Bukowski's Money (1 Viewer)

Johannes

Founding member
I remember this being mentioned as a sideline in some other thread, but can't find now.

Do we have confirmed information about how much money Bukowski made working as a postal clerk from 58 - 1970? How high his salary was and how much that would be in todays money?

I remember him writing somewhere in the letters that his child support was 45,- and the rent 75,-. Is this possible?

Thx.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
Yes, it is. Rent on our first apartment, two blocks from the beach in Long Beach, CA, was $60 a month. That was in 1968.
 

mjp

Founding member
Ahem...

http://bukowski.net/timeline/

1969

John Martin offers to pay Bukowski a quarter of his own income ($100/mo at the time) "for life" to quit the post office and write full time. [Dec] (As a clerk with 10 years on the job, Bukowski's post office job would have paid more than six times what Martin offered - about$625/mo.)

At the time he quit the post office he was paying $45 a month in child support.

$625 = $3,920.66
$100 = $627.31
$45 = $282.29

See 1952, 53 & 54 for his mail carrier salaries.
 

Johannes

Founding member
I see :cool:

$625 = $3,920.66 seems quite a lot, if I get it right (being from Europe I have to convert it into Euro to get the sum). Somehow I expected much less.

But then after ten years of clerking ... rent seems very low, on the other hand.

Is this before taxes? How much do you have to take off in the US or how much did Bukowski have to in his time, do we know this?

Not to bore you all with dull numbers but it would be interesting to know about how much Bukowski actually had to walk around with each month before he quit his job.
 

mjp

Founding member
$625 = $3,920.66 seems quite a lot, if I get it right
$47,000 a year isn't a lot. It's a little less than the average right now in the U.S., which I believe is $50,000 for men. Then subtract a quarter to a third of that for taxes.

Of all the costs of living, I would guess that rent/housing has increased more dramatically than anything in the past 20 years or so. There is no equivalent to a 1960s $100 rent anymore anywhere in Los Angeles. Not unless you want to live in someone's garage.
 
$47,000 a year isn't a lot.
It is - compared to low-payed-jobs in Germany.
(Boy! 47,000 $ is 35,800€ - I'd be happy to have 20,000 a year! Very happy!)

Here's what statistics say about our incomes after taxes
(NOTE: 2005 was BEFORE the big economy-crisis!)

Germany-income-statistics.JPG
 

Johannes

Founding member
It is - compared to low-payed-jobs in Germany.
(Boy! 47,000 $ is 35,800€ - I'd be happy to have 20,000 a year! Very happy!)

It would be a lot for me too.

On the other hand it was night work and more than ten years at the post office. With these conditions you'd probably get about the same around here.
 
of course I couldn't ever do this job. Not one night, I guess.
But as far as I get it from 'Post Office', the job was considered as 'low-class' so that only blacks and poor people would do it.

But anyway, what's the biggest joke of all: him getting the right to receive a small old-age-pension from 1990 on.
 

mjp

Founding member
Income is relative to location, of course. $50,000 (or $35,000 after taxes) is the average across the entire country, but it would buy a lot more in Iowa or Wyoming than it does in Los Angeles, San Francisco or New York. I make considerably more than the U.S. average, but living in Los Angeles, I definitely don't feel particularly rich or well off. The more you make, the more they take.

When they talk about increasing taxes on "the rich" here, they're generally talking about people who make more than half a million a year.
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
It is - compared to low-payed-jobs in Germany.

Right, but Germany have unfortunately become "famous" for its "working poor" whose hourly wage is so low you can hardly live on it. Every time our politicians or employers say we have to lower our minimum wage in order to be able to sell our goods abroad, the unions always mention Germany and its "working poor", working for as little as $10 per hour, as an argument for not lowering the wages.
 

mjp

Founding member
I think one state here recently (January 1st) raised their minimum wage to slightly over $9, but the federal minimum wage is still $7.25. I'm sure there are one or two small towns somewhere where $7.25 is a livable wage (though I doubt any of us would want to live there), but in a city of any size I would think it has to leave you well below the poverty line. If you work a job where tips are involved, the minimum is even lower.

Traditionally education and degrees was a sure way out of being "working poor," and they still are, but to a lesser extent. You can look around and see millions of people with degrees unemployed or underemployed. It's at a point now where it's miraculous for someone with no college education or degrees to make a decent living working for someone else. Which may be why every young person in America thinks they'll start a company of their own and become wealthy. But that's even a longer and more unrealistic shot than the degree route.

But it's all a joke, of course, because a degree in and of itself is worthless in the real world. I've read resumes from a thousand people with degrees who couldn't even spell. But a lot of larger companies are lazy, so they use the degrees as some sort of measure of competence and hire based on them.

Now I'm just rambling. But the reality is jobs like postal clerk where someone can come in with little education and work their way up to a comfortable living are becoming extinct. We've been very short sighted in the U.S., moving from a manufacturing economy to a service economy, and it will be the death of us in the long run.
 

hank solo

Just practicin' steps and keepin' outta the fights
Moderator
Founding member
We've been very short sighted in the U.S., moving from a manufacturing economy to a service economy, and it will be the death of us in the long run.

The US is not alone it this lack of foresight. The 'West' is circling the drain.
 

bospress.net

www.bospress.net
Delaware is a pretty cheap place to live, but even here you cannot live on what they pay at Walmart. I'm sure there are places where you can afford to live in a small, old trailer on those wages. Plus, we in the US get one week vacation to start and usually max out at three weeks paid vacation a year. It'd be nice to have vacations like the Europeans and Australians get... I don't know of anyone that gets more than three weeks a year.

Then there is the price of health insurance. Don't get me started... Many companies don;t offer it and buying it on the individual market will cost you half of your income. This is why some in the lower-middle class don;t get insurance. If something REALLY bad happens, they run up a bill and file bankruptcy. The truly poor have health insurance through the government and the middle and upper class have it through their jobs. It is those in between that are fucked.
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
I think the corporations and the various businesses are exploiting their workers out of sheer greed because there's European countries where the businesses are able to pay their workers about $20 per hour and 5-6 weeks of vacation, and still make a nice profit. It's been like this for decades, which only proves my point.

so, it was at least good for one thing: to prevent you from it.

Yes, for the time being at least, but I'm afraid it's only a matter of time because we're getting flooded with east-European workers from countries like Poland and Estonia who are willing to work for peanuts both legally and illegally.

Funny thing, while the employers keep using the present financial crisis as an argument for lowering the wages, they at the same time make more money than they used to do! For instance, the bed and linen company, "Jysk", which have stores all over Europe and in the U.S. too, just announced they made 18 billion dkk (about $3.15 billion) last year and the actual profit was 2 billion dkk ($350 million), which is an all time record for the company. Of course, not all companies do as well as "Jysk", but it does show that many companies are doing excellent while still using the financial crisis as an excuse for trying to lowering the wages.
 
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Johannes

Founding member
Plus, we in the US get one week vacation to start and usually max out at three weeks paid vacation a year. It'd be nice to have vacations like the Europeans and Australians get... I don't know of anyone that gets more than three weeks a year.

I didn't know that. Jesus. I have five weeks of paid vacation a year. And my colleagues are bitching because they want six weeks.

But regarding Bukowski: With his income during the 60's he seems to be far away from being down and out, lower class or close to skid row. Please correct me, but he appears to be solid middle class. Throw in the cheap rent and some assumed savings from the sale of his fathers house and he was far from being poor. Do we know if he had health insurance via the post office? Probably so, right?
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
...Then there is the price of health insurance. Don't get me started... Many companies don;t offer it and buying it on the individual market will cost you half of your income. This is why some in the lower-middle class don;t get insurance. If something REALLY bad happens, they run up a bill and file bankruptcy. The truly poor have health insurance through the government and the middle and upper class have it through their jobs. It is those in between that are fucked.

My "Health Insurance" is to not get sick between now and the time I qualify for Medicare.
 

mjp

Founding member
Twelve years earlier, in 1982, Bukowski's foreign royalties were almost equal to what Martin says he was earning from Black Sparrow in 1994. Any way you slice it, he was about as rich as a poet can hope to become. ;)

But during the 60s, yes, he was certainly "middle class." A few people have written about him having a considerable sum (for the time) in the bank, and not spending a lot of money unnecessarily. He wasn't spending any money on clothes, that's for sure.

A lot of people who lived through the depression were very careful with money for the rest of their lives, and it would seem that Bukowski was one of them.
 

mjp

Founding member
Yeah, the timeline here says $7000 a month in 1992.

Cherkovski's biography was published in 1991 and Run With the Hunted was published in 93, so those could have accounted for an increase in interest in Bukowski and raised the stakes to $10,000 a month by the time he died in 94 (since Hunted was published by HarperCollins and they actually promoted it). But it seems a bit unlikely that it would raise it to $20,000.

Bear in mind that Martin isn't always 100% factually accurate in his interviews. I don't think he's purposely lying (my attorney made me say that), but he seems to make mistakes or contradict himself in almost every interview I've heard/seen/read.
 
Have found my source now. (First I thought, it could've been in 'Captain', but it wasn't.)

It's uncle Howie. p.231 (edition: Grove Press 1999)

[my interpretation for the year is 1993, NOT 1992, even though no year is specified by Howie, because the page before, we're in summer 1992 and the paragraph in question begins at January 2; and one paragraph later we are in 1993.]
 

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