Grasping for straws that stir the drink.

Month: September, 2011

Lifestyles of the rich and famous

Niles, Ohio — Warren Buffet wants the federal government to stop coddling the super-rich.

President Barack Obama wants to stop coddling the super-rich.

Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin thinks it’s all just a case of class warfare.

Ryan’s right. There is class warfare.

The wealthy are winning the war.

In fact, the wealth of the average American and that of a wealthy individual are are growing further apart, according to stats from the Economic Policy Institute.

While a majority of Americans have seen their wealth decline during the past three decades, the top 4 percent of earners have seen significant increases.

As EPI puts it:

The richest 5 percent of households obtained roughly 82 percent of all the nation’s gains in wealth between 1983 and 2009. The bottom 60 percent of households actually had less wealth in 2009 than in 1983, meaning they did not participate at all in the growth of wealth over this period.

Remember this chart when Obama and the GOP begin — or continue — spewing their political rhetoric over Obama’s plan, which calls for tax increases for those with incomes of more than $1 million.

About 450,000 of 144 million tax filers, or 0.3 percent of America, could take a financial hit, according to the Obama administration, though the exact magnitude of the tax increase is still unknown.

About six times as many tax filers would have been subject to tax hikes had the Bush-era income tax cuts not been extended in late 2010.

But politics aside, ask yourself one question. Is the war on class becoming another war our country can’t afford?

Follow Karl Henkel on Twitter, friend him on Facebook.


Hot dog or game ticket? You decide

Youngstown, Ohio — Average price for a Cleveland Browns ticket? $55.

How about the Pittsburgh Steelers? $74.

Cleveland Browns

Cleveland Browns fans regularly have to spend $55 to watch a team that hasn't won its division since 1989.

Any high school football team in the Mahoning Valley? $6.

Or, to put that in context, slightly more than a hot dog at an NFL game.

Pro-football ticket prices have climbed nearly 30 percent during the past five years, according to a 2010 survey by Team Marketing Report.

(Note: The 2011 report came out after this story was published. Average prices did not change significantly.)

But one ticket price remains relatively unchanged — high-school football tickets.

Read the rest of the story here.

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I’m on Twitter and I write for a newspaper. What’s cooler than that?

Niles, Ohio — Eight months ago I made two changes.

I joined Twitter and started working at a newspaper.

As someone in Generation Y, one of those seems obviously cooler than the other.

The newspaper, of course. Go ahead, laugh.

But according to Pew Research, about 1 in 4 people under age 30 read a newspaper. It’s a shocking number, to say the least. I’d be hard-pressed to name a handful of Gen Ys who’ve read a newspaper in the past year, and that doesn’t even guarantee they paid for one.

But as pathetic as 25-percent readership is for the fastest-growing generation since the Baby Boomers, newspapers still top Twitter among Gen Ys.

TwitterThat’s right, that Twitter. The same Twitter that media professionals have beaten into the brains of media up-and-comers (or future flameouts) like myself.

“Those in media must use Twitter or accept irrelevancy,” a media “hot shot” once told me.

I guess most people qualify as “irrelevant.”

Only 50 of 370 “friends” on my Michigan-maintained Facebook page use Twitter and close to half only use it regularly.

Fifty of 370? That’s 13 percent.

But hey, that’s just my experience, right?

Nope: Only 13 percent of the entire population uses Twitter. That number grows slightly to 18 percent for people ages 18 to 30.

Twitter recently topped 100 million active users worldwide. For comparison’s sake, Twitter has 87-percent fewer users than Facebook, the No. 1 social media website on the planet.

The numbers are so low that Gen Ys are more likely to use drugs or be obese than use Twitter.

The microblogging site is growing, there’s no doubt about it, but it’s nowhere near as popular as we’re led to believe. Especially considering those who use Twitter — the media, businesses and advertisers — are likely tweeting information among themselves, when odds are they would share that same information without Twitter.

Don’t believe me? As of April, only 10 percent of Twitter accounts followed more than 50 people. The average Facebook user has 130 friends. Simple math, folks. The average Facebook user can reach two-and-a-half times the audience of Twitter.

These stats aren’t going to deter me from tweeting. It’s still a necessary evil in today’s media world (despite what mentor and genius Jack Lessenberry says). Truth be told, tweeting produces a fair amount of pertinent information considering the minimal time investment.

You know what else produces a fair amount of pertinent information for a minimal time investment?

A newspaper.

But that’s not cool either, is it?

Follow Karl Henkel on Twitter, friend him on Facebook.