It's undeniable the middle class is growing in China, Brazil and India. But in the US, the term "middle class," is notoriously vague. Almost everyone, it seems, identifies themselves as middle class, regardless of wealth, income, profession, or education. That's why most politicians will describe policies they oppose as "punishing the middle class" and policies that they support as "helping the middle class." One popular definition, provided by The Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, identifies American families as middle class if they have incomes between $25,000 and $100,000 each year. That's a wide spread, but a perhaps a useful one: If you see someone who makes $75,000 a year more than you as belonging to your class, you're much less likely to revolt against them. But is it true? Grab a pencil and piece of paper – or a Mont Blanc pen and some embossed gold floral deckle edge stationery – and take our quiz to find out where you stand in America's socioeconomic pecking order.
Joplin tornado, as Sunday's twister has come to be called, is blamed for more than 100 fatalities in the southwest Missouri community. It's the latest in a string of tornadoes this spring. Though hurricanes and earthquakes tend to do more financial damage per event, tornadoes and related events have been responsible for an average 57 percent of all insured catastrophe losses in the United States since 1953, according to a 2009 study by insurance credit-rating service A.M. Best. Not counting the Joplin tornado, where damage assessments have only begun, here’s a look at the five most financially devastating tornadoes in the US, according to the A.M. Best study and federal estimates (reported in 2011 dollars):
President Barack Obama put the little town of Moneygall, Ireland, with its population of approximately 300, on the map today. A local religious leader discovered Obama’s roots could be traced to a great-great-great grandfather believed to have been baptized at his church there. Mr. Obama’s visit today sent the town into a flurry of preparation (and gimmicks) in honor of its famous “son” – arguably the most powerful man in the world. Here are some highlights of that prep:
Tim Pawlenty wants a White House ending to his rags-to-riches rise. The former governor declared his candidacy for president May 22 in a video released on his website. The grandson of German immigrants and the first in his family to attend college, Pawlenty is hoping his foes’ flaws are his ticket to victory.
Herman Cain, who announced his candidacy for president at an Atlanta rally May 21, aims to bring a new slogan to the White House: “Yes, We Cain!” Seriously, folks. The pizza magnate, aka the ‘Hermanator,’ is staging a full-on charm offensive, hoping his Southern-fried charisma, business savvy, top performance in the first GOP debate, and media prowess are enough to offset his fundamental flaw: zero political experience.
Readers of books love lists. That's why book-review editor J. Peder Zane asked 125 writers – everyone from Norman Mailer to Jonathan Franzen to Margaret Drabble – to pick their very favorite books of all time. Out of all the books in the world, here are the 10 most selected by Zane's illustrious group. (You can see this and other book lists in Zane's book "The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books.")
The International Monetary Fund’s managing director has traditionally been a European male, often a Frenchman. But with Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s resignation amid sexual assault charges, the job is available. A woman is among the leading candidates, and contenders from emerging markets may vie for the top spot. Here’s a look at the possibilities.
Protests erupted on Israel’s borders and throughout East Jerusalem and the West Bank on Sunday as Palestinians marked the 63rd anniversary of Israel’s independence, which they refer to as the “nakba,” or catastrophe, because it resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. Israel has used the clashes to argue that it does not have a legitimate partner for peace, while Arabs have capitalized on the regional spirit of uprising to press Palestinian claims to statehood. Here is a roundup of notable statements:
The 2011 Mississippi River flood, which has broken records in some places, is creating steady destruction in America's midsection. Hurricanes tend to cause more financial damage, and flash floods typically take more lives. But overflowing rivers deliver a long, slow economic punch. Arkansas farmers have lost an estimated $500 million in crops to this year's flood. Mississippi homes and catfish farms – a leading industry – are threatened. In Louisiana, the diversion of water through a spillway to spare Baton Rouge and New Orleans still puts hundreds of homes, businesses, and chemical plants and oil refineries at risk. Total damages could run into the billions. Here's a look at five of the most expensive river floods in the US, according to estimates from the National Weather Service and historical accounts (reported in 2011 dollars):
Novelist John Gardner once said that there are only two plots in literature: someone goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town. You're trying to think of exceptions right now, aren't you? Well, while you brainstorm, this month's fiction roundup is packing its bags to join three novels' worth of characters as they set out on life-altering adventures 400 years and thousands of miles apart.
For years, Osama bin Laden has been portrayed as the world’s worst terrorist – mastermind of the deaths of thousands of people, including nearly 3,000 on US soil in 9/11. Since US Navy SEALs killed him last week, however, the image of the Al Qaeda leader – now a martyr to his followers – has taken several calculated hits. Here are three attempts by the Obama administration to recast the perception of Mr. bin Laden.
The job data might seem rosier, but finding a job is harder than ever – especially for the nearly 2 million college students who will have graduated this year. Newly minted college graduates are up against experienced mid-career professionals who are also out there searching. Use these seven career tips to change your job search into a job offer.
Ron Paul is hoping the third time’s the charm. The Texas congressman declared his (third) candidacy for president Friday on ‘Good Morning America.’ The ‘intellectual grandfather’ of the tea party movement is a constitutional purist who’s as popular among his fervent followers as he is disliked by the GOP establishment. He’s a dark horse pushing for an upset victory.
The Holocaust ended more than 60 years ago, but today’s conviction of John Demjanjuk for his work with the Nazis is a reminder that many former Nazis remain at large. The Simon Weisenthal Center, an organization that investigates and prosecutes Nazi war criminals, releases an annual list of the most-wanted Nazis still alive today. Here are the top five:
Newt Gingrich, best known for engineering the 1994 Republican Revolution, is using the revolutionary social media platforms of Facebook and Twitter to promote his "run for President." The former speaker is a masterful strategist with a brilliant political mind. But a rocky marital record and a penchant for flame-throwing may jeopardize his candidacy.
Raj Rajaratnam, a wildly successful hedge fund manager, was sentenced and fined Oct. 13 on fraud and conspiracy counts for using insider information to make more than $50 million. Prosecutors called it the largest insider-trading case ever for a hedge fund. So how does his conviction stack up against other insider traders in the United States who were found guilty? Here's a look at the Top 5 convicted insider traders: