I begin each year on this blog with a quiz. (See previous quizzes on side-bar to the right, under "Pages"). If you haven't already seen my last post Do You Know Your Facts? from Jan. 1, then make sure to go take the quiz first, then you'll be ready to see the answers.
So here we go: The answers to the quiz, with some brief explanations.
1. C. The official poverty rate in 2018 (latest figure available) was 11.8%, or approximately 38 million people, which was down from the previous year's rate of 12.3%. In 2010, at its height, the poverty rate was 15%. The 9.7% figure is the 2018 poverty rate for people age 65 and older -- the lowest rate for any age group.
2. B. The U. S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development estimates that a little over 500,000 Americans are homeless. About two thirds stay in emergency shelters or temporary housing, about one third are on the streets or in abandoned buildings. The place with the highest rate of homelessness is Washington, DC, followed by Hawaii, New York, California, then Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Massachusetts. The good news: homelessness is down among all groups in the past ten years, especially veterans and families with children.
3. C. The Pew Research Center analyzed income data and for 1980 classified exactly 59% of Americans as middle class, while 26% were lower income and 15% were upper income. Since then the middle class has decreased to 52% of Americans. The lower income group has expanded by 3 points to 29%. The upper income group has increased by 4 points to 19% of the population.
4. D. The level was up to $11.4 million in 2019. For 2020 it's been increased to $11.58 million. So if your estate is worth $8 or $10 million your beneficiaries get it all tax free as far as the federal government goes.
5. B. The wealthy can shield over $11 million from federal estate tax (and over $23 million as a couple). But Social Security beneficiaries start to be taxed when their "combined income" goes above $25,000 per year as a single, and $32,000 as a couple. The Social Security thresholds were set in 1994. If adjusted for inflation, the thresholds today would be about $44,000 for singles and $56,000 for couples.
6. C. 101. Out of 435 members, 101, or 23.2% are women, with 88 Democrats and 13 Republicans. In addition, there are four non-voting women delegates -- two Democrats and two Republicans -- representing Washington, DC, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands.
7. D. There are 85 men for every 100 women age 25 - 29 with a college degree. Men catch up a little bit later on, earning 90 doctorate degrees for every 100 earned by women.
8. D. While the number of people with dementia has increased because of the increase in the 65-and-over population, the rate of dementia among the elderly has actually decreased to 8.8%, largely because of higher levels of education. Higher education levels are generally associated with better health, including mental health.
9. A. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the current obesity rate in America is 40%, affecting some 94 million adults. Obesity leads to an extra $147 billion in medical costs associated with diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer. In general, obesity rates are higher in middle-income people compared to either low or high income people.
10. D. Decreased by about 30%. There were 23,000 murders in 1980 compared to a little over 16,000 in 2018 (the latest U. S. figure) -- and that's with a much larger population. The murder rate has actually dropped more, by about half. The bad news: before 1980 firearms accounted for a little over 50% of murders; now they are used in over 70% of murders.
11. D. The Centers for Disease Control tallied 26,020 drug-related deaths in 2007. Ten years later the number had exploded to 70,237.
12. D. According to ITOPF, a non-profit group of insurance oil-pollution compensation funds, the number of oil spills declined during the 1980s and have been few and far between since the mid-'90s, averaging only half a dozen annually in recent years.
13. B. Get dangerously warmer. While we are spilling less oil, we are burning more. Almost all experts agree that the world is warming, though they disagree on how much -- estimates range from 3 degrees to 7 degrees Fahrenheit by late in this century. That may not seem like a lot, but it's enough to raise sea levels 8 to 20 inches which would put a lot of our beaches and coastal cities under water.
14. C. Ulysses S. Grant (The initials give it away!) So insulting a president is nothing new. Grant, who placed 21st in his West Point class of 39 graduates, went on to become a Civil War hero, a notorious drunk, corrupt president and bestselling memoirist.