Saturday, September 15, 2012

Election 2012: Am I Better Off Now Than Four Years Ago?


The question we are supposed to ask before voting is: am I better off now than I was four years ago? Yes, absolutely. In the fall of 2008 in graduate school, I was having a great time. So great that I will probably return to grad school full time before the decade is out. However, let us use some numbers to compare now to then. I make three times as much money. I think that’s what most people think of when politicians say: ‘are you better off?’ By an income measure I am far and away better. I make more money than the household median and the household mean in the USA. Now by the United States definition of wealthy I am not. I have a negative net worth and I am not very close to a six figure salary. That being said, I make way more money than I need.

My success comes from an interesting place. Due to the Clean Air Nonroad Diesel - Tier 4 Final Rule I have a job. I am employed because manufacturers have to update their machines for new regulations. Without this regulation, I would not have a job. The rule was also enacted in 2004, and is just now getting implemented. In other words, I am better off now than four years ago because of government regulation enacted by Republicans (the House and Senate and President were Republican in 2004). Who would vote for a politician that says, “I will increase regulation and drive up costs for manufacturers which will create high paying jobs for well educated people. These jobs could be done by people in India and China for lower costs, but a few of them might stay in the United States.” Yet, that’s about what happened in 2004. Republicans enacted regulation that drove up costs for corporations, but provided jobs for engineers. 

The road to here has not been smooth. I earned less than half of the poverty amount in 2010. Read any of my 2010 articles. The attitude was not great.

Aside from strict economics am I better off? Yes. I run faster, I have a paid coaching job, I have learned so much in the last four years. It’s really amazing how much in my life has changed in the last four years. I finished my masters degree, I started and failed a company and a patent, I went to Pakistan, I road tripped the US, I laughed, I cried.

If the implication is that I vote for the incumbent (Obama) based on the amount of economic or other success that I have enjoyed over the last four years, then the choice for me is clear. It would be great to triple my salary again. However, the actual reason for my success has to do with a Republican administration increasing regulation. So you can see that what actually happens and what the party line is often differ. So how can I vote for a group who says one thing when history shows they do something else? Chances are I would benefit from more employment if there was a Tier 5 rule.

Next: Do Social Issues Matter?

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