Some folks in the media are trying to spin the economic story against the President, and are using that tired old measure, “the income gap.”
Noticed this data from a post over at Reason.com –
The Washington Post came out with a story today bemoaning the “shrinking middle class”, as if that is inherently a bad thing – the silly headline is “As Income Gap Widens, Uncertainty Spreads - More U.S. Families Struggle to Stay on Track”:
Now, a shrinking middle class, as defined as the percentage of households earning close to the median income ($43,318 in 2003 and in 2003 dollars), would be problematic if there were fewer households there because they were getting poorer. However, the data in the story seem to support the opposite conclusion: There are fewer people in the middle class because they are moving UP.
Note this graphic:
To quote Nick Gillespie:
"[N]ote that 22.3 percent of households were in the middle income quintile as of 1967–a figure that shrunk to 15 percent in 2003 (all corresponding money amounts are in constant 2003 dollars); that’s supposed to be bad news.
Note also that in 1967 52.8 percent of households were in the bottom two income quintiles–a figure that had dropped to 40.9 percent in 2003; that should be very good news.
And note further that the percentage of households in the top two quintiles had risen from 24.9 percent in '67 to 44.1 percent in 2003. That is, arguably, better news still.
So significantly more households were in the top two quintiles in 2003 than in 1967–and significantly fewer were in the bottom two. That this gets spun as bad news is pretty amazing–especially in an economy with relatively low unemployment and historically high home ownership rates and near-record levels of high school seniors going on to college."
So, we have people moving from the middle to the upper classes, generally speaking. So, who is populating the lower quintiles of the income distribution? All the data seems to indicate it is the underskilled and undereducated, especially unskilled workers with less than a high school education. Some might note that a lot of unskilled, uneducated labor enters the country, legally and illegally, over the southern border.
So, for those who do think the growth of income inequality is a bad thing, do you really think the solution is punishing the upwardly mobile via the “progressive” tax structure that takes progressively higher bites of the apple from the formerly middle class people who have worked their way up?
To me, it would seem more productive to attack from the bottom, namely fixing our education system for those it is failing, particularly students in poor districts, students from broken homes, and students from cultures that do not value education highly (these categories tend to overlap a lot). For me, this would mean breaking the NEA and funding charter schools, but I realize others might take a different view of how to fix the problem – but I simply can’t understand the argument that it is good to simply tear the top down.