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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press How Are Ordinary People Responding to Higher Gas Prices? The Post Asks Someone With An Au Pair from France

How Are Ordinary People Responding to Higher Gas Prices? The Post Asks Someone With An Au Pair from France

Wednesday, 13 April 2011 04:59

I'm not kidding. The rest of the article actually is reasonable, but we get this from a person on the street interview:

"'We have an au pair from France, and she recently filled up our minivan and gave me a bill for $70,' said Melanie Janin, a mother of three from Bethesda. 'I was like, Oh, my God.' ”

Comments (27)Add Comment
I've hosted au pairs from France, Low-rated comment [Show]
I've recently filled up a minivan in France
written by wp200, April 13, 2011 5:58
... and it cost me 170 dollars.
key line in article
written by CD, April 13, 2011 8:07
Recent oil price hikes increasingly look like the result of speculation. Saudi oil ministry officials, worried that prices are so high that they might lower consumption, have contacted major oil companies offering additional supplies. But the firms responded that they have ample supplies.
written by liberal, April 13, 2011 8:20
Rupert wrote,
... and I'm fairly ordinary.

The plural of anecdote is not data.
written by JT, April 13, 2011 8:23
"I've hosted au pairs from France and I'm fairly ordinary."

Everyone thinks they are "ordinary". You are not the average American today. Trust me, pal.

"I've recently filled up a minivan in France and it cost me 170 dollars."

That is a bald faced lie. The price of gas in Paris was only 5.50 in 2005. "At the moment, taxes in France make up about 70 percent of the pump price. For comparison, the U.S. federal gasoline tax of of 2005 was 18.4 cents per gallon, with each State adding between 10 and 33 cents of tax, according to Widipedia. That makes the maximum gasoline tax rate 17% in the U.S."
And speaking of France...
written by lambert strether, April 13, 2011 8:57
... that's where the original Versailles was located, right?

Au Pair/Minivan/"Ordinary"
written by Mason, April 13, 2011 9:01
I won't post the link, but Ms. Janin with the au pair apparently purchased her home in 2008 for $1.1 million.

Recently reassessed at $900K, so maybe that was weighing on her mind.

Yes, just ordinary people.
written by Patrick (G), April 13, 2011 9:04
According to the Zagaz, the price is around 1.599euros per liter.

3.79 liters per gallon gives a price of 6.06 Euros per gallon.

1 Euro is currently equivalent to $1.50, so gas in france retails around $9.08 per Gallon.

if it retails around $4/Gallon in Bethesda; $70 worth of gas is 17.5 Gallons, which would be nearly $160 if bought in France, today in 2011.

wp200 is vindicated, and JT is not.
written by Bloix, April 13, 2011 9:12
Price of gas in France, as of March 2011: euro 1.58/liter (about $8.55 a gallon at today's exchange rate of $1.45/1 euro).
See http://www.aaireland.ie/AA/Mot...rices.aspx

Capacity of a minivan fuel tank (Toyota Sienna)- 20 gallons.

So a full tank is $171 ( = 118.5 euros).
..., Low-rated comment [Show]
written by Mason, April 13, 2011 9:43
"She may be doing better than a lot of us, but she isn't among the top 1%."

You have a rather expansive definition of "ordinary" then.
Never the less
written by Floccina, April 13, 2011 9:45
Never the less for rich or not for someone with a million dollar home Gasoline even at $4.00 gallon is a minor expense. For someone making 15k a year it is a more than a minor expense.
written by Jeff, April 13, 2011 9:57
Mason, all I'm saying is that there are neighborhoods upon neighborhoods of houses in Bethesda in that range. A physician or a lawyer could afford those digs. The CEOs I've met buy bigger homes than that to give to their college-aged children.

I paid $125K for my house, and like everyone else, I think I'm ordinary :)
I feel her pain..
written by Matt Heil, April 13, 2011 11:24
I just had to let my butler's personal assistant go, and cut back on my dogs yoga classes
written by Daddy Love, April 13, 2011 1:26
You liberal snad your mathematics!
'I was like, Oh, my God ...
written by Ha!, April 13, 2011 1:41
You used 87 octane!?'?
That's because Bethesda is a very wealthy town
written by michaelsullivan, April 13, 2011 2:15
The reason that million dollar homes are "typical" in Bethesda, is that, like some towns in my neck of the woods (Connecticut coast), there are relatively few neighborhoods where families outside the very upper middle class can afford to live.

The top 5-10% of the income distribution is not what most people are thinking about when they wonder how "ordinary people" are affected by gas prices or whatever else.

Melanie with her au pair may be closer in lifestyle to an ordinary person than to the very rich. This says more about the extremes of what is "very rich" in this country than it does about the gap between her and "ordinary". Ordinary people (as in people with median incomes) have to stretch and budget like crazy just to afford their own home in a decent neighborhood. The idea of owning a million dollar home in one of the wealthiest suburbs of one of the wealthiest cities in the country would be somewhere between a pipe dream and a big laugh to most people I know, and I'm well above the median.

Even if I had the money, the only way I'd spend even close to a million dollars on my house is to be on the ocean.
$15,000 per year is totally ordinary...
written by Woodrow L. Goode, IV, April 13, 2011 3:37
Rupert is a troll who has never hosted an au pair. We know this because he knows nothing about the costs.

Au pair programs, because they allow underage foreign nationals to enter the U.S. are overseen by the State Department under Title 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations Section 62.31.

There are only 13 agencies licensed to supply au pairs. I picked one agency at random, and it charges a $350 membership fee and a $7,330 annual charge (which includes airfare and travel/accident insurance for the au pair).

The State Department requires the host family to pay the au pair a salary based on the minimum wage and hours worked ($195.75 per week if the kids aren't in school; $146.64 if they are) and the au pair's first $500 in educational expenses ($1,000, if they're in the program paying $146 a week).

So that's $15,500 for families with school-age kids and $18,000 for families wif infinks (as Popeye would say). Plus meals and auto insurance coverage for the au pair (which runs about $100 a month since they're teenagers from a foreign country).

Articles in Kiplingers and USA Today say you should budget about 10% of your income for child care, so if this woman is spending an average amount, her family income is $150-180K.

Let's check that. If she owns a house worth $1M, her mortgage payments are about $3,800 a month, or $45,000 a year. If her family spends the recommended 25% of its income on housing, that would project her household income to be $180,000.

Median household income in Montgomery County in 2010 was $93,000. So she's "only" making twice as much as the average.

A word to the idiots: If you're 'ordinary' in this economy, you're likely to be WORKING as a maid-- not HAVING one.
vibram five fingers, Low-rated comment [Show]
I am very ordinary
written by Nassim, April 13, 2011 9:17
My au pair's butler filled up one of our private jets today to go shopping for fresh caviar, and he gave me a bill for $7000, and I was like "oh, my ???", forget about the foi gras then.

Do you au pairs' butlers do such like so 90's things too? "oh my, ???"

Sorry, I forgot what I said instead of oh my God, I am an atheist, I must have said, oh my, ???
Sign of intelligence
written by Just Nader, April 13, 2011 9:24
If there is a SETI project on another planet, we are in luck if they zero on Dean. His intelligence shows through his wry sense of humor. We are are lucky to be alive along with him.
Woodrow L. Goode is a liar
written by Rupert, April 13, 2011 9:41
Or at the very least makes statements that are not true.

I am not a troll. Our au pairs have come from Germany (2), France (3) and Canada (1). We did not pay their air fares. We found our first au pair through a service, but found the rest either by word of mouth or though au pair world dot net (I forget the hyphenation).

The two German au pairs attended a few weeks of English language classes, but the others did not. We provided a car, but (as the one au pair who did not drive found out) it was not necessary to take our kids further than walking distance.
au pair? unfair!
written by david, April 13, 2011 10:44
Rupert, come into the woods sometime and see: au pairs are a trapping of the upper classes. It's only psychologically natural that you think of yourself as ordinary, surrounded as you are (probably) by others who are just as unordinary as you. I raised two boys, a single dad, none of this foo foo stuff, but plain bald self-sufficiency and making things work, because they had to. But there's over a hundred million who have it as bad, who don't know what an au pair is or where France is or Germany and not even Canada or Mexico. So, yeah, you are seriously unordinary. You need to get out more.
I imagine illegal aliens are cheap
written by Woodrow L. Goode, IV, April 15, 2011 2:35
The regulations form at aupair-world.net states:

"To become a legal au pair in the USA you need to have a J1-Visa. You can only apply for this J1-Visa if you go through one of the 13 federally designated au pair agencies. From these agencies you can get a DS-2019 form with which you can apply for a visa. To get further information, please contact the proper agencies."

So if Rupert didn't go through one of the 13 agencies to get his au pair-- and pay their fee-- then he violated the law.
Woodrow missed an option
written by Rupert, April 17, 2011 9:59
My au pairs were all here legally, and none of them had J1 visas.
However, it does appear that my statement about the affordability of an au pair is not universally true. I found it comparable to the cost of before and after school care, but in jurisdictions where au pair agencies operate as a cartel, this may not be the case.
vibram five fingers
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vibram five fingers
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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.