Category Archives: tool

China COVID Lockdowns, Ukraine Invasion Sanctions Continue Shrinking Earth’s GDP

The latest view from the volcano points to a higher level of economic gloom for the global economy.

The explanation for that worsening situation is the same as last month: the expanding economic sanctions imposed against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine and, more significantly, China's government's continuing lockdown of Shanghai that threatens to expand to other areas of China.

We're seeing the effects of both situations show up at the remote Mauna Loa Observatory, located atop a volcano on the big island of Hawaii in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, which measures the concentration of carbon dioxide diffused in the Earth's atmosphere. The following chart reveals the sharp, steep decline in the pace at which carbon dioxide is being added to the Earth's atmosphere since February 2022.

Trailing Twelve Month Average of Year-Over-Year Change in Parts per Million of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide, January 2000 - April 2022

The following tool may be used to convert the decline in the rate of CO₂ accumulation into an estimate of the net GDP loss in the global economy associated with it. If you're accessing this article on a site that republishes our RSS news feed, please click through to our site to access a working version of the tool.

Change in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide
Input Data Values
Change in Carbon Dioxide in Atmosphere [Parts per Million]
World Population [billions]

Change in Amount of Carbon Dioxide Emitted into Atmosphere
Calculated Results Values
Carbon Dioxide Emissions [billions of Metric Tonnes]
Estimated Net Change in World GDP [trillions]

Using the default value of a -0.27 parts per million to account for the change in the rate of growth of atmospheric carbon dioxide since February 2022, we find the equivalent net loss to global GDP attributable to the spread of COVID in southeast Asia and to China's fossil fuel shortage is $9.0 trillion. Going back to the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in December 2019, the reduction of 0.92 part per million in the rate at which carbon dioxide is being added to the Earth's air corresponds to a net loss to global GDP of $30.6 trillion.

Analyst's Notes

We've updated the population data entry in the version of the tool presented above to reflect Earth's estimated 2021 population. Otherwise, the methodology behind the tool is unchanged from when we first introduced it in 2020.

Meanwhile, since we've forayed into planetary level economic analysis, we should note it has been five months since we developed the first-ever estimate of Mars' GDP. We're about a month away from the end of the latest Martian quarter and our next estimate of Mars' GDP, which is coming due because Martian quarters are roughly twice as long as business quarters on Earth.

References

National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Earth System Research Laboratory. Mauna Loa Observatory CO2 Data. [Text File]. Updated 5 May 2022. Accessed 5 May 2022.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook. 1 July 2021 Population Estimate (World). [Online Article | Archived Document]. Accessed 8 May 2022.

How Much of Your Income Goes to Pay Taxes?

Tax Man by Jon Tyson via Unsplash - https://unsplash.com/photos/nPncMJ3zEUY

Once again, American taxpayers are being asked to perform a grim annual ritual. Or else you'll be paid a visit by the dreaded tax man.

The grim ritual is the annual filing of federal income tax returns. And in all but nine states, they'll also have to file state income tax returns.

But that's nowhere near all the taxes that Americans have to pay. As an American, did you ever wonder how much of your income goes to pay all the taxes you pay? It's not just federal and state income taxes. That can include local income taxes, Social Security and Medicare (FICA) taxes, property taxes, utility taxes, sales taxes, excise taxes, etc.

What percentage of your income is going to pay all those taxes?

Answering that question is why we've built the following tool. It identifies the major taxes most Americans will encounter during the course of a year and can be used to estimate how much of your annual income is really sucked up by governments at every level you might encounter. If you're reading this article on a site that republishes our RSS news feed, please click here to access a working version of the tool! And if you're already here, you can get started by entering any numbers of interest into the tool or running the default scenario we've entered. Let's get to it!

Income Data
Input Data Values
Your Household Income
Income and Payroll Taxes
Federal
State
Local (County and/or City)
Social Security
Medicare
Property Taxes
State
County
City
School District
Utility Taxes
Water / Sewer / Stormwater
Electricity
Natural Gas
Telephone / Mobile
Cable / Internet
Solid Waste / Trash
Other Utility Taxes
Sales and Excise Taxes
State
County
City
Fuel
Other Sales and Excise Taxes

How Much of Your Income Goes to Pay Taxes?
Estimated Results Values
Total Taxes Paid
Your Effective Tax Rate

For the default example, we've set the annual income to be a little under the median household income for the United States as of December 2021, so it represents an income that half of American households make more than, and half of American households make less than.

For fun, we set our hypothetical median income earning household in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where residents are subjet to federal, state, and local income taxes. Since the city and county for Philadelphia is one and the same, we've only entered taxes paid at the county level.

We also set our median household up in a home that cost $304,000 in 2021, which happens to be the median sales price of a single family home in Philadelphia, adjusting the property taxes accordingly, including the city's school district taxes.

But wait, there's more! Our median income-earning household will pay water/sewer/stormwater, electricity, natural gas, telephone/mobile, cable/internet, solid waste/trash, and other utility taxes!.

Think that's all? Guess again! There are sales taxes to be paid too, for the state, county and/or city. There's also excise taxes like those for gasoline and others, which are paid by those who pay for alcohol, cigarettes, soda, parking, etc. There are so many we can't easily incorporate them into our tool and keep its user interface manageable, which is why we've had to add categories for "other" in a couple of spots!

Just for the record, we've omitted things like sales taxes for real estate and vehicles, mainly because they're usually not regular annual events for most households.

So how much of a median income earning household's income would be consumed by taxes if they lived in Philadelphia? Our tool conservatively estimates 37.3%.

How does your household compare to that? Would living somewhere else make a big difference? These are questions our tool can help you discover. Go ahead. Take it for a test drive. The Tax Man already has.

Image credit: Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash.

How to Use a Measuring Tape to Assess Your Health Risk

How much health risk do you have from carrying too much mass around your midsection?

That question arises because studies point to the Waist-to-Height Ratio (WHtR) as a better indicator of early health risk than the Body Mass Index (BMI). As a general rule of thumb, if the circumference of your waist is greater than half your height, you have an elevated risk for developing chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes mellitus, hypercholesterolemia, joint and low back pains, hyperuricemia, and obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.

The Waist-to-Height Ratio is also reported to be better than BMI in predicting heart attacks, especially for women, with higher ratios corresponding to higher risk.

That sounds like good bit of information to have, so we've built a tool to calculate your Waist-to-Health Ratio. Since you probably already know your height, the hard part will be finding out your waist circumference. Here's a video showing how to measure it.

Once you've done that for yourself, you're ready to go. If you're accessing this article on a site that republishes our RSS news feed, please click through to our site to access a working version of the tool. Here it is:

Waist and Height Measurements
Input Data Values
Waist Circumference
Height

Waist-to-Height Ratio
Calculated Results Values
Waist-to-Height Ratio
Risk Level

In using the tool, be sure to use the same units of measurement for both waist circumference and height. You'll get accurate results so long as you don't start mixing and matching inches and centimeters together....

According to documents leaked in February 2022, starting in July 2022, U.S. Air Force personnel will have their Waist to Height Ratio assessed. Individuals with waists that measure at more than half their height will be reassessed six months later, with those whose waists exceed that threshold at the later measurement date separated from service. "Seperated from service" meaning "discharged from the Air Force". Here's the chart the Air Force will be using to make that determination:

Waist-to-Height Ratio (WHtR) Assessment

The thresholds shown on this chart for low, moderate, and high risk are those we've built into the tool's feedback. We've also made a point of giving the answer to the same two-decimal place results as would be used by Air Force medical personnel in their assessments, so there are no surprises for what to expect.

Previously on Political Calculations

References

Margaret Ashwell and Sigrid Gibson. Waist-to-height ratio as an indicator of ‘early health risk’: simpler and more predictive than using a ‘matrix’ based on BMI and waist circumference. BMJ Open 2016:6:3010159. [DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2015-010159 | NIH: PDF Document]. 14 March 2016.

Sanne A.E. Peters, Sophie H. Bots and Mark Woodward. Sex Differences in the Association Between Measures of General and Central Adiposity and the Risk of Myocardial Infarction: Results From the UK Biobank. Journal of the American Heart Association. Vol. 7, No. 5. [DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.117.008507]. 28 February 2018. American Heart Association. Waist size predicts heart attacks better than BMI, especially in women. [Online Article]. 28 February 2018.

Darsini Darsini, Hamidah Hamidah, Hari Basuki Notobroto, and Eko Agus Cahyono. Health risks associated with high waist circumference: A systematic review. Journal of Public Health Research. Vol. 9, No. 2: Papers from the 4th International Symposium of Public Health (4th ISOPH), Brisbane, Australia. 29-31 October 2019. [DOI: 10.4081/jphr.2020.1811 | NIH: PDF Document]. 2 July 2020.

ShapeFit. Waist to Height Ratio Calculator - Assess Your Lifestyle Risk. [Online Article and Tool]. 31 March 2015.

How High Will Gasoline Prices at the Pump Go?

How high can Americans expect to see the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States rise?

The specific answer to that question depends on a lot of factors, but the one that matters most in the current geopolitical climate is the price of crude oil. That price was already rising for American consumers because of President Biden's environmental policies that have constrained the production and supply of oil and gas in the U.S. But now, with the added factor of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in the developing geopolitical environment, crude oil prices are soaring because many expect economic sanctions being enacted against Russia will be expanded to include its oil exports.

That's significant because Russia is the third largest producer of crude oil in the world, following the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Reducing the supply of crude oil in much of the world by what Russia currently supplies to it without any change in demand would be expected to cause prices to rise, which is exactly how oil prices have behaved.

Knowing that then, we're updating the math behind a tool we first presented in 2012, which answered the question: "Where Are U.S. Gas Prices Going?", which we've adjusted to account for today's slightly higher average state and local gas taxes. To use the tool, you only need to enter the price of Brent crude oil into it, which if you're accessing our site directly, appears in the upper right corner of this article (via Oil-Price.Net)! [If you're accessing this article from a site that republishes our RSS news feed, please click through to our site to access a working version of the tool.]

Crude Oil Price Data
Input Data Values
Price per Barrel of Brent Crude Oil

Future Price of Gasoline in U.S.
Estimated Results Values
Average U.S. Price per Gallon

Our default value of $118.11 represents the price of Brent crude oil at the end of trading on 4 March 2022, which corresponds to an average U.S. price of $3.85 per gallon, which is very close what AAA reported for the national average price for a gallon of gasoline on this date. Depending on where you live, you'll want to consider how state and local fuel taxes affect the price you pay at the pump, which can add quite a lot to the price you pay per gallon.

That said, even with that adjustment, the tool's results won't give you a perfect match. That's largely because of volatility in the price of Brent crude oil. Frequent fluctuations in the market price for a barrel of Brent crude oil makes it difficult to pin down the exact average price for a gallon of gas at the pump. Regardless, our tool will put you close to the right ballpark for determining what you can expect to pay on average for a gallon of gas. Whether the price of crude oil drops to $50 or rockets to $200 per barrel, it will give you a good idea of how much you'll pay for each gallon of petrol at the pump.

So go ahead, take our tool for a test drive to see what kind of price you can expect to pay at the pump using your best guess of what crude oil prices will be in the future. Or just do it using the latest "live" Brent oil price, because in our fast moving world, it's already noticeably different from what it was when we drafted this edition of the tool.

Gas Pump, by Dawn McDonald - Source: Unsplash (https://unsplash.com/photos/lBP2muAsD94)

Image Credit: Photo by Dawn McDonald on Unsplash.

How Much Do You Pay in Gas Taxes?

Gas Station in the Nevada Desert - Source: Suzanne Emily O'Connor via Unsplash - https://unsplash.com/photos/NHJV8rOPDXk

Do you have any idea how much money you're paying to the government each time you fill up your gas tank? We're not just talking about the federal government. State and local governments across the U.S. are also getting in on that action!

It's a question that's taken on more significance in recent weeks, with politicians up for re-election this year reacting to sharply inflating fuel prices by proposing a federal gas tax holiday. That could save you up to 18.4 cents a gallon, but how much would you save at the pump over the course of a full year?

We've built the following tool to help you estimate how much you'll pay in vehicle fuel taxes this year and to answer questions like that. To use it, update the fuel tax rates that apply for your state or local jurisdiction, update the gas mileage data for your specific vehicle of interest, then click the "Calculate" button to find out how much you're paying in gas taxes! [If you're accessing this article on a site that republishes our RSS news feed, please click through to our site to access a working version of the tool.]

Vehicle Data
Input Data Values
Miles Driven in One Year
Your Vehicles Average Fuel Mileage
Fuel Price and Tax Rates
Average Price per Gallon for Fuel
U.S. Federal Gasoline Excise Taxes and Fees (cents per gallon)
State Gasoline Excise Taxes and Fees (cents per gallon)
Local Gasoline Excise Taxes and Fees (cents per gallon)
Combined State and Local Sales Tax Rate, if applicable (%)

Annual Fuel Usage and Out-of-Pocket Cost
Estimated Results Values
Gallons of Fuel Purchased for Vehicle
Total Cost of Fuel
One Year's Worth of Fuel Taxes for Vehicle
Federal Gasoline Excise Taxes and Fees
State Gasoline Excise Taxes and Fees
Local Gasoline Excise Taxes and Fees
State and/or Local Sales Taxes
Total Fuel Taxes
Portion of What You Paid for Fuel That Went to Governments
Percentage of Fuel Cost

For the default data, we find that 20.7% of what was paid for fuel at the pump for this single vehicle went to the federal, state, and local government. $66.91 of that was for federal fuel taxes, which is a little under 4.8% of what was paid for fuel in the default example. The more that fuel prices rise, the smaller the benefit you might get from having the federal fuel tax suspended would be in terms of your annual fuel bill.

The default data in the tool is based on the applicable fuel excise taxes, sales taxes, and government-mandated fees that applied to fuel sales in Erie County in New York in January 2022. We've simplified the local sales tax calculation to make the math more generally applicable to other jurisdictions, so it won't perfectly match the more precise sales tax math that specifically applies in Erie County.

While these state and local taxes are high, they're not the worse in the U.S. For that scenario, replace the default data with California's fuel taxes and fees. For the numbers that would matter most to you, update the tool with the fuel tax data that applies for your state.

Image credit: Photo by Suzanne Emily O’Connor on Unsplash.