Not to state the obvious, tomorrow is the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Do you remember where you were and who called you to turn the news on? A number of classic TV premiers (keeping this a bit lighter). The Rookies (1972), The Carol Burnett Show (1967) and Little House on the Prairie” (1974).
I was listening to NPR this morning and they were talking about the high cost of medicine in this country compared to other industrialized countries (we have one of the most expensive, if not the most expensive). Our doctors make up to 70% more than their European contemporaries. I believe education, hard work, skill levels all deserve appropriate compensation. I only attended college for four years and my course load was not what the pre-meds had. And I didn’t have to go through graduate school and residency. I’m sure the insurance for my business is less than theirs and I buy beds, not MRI’s. But average incomes of $400k to $500k a year seems disproportionate to me. Dr Patel, the doctor who’s practice was in Tampa and he recently bought the Hilton Downtown. This isn’t his first or only hotel. He has a whole group of them and other investments. It’s like professional athletes. I know their careers are shorter than other professions and they have to make when they can while they’re in their prime. Bankers and other money professionals don’t have the high skill level of athletes nor the education of doctors and many of them make even more. I’m coming to my point:
A report by the Department of Agriculture shows that 17.2 million American households had difficulty feeding their families. This is near record levels. They are calling this “food insecurities” these days. One in three of these Americans were classified as having “very low food security” i.e. they were going without meals! If you look at it individually, instead of households, one in six Americans have “food security” issues. This is most common in urban and rural locations, obvious. A record 49 million people received food stamps. With the Republican passed budget, 20% of the program will be reduced next year. I think politicians that voted for that should have to go into these households and take 20% of the food in their pantries out. Or maybe we should make them actually pull 20% of a child’s meal out of their mouths. I’m HUGE for balancing the budgets and deficit reduction. But lets cut out subsidies for unprofitable rural airports, let’s stop paying $85 for a hammer for the military, lets stop monetarily supporting our enemies, the Taliban, by keeping track of the billions we send to Afghanistan. Oh, and maybe listen to the billionaire Warren Buffet when he says the rich should pay higher taxes.
And if I can continue on this vein, nearly one in three Americans that grew up in middle class families have slipped down the income ladder. This has recently been reported by the Pew Charitable Trusts. The study focused on people that were middle class teenagers in 1979 and between 39 and 44 years old in 2005. People were deemed downwardly mobile if they fell below the 30th percentile in income. Married couples were the most stable in maintaining their middle class status. Divorced men and women were more prone to downward mobility, single mothers were one of the worst. The obvious factor of education had the biggest effect on maintaining you social standing. The higher the education not only pretty much ensured you kept your middle class status, but it gave you a good shot at improving it. Conversely, not getting at least a college degree or worse not finishing high school is more or less a death knoll for your station in life.
OK, I’ll be nice now.
There’s a number of art galleries on Penn Avenue. Some are actual businesses, some are store fronts owned by the Cultural District and they let artists set up shows in them. A current one at 707 Penn Avenue runs through September 11 is by Felipe Garcia-Huidobro who focuses a lot on poster art. Poster art has been around since the early 1800′s and has been advertising everything from concerts to religious events. In some European cities, posters over posters get so thick that it’s like rings on trees and they bring with them memories of past events. Felipe got intrigued while studying art in Barcelona. One of his pieces cut from 400 kilograms called Culture Boy was created from Culture Club’s posters. Different and interesting. Another artist on display down there at 709 Penn Avenue is Stephanie Armbruster. This abstract artist takes pieces of architecture, signs, building facades, even chandeliers and works these into her works. She tries to work her urban experiences with these pieces showing parts of life that have separated and can never to totally reassembled, yet become a part of us forever.
The new “Captains of Industry” again have a strong Pittsburgh tie. We all know Miami’s Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks grew up in Mt Lebanon. He made his fortune by selling an Internet radio company. Did you know the owner of Groupon, Andrew Mason also grew up in Mt Lebanon? Chad Hurley, co-founder of You Tube in 1995 and sold it to Google a year later for $1.65 billion went to IUP. Charles Geschke, a CMU graduate co-founded Adobe and is still with it. Michael Mauldin, also a former CMU student and teacher developed an Internet search code that became Lycos (he and the University later sold it for $2 million in 1995 and it was sold ten years later for $12.5 billion). Andy Bechtolsheim and Vinod Khosia both co-founded Sun Microsystems which Oracle bought last year for $7.4 billion. Not too shabby for a little old Pittsburgh.
That’s about it for this post, have a good night and remember hour hero’s of ten years ago tomorrow some how,