

    Guys! Stop it. Those were for Julian.

    He’s going to has a sad.

    I hope you all feel big now.

  61. cpinva:

    many years ago, when i was commuting by bus up to my office in DC, the bus went down 14th street on the way home. back then, 14th street was well known for its topless bars and porn stores. one day, while stopped at a red light, i happened to glance at a sign, in one porn store’s window. among other items for sale, were “martial aids”.

    “4 Obama’s proposed changes to gun laws proves he is about to declare Marshall Law.”

    to this day, i have no idea what those might have been, and it’s probably best that i remain ignorant.

  62. Brandon C.:


  63. Dave:

    That is the only point of note here. The snark writes itself, but nobody at the WSJ is pretending to care…

  64. Cody:

    What are with the links at the bottom of the blog post?

  65. Malaclypse:


  66. Chuchundra:

    Yes, indocrination is okay when we do it. Ain’t that right.

  67. rm:

    If your name is Marshall, you are in good shape. Note to self: suck up to Marshall at the office more.

  68. rm:


    The single woman is so upset she got her pearl necklace tangled in her blouse; it goes inside the shirt on one side and under the collar on the other. Oh, the humanity.

  69. Vance Maverick:

    younger spouse

    Bigamy is expensive!

  70. Njorl:

    What if I’m discussing the highest ranking JAG officers?

  71. Sweetums:

    “martial aids”

    Jason Ogg might be able to explain those to you.

  72. Pestilence:

    There’s one in one of the leafier bits of Little Rock, for that matter.

  73. Bill Murray:

    I think all the MRA guys would say alimony

  74. Jerry Vinokurov:

    A friend of mine noted on Facebook that the picture of the single woman with her two kids who earns $260,000 looks like it was drawn to be evocative of Lange’s Migrant Mother. Truly, the irony, it is dead.

  75. DrDick:

    They are trying to put The Onion out of business.

  76. UserGoogol:

    Eh, I really don’t see it. There’s only so many ways you can depict an unhappy woman with two children in a relatively small space. And even then, the particular poses are quite different. And simply the mom-with-two-kids setup seems fairly generic.

  77. Jeremy:

    In a surprise twist, the GOP has decided that they’re fans of Murphy Brown’s life choices after all.

  78. JustRuss:

    While he’s at it, could he declare Marshall Plan for the 99% of us who aren’t WSJ readers?

  79. Scott Lemieux:

    They have one here in sunny Albany. Pretty nice, actually, cheaper than Whole Foods.

  80. elm:

    Huh. I never realized it was a chain, thought it was just a one-off Whole Foods clone for a city that couldn’t attract a real Whole Foods.

    Learn something new every day, I guess.

  81. Alex:

    Now that you can get it at Costco, McArdle will likely move on from cheap, commonplace stuff like pink himalayan salt to $300 vials of salt formed from the tears of parents of her human wave toddler fodder suicide squads, trained to rush assault rifle-wielding gunmen.

  82. RedSquareBear:

    I don’t think it matters.

    “The senior-most of the several Judge Advocates General” is what I’d go with.

    I wasn’t 100% on that but Wiki seems to back me up.

  83. Alex:

    Pink Himalayan salt-licking leftist Fresh Markett shopping pinko academician, you!!

    From Hell’s heart, McArdle stabs at thee!

  84. Djur:

    Where is this from? I’m particularly interested in the use of the “kill your parents” meme regarding Ron Paul.

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