Free Markets, Free People

Income inequality: why you shouldn’t care

James Q Wilson makes many of the same points that have been made here over the last few months concerning the argument about income inequality that the left has been trying to use as a reason to tax the rich even more than they’re taxed now.   In sum, most of the left’s arguments rest in the premise that the economy is a zero sum game and that the income the “rich” are taking had to come from someone else’s slice.

That argument, much like the climate change debate, depends on a measure of ignorance among those they’re trying to influence. 

In reality, income inequality is nothing to be concerned about when it meets certain conditions.   Or, in other words, it isn’t a zero sum game and everyone has an opportunity to do better.

The first measure as we’ve noted before, is income mobility.  Wilson:

The “rich” in America are not a monolithic, unchanging class. A study by Thomas A. Garrett, economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, found that less than half of people in the top 1 percent in 1996 were still there in 2005. Such mobility is hardly surprising: A business school student, for instance, may have little money and high debts, but nine years later he or she could be earning a big Wall Street salary and bonus.

Mobility is not limited to the top-earning households. A study by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis found that nearly half of the families in the lowest fifth of income earners in 2001 had moved up within six years. Over the same period, more than a third of those in the highest fifth of income-earners had moved down. Certainly, there are people such as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates who are ensconced in the top tier, but far more common are people who are rich for short periods.

In sum, you have both the top and bottom quintiles changing constantly as income earners move up or down fairly regularly.  That means those moving up must be getting the opportunity to do so somewhere, and the fact that there is a change of about half in the period studied says many are succeeding.

Who are these people that get ahead?  Well as Wilson mentions, a poor (I’m talking income here) student who graduates and gets a job in his or her field most likely won’t be poor in the sense of income very long.  And that goes for most of the “rich”:

Affluent people, compared with poor ones, tend to have greater education and spouses who work full time. The past three decades have seen significant increases in real earnings for people with advanced degrees. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that between 1979 and 2010, hourly wages for men and women with at least a college degree rose by 33 percent and 20 percent, respectively, while they fell for all people with less than a high school diploma — by 9 percent for women and 31 percent for men.

Also, households with two earners have seen their incomes rise. This trend is driven in part by women’s increasing workforce participation, which doubled from 1950 to 2005 and which began to place women in well-paid jobs by the early 1980s.

Preparation, delayed gratification and a work ethic.  The old Puritan ideal.  Amazing the staying power it has, no?  That and adding a spouse with similar traits has a tendency to boost income to the household significantly.  Yet for some reason, the left (who, btw, are all about workplace equality and equal pay) now want you be jealous of those accomplishments.

If, as the left would prefer, we should be concerned with income inequality and the mechanism that advances it, the solution is simple:

We could reduce income inequality by trying to curtail the financial returns of education and the number of women in the workforce — but who would want to do that?

Well certainly not the left, who doesn’t want the rich to go away.  Instead it simply wants to make you hate them so they can justify taking more of their money.  But Wilson’s point is spot on.  This once was the key to the door of the American dream.  Now it’s the key to a class of citizen who is  vilified and called greedy and accused of not paying their “fair share”.  If anyone is killing the American dream, it is the American left.

The tax on the rich is offered as a panacea to all that ails us.  It will help pay down the debt and it will “level the playing” field.  One assumes that means that it will somehow help the poor not be poor. 

But Wilson points out, poverty in the US isn’t a function of the rich making a greater percentage of the national income.  Poverty is a cultural problem that has nothing to do with the rich or taxing them:

The real income problem in this country is not a question of who is rich, but rather of who is poor. Among the bottom fifth of income earners, many people, especially men, stay there their whole lives. Low education and unwed motherhood only exacerbate poverty, which is particularly acute among racial minorities. Brookings Institution economist Scott Winship has argued that two-thirds of black children in America experience a level of poverty that only 6 percent of white children will ever see, calling it a “national tragedy.”

Making the poor more economically mobile has nothing to do with taxing the rich and everything to do with finding and implementing ways to encourage parental marriage, teach the poor marketable skills and induce them to join the legitimate workforce. It is easy to suppose that raising taxes on the rich would provide more money to help the poor. But the problem facing the poor is not too little money, but too few skills and opportunities to advance themselves.

Most of the lack of economic opportunity and dearth of skills comes not from the rich making too much, but those in that condition making poor choices early in their lives.  Combine that with some of the less desirable cultural aspects of poverty and you end up with a fairly permanent underclass with little hope of advancing.

But that has nothing to do with the rich or how much they make.  Problem?  Yes.  A product of income inequality.  No.

And even then, poverty in this country is a relative thing:

Between 1970 and 2010, the net worth of American households more than doubled, as did the number of television sets and air-conditioning units per home. In his book “The Poverty of the Poverty Rate,” Nicholas Eberstadt shows that over the past 30 or so years, the percentage of low-income children in the United States who are underweight has gone down, the share of low-income households lacking complete plumbing facilities has declined, and the area of their homes adequately heated has gone up. The fraction of poor households with a telephone, a television set and a clothes dryer has risen sharply.

In other words, the country has become more prosperous, as measured not by income but by consumption: In constant dollars, consumption by people in the lowest quintile rose by more than 40 percent over the past four decades.

Income as measured by the federal government is not a reliable indicator of well-being, but consumption is. Though poverty is a problem, it has become less of one.

I always think of my mother when I read things like this.  She was defined as “poor” after retirement and my father’s death.  House paid for, cars paid for, and had more money in retirement (very large savings account) than she could spend, but when measured against the arbitrary income line, you’d have thought she was eating cat food and living in a cardboard box.   She lived very well, but her “income” – all she received a year from Social Security – put her under the poverty line. 

So Wilson’s point is correct – measuring consumption paints a completely different picture, and that picture says things are getting relatively better for the “poor” in this country even while the rich seem to be getting richer.   Something about “lifting all boats” in there.

All of this is, simply, class war populism.  President Obama said in his State of the Union address, “call it class warfare if you want.”  Okay, I will.  That’s precisely what it is.  It is the demonization of a class designed to shift blame from one entity (in this case the Obama administration) to another (the rich) and blame them for all the problems now extant. 

The fact remains that income inequality isn’t a problem.  It is certainly not even a major problem.  And for the most part, American’s reject the argument:

American views about inequality have not changed much in the past quarter-century. In their 2009 book “Class War? What Americans Really Think About Economic Inequality,” political scientists Benjamin Page and Lawrence Jacobs report that big majorities, including poor people, agree that “it is ‘still possible’ to start out poor in this country, work hard, and become rich,” and reject the view that it is the government’s job to narrow the income gap. More recently, a December Gallup poll showed that 52 percent of Americans say inequality is “an acceptable part” of the nation’s economic system, compared with 45 percent who deemed it a “problem that needs to be fixed.” Similarly, 82 percent said economic growth is “extremely important” or “very important,” compared with 46 percent saying that reducing the gap between rich and poor is extremely or very important.

So why does the left continue to pursue it?  Well, one of the reasons is, as mentioned, a need to blame someone else for the perceived failings of this administration. “It’s not our fault.  If only the rich would pay their fair share.  But the Republicans won’t allow it”.

The second, of course, is that left – champions of progressive taxation – see this as an opportunity to advance that ideal again.  Wilson asks the pregnant question which you’ll never get the left to agree too:

But what is the morally fair way to determine tax rates — other than taxing everyone at the same rate?

Indeed.  And:

The case for progressive tax rates is far from settled; just read Kip Hagopian’s  recent essay in Policy Review, which makes a powerful argument against progressive taxation because it fails to take into account aptitude and work effort.

Those are traits that can never be made “equal”.  Those are what propel some out of the lowest quintile and keep others in the highest quintile.  Since you can’t make people work harder or increase their natural aptitude for work, the only way to make things “equal” is to do what?

Penalize those who excel.

That’s precisely what the progressive tax system does.  In the case of this country, it then subsidizes those who don’t excel, thereby getting exactly what those subsides pay for – a permanent underclass, or at least the basis for one.

So, income inequality isn’t our problem.  Poverty is.  Or at least the American version of poverty.   And taxing the rich won’t do a thing to solve that problem.  Nope, the answer is much more complex and involved than that.  That’s what the left doesn’t want to face.  Because if it does, it is likely to find the root of the current problem of poverty in this country directly in programs leftists have touted for decades.

And we can’t have that, can we?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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59 Responses to Income inequality: why you shouldn’t care

  • Cue Collectivist dupe/resident moron…

    “The rich have rigged the game to assure their hegemony” (actually, he was never bright enough to use “hegemony”), supported by a lot of BS stuff to which he cannot cite.

    (Rags makes tube-shape with right hand and rhythmically strokes the air above his groin region.)

    When will we have Academe Award equality, I wonder?

    • @Ragspierre Rags, you just have to decode the message. “Rigged the game” means “arranged things so that people with advanced degrees don’t automatically get a lot of money because of their obvious superiority”. “Assure their hegemony” means “find a way to hold onto their money no matter how hard parasitical leftists try to take it”.

  • Well, they might have tried to use the “joooooooooooos” instead of the rich, but of course, that’s been done.
    Interesting that certain well educated idiots cannot see any parallel at all. And when the idiots rally up the common man with their anger, and the common man goes out and does some things unforeseen (to idiots) and unfortunate (like a couple of the Occupy marches on the Left Coast), well, chances are the idiots will blame Republican violent speech rhetoric, Republican ‘false flag’ operations, and the Tea Party.

  • There has been a real effort by the Progressives to paint mobility as having ended with the policies of not Bush 43 or Bush 41, but Ronald Reagan. Also, the wage inequality that built up during the “housing bubble” disappeared when the bubble burst (which is why most of the inequality boosters have they data stop in 2007

  • There has been a real effort by the Progressives to paint mobility as having ended with the policies of not Bush 43 or Bush 41, but Ronald Reagan. Also, the wage inequality that built up during the “housing bubble” disappeared when the bubble burst (which is why most of the inequality boosters have they data stop in 2007

  • Income inequality is just a symptom of a larger problem, and if the larger problem were addressed, instead of drifting to and past the income equality that preceded the Great Depression, wealth concentration would flatten out and return to the normal healthy range we have enjoyed for most of the last 80 years. For people who are paying attention, it’s not about class warfare or wealth envy. There are some natural macroeconomic elements that contribute to wealth concentration, such as automation and other technological advances that allow greater production with less labor, but there is also factors that distort and subvert normal economic growth, and these subversive factors are the focus of people like me who are neither interested in punishing the rich nor redistributing income. Those factors are the manner in which policy decisions are made, and why. Our system as it currently malfunctions, serves the interests of big money to the detriment of the citizens, and to the detriment of the financial well being of citizens and by extension, our economy and country as a whole. Corporate interests, labor interests, foreign interests, all use their wealth to subvert the will of the people, and they DO NOT cancel each other out, rather they all serve to create massive amounts of expensive, often contradictory policies, that generally speaking protect entrenched interests and stifle competition. The Occupy idiots have a sense of this, but are so incoherent that they consistently default to inaccurate populist rhetoric. Our elected officials are accountable to special interests in ways never imagined before, and this is the cause fo much of the income inequality and wealth concentration and general economic dysfunction.

    • I was discussing one of the thousands of examples just this morning with a friend interested in stopping government subsidies for sugary soda. This is a true story, and merely serves to describe how our government functions in total, not to say that this particular issue needs adressing, but that the system that allows this issue to happen desperately needs to be addressed. The SNAP (Foodstamp program) currently allows the purchase of sugary sodas, and that adds up to $4B in annual sugar soda sales. The American Beverage Association (Coke, Pepsi, etc) spend a tiny fraction of the profits JUST from SNAP to lobby government to protect THEIR interests and massively outspend interests that suggest that we taxpayers should not be subsidizing nutritionally useless items as well as folks that believe that we should tax sugar soda in order to help pay for the added healthcare costs that these poisons put upon taxpayers. Forget for a moment where you might stand on these issues and consider for a moment that we the taxpayers are actually subsidizing the lobbying dollars used to thwart attempts by actual citizens to correct policy subversion caused by bad policy made as a result of lobbying efforts to allow non-nutritional items into the eligible products of Foodstamps. The ABA is clever, they contribute to campaigns and use free market rhetoric to sway conservatives, and they contribute to campaigns and use rhetoric of patronizing the poor to sway liberals. The pols want the cash, and they just need the thinnest rhetorical flourish to support their decisions to do what they money tells them to do. This is how our whole government works now.

      • @CaptinSarcastic What an interesting perversion.

        Not-nannyfying what people may purchase = subsidy.

        Gob-smacking.

        • @Ragspierre Aside from the socialist reality of foodstamps in general, does it not occur to you that a program called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program could quite reasonably have a requirement that the program supplements products that are actually nutritious in some way? Or was that just a kneejerk response because you saw my handsome visage in the profile and can only react in the negative? Seriously, you are worried about nanny state implications WITHIN a welfare program? That is bizarre, and oddly, the liberal argument against such restrictions (patronizing the poor). Conservatives generally use free market arguments that all foodstuffs whould be available and the market will correct any problems.

        • @CaptinSarcastic “Seriously, you are worried about nanny state implications WITHIN a welfare program?”

          This is NEWS to you…??? It is a fundamental argument AGAINST such programs, dummy.

          Precisely WHY ObamaCare is an existential danger to the idea of citizens being at liberty to decide what they consider “poison” (your idiot descriptor) and what they do not.

          But the “subsidy” BULLSH!T was what prompted my comment.

        • @Ragspierre The ABA spends a lot of money lobbying to keep that subsidy. How could you not call it a subsidy when taxpayer dollars go to a private industry? Do you think the subsidy that makes milk cheaper than it would be is not a subsidy? Then why not consider the subsidy that makes soda free for SNAP users to be a subsidy? But since you say you were making a fundamental argument against foodstamps, is that really your position, that no such assistance programs should exist?

        • @CaptinSarcastic “How could you not call it a subsidy when taxpayer dollars go to a private industry?”

          You really are too stupid to mess with. When the Feds buy a computer, is that a “subsidy”?

          “But since you say you were making a fundamental argument against foodstamps, is that really your position, that no such assistance programs should exist?”

          See Surfdom, Road To.

          What a moron.

        • “The Road To Surfdom” was that obscure Jan & Dean release during their “Austrian School” period.

        • @Ragspierre It would be interesting if you ever got an opportunity to see Austrian Economics in action, but neither of us will ever see the possibility of desired policy decisions as long as political decisions are contribution based corporate socialism. And yes, when the feds buy a computer for someone outside of the government, it is a subsidy. As least according to PC World, because ironically, the Chinese government announced just such a SUBSIDY to SUBSIDIZE Chinese computer makers. Though I am sure if argued it were not a subsidy, you would argue it is. Oh, here’s your source… nah, look it up yourself “PC World Chinese computer subsidy”. So who wrote Road to Surfdom, Selam Hayek?

        • @CaptinSarcastic I need to see if I can get Dale to add a “What A Stupid Flucking Post” button, as that would be much more worthwhile than having to write anything in response to such concerted stupid.

        • @Ragspierre Good response, ignore the fact that I completely decimated your assertion that government buying computers can’t be a subsidy, and then insult me. I would not presume to bring Dale into this, but I suspect that though he may disagree with me completely, I’d guess he has more respect for my ability to make a coherent argument and stay on topic and would consider you to be more of an embarassment to his point of view. I know the feeling, I have the same opinion of most of the people in the Occupy movement. They are on my side, but I want nothing to do with them because they are an embarassment to my side. Of course, I could be wrong.

        • @CaptinSarcastic “I completely decimated your assertion that government buying computers can’t be a subsidy”

          Made particularly easy because I never made that assertion, you lying SOS.

          But, whoooo-hooo for you…!!! You are the MAN…when you lie, create a straw man, and vanquish him.

        • @Ragspierre Your words, about 6 posts up, “You really are too stupid to mess with. When the Feds buy a computer, is that a “subsidy”?

          the discussion began with my assertion that when the government (Feds) buy soda for someone, it is a subsidy to the soda company. You responded with the ridiculous statement above, and then I showed you real life example of a government buying computers for people as a specific intentional subsidy.

          No straw man, just your words.

    • @CaptinSarcastic The last time the Democrats decided to make millionaires suffer withe “millionaires tax” under Bill Clinton they triggered the increased usage of stock options which lead to what PBS’s Frontline called “the greatest transfer in equity in the history of mankind.”

  • The Cruiser USS Wealth Inequality just took a torpedo aft of the stack.

    http://campaign2012.washingtonexaminer.com/blogs/beltway-confidential/feds-%E2%80%98poor%E2%80%99-consume-rich/348206

    Read it, and let’s talk about being poor in America.

    “–On an average day, just 1 percent of households have someone who is forced to miss a meal.

    –On any day, children are hungry in .25 percent of U.S. homes. (that’s .25 percent, not 25%….)

    –96 percent of poor parents say their children were never hungry during the year because they couldn’t afford food.

    –83 percent of the poor said they have enough to eat.

    Says Rasmussen, “About 40 million Americans are officially defined as living below the poverty line. Yet most of those have adequate levels of food, shelter, clothing and medical care. Sixty-three percent of American adults believe such a family is not living in poverty,” he writes. “Only 16 percent believe that a family is living in poverty if it has two color televisions, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player, and a VCR, but that’s what the average family living in poverty has as defined by the U.S. government,” he added”

    • @looker I have a pair of color TVs, cable and a DVD player. But no VCR! I also quite often miss lunch since there is too much work to do. Where is the caring welfare state for poverty stricken bums like me??? Where is the workers movement to prevent my exploitation???

      • @DocD “Where is the caring welfare state for poverty stricken bums like me??? ”

        You?! You?! You Kiwi Scandinavian Euronut, you’re not our problem! You go and get your hand out from Merkel like the Greeks are doing and don’t come begging to us darn it, we have our own poor to deal with here!

        .

        • @looker I used to enterthe Green Card lottery every year but my number never came up. Maybe I should’ve just walked over the border from Canada and got a job as a bum. If you don’t rat me and my TVs out I promise to vote for your party ;)

        • @DocD I’ve been telling my foreign, trying to become American, acquaintances they’ve been doing it all wrong for years. Going to Embassies, filling out forms, getting work visas, bah, all wasted time. They just need to hang in long enough for the great emancipator to free the illegals from their bondage and help them cross whichever version of the Jordan (northern or southern US border) into the promised land here.

        • @looker I used to tell my American friends that was exactly my plan since getting into America legally is a f***ing nightmare. Luckily I have since discovered by read the Prof that I ended up in a better place anyway

        • Goddamned livefyre… better place anyway since I can rejoice in my exorbitant marginal tax rates and still pay for health insurance to avoid having a limb rot in the emergency room. Oh and I haven’t been to Thailand for like 5 years.

    • I suppose we’ll be wanting to discuss the unfairness of rich people having better LCD 1080p TV’s, Blu-Ray players, faster download speeds and the latest tech for Wii or Xbox. And I know, they have bigger houses, faster cars, and they’re probably eating Chicken Kiev far more often, and darn it, that’s not fair is it.

      • @looker There was a study or report here in Sweden a year or three ago in which a great social injustice was brought to light. Turns out that single mothers on state welfare virtually never could afford to go on winter holidays to Thailand or the Canary Islands or whatever resort was “in” with the middle class that year. This was clearly a screaming failure of the Swedish welfare system. I shit you not.

        • @DocD And I am not surprised. I always enjoy people with no basis for making measurements making measurements. And remember, these people vote!

        • @looker It does sort of show the whole thing has reached it’s use by date. Once upon a time it was

          “no children up chimneys”
          “i have a dream”
          “one man one vote”

          now

          “winter holidays in Thailand for two weeks, all inclusive, one free drink with meals and a creche for babies, for all”.

        • @DocD Dude, I’m tellin you, I may really have to cash in on the Grandfather fleeing Imperial Ireland and get my Irish citizenship so I can sneak into Sweden and mooch off you people. I’ve never been to Thailand! winter OR summer (never been to Sweden, or France, or Spain, or…aw hell, just call it Europe! either).

        • @looker Just get yourself a doctorate from some paper mill and a gig as a professor and you can get the other bums to pay for your jaunts round old Europe.

  • Income is not really a good indicator of the immense success of market capitalism.

    Standard of living is. And, as Mr. Wilson points out (as have MANY others), the American standard of living has…until the Obamic Decline…been ramping up strongly for decades.

    • @Ragspierre couldn’t disagree more. Ever since taxes and the dole got indexed to inflation, its been grossly under-reported. And when I compare my situation with someone in a similar position 30 years ago, better is not my experience.

      If it wasn’t for technological bonanza connect to the microprocessor things would be hurting for everyone. I may not buy the solution nor how the problem is cast. But things ain’t better. Maybe more options. Like buying a $8000 TV & sound system instead of a $60,000 pleasurecaft, so you can feel like richie rich without being that rich.

      • @jpm100 @Ragspierre “And when I compare my situation with someone in a similar position 30 years ago, better is not my experience. ”

        Oh, good point. I’m a little ahead of where my parents were, sort of, after having raised 3 less children than they did. With no college education, he worked as a machinist for 40 years and retired at 62 and became a snow bird at 68. I’ll still be working at 62 with short prospects of retirement. Yeah, I agree, we’re NOT better off, we just have more high tech stuff.

        • @looker @jpm100 Except this is purely anecdotal, subjective stuff.

          There is OBJECTIVE data showing how much better we are off. And to snort that it just “high tech stuff” IGNORES a LOT of what we have commonly now we did not have a few decades ago…at ALL, including food, drink, and air travel, information…

    • some things not connected to high tech are much cheaper than before, and more choices as well. Biggest example is food. But where we have had erosion is it almost totally due to taxes/regulations/inflation. @Ragspierre

      • @kyle8 @Ragspierre Not to mention a huge increase in government intrusion that technology made possible….and it ain’t gettin better gang.

    • @Ragspierre That is so entertaining. We have had problems in the making through several administrations but to suggest this recession is in any way related to Obama is just humorous. I suppose the unemployment
      spike in the last year of the Bush administration, where the monthly job loss numbers built steadily to a peak which then began to reverse itself during Obama’s first year was somehow Obama’s fault, but which part, the rise in unemployment during his first few months, or the reduction in unemployment thereafter? It really is laugh out loud funny, even to people who don’t like Obama. “Obamic decline”, that is pure comedy gold.

      • @CaptinSarcastic @Ragspierre No, but ya know, he’s the genius who keeps coming back, like any good liberal bureaucrat and claiming his plan will work if we’ll just cough up more dough, lots more dough.

        I blame the government, Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, LBJ and Kennedy and the endless series of asshats that were sent to Congress in my lifetime, and the endless series of well educated do-gooders who counciled them and lobbied them.

        And it probably goes back to the turn of the previous century if I want to walk it that far.
        This is a problem a long time coming.

        • @looker @Ragspierre I don’t disagree.No matter who we elect, they are going to say they will fix things, and they are going fail. When the system is the problem, you can’t fix the problem from within the system. I want a government where if someone takes a bribe, it is in a burlap sack and we can send them to jail for years if we catch them. I don’t want a government where our pols lifestyles are completely dependent on contributions from people who want something from government. Did you know that Congress Critters, even the one’s who are not wealthy, live an opulant lifestyle using campaign funds? All they have to do is ask someone for money while they are dining or vacationing, or golfing, or skiing at some ultra-expensive spot and it’s all legal.

      • @CaptinSarcastic @Ragspierre But the one thing big ears isn’t doing, is HELPING. Instead of a sound budget, they spent 2 years pushing a costly intrusive economically and infra-structurally destructive health care plan. Have talked energy independence while insuring we are anything BUT and left such uncertainty in business that no one has been willing to do a damned thing till they see what effect the myriad of regulations, laws, and agencies has on the business environment (and the environment environment, heh).

        So, I blame him for THAT.
        The reduction in unemployment? Are we living in the same country?

        • @looker @Ragspierre Obama has added fewer regulation than Bush and cut far more regulations than Bush. Maybe it’s not enough, but if he is better than the last guy fro the other party, why do you think the next guy from the other party will be even better?

        • @CaptinSarcastic @looker Sources???

        • @CaptinSarcastic @Ragspierre
          Re Your unemployment contention -
          http://www.zerohedge.com/news/latest-congressional-budget-outlook-2012-2022-released

          These things, they just fall out of the sky and into my lap. That means there’s lots of them and they’re not rare.

        • @CaptinSarcastic @Ragspierre He’s added fewer….and which cost American Business more?

        • @looker @Ragspierre There are certainly inaccuracies in the way we calculate unemployment, but they are not new. It’s not like Obama changed the way the rate is calculated, the same very imperfect method has been used for a while. I suspect the REAL unemployment is always different than the stated rate, but it is the baseline we use and has some historical consistency. Look at the economic numbers Dale posts every day, they are improving. The private sector is hiring far than they are firing. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns, but we are moving in a positive direction. Would it move faster under a Romgrich President? I don’t think so, there is nothing in there suggested policies that would indicate they can do anything to speed up employment growth, especially since he says that shrinking government will grow jobs and we KNOW that he would fail in doing that. If Reagan couldn’t do it, with a similarly divided government but a solid governing coalition with Reagan Democrats, how could anyone expect Romney, who didn’t agree much with Reagan anyway, to do anything other than grow government differently. I’m just saying that I don’t think there is really much difference between the two sides, look at what Republicans did with all the time they were in power, why should I expect the next time to be different?

        • @looker @Ragspierre I suppose that depends on who you listen to. According to the Administration the cost of the new regs in the first two years is 8 to 16.5B, Heritage pegs it at $40B. Bush averaged $15B every two years. But I think more importantly is that little global financial meltdown that occured right before Obama came into office. Never, ever in our history has a major crisis not been followed with significant regulatory activity, so I think the administration is demonstrating restraint in keeping the increases lower than historic levels. I don’t expect you to agree, but it’s another point of view that is without merit.

        • @CaptinSarcastic @Ragspierre “Look at the economic numbers Dale posts every day, they are improving.”
          Then you’re not reading them, no they aren’t they’re essentially stagnant. Gains today are wiped out by ‘readjustments’ downward next month. That’s been a consistent pattern. What happened to ‘recovery summer’ – what happened to ‘if we don’t spend X, unemployment will rise to uh, well, where it is’.

        • @CaptinSarcastic @Ragspierre “I don’t expect you to agree, but it’s another point of view that is without merit. ”

          Eh, Uh huh.

          Meanwhile, I’m supposed to get warm and fuzzy with the invented jobs saved or created math.

          Please, this administration, and I’ve had enough experience to pay some sort of attention since Nixon (and oh my God, thinking back on price and wage freezes cracks me up now – under a Republican no less), has made up more junk than most I’ve personally experienced. The guy is clueless, it’s that simple. I’d rather see Hillary run before I’d want him back in office.

          Now do I think Romney (who’s going to be the candidate) will magically make it all better? No, but I’m confident we are in for a hell of a bad ride, sooner, if we leave the current clueless occupant in the Oval Office. As I’ve said for several years now, the Republicans have us on the local to Hell, the Democrats are pushing for the Express. But I figure a delaying action and the hope of reform in the future is better than stepping out onto the platform of Hell in the shorter term.

        • @looker @Ragspierre I think faster than I type and manage to leave out some key words, but that one was at least funny. No, I expect you won’t buy the save or created math, even though the CBO reports the ARRA with a combination of the increase in jobs and the increase in hours means that ARRA boosted the number of full-time-equivalent jobs by between 1.4 million and 4.0 million as of June 2011. And of the $787B, only a littel over half was spending, the rest wwas tax cuts (which Republicans used to think were good, at least when they did them).

          But hey, I appreciate that you see that the differences are marginal. I think Obama is better than Bush, or McCain, or Romney, but only marginally, and I don’t think any of them have a chance to make a real difference until our government dances to a piper other than the special interest lobbying ragtime band. I would it if we (Americans) would prefer to find areas of commonality and focus on those problems and then fight over policy when the people actually have some real input into policy.

        • @CaptinSarcastic @Ragspierre How do you really measure “saved” – come on, prior to this administration there was no such number because we all know it’s rubbish and can be fudged all over the place.

          Used to be the upticks or downticks of numbers of jobs. Now we’re into mythical guessing about what was ‘saved’ like Erb and I were doing as to whether or not Saddam would have or would not have been overthrown by Arab Spring if the US hadn’t gone into Iraq.

          talk about a symptom of government that needs to change. But it’s a symptom I can readily find on either side of the equation. In principle we’re in agreement, probably not about what the government should do, but at least that it should be answerable to us.

        • @looker @Ragspierre Yep, I think fighting about policy at this point is rather hopeless and if I had my way, there would not be a million right wing blogs and a million left wing blogs, but two million blogs demanding accountability to “we the people” as the Constitution intended. Once we get THAT we can fight over policy, because then, honest policies could actually be put in place. As I have come to believe honest policies on either side of aisle would work better than what we have. Of course agreeing on how to get their would be another policy fight, but at least one worth having. My first suggestion would be to demand that Congress pass along that Congress Critters and the President may not spend one second personally engaged in fundraising. That is not what we pay them for.

  • I can’t agree with the assertion in the post that the left doesn’t want make the rich go away, but just wants to take more of their money. I do think there are a substantial percentage of leftists that feel envy, hate the sight of someone with a mansion and a Mercedes, and it makes them so psychologically uncomfortable that they want such people to be brought down. Some of the invective about the rich that we hear, I think, is driven by that envy.

    I also think, based on how the left acts rather than the way they talk, that they don’t really care that much about the plight of the nominal poor. If they did, they would be staffing charity kitchens or working at Goodwill or something. Going on about the nominal poor is just a stalking horse for what they really want, which is to take the rich down as many notches as they can manage.

    Sure, they want the system to have room for them to have a BS job in which they don’t do anything very hard, and still have enough money for an iPad, a wide screen TV, and trips to Europe. And soaking the rich is one way to get money for that.

    But I don’t think we should ignore the fact that some of these young fools go and outright join the Communist Party. Given the history of communism, they have to be either sub-moronic, out of their minds, or totally eaten up with envy to believe such a system would actually help the poor better than what we have now.

    • @Billy Hollis I can only tell you that I don’t know any grown up liberals with opinions you think a “substantial percentage” have. I would not disagree if you argued that a substantial number of college aged liberals had this opinion, but they grow out of it and I think they make a up a tiny fraction of all liberals, and have as much influence as their opinions warrant, none. As for myself, I am working hard (and getting closer) on being that which I wish to soak. I don’t WANT to pay more taxes, and I would prefer that government were not so hopelessly dysfunctional and special interest driven, but I am willing to pay more to prevent leaving a truly bankrupt country behind for my children. Leaving them a few more dollars won’t mean much if those dollars are worthless.

      • @CaptinSarcastic @Billy
        I once heard a friend o0f mine exclaim that the government is spending money like a drunken sailor. I disagreed with him because once any sailor ran out of money the boozing stopped ’cause nobody in their right mind would lend the drunk a cent.
        I do not have a problem with “paying my fair share” but I do have a problem watching my tax money go down the Solyndra drain (for instance) and all the other myriad ways government is throwing away our money. Government spending is not only out of control, it is beyond stupid.
        Reference the Health Care discussions of last year where the government touted its low percentage of monies that go toward “administration” when compared to the Insurance industry. My father recently retired from Blue Cross Blue Shield. They have the contract in the state of Arkansas to administer the Medicare & Medicaid programs under state oversight. My father was the auditor for the Northern region of the state. Roughly 25% of the sate and he was the only auditor. Routinely he was instrumental in bringing dozens of health care providors to task for fraudulent practices. But when asked, he would gladly tell you that there needed to be 10 more of him just to minimally cover the region he was responsible for, because he felt for every one he caught ten or more got away with it. And I am not even discussing the monies that are thrown out the Academic door studying the sex practices while under the influence of Crack Cocaine of the Three Toed Frog!
        Bottom line, I would have no problem in boost my tax rate if I felt those monies were being spent wisely!

  • Let’s consider this poor slob:
    2008 income (AGI) – $ 2,696,502 paid $ 855,323 in federal taxes (31.7%)
    2009 income (AGI) – $ 5,505,409 paid $1,792,414 in federal taxes (32.5%)
    2010 income (AGI) – $1,728,096 paid $ 453,770 in federal taxes (26.2%)
    So, should we raise Mr. Obama’s taxes ?

  • We have deflationary elements in our economy (real estate, foreign goods, electronics) and inflationary elements (food, education, healthcare), and these may balance out for a reasonably low reported inflation rate. But does a $59 chainsaw (Where they used to be $200.00 for a cheap one) really offset the fact that people are paying more for necessities. Sure, I bought a 52″ TV for a 1/4 of what it would have cost four or five years ago, but the fact is that I would not have spent any more anyway, I just would have gotten a smaller TV. But my kids college (at the same school) cost 6 times more than mine did, that is FAR higher than the inflation rate. And health insurance, forget it, in 1997 I paid zero in premiums (100% employer paid), with a tiny deductible and a $10 co-pay for virtually everything, and $0 for generic prescriptions. Today I am out of pocket $8000 and then a $3000 deductible and then 20% after that. I don’t even know how to calculate that (partially because I am missing some variables, like how much my employer paid), Kaiser says health insurance has risen 120% in the last 10 years, again, FAR greater then the stated inflation rate, and that does not include cost shifting from employers to employees. I’m just saying, I think the standard of living, or purchasing power, is far lower than the statistics would indicate. Does anyone else notice this?