Look, Ma, I’m an economist!
I’m not actually an economist, of course — and unlike, say, George Will, I don’t even play one on television. But even as a non-economist, I have no trouble seeing the devil hiding in the recent “good” economic news about income and poverty. For example, census numbers show that income is up! Well, yeah, it’s up a little, as in, very little — and even then most of the increase is because more people are working longer hours, rather than from rising wages.
But wait, there’s even more good news. It seems that for the first time since George W. Bush rode into town, the poverty rate has actually gone down.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Economic Inequality 101. Today’s lesson: how the rich get richer while the rest tread water. We begin with a little closer look at all this good news: after years of significant economic growth, now, finally, just as the economy shows signs of slowing down, a few tiny crumbs from these “good times” may actually have begun to fall into the laps of average Americans. During this same time, of course, the wealthiest of Americans have made an absolute — obscene really — killing.
So what happens when the economy goes to shit, as appears increasingly likely to happen fairly soon? (I know, this stuff is just too easy, isn’t it?) What will happen, of course, is that the working class and especially the poor will be hurt very badly, particularly through unemployment.
And what of the wealthiest of the wealthy? They may get hurt too — a little.
So there you have economic inequality in a nutshell: in good times, ordinary Americans benefit very little, while the superrich benefit a great deal; during bad times ordinary Americans get hurt a lot, while the superrich get hurt a little. And so bit by bit the nation’s wealth is transferred from the many to the few.
Seriously, you should take some time to appreciate the majesty of it all. You’re seeing history in the making here — the death of the American middle class.
August 29th, 2007 at 9:09 am
I’m glad somebody with some credibility (Steve) is bringing this up.
We have been observing this on the local level for the past 5 or 6 years and it is reaching the point of being obvious to everybody now, not just the educated DFHs that seem to be paying attention.
Locally, the middle class has all but disappeared because of the loss of good paying manufacturing jobs and the growth of the “service sector” which, characteristically, is run by a few profit-sharing managers and a lot of low-skilled, lower paid “worker bees”.
Our “economic development” statistic look impressive in terms of “average household income” but the numbers are skewed by the fact that the upper incomes have become much, much higher and also because the number of households with two-family incomes has increased dramatically…averages ,/b> do not take this into account so the numbers that are presented are impressive but flawed. “Median income” presents a much more realistic picture but the number doesn’t support the typical “boosterism” that locals like to use.
It’s a head-up-your-ass tactic that locals use to get re-elected but it’s not doing the community any good.
Our middle class is disappearing very quickly and nobody seems to know what to do about it.
August 29th, 2007 at 6:46 pm
Thankyou for that link. I have been collecting the ones that point to permanent usable info.
Here are a few I have found about this.
The truth about America’s class war
Google’s new Gapminder project,still in Beta, to make databases accessible to all
my own blog on the subject
How to talk about the subject in ways that jujitsu GOP framing