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Bottom line: the middle class is disposable...


Bill Hicks

I did the math on my blog today and determined that if health insurance costs continue to rise at that 9% annual rate, the family insurance premium will be over $32,000 by 2020, or about two-thirds of the median annual household income (before taxes) of around $49,000.

Good luck with that.


How could you forget gas prices?:

Consumer groups" -- essentially, families or single people--spent $48,109 on average last year--a drop of 2 percent from 2009, a Labor Department study found (pdf). Behind the decrease was a 0.6 percent drop in average income, to $62,481. (Remember, we're often talking about two people who combine their income--the average individual income is far lower.)

At the same time, consumer prices increased by 1.6 percent, creating a squeeze for many working families.

The only two types of spending that saw an increase? Health care and transportation.

Health care costs have been rising rapidly over the last decade--a problem that President Obama's health-care overhaul, which won't fully go into effect until 2014, was designed in part to address. A new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation released Tuesday found that the average annual premium for a family covered through an employer increased by a whopping 9 percent last year, to $15,073.

But transportation costs spiked even more than health care: Gasoline prices increased by 18 percent over 2009 prices.


Oh, and as for bringing back slavery:



This just in:

Bank of America will begin charging customers $5 a month next year for using their debit cards to make purchases, the company announced Thursday.

The move comes as U.S. banks are seeking ways to increase their revenue in the wake of new regulations on the financial industry. Starting in October, in addition to existing caps on overdraft fees, banks will face a limit on how much they can charge merchants when customers use debit cards to purchase goods and services. The new provision is the result of the Dodd-Frank banking reform bill, which President Obama signed into law last year.

In the past, fees from debit cards have provided significant revenue for American banks, generating $19 billion in 2009, according to the Associated Press reports. But the new limits on these fees could threaten this reliable cash flow. So instead the banks are expected to shift the fees from the merchants to the customers.

"The economics of offering a debit card have changed," Bank of America spokeswoman Anne Pace told Reuters on Thursday. Pace also tried to offer some consolation to potentially disgruntled debit-card users, explaining that customers won't be charged if they only use their cards at an ATM.

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