Friday, March 30, 2012

The Atlantic Money Report

This was an eye-opener for me: how Americans (in aggregate) spend our money now, compared to several decades ago. The article is short (two pages) and easy to read (lots of graphics by "Kiss Me I'm Polish"!), but not so quick to digest. The implications for sustainability are complex, hard to untangle, and weighty. Read the article!

Here are a few teasers:
  • In 1947, Americans spent 42% of their income on food and clothing; in 2007, we spent only 16%.
  • In 1967, 26% of food spending went to farmers; in 2007, that was down to only 14% (1947 figures are not available for everything Rose tracked).
  • Transportation accounts for only a little less now than in 1947: 8.5% compared to 9.3%, BUT...
  • Manufacturing the cars takes only 3% of our transportation dollars compared to 7% in 1967.
Since we're spending so much less on manufacturing, food, and clothing - and farmers are getting much less of our food dollars - where is our money going instead?
  • Health care is soaking up the largest shift in dollar-flow: from about 5% in 1947 to 18% in 2007.
  • Advertisers, lawyers, and other "business service" people took 15% of our food dollars in 2007, compared to the 14% that went to those who actually produce the food.
  • In transportation, 24% of our 2007 money went overseas for imported oil and vehicles, compared to only 7% in 1967; and auto retailers (sales and service) declined from 41% in 1967 to only 26% of our transportation dollars in 2007.
  • Legal and insurance fees for transportation jumped from 9% to 21% in the same period.
Whoa! Did you catch that? We're paying only 3% of our transportation cost for the cars themselves, but 21% for legal and insurance? What does that say about the sustainability transportation in the U.S.A.?
To learn more:

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