In his May 3 Viewpoint, Atascadero City Manager Wade McKinney states “the Walmart and Annex projects would be responsible for 53 percent of the traffic impact at the interchange, or $2.4 million.”
Uh? How did they come up with that?
Either there is an additional 47 percent of new traffic coming out of thin air, or the project accounts for 53 percent of total future traffic. The latter sounds reasonable enough, but wait a minute! Isn’t the infrastructure to handle that 47 percent already in place? We’re not building new roads where none were before, but upgrading the infrastructure to accommodate the impact of the project.
So, for how much of the tobe-mitigated impact is the city responsible? The impact is the additional traffic that is caused by the project, not the traffic that can be accommodated by what’s already there. That makes the project’s “proportional share” 100 percent. That leaves zero percent for the city. That’s the simple arithmetic most of us learned in fifth grade.
Middle class is doing fine
As a frequent reader of “Letters to the Editor,” I have noted a number of letters concerning the stagnation of income growth and standard of living in the middle class as the rich get richer.
As one old enough to remember, the middle class seem much better off today than they were in the 1950s and 1960s. We have better cars, household appliances, computers, smartphones, HDTVs, Wi-Fi, iPods and more. Health care is much improved although expensive, but the quality of health care in the 1950s would be cheaper today. So why the discrepancies between what we observe and what we hear and read?
The answers, of course, are what “facts” are collected and how they are interpreted. Using IRS tax data from individual tax returns and excluding government subsidies and fringe benefits, the frequently cited report of Piketty and Saez (Quarterly Journal of Economics, February 2003) showed almost no income growth in the middle class over several decades.
Contrast those findings with the recent report of Burkhauser, Larrimore, and Simon (National Tax Journal, March 2012) who found middle class income growth of 36.7 percent using the Census Bureau’s annual Current Population Survey of household income which included government subsidies and fringe benefits.
Both studies found the rich were indeed outpacing the rest of us, but just check around you: Are the middle class really losing ground?