I'm always blown away by how rich Seattle is. $40,000 after tax is a lot of money! Sawant is lucky she doesn't live in Brooklyn, where she would have to scrape by on $25,000.
Still, $117K probably puts ours in the Top 5 or 6 and definitely in the Top 10 for municipalities nation-wide.
pledged two donations: $500 to Puget Sound SAGE and $15,000 to 15Now. org
a big eastern city
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She said she was going to do this during the election cycle, and the knuckledraggers have been on her case about it since she took office. She's just walking the walk she promised us she would.
And pointing out that City Council members are rather grossly overpaid compared to literally every other city in the country but one isn't a "backhanded slap at her fellow council members" so much as it is a wake up to everyone else around here that, hey, maybe we should rethink compensation for Council members in general.
That being said, I'm not quite sure her assertion that the Seattle City Council's annual salary is 2nd highest in the nation holds up: I was under the impression that Los Angeles City Council members had the highest average salaries, followed by DC, NYC (both of which are considered "part-time positions") & Philly, although my recollection is from several years ago. Still, $117K probably puts ours in the Top 5 or 6 and definitely in the Top 10 for municipalities nation-wide.
What you wrote makes zero sense. The average US individual income is $40,563 USD right now. Sawant pledged to only take home the "average" worker's income. That's $40,000. Someone grossing $25,000 a year for 40 hours a week of employment is below average by the total US scale. It's not a perfect metric, though, unless you were to start doing some analysis and excluded say the top 2% of earners and the bottom 2% of earners, perhaps. It would probably end up somewhere around $35,000-$45,000 I'd guess.
Seattle City Council: $117,000 a year.
King County Council: $135,525 a year.
WA State House & Senate members get $42,106 a year for what is supposed to be a part time gig.
US House & Congress: $174,000 a year.
@14, I guess it's open to interpretation, but Brooklyn has 2.5 million people. I think it's fair to use it as a comparison point. Also only one letter separates Kings County from King County (but Kings County is vastly, vastly poorer).
But anyway my point is adequately demonstrated by Philly, a city by anyone's standard, where the average take-home pay is $22,000. So I'll rephrase: "Sawant is lucky she doesn't live in Philadelphia, where she would have to scrape by on $22,000."
Long story short, Seattle is ridiculously affluent by comparison to east coast cities.
Additionally, most council members donate quite a bit to political campaigns and non-profit organizations. There is an expectation, even, for members to dole out a significant chunk of their salary.
Regardless, it is up to the council members to do what they feel is in the best interest of their community with their salary. Some use their wallet to help elect folks who will be friendly to Seattle. Others to "solidarity funds". Neither is bad, and kudos to CM Sawant for making a decision on how to dole out her salary.
Besides, 40K is NOTHING in a major US city - or Europe. It would suck trying to scrape by with 40k in New York City, let alone here.
In most livable major US cities on 40K you won't have very good healthcare. You likely never own your own home. You won't be going on many vacations— stay-cations at best. And you sure as shit won't be saving much for retirement let alone putting away money for a kids college education. God forbid anybody who only earns 40K and want to have kids. Good luck with that.
Americans live in the wealthiest nation in human history - by orders of magnitude. That a pittance like 40K seems rich to anybody in the US is completely depressing. The 1% really have won.
Median household income in Brooklyn in 2009 was $41,406
Median income of Manhattan was $64, 217.
Median income in DC the city in $422,124 in the greater ZIP code map it's 63K.
In Boston it's 49K.
I'm not sure why you're attempting have this bizarre fake working class East Coast vs. West Coast poverty competition, but you don't know what the fuck you're talking about.
So picture a couple earning $110,000 (pre-tax) and see if your description makes sense. Bad healthcare, no ability to own a home, no vacations (stay-cations at best).... does that sound like a lot of $110,000/year households you know? Maybe in New York! But I think in Seattle you could do okay on that kind of salary. I'm not saying $40,000/year makes you rich, I'm saying anywhere with an average income that high is in a whole different world from somewhere like Brooklyn.
Median household income:
Brooklyn: $45,215 (that is, 71% of Seattle's - and note that Brooklyn's households are about 30% bigger than Seattle's on average)
Per capita money income:
Brooklyn: $24,649 (that is, 58% of Seattle's)
Persons below poverty level:
Median value of owner-occupied housing unit:
Brooklyn: $562,600 (that is, about 28% more expensive than in Seattle)
So Brooklyn is much poorer and much more expensive than Seattle. The average Brooklynite would kill for $40,000 after taxes while the average Seattlite would have to take a $2,000/year pay cut to earn that much.
The point is not to shit on Seattle for being rich. The point is just that living on the local average income means something very different in an affluent city like Seattle than it would in a big eastern city.
Is seattle fairly affluent. Sure. But compared to DC, Manhattan, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles let alone London or Paris? Not really. Actually. Not at all. Not when you consider we have none of the amenities of those cities.
Seattle's cost of living is ridiculously high with almost no services or infrastructure like subways etc, to justify it. 40K, even after taxes is nothing.
Oh. Come on. Manhattan and DC are "big eastern cities." The East Coast of America is the most affluent and powerful place in all of human history.
You're starting with a highly biased premise and then working backwards to justify it by cherry picking. And frankly I don't understand why. But have it at.
Median household income:
NYC: $51,865 (about 82% of Seattle's, and note households are about 27% bigger in NYC)
Per capita money income:
NYC: $31,661 (about 75% of Seattle's)
Persons below poverty level:
Median value of owner-occupied housing unit:
NYC: $501,500 (about 14% more expensive)
Imagine trying to live in Seattle on a New York salary (just multiply yours by 75%), and then imagine doing it while paying 14% extra for real estate (I don't have rent comparisons, but anecdotally I'm led to believe 14% is an underestimate of how much more New Yorkers pay).
So even if you think the relevant comparison to Seattle is NYC with its 8.3 million people rather than Brooklyn with its 2.5 million people, the picture is still clear: Seattle is richer and less expensive by a wide margin.
Shocking. I'm shocked. You've shocked me. And schooled me too. I'm always so grateful whenever I run into a New Yorker generous enough to tell me all about how things are done in New York. Not a day goes by when I -- when Americans everywhere -- stop and ask ourselves, "How would a New Yorker handle this? I wish somebody from the Big Apple would come and tell me what's what."
What about other countries? Are things different there too?
What about other... planets?!
And Sawant -- and the rest of us -- are not "lucky" we don't live in Philadelphia or Brooklyn. We don't live there because we chose to live here and not there. It's not a lottery.
Rather than rude, I would actually suspect most people would find it quite a delightful breath of fresh air!
Kshama campaigned on a promise to represent workers & live in the same general conditions as workers by living on the average wage of a Seattle worker. Given this, she has political obligation to inform the public if she is fulfilling her promise.
The remainder of her salary is being donated to social movements like 15 Now, strike funds, environmental, women's, civil rights etc campaigns. This is very distinct from "philanthropy" - it is keeping a commitment (to live in the same general conditions of the workers you claim to represent) which her political organization, Socialist Alternative, believes is critical for any public representative who claims to represent working people.
It's kind of a silly gesture because, as has also been noted, those average Seattle wage earners she is referring to are generally working 40 hr weeks and don't have to deal with every Tom, Dick and Harry at the grocery store, many, many fund raisers, god awfully tedious hearings, etc.
I would argue that the salary level is about right - it is the size of the Council and the number of staff that is of concern. How many other cities the size of Seattle have 9 full time council members, each with 3 staff plus a large central staff?
It would be better however if she didn't also refuse to discuss her husband's salary and how it's component to her effective income and standard of living. It makes it seem like she's trying to hide how much money she actually lives on. Unless she's hiding something terribly horrid she might do better coming clean on the financial part. Because I frankly don't see her making it on 40k alone. She could spin whatever additional income there is as an effective donation from the the capitalist devil machine itself.
I don't mind paying government representatives and legislators a good income for good work. Sawant must deliver 117k performance.
Sawant's 40k after taxes is a little more than an average, single worker's after tax take-home.
Her husband does pretty well, no? She's still in a high income household, not that I hold his doing well against her ...
If its hard to believe Sawant can live on $40K, how can you expect minimum wage workers to get by on $15 ($30K/year) much less $9.32? It certainly helps make clear how a $15/hr min wage is far from excessive and is in reality below a genuine living wage.
@49 CC adjuncts make nowhere close to 10k a class - more like 4k give or take depending on department. If (big if) they can get the work probably 14 or 15 classes (of usually 32 students each) a year including summer session is the most that can be taught before suicide sets in.
Sawant was full time faculty though, right? Fuck I need to hit up Wikipedia or something ....
If it were easy everyone would do it. The rest of the city council would do it. How come no Seattle official has ever done this before if it's so easy?
Next you'll be touting the median income of Mumbai as proof of something.
Kshama made very clear in her campaign she was not running to advance her career or personal interests, but to politically represent the 99%. Flowing from this Sawant promised she would only take the average Seattle workers wage and donate the rest towards building social justice movements. She is now fulfilling her promise.
To those who ask, how can she get by on $40,000: the majority of the people of Seattle do just that! The $40,000 figure is roughly what the average **full-time** Seattle worker makes after taxes - but many are not able to find full time work.
But for those who are concerned $40,000 is hard to get by on, I would invite you to work with us to raise wages and living conditions (for the majority, not just a tiny elite)! It is precisely because this city is so expensive that we are advocating for a $15 minimum wage, rent control, and taxing the super-rich to fund public transit & education, among other measures.
So what ChefJoe says is totally full of crap? Shocking!
So why does she live in a condo in Capitol Hill and date someone working at The Bush School?
Sawant was an adjunct (which will make anyone a communist eventually :). She genuinely passed on the opportunity to maybe double her previous take home wage. Only card skeptics have left to play is the ace of until she writes her book.
Full time salary for a worker earning $15/hour, before taxes would be $28,800. If Kshama wants to represent, why not live on the wage she hopes fast food workers can achieve? $40k is luxury living in respect.
$15 x 2000 hours (1 year less two weeks)=$30,000.
With nine hours of overtime per week, that rises to about $40,000.
But the remainder of the income is going to her pet projects and such. In the real world we call this "machine politics". There is no bidding for unilateral financial support from an elected politician. See, Seeee!
So many councilmembers/population: DC has a population of ~650K, y'all are somewhere around 630-640K, so we make a great comparison. We have 13 councilmembers. 8 Ward, 4 At-large, and 1 Chair (directly elected).
The comparisons to the wealth in DC: You have to remember that DC has the highest level of income inequality of any city in the country. It's far more telling to look at the median income when discussing DC. We have a lot of very rich and very poor outliers that make the average wonky.
What does 40K after taxes mean? It obviously depends on whether you own or rent, have any kids, pay student loan interest, and any number of other things. I took home about $40K when I made about $65K, but I also had retirement and healthcare deductions from my pay that brought my net pay down further than just taxes would have.
When I meet the statist, authoritarian-leftist, racist piece of filth who voluntarily pays more taxes, I will meet a statist, authoritarian-leftist piece of filth that I can actually respect. Not holding my breath...
No, nothing she could do would earn your respect. You're just fuming and spewing because she doesn't drink capitalist kool aid. You don't give a shit whether she keeps before and after taxes income, and all this future alimony crap is pure speculation about things you don't understand. Do you even know why they stayed separated instead of going ahead and getting a divorce?
The point that Seattle has no business paying the second highest in the nation city council salaries is well made, and it resonates. The media and the voters appreciate Sawant's point. That pisses you off. There's nothing you can do about it. You lost because you've got nothing, no solutions, to offer the 99% except a lot of anger.
Actually, I have a simple solution for the working class masses, like my broke ass self who only makes 37,000 a year before taxes. Simple solution: END MOST TAXES. If it isn't defense or police, the government has no part of it. Let the workers keep what they earn instead of the government stealing it. End all special treatment for all corporations: if they can't survive on their own, they don't deserve to be in business. End all crimes that don't involve a victim. No victim=no crime. Turn Social Security, welfare, medicaid and medicare from state institutions, run by the same dirt bags who blow up kids in Pakistan for oil, into voluntary programs funded by voluntary taxation and slowly take them away from the corporate-state and hand them to the people and their communities to run as non-profit co-ops. In short, as Karl Hess once said, go from a "welfare state" to a "welfare society."
Our current system, Corporatism (or socialism for the rich) is evil and harmful for the 99%...socialism is even worse. The only answer for everyone is REAL CAPITALISM, which is the LAST THING the corporations want.
I can see why you're so frustrated. Such good ideas yet nobody listens to you!!! Why? Why? Why?
fwiw, I agree with you that this debate about median incomes is kinda strange frankly. I mean Brooklyn is a _part_ of NYC. And Philadelphia has a much bigger population than Seattle. I'm not sure what anyone gets by comparing these things except maybe confused.
Actually, plenty of people listen to us. Only problem is most aren't in Seattle. When I talk about left-libertarianism here, the same people who (rightfully) would dismiss anyone who claims all socialists are like Stalin themselves insist that all libertarians are like Ayn Rand. Do look up Lysander Spooner and Karl Hess and tell me how they're "the same as the Tea Party."