Mis and mins (graph)
from David Ruccio
I have no particular objection to highlighting “the vast shift in national income toward our richest 1 percent,” even if it means focusing, for the umpteenth time, on the fate of the “middle-class” instead of on workers and the working-class.
That’s what Ian Ayres does, in utilizing the Brandeis Ratio to measure the growing gap between the average income of the richest 1 percent and median household income.
He then uses that idea to calculate other things in terms of median income, in medians or “mi” units. Thus, for example,
A new Cadillac Escalade will run you 1.4 medians. A year’s tuition at Yale Law School is about .88 medians. We might even restructure government salaries so that they automatically adjust with the median. Paying a congressman 3.5 medians (instead of the current $174,000), might make it easier for our representatives to remember and even pursue the interests of their typical constituents.
What if, instead, we looked at those things in terms of “mins,” that is, as multiples of the federal minimum wage? Then, a single Escalade would run someone 4.8 mins, while a single year in Yale Law School would be 3 mins, and the salary paid to regular members of the House and Senate equivalent to 12 mins.
But to return for a moment to the issue of the top 1 percent: in 2006, the average pretax income in that exclusive club was equivalent to a whopping 169.3 minimum wages. Does anyone want to come up with a cute name for that ratio?