Average After-Tax Income By State

I saw this map and I thought these figures were high.

Source for map. Source for data.

I live in Pennsylvania. The median household income for Pennsylvania, before-taxes, was $59,195 in 2017.

I found the following about how much tax is paid from that $59,195:

How Much Is Generally Taken From My Paycheck In Pennsylvania?, Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants, 22 August 2018

Employees are subject to payroll taxes at the federal, state and local levels. The standard federal payroll taxes apply to residents of all states. This includes federal withholding tax based on the employee’s W-4; Social Security tax, which is calculated as 6.2 percent of wages, and subject to a wage ceiling; and Medicare tax, which is calculated at 1.45 percent of wages, without a wage ceiling.

At the Pennsylvania state level, an employee is subject to two payroll taxes: Pennsylvania state withholding at a flat 3.07 percent of wages, and the Pennsylvania unemployment tax at a flat 0.06 percent of wages.

At the local level, the payroll withholding tax depends upon the employee’s residency and the jurisdiction of his or her employer. For example, a resident of Philadelphia who works in Philadelphia will have local withholding tax of 3.8907 percent; whereas a resident of a Bucks County suburb who works in Bucks County may have a local withholding rate between 0.5 percent and 1.0 percent.

Based on the two aforementioned examples, a Philadelphia-based resident and employee making $70,000, who falls in the 15 percent federal tax bracket, will have about $20,800 withheld in taxes. An employee fitting the same criteria but living and working in a Bucks County suburb, will have about $18,800 withheld in taxes.

That’s about 30%. This next source says 31.3%.

The Average U.S. Worker Pays over $16,000 in Income and Payroll Taxes, Tax Foundation, June 2014

The average U.S. worker faces a tax burden of 31.3 percent. This includes both income taxes and payrolls taxes. Between these two types of taxes, the average U.S. workers pays over $16,000 in taxes on their labor.

The tax burden is a combination of income taxes at the federal, state, and local levels as well as the employee and the employer payroll taxes. Of the 31.3 percent tax burden, 15.4 percent is due to income taxes and 15.9 percent is due to payroll taxes, over half of which is paid by the employer on the employee’s behalf. (Workers pay the cost of the employer-side payroll taxes through lower wages.)

In total, the average worker pays $8,196 in income taxes and $8,462 in payroll taxes, which are meant to fund programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

In the absence of the $16,658 in taxes and any benefits they provide, the average worker would take home $53,223 in income, as opposed to the current after-tax income of $36,564 for the average worker.

There are a lot of variations in these numbers! But if I apply a gross 30% tax burden to that PA median household income of $59,195 I get $41,436. The average or median take-home pay in PA is about $41,436.

That’s quite a bit lower than the $53,453 in the map above. It’s also not a lot of money to live on when you consider the skyrocketing costs of healthcare, housing, education, and transportation.

Mental Health Is As Important As Physical Health

If we want a healthy body, we can eat well and exercise. If we want a healthy mind, well-being, we can likewise learn and apply techniques that foster it. Mental health, like physical health, doesn’t just happen on its own. It needs our attention.

I have been researching meditation and mindfulness. A lot of what I learned years ago has come flooding back, both the knowledge and how it feels in my body. A lot has changed. The science is better.

Here’s Jon Kabat-Zinn describing the benefits of meditation and mindfulness with a scientific angle that appeals to me. I must say, there is a lot of hocus-pocus online about meditation. It’s not about holding your body in some particular way, your fingers just so. It’s not about emptying your mind. It’s not about breathing a certain way. All of these things can be helpful but none of them are required.

People In The UK Ate More Sugar In The Past But Had Lower Rates Of Obesity


Kempner’s kidney patients went on a sugar and rice diet and lost weight:
Sugar Does Not Make People Fat, Case-In-Point: Kempner’s Rice And Sugar Diet

Cubans, during their Special Period, ate primarily sugar and rice for energy and lost weight. Their rates of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer also went down:
Impact of Energy Intake, Physical Activity, and Population-wide Weight Loss on Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes Mortality in Cuba, 1980–2005, American Journal of Epidemiology, 2007

Diet composition in Cuba also changed during the study period. By 1993, carbohydrate, fat, and protein contributed 77 percent, 13 percent, and 10 percent of total energy, respectively, whereas in 1980 their respective contributions were 65 percent, 20 percent, and 15 percent. The primary sources of energy during the crisis were sugar cane and rice.

Two New Studies Raise Red Flag About High-Fat Diets

A High-Fat Diet May Be Bad For Your Gut Bacteria, Live Science, 20 February 2019

Effects Of Dietary Fat On Gut Microbiota And Faecal Metabolites, And Their Relationship With Cardiometabolic Risk Factors: A 6-Month Randomised Controlled-Feeding Trial, BMJ Gut, January 2019

The concentration of total short-chain fatty acids was significantly decreased in the higher-fat diet group. … [Metabolites] known to be associated with host metabolic disorders, were decreased in the lower-fat diet group. … The higher-fat diet was associated with elevated plasma proinflammatory factors after the intervention.

Conclusion: Higher-fat consumption by healthy young adults whose diet is in a state of nutrition transition appeared to be associated with unfavourable changes in gut microbiota, faecal metabolomic profiles and plasma proinflammatory factors, which might confer adverse consequences for long-term health outcomes.

The low-fat diet in this study above increased levels of bacteria in the colon that produce beneficial short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), notably butyrate. Lots of benefits from butyrate, as we’ve seen. More SCFAs are produced when we feed those good bacteria carbs.

In this next study, high-fat diets increased levels of bile acids in the colon. (Bile acids are made in the liver, stored in the gall bladder, and squirted into the intestine when we eat fat, in an amount proportionate to the fat we eat.) These researchers found that certain bile acids interfere with normal repair of our intestinal lining. That increases risk for colon cancer:

Salk Scientists Uncover How High-Fat Diet Drives Colorectal Cancer Growth, Eurekalert, 21 February 2019

FXR Regulates Intestinal Cancer Stem Cell Proliferation, Cell, 21 February 2019

A new study led by Salk Institute scientists suggests that high-fat diets fuel colorectal cancer growth by upsetting the balance of bile acids in the intestine and triggering a hormonal signal that lets potentially cancerous cells thrive. The findings … could explain why colorectal cancer, which can take decades to develop, is being seen in younger people growing up at a time when higher-fat diets are common.

This study provides a new way to lower inflammation, restore intestinal health and to dramatically reduced tumor progression [by reducing fat in the diet].

The researchers found that animals with an APC mutation, the most common genetic mutation found in humans with colorectal cancer, developed cancer faster when fed a high-fat diet. “It could be that when you’re genetically prone to get colon cancer, something like a high-fat diet is the second hit.”

High-fat diets (keto, Paleo, Atkins, low-carb) are popular right now. When you reduce the amount of carb, you naturally increase the amount of fat and protein (aka meat). Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

Cultivating The 9 Attitudes: A Lifetime’s Work

As a testament to the ongoing nature of cultivating the 9 Attitudes of Mindfulness, here is Jon Kabat-Zinn, who has been writing about mindfulness for nearly 30 years, wrestling with his self-righteousness:

Reminding Myself That Self-Righteousness Is Not Helpful, Medium, 5 February 2019

One of the 9 Attitudes is Beginners Mind. Here’s what Zinn says about it:

Sometimes we’re so expert that our minds are just full of our expertise but it leaves us without any realm for novelty or new possibilities. In the mind of the expert, they say, there are very few possibilities. But in the beginner’s mind there are infinite possibilities.

If we could apply Beginner’s Mind to the present political landscape, we might see potential in it, potential to, say, stir enthusiasm for change.

Green Tea And Cancer

Dr. Greger has a new post on green tea:

Can Green Tea Help Prevent Cancer?, Dr. Michael Greger, 15 February 2019

Tea consumption is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and premature death in general, with each additional cup of green tea a day associated with a 4 percent lower mortality risk. So, perhaps “drinking several cups of tea daily can keep the doctor away,” as well as the mortician—but what about cancer?

There is “growing evidence from laboratory, epidemiologic [population], and human intervention studies that tea can exert beneficial disease-preventive effects” and, further, may actually “slow cancer progression.” Let’s review some of that evidence.

Not only do those who drink a lot of tea appear to live longer than those who drink less, drinking lots of tea may also delay the onset of cancer. At 0:56 in my video below, you can see a table titled “Average age at cancer onset and daily green tea consumption.” The green tea intake is measured in Japanese tea cups, which only contain a half a cup, so the highest category in the table is actually greater than or equal to five full cups of tea, not ten as it appears in the table. Women who did get cancer appeared to get it seven years later if they had been drinking lots of tea compared to those who had consumed less. Men, however, had a three-year delay in cancer onset if they had consumed more than five full cups of green tea daily, the difference potentially “due to higher tobacco consumption by males.”

Green tea may be able to interfere with each of the stages of cancer formation: the initiation of the first cancer cell, promotion into a tumor, and then subsequent progression and spread, as you can see at 1:24 in my video. Cancer is often initiated when a free radical oxidizes our DNA, causing a mutation, but, as you can see at 1:44 in my video, we can get a nice “spike of antioxidant power” of our bloodstream within 40 minutes of drinking green tea. “This increase may, in turn, lower oxidative damage to DNA and so decrease risk of cancer.”

Furthermore, in terms of genoprotective effects — that is, protecting our genes — pre-existing oxidation-induced DNA damage was lower after drinking green tea, suggesting consumption can boost DNA repair as well. We didn’t know for certain, however … until now.

There is a DNA-repair enzyme in our body called OGG1. Within one hour of drinking a single cup of green tea, we can boost OGG1’s activity, and after a week of tea drinking, we can boost it even higher. So, “regular intake of green tea has additional benefits in the prevention and/or repair of DNA damage.” In fact, tea is so DNA-protective it can be used for sperm storage for fresh samples until they can be properly refrigerated.

What’s more, tea is so anti-inflammatory it can be used for pain control as a mouthwash after wisdom tooth surgery, as you can see at 2:41 in my video. In terms of controlling cancer growth, at a dose of green tea compounds that would make it into our organs after drinking six cups of tea, it can cause cancer cells to commit suicide—apoptosis (programmed cell death)—while leaving normal cells alone. There are a number of chemotherapy agents that can kill cancer through brute force, but that can make normal cells vulnerable, too. So, “[g]reen tea appears to be potentially an ideal agent for [cancer] prevention”: little or no adverse side-effects, efficacious for multiple cancers at achievable dose levels, and able to be taken orally.

His original article has links to the science.

It’s hard to ignore this. Maybe other foods also provide these benefits. But foods like blueberries and pomegranates are a lot harder to eat several times a day, every day, than tea.

Modern-Day Hunter-Gatherers, Who Lead Physically Hard Lives, Burn Same Number Of Calories As More Sedentary Populations In US And Europe (Repost)

This is a repost from February 2016, because I like to be reminded of it.

Hadza hunter-gatherers spend hundreds of calories a day on activity yet burn the same total number of calories as city dwellers in the U.S. – Kudu Lodge

You think my title is fake, don’t you? It’s not. It’s what science is finding out. It surprises me too!

Herman Pontzer, an anthropologist at Hunter College, says that FitBits and other fitness trackers lie because they don’t take into account:

The Exercise Paradox, Scientific American, February 2017

The best way to track how many calories someone has burned is with the doubly labeled water method. When Pontzer used it on the Hadza, modern-day hunter-gatherers who lead physically hard lives, he found they burned the same calories as sedentary populations:

The Hadza looked like everyone else. Hadza men ate and burned about 2,600 calories a day, Hadza women about 1,900 calories a day — the same as adults in the U.S. or Europe. We looked at the data every way imaginable, accounting for effects of body size, fat percentage, age and sex. No difference.

It’s not just the Hadza:

  • Doubly labeled water studies among traditional farmers in Guatemala, the Gambia and Bolivia showed their energy expenditures were broadly similar to those of city dwellers.
  • Doubly labeled water studies among rural Nigerian women found no difference in energy expenditure between them and African-American women in Chicago, “despite large difference in activity levels.”
  • Data analyzed from 98 studies around the globe showed that populations coddled by the modern conveniences of the developed world have similar energy expenditures to those in less developed countries, with more physically demanding lives.

How is this possible?

How does the body adjust to higher activity levels to keep daily energy expenditure in check? … [One] possibility is that the body makes room for the cost of additional activity by reducing the calories spent on the many unseen tasks that take up most of our daily energy budget: the housekeeping work that our cells and organs do to keep us alive. … For example, exercise often reduces inflammatory activity that the immune system mounts as well as levels of reproductive hormones such as estrogen. In lab animals, increased daily exercise has no effect on daily energy expenditure but instead results in fewer ovulatory cycles and slower tissue repair.

So, we max out at something less than 3000 calories a day, no matter how hard we exercise. And we pay for hard exercise by diverting energy from things like tissue repair. That’s risky business, no?

Of course, exercise it important … for the heart, the brain, the immune system. It’s just not going to whittle away the pounds, not by itself. You must change diet:

If daily energy expenditure has not changed over the course of human history, the primary culprit in the modern obesity pandemic must be the calories consumed.

According to Pontzer, fitness trackers are only weakly related to metabolism.

On average, couch potatoes tended to spend about 200 fewer calories each day than people who were moderately active: the kind of folks who get some exercise during the week and make a point to take the stairs. But more important, energy expenditure plateaued at higher activity levels: people with the most intensely active daily lives burned the same number of calories each day as those with moderately active lives.

In this diagram, the graph on the left is what we assume, but the graph on the right is what has been measured. It’s probably more accurate. Total energy expenditure (TEE) increases with physical activity (PA) only at low activity levels. At higher activity levels, the body adapts by limiting energy spent on “other” (growth, tissue repair, hormone production), keeping TEE constrained:

In Constrained total energy expenditure models, the body adapts to increased physical activity by reducing energy spent on other physiological activity, maintaining total energy expenditure within a narrow range.

Constrained Total Energy Expenditure and Metabolic Adaptation to Physical Activity in Adult Humans, Cell, February 2016

More On Jon Kabat Zinn And Mindfulness

I mentioned Jon Kabat-Zinn in yesterday’s post and while skimming his talks on YouTube came across this one. In it, he introduces the 7 Attitudes of Mindfulness that he first wrote about in his 1991 book, Full Catastrophe Living which I read about 20 years ago. This interview was posted in 2015 and he says he’s revised his first book and added 2 more attitudes.

Here are the 7, now 9 Attitudes that he discusses in this video:

1. Beginner’s Mind 2:38
2. Non-Judging 5:04
3. Acceptance 8:55
4. Letting Go 11.55
5. Trust 15:16
6. Patience 18:17
7. Non-Striving 20:09
8. Gratitude 22:35
9. Generosity 22:27

From Wikipedia:

Jon Kabat-Zinn (born Jon Kabat, June 5, 1944) is an American professor emeritus of medicine and the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Kabat-Zinn was a student of Zen Buddhist teachers such as Philip Kapleau, Thich Nhat Hanh and Seung Sahn and a founding member of Cambridge Zen Center. His practice of yoga and studies with Buddhist teachers led him to integrate their teachings with scientific findings. He teaches mindfulness, which he says can help people cope with stress, anxiety, pain, and illness. The stress reduction program created by Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), is offered by medical centers, hospitals, and health maintenance organizations.