Saturday, January 28, 2006


From James at Wigderson Library & Pub:

The report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Economic Policy Institute, both liberal-leaning think tanks, found the incomes of the poorest 20 percent of families nationally grew by an average of $2,660, or 19 percent, over the past 20 years.

The truth is, "rich get richer, poor get richer, too."

The problem with James’ post is he’s cherry-picking facts from the article. At least he provided a link to the article. If one clicked on the link, one would find that while it is true that the poorest fifth saw their income go up 19 percent, one would also find that:

The middle fifth’s income rose 28%
The richest fifth’s income rose 59%

One would think in a fairer society that income would go up at the same rate for all…but the last twenty years of Republican majority have resulted in a growing disparity between the richest and poorest Americans…which is what the article focused on, not on the meager growth deceptively highlighted by James.

2 Swings of the bat:

James Wigderson said...

Now you're taking me out of context, intentionally. The subject of my post was the headline, "Study: America's Rich Get Richer, Poor Get Poorer". The study showed no such thing. Yes, the rich got richer, and more richer than than the poor, but the poor got richer, too. And it was this last part that refutes the headline, and therefore became the subject of my post. If this is too hard for you to follow, I...could... type... slower....

But let's take your premise. If the poor are better off in real terms (and according to the study they are) that would be a good thing, wouldn't it? If the income gap grows between rich and the poor, do I suffer in real terms? The answer is, of course not. As long as my standard of living improves the greater improvement in my neighbor's economic position doesn't hurt me.

Let's take it a step further. Because of the improvement in income in the rich, there will be a longer term benefit to the real improvement at the bottom end as well. Regardless of the taxes they pay (still too much) the more they have to invest and to spend will have a better impact on raising the standard of living.

Relative income growth was a fashionable statistic among some economists because it allowed them to come up with all sorts of social engineering "solutions" to a problem that wasn't really a problem. But it doesn't address the issue of poverty in real terms, and indeed diverts resources from solving real poverty to benefits for the middle class because the income inequality gap describes them as well.

Other Side said...

One other thing though...your post relies on an outdated theory..."trickle down." If it were indeed true that improvement in income for the rich resulted in more investment that resulted in more impact on raising the standard of living (for the poorer, I assume), then why hasn't it worked? If anything, the poor seem much worse off than previously. And, over twenty years, a raise in average income of a little over $2,000 is not very much. I wonder if that even covers the rise in the cost of living? I don't have the answer to that, however...nor the time or energy to research it.

I agree with you, though, that taxes are high.