A single worker with two young children needs an annual income of $57,756, or just over $27 an hour, to attain economic stability, and a family with two working parents and two young children needs to earn $67,920 a year, or about $16 an hour per worker.

That compares with the national poverty level of $22,050 for a family of four. The most recent data from the Census Bureau found that 14.3 percent of Americans were living below the poverty line in 2009.

Glance up the Business Day front and read about how we bailed out the people who crashed the economy:

The story of the Fed’s efforts to rescue giant banks like Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and Washington Mutual from the consequences of reckless lending and investments is already well known. The central bank released detailed information in December about the emergency programs it created to pump billions of dollars into those banks…

By late October 2008, the volume of outstanding loans topped $100 billion, with several dozen banks borrowing each day.

As we now know, the banks would use these bailouts to preserve their chokehold on the economy. Bankers have as much power and siphon as much money out of the economy as ever. And they pay themselves better than ever.

The rest of us—those hundreds of people waiting in line to apply for an Olive Garden gig come to mind—try to pick up after them.


Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.