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Tilting at Windmills

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July 20, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

GET OUT THE PITCHFORKS, PA, WE'RE HEADING TO TOWN!....Over at The Corner, even John Derbyshire thinks there's some evidence that the middle class isn't doing too well these days:

If the rich get richer while the middle class thrives, and some decent provision is made for the poor, I'm a happy man, living in a society I consider healthy and am proud of. If, however, the rich get richer while the middle class is struggling, or actually declining, I am not a happy man. There are some reasons to think that is happening, and you don't have to be a socialist to worry about this.

It is, perhaps, telling that Derbyshire's post sparked not a single response from his fellow conservatives. Even the neo-Lafferians at NRO seem a little too embarrassed by the whole thing to go through their usual exercise of digging up a few pseudo-statistics to demonstrate that, really, the middle class is going great guns under today's Republican leadership.

Alternatively, maybe they figure they don't have to bother. After all, liberals have been trying to get the country interested in rising income inequality for a couple of decades now, but with no luck. Steven Rattner, writing in the Wall Street Journal, suggests the day of reckoning may finally be here:

After months without a domestic agenda to capitalize on Bush administration unpopularity, Democrats are moving haltingly, disjointedly, belatedly toward embracing the mother of all electoral issues: the failure of robust top-line growth in the U.S. economy to filter into the wallets of Americans below the top of the pyramid.

....No amount of chaff can hide the failure of our remarkable productivity surge (and the accompanying robust growth of the overall economy) to meaningfully boost average wages, which have barely grown with inflation. Separated by income level, the picture is more dismal. From 2000 to 2005, for example, average weekly wages for the bottom 10% dropped by 2.7% (after adjustment for inflation), while those of the top 10% rose by 5.3%.

Rattner then goes on to talk approvingly about "thoughtful elements" of the Democratic party who are "carefully crafting solutions" to this problem. Unfortunately, this means that "haltingly, disjointedly, belatedly" is probably a pretty good description of what's going on.

Still, who knows? Maybe Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama or some other Democratic worthy will start barnstorming the country asking middle class workers why their wages have barely budged during a period when the economy has nearly doubled. And perhaps that same worthy will suggest ever so delicately that it's largely because that's exactly the way the Republican Party likes it.

A man can dream, can't he?

Kevin Drum 1:33 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (226)

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Comments

Anything on stem cells yet, Kevin?

Posted by: Thomas on July 20, 2006 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

No amount of chaff can hide the failure of our remarkable productivity surge (and the accompanying robust growth of the overall economy) to meaningfully boost average wages, which have barely grown with inflation.

As usual your liberal sources are WRONG Kevin. Wages are RISING while unemployment is staying low.

Link

"figures showed that hourly wages increased sharply, hitting $16.70 an hour, a 0.5% rise"
"Meanwhile, the US unemployment rate remained unchanged at the 4.6% figure from the previous month"

Posted by: Al on July 20, 2006 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Even adjusted for inflation, wages ARE rising.

Posted by: Thomas on July 20, 2006 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

After all, liberals have been trying to get the country interested in increasing income inequality for a couple of decades now, but with no luck.

Er, you may want to re-read that sentence.

Posted by: Steve Brady on July 20, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Look Kevin, I warned you a few days ago, but you just ignored me. Since you wouldn't remove the radio animated gif, you forced me to adblock it. If you continue this behavior, I will be removing the rest of your ads next.

Posted by: jerry on July 20, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Derb is an anomaly at the Corner, perhaps because of his mathematical background. Uncharacteristically for the self-proclaimed ubermensches at the Corner, he is, for the most part, quite rational, and, therefore, liberal, by definition.

Posted by: nut on July 20, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Freudian slip -- of course liberals are only interested in class warfare and taking as much money as possible from working people -- until Reagan, they were having lots of luck.

Posted by: Thomas on July 20, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Adjusted for inflation, wages are NOT rising. Try harder, folks. Even the NRO gang didn't try to pretend otherwise.

Over the past 30 years, median wages for men have dropped. Median wages for women, starting from a very low base, have increased modestly. Meanwhile, the income of the rich has skyrocketed while their tax rates have been decreased. Pretty sweet deal, eh?

Posted by: Kevin Drum on July 20, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

As usual your liberal sources are WRONG Kevin. Wages are RISING while unemployment is staying low.

A clear sign of desperation when Al is quoting the BBC.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on July 20, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

So is class war OK now?

I've been saying for years, the question Democrats ought to be asking is, "Where's your raise?"

I guess Al missed class the day they discussed inflation and the meaning of "wages ... after adjustment for inflation."

Posted by: David in NY on July 20, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

As a polite suggestion, you may want to work harder on changing your language. I think liberals fall back unthinkingly on their usual phraseology - 'income inequality' is what I'm specifically referring to here - and that doesn't play well to centrists (like me) at all. I tune it out immediately. If you want to grab my attention, don't pitch the "widening gap" angle. You'll have better luck if you can find pithy phrases and statistics that prove/emphasize that the middle class is doing worse in absolute terms. Derb is alluding to that in his post.

Sure, we're bourgeouis, selfish a-holes, and you can harp on that if you wanna keep losing, but this is the path if you want to win. Not class warfare, but class survival.

Posted by: Shag on July 20, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

I just heard in on the news last night (maybe Brian Williams was talking about the AVERAGE wage adjusted for inflation?).

Posted by: Thomas on July 20, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

the income of the rich has skyrocketed while their tax rates have been decreased. Pretty sweet deal, eh?

To the extent that the top income earners are doing well from their stock market gains, so too are the retirement funds and other institutional investment vehicles which are funded by the savings of working people.

This is a point that is apart from how much we should tax the gain for the different income brackets.

Posted by: TangoMan on July 20, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

As I have posted many times, overall productivity in the U.S. is up, because the denominator (total hours worked) is down. This is not a good thing.

Of course the middle class is hurting, Bush's policies have done nothing but harm them. We already know that Mr. Bush is a man of very low moral character. That issue has been settled - Dems need to focus on how bad his policies are and how badly most Americans have suffered under them.

Also, I would advice the Dems be cautious about any economic figures involving averages. Remember that when Bill Gates walks into a room containing 39 homeless men, the average net worth of every man in the room is now $1 billion. Averages can be skewed by the massive outliers. Median is a much better measure of central tendency.

Peace.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on July 20, 2006 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Why doesn't it surprise me that wingnuts like Al and Thomas argue that "wages are rising" on the basis of average wages, while anyone with two lectures in statistics under their belts would rather look at median wages?

Posted by: Uncle Jeffy on July 20, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK
Maybe Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama or some other Democratic worthy will start barnstorming the country asking middle class workers why their wages have barely budged during a period when the economy has nearly doubled.

Maybe "some other Democratic worthy" (John Edwards?), and even remotely possibly Barack Obama, but Hillary Clinton? That's just crazy talk.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 20, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Not only are wages stagnant, but the cost of living is way up, and as a result, the average income earner is in debt up to their ears!

See anything Elizabeth Warren has written on the subject.

Posted by: lewislewis on July 20, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Expect this to become an issue that National Democrats start hammering home in August or September. There is so much crap going on that a focus on it now would be forgotten come November.

Of course, if you are following the congressional campaigns at all, you'd realize this is a prominent issue on Democratic campaigns. They are keeping that in people's heads so that toward the end of the summer, it will become part of a national campaign--which will be coming. Contract with America didn't come out until around September, so national Dems don't need to be focused on these issues too early. Locally, however, Dems are already bringing it up.

Posted by: gq on July 20, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

John Edwards has explicitly been talking about this for about three years now (Two Americas). He's a bit obscure, granted, but he was the Democratic Vice Presidential candidate in 2004.

Posted by: n.o.l.t.f. on July 20, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Not only are wages stagnant, but the cost of living is way up, and as a result, the average income earner is in debt up to their ears!

lewislewis, wages are going up. "Real wages" are stagnant, that is, wages are rising at about the same rate as the cost of living.

Posted by: ex-liberal on July 20, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

John Derbyshire: Last of the Sane Conservatives.

Posted by: mmy on July 20, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Shag, is it true "income inequality" doesn't mean anything to you? I mean, if, in a time of great productivity growth, CEO's are getting 50% real raises, the guys making more than 100k a year are getting 5% real raises, and everybody else is getting either no raise at all or is actually making less, how would you describe that? The middle class isn't exactly being snuffed out as you suggest, it just isn't getting its fair share of our joint economic enterprise, and the poor are really taking it in the ear.

So how would you describe what's going on? I'd be really interested to hear.

Posted by: David in NY on July 20, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

You'll have better luck if you can find pithy phrases...

Lack of ecomomic parity? Socio-economic dissonance?

Or does that just make me sound like an overeducated, liberal asshole instead of a greedy, heartless asshole?

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

"Wages are rising."

From Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance in the United States: 2004 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2005), the median household income figures, adjusted for inflation, from 2000 to 2004:

2000: 46,058
2001: 45,062
2002: 44,546
2003: 44,482
2004: 44,389

2005 numbers are due out August 29, btw.

Posted by: RT on July 20, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "Maybe Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama or some other Democratic worthy will start barnstorming the country asking middle class workers why their wages have barely budged during a period when the economy has nearly doubled."

Well, I think the reason this may not happen is that Democratic political luminaries have also benefited from the elite-friendly economic policies of the Bush administration. It's pretty difficult to "feel the pain" of the middle class when you're not in the middle class and you personally aren't feeling any pain.

As far as I can see, the spokesperson on this issue among the elite of the Democratic party doesn't exist. The upper echelon of the Democrats may indeed like to see current economic trends continue, even at the cost of a missed opportunity to regain majority control of Congress and/or the White House. Life's easier when you don't take on the burden of leadership.

Posted by: Taobhan on July 20, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK
"Real wages" are stagnant, that is, wages are rising at about the same rate as the cost of living.

No, it means that they are rising at about the same rate as the CPI; which may or may not be an accurate reflection of the "cost of living". The argument that the CPI systematically understates increases in the cost of living is hardly new.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 20, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

John Derbyshire: Last of the Sane Conservatives.

Come on people. We need to stop praising conservatives whenever they say something sensible. They are still wrong the vast majority of the time and don't deserve credibility--until they start being right a majority of the time. Liberals love to do heap praise on conservatives who agree with the sentiment of the moment and that's just plain silly.

Posted by: gq on July 20, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, the other part of the picture is the decline of government and public services, most of which are more important to the middle class and the poor than to the rich. For example, the underfunding and overcrowding of public schools; less generous student loans, underfunded public health facilities, increased public university tuition, etc. All of these things reduce further the overall standard-of-living of the middle class/poor vis-a-vis the wealthy. And with the deficits we've got, things will bet worse before they get better.

Posted by: Virginia Dutch on July 20, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Over the past 30 years, median wages for men have dropped. Median wages for women, starting from a very low base, have increased modestly. Meanwhile, the income of the rich has skyrocketed while their tax rates have been decreased. Pretty sweet deal, eh?

This is true. Part of the low median wage is the 11 million illegal immigrants who are ripped off by the system. That is, they're ripped off compared to legal workers, although being ripped off in the US is a lot better than they could do back home.

Another part of the increasing wage gap is the loss of value of non-knowledge workers. Machines have made muscle less valuable.

Posted by: ex-liberal on July 20, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

RT,

Those numbers are stunning. Why can't Democrats just put a chart of that on TV and take over Congress?

My guess is this: because they really are one of the two parties of the corporate state, and they depend on corporate money to stay in office. And to raise this question would question the legitimacy of corporate rule.

Any other suggestions why no politician mentions this? (I think Edwards focuses on the poor.) Or is it just that the issue just doesn't grab guys like Shag, above, so nobody bothers?

Posted by: David in NY on July 20, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Wages have stagnated and median household incomes have dropped as the education system has deteriorated. I'm not a social scientist. Perhaps someone more qualified than I could take up this angle?

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

I've been saying for years, the question Democrats ought to be asking is, "Where's your raise?"

Really, really, really good.

Posted by: craigie on July 20, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

David in NY:

What craigie said...

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Those numbers are stunning. Why can't Democrats just put a chart of that on TV and take over Congress?

Because low-paid workers don't understand charts. That's why they're low-paid. ;)

Posted by: ex-liberal on July 20, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

And if anyone understands ex-liberal's point, please clue me in. It seems to be: People who don't make much money don't deserve to make much. I guess the average raise of 54% for CEO's last year means they were really, really deserving and are much better people than everyone else.

Posted by: David in NY on July 20, 2006 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

I thought ex-liberal was an asshole and he just proved my point.

Posted by: David in NY on July 20, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

And to raise this question would question the legitimacy of corporate rule.

Yet question it we must, because the merging of corporate power with state power is the very definition of fascism. People like us are political nightmares for the political class because we are informed. Pity there are so few of us on both sides of the philosophical divide.

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Note a contradiction. Kevin's post says,

middle class workers...wages have barely budged...largely because that's exactly the way the Republican Party likes it.

On the other hand, Kevin's comment above admits that this situation has been going on for 30 years.

IMHO the growing income gap is a social/economic problem, not a political one. However, even if there's no economic solution, the Dems could still use this as a political issue.

Posted by: ex-liberal on July 20, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Let me elaborate. Ex-liberal's position seems to be that fully half the American population can't read. If he understands what "median" means.

I think the question why the Democrats are not addressing this deserseves a real, thoughtful response, not just ad-hominem idiocy.

Posted by: David in NY on July 20, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Still, who knows? Maybe Hillary Clinton . . . . or some other Democratic worthy will start barnstorming the country . . . Kevin Drum

Hillary Clinton is not a "Democratic (sic) worthy." In fact, she's not a worthy of any stripe.

Posted by: JeffII on July 20, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

RT's numbers are accurate. They are nothing to brag about. Think about this, since 2002 or so we have been spending money hand over fist on our military. We think most of the money has gone to Iraq, but actually it has mostly stayed here purchasing stuff that has been sent to Iraq. In short we are "enjoying" a war economy. Feel like you are benefitting from the war economy. What do you think is going to happen when we leave Iraq and we aren't spending as much money of military stuff?

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 20, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

David: perhaps I should clarify. I wasn't really commenting on what the true economic state of affairs is; I'm no economist. But, if I understood Derb correctly, he was suggesting that middle class incomes were stagnating or declining in absolute (quality of life) terms. Is this correct? If so, I think that finding a nice way to attack this angle would be a winner with guys like me. For example, imagine an ad where a sonorous voice informs us that every generation of the middle class has done better than the one before, but the next generation of the middle class will be poorer, and then toss in some scary line like "and there's no end in sight". Well, that's pretty cheesy, but perhaps you catch my meaning.

I think, philosophically, it doesn't bug me (or a lot of other people) if the rich get absurdly richer, as long as 'all boats rise with the tide'. It's even ok if the rich boats rise a lot faster, as long as the middle class boat is rising at some acceptable rate (and the poor boat isn't sinking to the bottom). After all, there's not a fixed amount of wealth in this world, so the rich aren't necessarily 'taking' their money from us. Plus, you have to contend with the fact that many people dream of becoming rich themselves, so they don't want to demonize the crew they're hoping to join!

Posted by: Shag on July 20, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Because low-paid workers don't understand charts. That's why they're low-paid. ;)

Please. Low paid workers continually vote Democratic. It's the upper middle class and upper class that vote Republicans in. Kevin even posted on how the "red states" voted along economic status. Wealthy people who blame the poor--something that they have done throughout the ages--are just trying to compensate for the fact that they, or their economic equals, are the ones keeping the poor poor. The wealthy have always voted Republican. "Morals" or "values" are just a convenient cover for the wealthy.

Posted by: gq on July 20, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas:

I had a couple of thoughts on Stem Cells.

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

One of the problems that makes it difficult for the Dems to capitalize on the downward trend in the real incomes of the middle class is that the leaders of the Democratic Party are themselves quite wealthy.

It's easy for the GOP leaders to pose fraudulently as Christian Evangelists and moralists. But for a person making $200K year to convince the public at large that he cares about the middle class is much harder.

Posted by: nut on July 20, 2006 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Where are these so called stock market gains? The DJIA is almost exactly where it was in Jan 2001. We've got plain IRAs, Roth IRAs, 401Ks, and annuity accounts. They're in growth, new tech, etc. The only fund that's been chugging along in an i-think-i-can-i-think-i-can fashion has been our boring as spuds bonds only fund. That little blusterbuster makes 5.5% per year, rain or shine. Meanwhile, we're thankful if we've still got our annual contributions in our other funds.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on July 20, 2006 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

I'm convinced the middle class is actually doing a lot worse than income statistics show. To get an accurate picture, you would need to factor other expenses such as health care, pensions and education (esp. higher ed) whose burden has been increasingly transferred to individuals. And how to do you put a figure on job insecurity and other "efficient" wonders of our new Gilded Age ?

Posted by: Fifi on July 20, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

David in NY: First of all, my joke said that poor Americans can't understand charts. That was an exaggeration, but there is a serious point: Most people's emotions aren't swayed by charts and graphs.

The more important point is that this issue is based on envy. I think selfishness beats envy. Voters care more about what politicians will give them than about what politicians will take away from somebody else.

Posted by: ex-liberal on July 20, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Go ahead and post them, GC.

Posted by: Thomas on July 20, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Because low-paid workers don't understand charts. That's why they're low-paid. ;)

Posted by: ex-liberal on July 20, 2006 at 2:10 PM

That is just too cute for words.

Poor people might not understand charts but they understand that they don't make enough to pay for food, clothing, shelter, and all the things they were able to buy just a few years ago.

Guess what, every one of those poor people can vote just as many times as your rich neighbor. That is the genius of democracy. If the elected elite doesn't take care of the poor, they might not be elected next time.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 20, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Fifi: And don't forget housing. Let me be the one to beat this drum first on this thread: in no major city in America can a minimum wage worker afford a two-bedroom apartment. I refer all doubting thomases to their local public library and anything written by Barbara Eherenreich.

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

When there is a stem cell thread I'll weigh in on that subject, but feel free to stop by - up my average to six readers a day :)

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

After all, there's not a fixed amount of wealth in this world, so the rich aren't necessarily 'taking' their money from us.

Right premise, wrong conclusion. Unlike the middle class, the rich tend to take money out of circulation. They're much more likely to sock it away in bonds, foreign bank accounts and trust funds. And, especially if you include corporations among "the rich", they're much more likely to send that money to foreign countries.

The middle class, on the other hand, tend to put their money back into the economy immediately.

Posted by: zeeeej on July 20, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

*sigh* Why does John Derbyshire hate America?

Posted by: Stefan on July 20, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Ron:

I believe Alexis de Tocqueville observed just the opposite.

GC:

If there is such a thread ever, I will be glad to you join you there. I don't register for other sites.

Posted by: Thomas on July 20, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Bushco has decided that difficult times are ahead - war, oil crisis, global warming, China & India's rise et al - and its main mission is to protect those at the top. They expect that 40 years from now the US will resemble what Brazil and Mexico are - quasi-democracies with some third-world qualities but with enormous wealth at the top. The job of government will be to protect that wealth.

That is their philosophy, and all the lip-service to other issues, particularly social, is to keep the masses in line.

Posted by: hopeless pedant on July 20, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen, it may be true that in no major city in America can a minimum wage worker afford a two-bedroom apartment., but did Barbara Ehrenreich have the integrity to point out that there are almost zero miniumum wage, head of household workers? In fact, even most fast food workers earn more than minimum wage.

Posted by: ex-liberal on July 20, 2006 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Alexis de Tocqueville. Who cares, he is a dead Frenchman.

Talk to the "communists" in the old soviet union if you want to find out what happens to an elite that fails to take care of its middle class and poor.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 20, 2006 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

IMHO the growing income gap is a social/economic problem, not a political one.

Translation: The growing income gap is a potential political problem for the Republicans.

Of course, "ex-liberal" has demonstrated how little value his/her/its opinion has.

Where's my raise?

Awesome.

Posted by: Gregory on July 20, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK
Bushco has decided that difficult times are ahead - war, oil crisis, global warming, China & India's rise et al - and its main mission is to protect those at the top. They expect that 40 years from now the US will resemble what Brazil and Mexico are - quasi-democracies with some third-world qualities but with enormous wealth at the top.

"Expect" is overly passive; they are actively working to make that happen.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 20, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

See what happens when you get lazy and use "cut&paste" on a link?

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Ron:

Most of the "Communists" (or, all of the Czars, if you wanted to go back even further) are dead too. I'll stick with fighting class warfare, here and now, if you don't mind.

Posted by: Thomas on July 20, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

It's easy for the GOP leaders to pose fraudulently as Christian Evangelists and moralists.

Demonstrably. ;)

But for a person making $200K year to convince the public at large that he cares about the middle class is much harder.

If memory serves me right, Huey Long was able to campaign all his life as a populist on the grounds that "Sure I'm doing well! And you should too!"

Posted by: Gregory on July 20, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

May I point out that "wages" are probably not the best measure--one of the compensation measures that includes benefit costs would be better. This captures 2 things--first, the loss of pensions, which were valuable (and costly), and second, the increasing cost of health benefits, which are also valuable (and costly).

It doesn't change the analysis much, but it does change it some.

Posted by: SamChevre on July 20, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers wrote: "What do you think is going to happen when we leave Iraq and we aren't spending as much money of military stuff?"

In order to avoid that economic catastrophe, the Keynsians in the White House intend to extend the war forever.

On another note, if anyone thinks that CEO comprensation has increased because CEOs are adding so much value to the companies they run, look at footnoted.org. This is a website devoted to reading 10-Qs and other disclosure documetns and relating often hilarious tales of executive compensation. The most outrageous are the ones that detail how much it takes to GET RID of CEOs. They may have been terrible leaders, but they were especially good at negotiating golden parachutes.

Posted by: RWB on July 20, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

If the elected elite doesn't take care of the poor, they might not be elected next time.

LOL! When have the rich EVER allowed themselves to be removed from power by the poor?

Posted by: Vicente Fox on July 20, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas;

No registration required.

ex-liberal: Minimum Scminimum - I used to supervise a phlebotomy crew in an HCA facility (the Frist family business) and the average wage was around ten bucks an hour, almost double the federal minimum. Kansas City is an affordable place to live. But every pay-period I refered someone to employee assistance because they were either in danger of losing their utilities or already had.

I don't question Barbara Ehrenreich's integrity, I do however question the integrity of anyone who attempts to evade reality by clever use of statistics.

..."lies, damned lies, and statistics." Harry S Truman

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

But for a person making $200K year to convince the public at large that he cares about the middle class is much harder.

Not really. To use just one example, in the 1960s much of the poor and the working class in this country were absolutely devoted to Jack and Bobby Kennedy, because they sensed, correctly, that they had their best interests at heart. The same applied earlier to Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Posted by: Stefan on July 20, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

I think Democrats can run with this theme, but many (esp. in the leadership) still cling to the mind-set they developed for survival in the 80s: that the country is inherently conservative, and their best bet is to learn to live with corporate sponsorship and not push too hard for middle-class equality. This was a defensible strategy in the years when the country leaned right...but there's alot of reason to believe those days are past, and the current group seems woefully shy about making even the obvious cases. (Like Lieberman, in the wreckage of Enron, worrying Dems would be perceived as "anti-business") There is historic precedent for hope Dems get past this timidity: Dems in the late 20s were just as wedded to GOP-lite economics; it took Roosevelt to nudge them forward.

Who is there to similarly shepherd today's Dems? I'd say John Edwards, who talked up the topic when it wasn't so sexy, has the strongest credentials on the issue.

Posted by: demtom on July 20, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

But for a person making $200K year to convince the public at large that he cares about the middle class is much harder.

$200 thousand a year is hardly wealthy, though. I'd say that's more upper middle class.

Posted by: Stefan on July 20, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

For what it's worth on the stem cell topic, I think the veto was akin to knocking the crutches out from under Jerry's kids - something I can see a young George Bush or an old Dick Cheney doing.

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

And don't forget housing. Let me be the one to beat this drum first on this thread: in no major city in America can a minimum wage worker afford a two-bedroom apartment. I refer all doubting thomases to their local public library and anything written by Barbara Eherenreich.

I don't doubt the truth of it, and I don't want dispute the worrying rise in the cost of shelter. But as a political slogan, I'd be surprised if your point inspires any more than a shrug. I suspect that most middle class people think of the minimum wage as a temporary wage, the kind of situation that their kids face while they're slogging through school. Hell, the real problem with the minimum wage is that it's inadequate to cover a room. Complaining about two-bedroom apartments is a little like complaining that the minimum wage won't cover the cost of the HBO option in your cable TV subscription.

Posted by: sglover on July 20, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

GC:

I will see if I get a chance to get over there, since I disagree with you -- I will note that Democratic Senator Nelson of Nebraska was the only one to vote against the bill -- that's good party discipline for your side at least.

Posted by: Thomas on July 20, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

sglover: Well, as houses go up for auction after forclosure in neighborhood after neighborhood, because of adjustable rate mortgages and rising payments, the housing issue will probably gain a little traction.

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Vicenti Fox, see my post about the Soviet Union. See also any history book that talks about the French revolution. You could also review the Cuban Revolution. How about the Natzi revolution in Germany. I could go on, but you get the picture. Elites can never be sure of the future. The guard you hire to protect your gated community might just turn his gun on you.

I will grant you that the poor are rarely the revolutionaries. More often revolutions bubble up from the middle class. But in our situation the middle class is in decline. I don't think the members of our middle class are going to set back and take it for long. Of course, you might be one of those members of the elite who could find himself facing pitchforks.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 20, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Where's a little ergot poisoning when you need it?

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

LOL -- inciting violence or the overthrow of the government is still illegal, you know?

Posted by: Thomas on July 20, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Not really. To use just one example, in the 1960s much of the poor and the working class in this country were absolutely devoted to Jack and Bobby Kennedy, because they sensed, correctly, that they had their best interests at heart.

I wouldn't bet on that. For one thing, I'd say that LBJ was more of a kindred spirit to working people, and did a better job of actually delivering for them. More important, the first time I ever heard the term 'limosine liberal' was in Michigan in the 70's, when it cropped up as a not-too-subtle shorthand for Ted Kennedy, who was supposed to be the kind of Democrat who endorsed court-ordered school desegregation, but would never put his own kids in public schools. I don't think it's a fair caricature, but you're kidding yourself if you think that deep class divisions aren't a big part of the general alienation that many people feel towards highly-educated (thus, highly affluent, often) liberals. Why do you think Republicans have been able to demagogue about "Democratic elitists" so successfully?

Posted by: sglover on July 20, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama or some other Democratic worthy will start barnstorming the country asking middle class workers why their wages have barely budged during a period when the economy has nearly doubled. And perhaps that same worthy will suggest ever so delicately that it's largely because that's exactly the way the Republican Party likes it.

Yeah, if only those two TNR centrist Dems could get liberal voters to not view both them as largely the same as the GOP. Obama is all talk that can't make anything happen, a turly over-hype Senator Evan Bayh twin. And please, if Hillary ever gets started with any public televised speaking, people are going to realize what she is exactly the same kind of bimbo as that young air-headed aid, Ms. Monica.

They may be Kevin's type of candidates, but certainly not anyone else, or least not amoung those silly leftist liberals that Kevin loves to hate. In fact, Howard Dean attracted more conservative voters that those supposed core centrist Dems being promoted by the spineless TNR, DLC member types. You would think that by the way Lieberman is being tossed about angry liberals, it would be a clue to centrist Dems, but lost election after lost election, they never get a clue that voters are looking for real leadership and real leadership has a spine. centrist Dems can't stop bowing down to Bush.

Posted by: Cheryl on July 20, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Cheryl thinks Hillary is too centrist; I don't believe she has truly relinquished her former far-left views. No wonder Hillary's Presidential poll numbers don't look too good.

Posted by: ex-liberal on July 20, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

I do not think those who desire a more equitable distribution of wealth in the US economy should put too much hope in either Ms. Clinton or Mr. Obama. Their constituency is wealthy corporations. I could say the same thing about universal health services. Neither Ms. Clinton or Mr. Obama will do anything, even if they achieve the pinnacle of political power, to interfere with the profits private health care provides its investors. I could say the same thing about support for Israel... I could say the same thing about the occupation of Iraq...

Posted by: Grouchy Leftist on July 20, 2006 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

Taobhan words: ditto

Posted by: Cheryl on July 20, 2006 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

As usual, Al (and Thomas), YOU are wrong. The latest figure for average hourly earnings, in constant dollars, is for June, and has them down 0.6 percent from the year-ago month. (The source is the Burea of Labor Statistics.) There hasn't been a positive figure since early 2004. They are also down since the current recovery officially started, in December 2001. Since that time, real GDP has risen by roughly 15.5 percent; real GDP per worker has risen by roughly 12 percent. Employment growth during the current recovery, at only 3.2 percent since December 2001, lags far behind every other post-war recovery.

Most people still do work for an hourly wage, so the picture above certainly applies to the median worker, and no doubt, at least up to the 75th percentile of the income distribution.

Why don't you guys care about knowing what you're talking about. I guess the facts themselvs have a liberal bias.

Posted by: Matt on July 20, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

As I said, I just got that piece of news from Brian Williams last night.

Posted by: Thomas on July 20, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

I have suggested, numerous times on this forum, that the best method for restoring more progressivity to the tax code is to eliminate the payroll taxes and fund SS and Medicare from the general revenue by increasing the rates of tax in income tax brackets by equal percentages. For example, if you raise a 10% bracket by 1% point, then a 35% bracket is increased to 38.5% etc. I, surprisingly, get almost no support for this proposal from the commenters here.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on July 20, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

It would be nice if the Dems adopted to phrase "class warfare" to refer to such things as repealing the estate tax.

Posted by: Boots Day on July 20, 2006 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

I suppose that the issue of income inequality is best framed in terms of --

ORANGE ALERT ORANGE ALERT ORANGE ALERT

huh? you were saying something?

-- who's the moron who said we wouldn't get fooled again? Wish I could believe it.

Posted by: mister_pedantic on July 20, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

The sad, desperate hope that fuels so many state lotteries is the same emotional ploy that keeps people voting against their best interests - people like to think they are rich even as they walk into the courthouse for bankruptcy hearings - hell Donald Trump has been bankrupt at least twice, right? That hope taht before one shuffles off this mortal coil, we'll srtike it rich and go out in style, and when that happens, we don't want the damn gummint to take it do we?

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Derbyshire reminds me of those retired colonels who write letters to the Telegraph (or get parodied in Monty Python). He's a paternalist Blimpish character, with some rather unseemly traits -- the 'thank heavens for little girls' stuff, most notably -- but he doesn't appear to be as intellectually vacuous or bankrupt as many other Cornerites.

Posted by: ahem on July 20, 2006 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

GC,
The coming wave of foreclosures has nothing to do with peoples incomes. It has everything to do with people making $80K/year thinking they should buy that $800K house with a 2/28 I/O ARM loans and suddenly realizing that they just gambled their way straight into BK. We are in the midst of a huge housing bubble, especially in the blue states (with notable addition of Florida) on both coasts. I expect the fed to continue to raise rates until we get to 6%. This will slaughter the speculators and anyone who bought into the peak in the last few years ('04 to now) or HELOCed the equity out of their house. Median house prices should be no more than the median wage times 2-4 and 20% down should be common. Median home prices sitting at 10-15x the median income are killing people who bought. Expect a 25-30% drop(even higher in places like Phoenix or Florida) in home prices from the peak (spring '05) in '07. The real estate industry will lose 75% of the jobs created since '01. Home builders will get killed (note Toll Brothers stock price etc).

I expect the Fed will hold things together until after the elections and then the fall will come. I expect who ever wins the democratic nomination in 2008 will be the next president (in a landslide), and the discussion will be all economics (It's the economy stupid!) as we go into a recession or even a depression. The war will be a sidenote.
YMMV.

Posted by: buffpilot on July 20, 2006 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

buffpilot: I just hinted at that economic dissonance that most people don't realize they suffer from.

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

"I think, philosophically, it doesn't bug me (or a lot of other people) if the rich get absurdly richer, as long as 'all boats rise with the tide'. It's even ok if the rich boats rise a lot faster . . ."

Besides the circulation issue raised above, the concern here is that some of these gains get invested in attempts to improve their class position, they become increasingly more influential at the expense of middle and lower class interests, and we tilt back towards a hereditary aristocracy . . .

Posted by: Dan S. on July 20, 2006 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

The sad, desperate hope that fuels so many state lotteries is the same emotional ploy that keeps people voting against their best interests

I'll buy that explanation of why many lower middle class people vote Republican. Here's the next question: why do so many upper middle class people vote Democratic, against their best interests?

Posted by: ex-liberal on July 20, 2006 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

They have a conscience?

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

If there's a problem with talking explicitly about income scales, then it's the oft-mentioned (though badly remembered) poll that had 19% of Americans saying they expected to benefit from a tax proposal that only affected those in the top 1% of earners.

Americans tend to be optimistic about their futures, and respond badly to pessimistic projections. But I can't think of a more appropriate time to say 'we want you to keep feeling optimistic -- but those misgivings you're feeling? That's the Republicans' fault.' Oh, and who needs a chart? Just show Dick Cheney's tax return.

And yes, John Edwards is the most prominent Democrat doing substantial and on-point work on poverty and low-paid work. Much of it is happening outside the Beltway Bubble, but it's all the better for it.

Posted by: ahem on July 20, 2006 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

My world history teacher in college made a convincing argument that the French revolution was sparked largely by a disaffected middle class that felt like they weren't getting anywhere. Conservatives can keep fooling themselves about inequality and in a hundred years or so we'll be "fixing" the problem with guillotines.

Posted by: Alexander Wolfe on July 20, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, let me address your question seriously instead of as a smartass. They may be voting against their economic interests, but they are voting for their social interests, especially the "artistic elites" who glean their grain from forms of entertanment that are decidedly not artistic but none the less they have freedom of expression. How many people did you hear say in 1992 "I'm socially liberal byut I'm fiscally conservative." Personally I heard it so many times I thought I would hurl.

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

For one thing, I'd say that LBJ was more of a kindred spirit to working people, and did a better job of actually delivering for them.

Well, he did more for them substantively, but I'm not sure he personally was viewed as more of a kindred spirit. He was in many ways too much of a working class man to be loved by them, in that his flaws were all too apparent. The Kennedy represented a sort of wish-fulfillment.

I don't think it's a fair caricature, but you're kidding yourself if you think that deep class divisions aren't a big part of the general alienation that many people feel towards highly-educated (thus, highly affluent, often) liberals. Why do you think Republicans have been able to demagogue about "Democratic elitists" so successfully?

Oh, sure. But some Democrats are able to overcome the stereotype.

Plus, there's a cultural difference between the Midwest and the Northeast and West Coasts, which I'm more familiar with. During the Sixties in those areas, at least among working or lower class Hispanics and white ethnics, it was apparently a rare household that didn't have a picture of one of the Kennedys around (usually next to a picture of the Pope).

By the way, whenever you hear the phrase "limousine liberal" a handy counter is "Cadillac conservative," which, at least, has the virtue of making them seem stodgy.

Posted by: Stefan on July 20, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Alexander:

Did any history teacher ever tell you what our Founding Fathers George Washington and John Adams felt about the French Revolution?

Posted by: Thomas on July 20, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: buffpilot...

Still flying?

Posted by: Red State Mike on July 20, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

GC - I totally agree. Most people have absolutely no economic sense. They will study for literally hours when buying a car, but when it comes to a house they will invest so much emotion into the buying (or selling) of a capital asset, then make a decision in minutes. And a lot of it based on the advice of high-school GED holders know as Realtors.

What I fear will happen is the government will come in and somehow 'bailout' all these idiots and tax people who saved to death. Or inflate us out of this (aka "The Volker Solution") - again hurting people who saved.

Posted by: buffpilot on July 20, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

The interesting thing about Rattner's articule to me was it's focus on a Democratic agenda.

Real median wages are declining - if there is any number that can be used an estimate of the financial health of the middle class, median incomes is it.

Real median wages are declining. Let that sink in - in America, the country where each generations promise to it's children has been that you will do better than me. This is no longer the case.

Yes, it's something Democrats should care about. I found it amusing that the writer, writing in the highly Republican editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, said it could be an issue for Democrats and didn't even pretend that Republicans would be interested in it. That would require the rather fantastical assumption that they care.

Posted by: Fides on July 20, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the next question: why do so many upper middle class people vote Democratic, against their best interests?

Allow me to answer: I don't believe voting Democratic is against my best interests, either in terms of civil rights, national security (especially after Bush failed to protect my city on 9/11), and the economy.

If we consider the economy alone, the DJIA when Clinton entered office in 1993 was approximately 3300. The Dow then rose to 11,500 by December 1999, before settling back at 10,600 by the time Bill Clinton left office, for a total increase of 7,300. Meanwhile, under Bush the Dow went from 10,600 in January 2001 to about 11,000 today, for a total increase of -- tada! -- 400. (It looks even worse when you put it in percentage terms). If selfishness alone was my only criterion for voting I should vote Democrat so that my stocks have a chance to gain some value again.

Posted by: Stefan on July 20, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

RSM,

No retired after 24 years in uniform in'04. I do miss it though. Fly days were both challenging and you left all he office politics crap at the door to base ops. I don't miss the studs trying to kill me landing the beast on their first flight, or being in the middle of the pacific when your entire electrical system goes down...in a thunderstorm.

Bets part is I'm home all the time. But I got to see the world and in a few cases make deliveries...

Posted by: buffpilot on July 20, 2006 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

GC - I totally agree. Most people have absolutely no economic sense. They will study for literally hours when buying a car, but when it comes to a house they will invest so much emotion into the buying (or selling) of a capital asset, then make a decision in minutes.

In the last decade there's been literally tons of economic research demonstrating how irrational people are when it comes to an assessment of their financial strategies. People, it turns out, are extremely poor decision makers when it come to money and are ruled as much by their heart as by their head.

Posted by: Stefan on July 20, 2006 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

I don't miss the studs trying to kill me landing the beast on their first flight...

Heh. Typical AF 30,000 ft long runway, how hard can that be?

Posted by: Red State Mike on July 20, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas-

Yeah, that guillotines in the street weren't really the way to go. Hence, all the more reason for fixing that little inequality problem now rather than say, in a hundred years.

Posted by: Alexander Wolfe on July 20, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

My husband is a retired USAF Major. Do you know how many Airmen think it is feasible to buy a house in Tucson or Phoenix, then they end up in mandatory financial counseling and their careers are adversely affected?

Do you know how many predatory lenders surround military installations - where on average 85% of the personnel have a high school diploma and no post secondary education outside the tech school for their career field?

We are a nation of financial idiots. The bankruptcy bill last year was a big ole wet kiss to the credit card industry, with nothing asked of them in return. (DeWine, who sponsored the bill had declared bankruptcy himself and listed nearly a million in credit card debt. what a way to appologize for stiffing ones creditors, huh?) I'm a liberal, but I have a libertairian streak a mile wide - I wear my seat belt, but I resent the hell out of the fact that the government tells me to - but maybe some modest legislation is in order because some people are just too financially illiterate to protect themselves?

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Wow - CLASS WARFARE over at NRO! He better not write his over at Human Events Online as that would make Robert Novak very angry.

Posted by: pgl on July 20, 2006 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Alexander:

I don't spend a lot of time worrying what's going to happen in 100 years.

Posted by: Thomas on July 20, 2006 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the next question: why do so many upper middle class people vote Democratic, against their best interests?

Not surprisingly, "ex-liberal"'s question begins from a false premise: That upper middle class people voting Democratic do so against their best interests. That's an assertion not in evidence.

Posted by: Gregory on July 20, 2006 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike! Good to see you!

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas:

Good thing you weren't one of the Founding Fathers then.

Posted by: Alexander Wolfe on July 20, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

So Thomas, are you saying that you don't care about your grandchildren? Or what kind of world they are going to inherit? Call me a mushy headed liberal, but the moment I chose to have my first child, I accepted responsibility to think forward. Not to sound like a Sipson's charachter but "Please! Won't someone think of the children?"

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan
In the last decade there's been literally tons of economic research demonstrating how irrational people are when it comes to an assessment of their financial strategies.

To the contrary, humans have amazing powers of rationalization. My wife, for example, can rationalize any purchase no matter the frivolity or cost.

I used to, in my ignorance, bemoan the lack of rationality among the hoi polloi, but frankly if we were rational life would be extraordinarily boring. I bought a new mountain bike last week on a semi-whim. Suh-weet!

Hola, Global Citizen. I concur with everything you said about young military and financial predators. We'd get calls from loan offices all the time about sailors owing money. I'd tell them it was a bad loan to make, TBSS.

Posted by: Red State Mike on July 20, 2006 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK
I have suggested, numerous times on this forum, that the best method for restoring more progressivity to the tax code is to eliminate the payroll taxes and fund SS and Medicare from the general revenue by increasing the rates of tax in income tax brackets by equal percentages.

I've actually argued for something similarmy suggestion on details was a flat increase on rates, rather than a progressive one: since it applies to all kinds of income, and all levels, rather than being capped tax on labor, its still an increase in overall tax progressivity, and I don't dislike your idea, eitherone of the few areas we are in general agreement.

I would note, though, that when you eliminate payroll taxes (assuming you eliminate both halves), there is a transition effect where there is a substantial risk of employers leaving nominal wages alone while they lose the employer contribution to payroll taxes and that burden gets picked up on the income tax side that could produce undesired one-time effects, even if the tax structure is preferable, so turning such an idea into a practical proposal, rather than an abstract exercise, should involve consideration of how to deal with (if only through publicity to set expectation) that transition.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 20, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Not surprisingly, "ex-liberal"'s question begins from a false premise: That upper middle class people voting Democratic do so against their best interests. That's an assertion not in evidence.

I meant economic interests. Pubbies give tax breaks to the rich and Dems increase subsidies to the poor. If people voted purely on economics, the rich would vote Republican and the poor would vote Democratic. It's interesting to understand why major segments don't vote that way.

Posted by: ex-liberal on July 20, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

LOL -- what do you think Washington or Adams would say about our federal government vs. "income inequality"? As I recall, those like Thomas Jefferson died in huge debt. I see not much has changed in 200 years.

Posted by: Thomas on July 20, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

But, then again, President Jefferson (not William J. Clinton) set the bar so high with children outside of wedlock.

Posted by: Thomas on July 20, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

The sad truth is that the rulers of this country believe exactly what "The Objective Historian" posted here a couple of days ago:

"SEVENTY PERCENT OF AMERICA'S WAGE-EARNING FAMILIES ARE PARASITES!!!"
-- The Objective Historian, 07/17/2006

According to this belief, all wealth and indeed all value is produced by The Rich, and everyone else is mooching off of the rich. Thus it is a good thing that the incomes of the middle class / working class are stagnant or declining while The Rich get enormously richer, since The Rich are productive and the middle class and working class are parasites.

Posted by: The Sad Truth on July 20, 2006 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

I meant economic interests. Pubbies give tax breaks to the rich and Dems increase subsidies to the poor. If people voted purely on economics, the rich would vote Republican and the poor would vote Democratic. It's interesting to understand why major segments don't vote that way.

As I explained above, (as always with ex-liberal, it's necessary to explain something three or four times before it sinks in) it's clearly in my economic interests to vote Democratic.

I work with Wall Street clients -- when the market does well (as it did under Clinton) it's very good for me; when the market does poorly (as it does under Bush) it's very bad. Screw the tax breaks, I'd rather have the market perform as well as it did under Clinton -- better to have my earnings increase by 100% than cut my taxes by 10%.

Posted by: Stefan on July 20, 2006 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Seems as good a thread to bring these Bill Clinton women up again as the last one:

Paula, Gennifer, Kathleen, Monica, Mrs. Rich, Eleanor Mondale, Dolly Kyle Browning, Sally Perdue, Connie Hamzy, Juanita Broaddrick, Bobbie Ann Williams, Eileen Wellstone, Sandra Allen James, Christy Zercher, Lencola Sullivan, Elizabeth Ward, Susie Whitacre, and Belinda Stronach up in Canada.

Posted by: Thomas on July 20, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

To bad Arabs ain't embryos.

Israeli aggression on Lebanon

Gruesome pictures, not work friendly.

Posted by: NeoDude on July 20, 2006 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

"Low paid workers continually vote Democratic."

That is, when the polls don't close before those at the end of the 12-hour line get to vote. And when they aren't purged from the voter rolls because someone with a similar name is a criminal. And when their voting machines don't record more votes for the Republicans than there are registered voters in the entire precinct.

Posted by: Cal Gal on July 20, 2006 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

"John Derbyshire: Last of the Sane Conservatives."

Well, as long as nobody brings up sex . . .

Posted by: rea on July 20, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

why do so many upper middle class people vote Democratic, against their best interests?

A fair question, which I'll answer, since that describes me. I feel that most of the Democratic programs strengthen the country. Because they strengthen the weakest link of the country, and the middle class. Having a strong middle class is definitely in my interest, even though I'm no longer a member of the middle class. Those are the people that get everything done, fight the wars, make the products, sweep the streets. I need them to be capable and strong, so that I can do what I do.

People who have a good job are less likely to steal. Families with steady incomes produce children that are less likely to become a burden on the state.

I like risk-spreading layers like Social Security because they allow the population to take on bigger risks in their work. And when those risks pan out, lots of people benefit. I think univeral health care is essential to maintaining business competitiveness and ensuring the vaunted "labor flexibility" that Greenspan loved to talk about.

Above all else, I want my family, my community and my country to be better for my having been around. In Boy Scouts we always said, "leave the campsite better than you found it." That's how I feel about the country. Sometimes charity is the best tool for that, but sometimes government is.

Hmm, I've got quite a rant going, why stop now? If everyone at a certain income bracket pays more taxes, the net effect on their lifestyle is going to be very small. The folks in, say the 100-200K bracket in the Bay Area all compete for the same class of houses. What determines what those houses sell for is what those folks can manage to bid to beat out all the other folks of roughly the same income.

If they had been paying more income taxes they would still be competing for the same houses, the price would merely be lower. Because everyone else they would be competing with would be under the same tax scheme. And the prices are set by competitive bid. But, it's such a big number on the paystub, everyone gets obsessed with that.

Luxury goods are such a scam. Often, the point of high fashion clothing is that it confers social status on the wearer, not that it makes them actually look better. So they must be outrageously expensive or else everyone would wear them, cancelling out any social status benefit. Personally, I prefer the status that I can garner with what I say and what I do.

So, in short, I don't necessarily see Democratic programs as contrary to my interests.

Posted by: Doctor Jay on July 20, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas, who gives a rats ass who a politician is screwing in private, so long as they aren't screwing the public? I sure as hell don't.

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

Turning Social Security from a mandated retirement investment into a government provided pension (essentially the effect of bringing Social Security into the general budget) would certainly ease the sting of stagnated middle class wages as would revising the rates. But, we are essentially talking about a one-time shift in taxation. Seems to me that if there is a structural problem with the economy that has left middle class wages stagnating, this solution does not get at that structural problem. I would be interested in hearing what people propose to do about that.

I think the reason conservatives are wary of this issue is that, from our perspecive, most of the proposed fixes (more government intervention in the economy) may be worse than the problem itself.

Posted by: Hacksaw on July 20, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

GC:

That was just Volume I:

See also, Beth Coulson, Robin Dickey (no pun intended), Marsha Scott, Debra Schiff, Connie Hamzy, Sheila Lawrence, Marilyn Jo Jenkins, Regina Blakely, Deborah Mathis, and who knows, maybe even Betty Currie.

Posted by: Thomas on July 20, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

As I explained above, (as always with ex-liberal, it's necessary to explain something three or four times before it sinks in) it's clearly in my economic interests to vote Democratic. I work with Wall Street clients -- when the market does well (as it did under Clinton) it's very good for me; when the market does poorly (as it does under Bush) it's very bad. Screw the tax breaks, I'd rather have the market perform as well as it did under Clinton -- better to have my earnings increase by 100% than cut my taxes by 10%.

Stefan, I have two concerns about your response:

1. Although the market did far better under Clinton than under Bush, that's only two data points. You're too smart to draw generalized conclusions based on such a tiny sample.

2. Suppose the Dow Jones took off spectacularly in the next two years. Wouldn't you still vote Democratic?

Posted by: ex-liberal on July 20, 2006 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Why is it the only way to feel powerful is to hold someone else down.

It isn't enough to be rich and have whatever one dreams of, but apparently it is vital to have lesser beings to flaunt ones riches in front of.

I wish that Congress was peopled by middle class and paid at middle class wages. These over-stuffed fatasses up there now either don't know or have forgotten what it is like to struggle. Commoners get such a crick in the neck looking up at our current Olympian government all the time, our useless self-serving tinsel-plated government.

Posted by: Groan on July 20, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Again, I couldn't care less. It's all so...high school. Grow the hell up - either get (or give) a blow job and see what all the fuss is about, and stop fretting about the sex life of a president who gave us 8 years of peace and prosperity and has been out of office for five and a half years. Again, who cares? Even presidents are entitled to a private life. Hell, I would be in favor of a cabinet level position that saw that the pres got a hummer first thing every morning if letting his pecker out of his pants kept him from starting unnecessary wars and spying on Americans. Call it the Secretary of Presidential Stress Alleviation.

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

"To use just one example, in the 1960s much of the poor and the working class in this country were absolutely devoted to Jack and Bobby Kennedy..."

My memory is a little different. Before JFK was assassinated, the absolute devotion came primarily from Roman Catholics, who had photos of him on the wall next to their favorite saints.

Forgive a sad analogy, but 11/22 changed everything, and a dead JFK became (thanx to Jackie) the "end of Camelot" and he became much mroe widely admired in death than he ever was in life.

RFK was running to the left in '68 and was more liked by the "liberal elite" as an anti-war candidate, but his history at the Justice Department and their support for the Civil Rights movement did earn him some devotion from people of color. But certainly NOT from the working white poor, who were even then becoming more Republican in their reaction AGAINST civil rights.

Although the Democratic Party was morally right on the civil rights question, no good deed goes unpunished, and the country has being paying for it ever since through the rise of the reactionary right and their capture of the Republican Party (late the party of Nelson Rockefeller and John Lindsay).

Posted by: Cal Gal on July 20, 2006 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

GC:

Well, that's just one more disagreement you would have with Washington and Adams. No big surprise though. There were plenty of women who offered (in print) to service the President.

Posted by: Thomas on July 20, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, I see Charlie/Cheney/Thomas is really acting out after the Ralph Reed loss, spamming and name-stealing like a petulant child. Tsk tsk.

I have a cat like that. Urinates everywhere when he doesn't get his way.

But then again, he only has a teeny tiny brain.

Posted by: trex on July 20, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

And, here, I thought the women's movement had come so far since the days of Sally Hemmings.

Posted by: Thomas on July 20, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah Thomas, it's still a free country - on paper.

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Hacksaw,

But, we are essentially talking about a one-time shift in taxation.

Right, its not a solution to sliding real wages. I don't dispute that.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 20, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

trex:

I could care less if Reed lost. And, I wasn't the one who brought up the French Revolution above.

Posted by: Thomas on July 20, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

There was this thing called the "sexual revolution" a few years back. It's okay now if women like it too. Shoot, men aren't even the only ones allowed to get the ball rolling anymore - so to speak.

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

GC:

Solicitation of lewd acts is still a crime (so far).

Posted by: Thomas on July 20, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK
Hell, I would be in favor of a cabinet level position that saw that the pres got a hummer first thing every morning if letting his pecker out of his pants kept him from starting unnecessary wars and spying on Americans. Call it the Secretary of Presidential Stress Alleviation.

I'd rather that was a member of the White House Staff rather than a Cabinet Secretary -- while it would be entertaining, I really think confirmation hearings for the position would be counterproductive.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 20, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

There is an excellent and extended article about all the particulars of income inequality in America today in the New York Times Select (unfortunately you need to subscribe to access) --- Teresa Tritch's The Rise of the Super Rich. It is a superb, but ultimately quite depressing overview of just what is happening to the lower 90% of families in America today.

Posted by: Charles Weir on July 20, 2006 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Remember those "Go Daddy.com" confirmation hearings?

Posted by: Thomas on July 20, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

I dunno - someone has to verify the skill level of such an important post. We can't trust the hiring to the chief of staff. Senators must be involved. They wouldn't have it any other way.

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Someone alert the cops!

Thomas reports that it's a crime to ask someone to "sleep with" you!

Well, in Thomas's case, it probably IS a crime.

Posted by: Cal Gal on July 20, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

If you have Times Select, pull up a Sunday Magazine series they did two or three years ago called "The New Plutocracy." We were warned.

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK
Solicitation of lewd acts is still a crime (so far).

Generally, no, I don't think so. Solicitation of prostitution is (in most places in the US) a crime, lewd acts in public are generally a crime, and solicitation, in its general form, of a crime is also a crime, so solicitation of lewd acts to be committed in public is probably a crime in mos t places.

But solicitation of lewd acts, on its own, is generally, I think you'll find, not a crime.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 20, 2006 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Globalization and deindustrialization have caused an increase in the GINI index of income inequality in most countries. But it has been particularly sharp in the US because of government policy. Similarly, American families, for historical and cultural reasons, may experience globalization more harshly. I usually dont do such long posts but this is Stephen Roachs (chief economist at Morgan Stanley) take.

The global labor market was always destined to be the battleground of globalization. Signs of this conflict are everywhere. The Great American labor market is but a shadow of its former self, as lagging job creation and generally stagnant real wages have broken decisively with historical norms. The same pressures are bearing down on high-wage workers throughout the developed world. At work is an increasingly powerful IT-enabled global labor arbitrage that reslices the global pie. For the industrial world, the pendulum of economic returns has swung from labor to capital, whereas for the developing world, the benefits have accrued mainly to labor. The rules of macro engagement are being challenged as never before.

In the big industrialized economies of the developed world, the squeeze on labor could well be the singular macro development of our lifetime. In the structurally-impaired economies of Europe and Japan, labor-market rigidities are on a clear collision course with globalization. The result has been a protracted period of historically high unemployment (Europe) or chronic under-employment (Japan). In response, Japan is in the process of dismantling its sacred institution of lifetime employment, and Germany, still the bellwether of Old Europe, has been transforming its workforce increasingly into part-timers and contract temps. The latest stats put such flexi workers at 39% of the total German workforce -- up sharply from the 29% share ten years ago.

Even in the US, with supposedly the worlds most flexible labor market, workers are feeling unprecedented pressures. Nonfarm payrolls have expanded by an average of just 158,000 over the past six months -- only half the scale-adjusted norm of the four preceding long-cycle expansions in the US. And pay rates, whether measured by the monthly average hourly earning series (+3.3% y-o-y in January 2006) or the broader and more accurate compensation gauge of the Employment Cost Index (+3.1% in 4Q05) are not keeping up with CPI inflation (+3.4% in December 2005).

... But theres an important twist to this development. Its one thing for labors reward to be squeezed in the structurally-impaired, low-productivity growth economies of Europe and Japan. Its another thing altogether for these same pressures to bear down on the productivity-enhancing contributions of American workers. This runs against the grain of one of the basic axioms of classic macro -- that workers are ultimately paid in accordance with their marginal product. Yet that hasnt been the case in the US for quite some time. Over the 2001-05 interval, for example, productivity growth averaged 3.3% in the nonfarm business sector of the US economy -- basically double the 1.6% gains in real hourly compensation over the same five-year period. I dont think this is a coincidence. Only a mega-force like the global labor arbitrage could drive such a wedge between productivity and worker rewards.

.... The implications of the global labor arbitrage can hardly be minimized. I would break the impacts down into three areas -- economics, financial markets, and politics. In terms of economics, labor wins in the developing world but loses in the developed world -- at least for the foreseeable future. That puts unrelenting pressure on income generation in the rich economies -- raising serious questions about the sustainability of consumer-led growth dynamics. The US has finessed this possibility -- at least for the time being -- by extracting equity from asset holdings. This strategy works, however, for as long as the value of the underlying assets holds up. If the air is coming out of the US housing bubble, as I now suspect, then there is good reason to worry about US leadership on the demand side of the global economy -- and equally good reason to worry about who elsewhere in the world may fill the resulting void.

Posted by: bellumregio on July 20, 2006 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to take credit for bringing up the French Revolution. I believe it's quite appropriate to this discussion. Though, increased taxation or the threat of a little prison time seems quite sufficient to put the fear of God into the very wealthy these days.

Posted by: Alexander Wolfe on July 20, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

So, I assume the Secretary of PSA was not going to pay anyone?!

Posted by: Thomas on July 20, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Practically every time I come here I get accused of sedition and/or subversion. Someone is always telling me I'm advocating a crime, when what I really am is a smartass.

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, Alexander, I was referring to Ron Byers (RIP).

Posted by: Thomas on July 20, 2006 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

In Boy Scouts we always said, "leave the campsite better than you found it." That's how I feel about the country. Sometimes charity is the best tool for that, but sometimes government is. Dr. Jay

Everywhere I go I run into people who suggest the Boy Scouts taught them the importance of taking care of the younger and the weaker.

If I didn't know the Scouts hated gay atheists, I would think the Boy Scouts were a subversive pinko liberal organization. Don't those boy scouts realize that greed is the only thing that matters.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 20, 2006 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

If memory serves me right, Huey Long was able to campaign all his life as a populist on the grounds that "Sure I'm doing well! And you should too!"

Someone else has also brought of up other examples of wealthy Democrats of the past such as JFK and FDR who were popular and successful despite their riches.

All good counter examples, but in my view there is a significant qualitative difference not only between those leaders and the ones we have now but also between the political and technological landscape of those days on the one hand and, on the other, this age of instant distributed communications. I think that in the current environment it will be very hard for such a leader to emerge and overcome the charge of blatant hypocrisy.

Posted by: nut on July 20, 2006 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

HE'S ALIVE!!!!

Posted by: Thomas on July 20, 2006 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

So, I assume the Secretary of PSA was not going to pay anyone?!

It would be a paid position -again, so to speak - if that is what you are getting at.

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

GC - I have counseled every person under my supervision that if I ever heard them even thinking about going to one of those scam payday loan places, they could expect to get hammered on their next performance report. I also offered that if they got in that big a hole to come in and we would find a solution (plenty of help for this on base). As for buying in Phoenix or LV - you would have to be a complete nutcase to buy right now. I expect those two places to suffer major corrections in the next year. Housing prices will come down to meet affordability criteria shortly. (teh otehr choice is flat prices as the value of money is inflated to get back there).

RSM - That's just the width! (seriously SAC standard was 12,000 x 300 ft). B-52 was 185ft wide...

Posted by: buffpilot on July 20, 2006 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

I agree this issue is the best arrow in the Dem's quiver, that's why I directed Kevin to Derbyshire's post last night. I think the main reason the Dem's are not getting much traction on the issue is they focus on household income, and the swing Repub voter see's that as a code word for single moms. Those voters, usually lower middle class social conservatives, do not feel it's fair that they should be asked to subsidize the lifestyle choices of women who put their feet up for men who aren't going to support their kids. You can rant and rave all night that that's sooooo judgmental or hypocritical or whatever, but that's the reality. Dem's should point out that all wages under the top one percent are suffering, and that there is no good reason for the new robber barons to be able to confiscate all of the productivity gains from the economy. That's why I think someone upthread knocked John Edward's "Two America's" meme correctly -- it should be 99% of America vs. 1% of America.

Also, is that a true factoid about DeWine declairing bankruptcy? Never heard that one before.

Posted by: minion of rove on July 20, 2006 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK
I think that in the current environment it will be very hard for such a leader to emerge and overcome the charge of blatant hypocrisy.

There is nothing hypocritical about being rich and seeing that securing the good of the poor is government policy, even if it means demanding more from the rich.


Posted by: cmdicely on July 20, 2006 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

If I didn't know the Scouts hated gay atheists, I would think the Boy Scouts were a subversive pinko liberal organization. Don't those boy scouts realize that greed is the only thing that matters

It's strange that despite their prejudice against gays and atheists, the Boy Scouts are admirable in other ways the liberals would approve of. Their focus on the environment is well known. Not so well known is the terrific work they do with boys in the inner cities.

Posted by: ex-liberal on July 20, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

I got that DeWine tidbit from Mother Jones a couple of years ago, when the bill was moving through the chambers.

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

2. Suppose the Dow Jones took off spectacularly in the next two years. Wouldn't you still vote Democratic?

Since Stefan appears to be working, allow me to jump in here.

Yes I would, and let me add my 2 cents on economic self-interest.

It is in my self-interest to have the people around me do well. This is true not just economically, but socially. For a little compare and contrast, consider a place like Manilla.

I once did a job there, and I, being a western professional type, got first class treatment. Five star hotel, personal driver, etc. But I noticed that the western hotels were all in one complex, guarded. No retail establishment of any real consequence didn't have a man outside with a shotgun.

One night, the guy who had hired me invited me to his house for dinner. To get there, you go into a gated, guarded community kind of like you see in the US, except these guards were armed. At the boss's house, there were more armed people in the house who provided his own family's security.

I'm sorry, but being rich is not worth that much trauma. I'd much rather live a normal life surrounded by people who feel they have a chance to succeed without killing me and taking my stuff.

Republican economic fantasies, er, policies, whether intentional or not, exacerbate this kind of situation. The end game of ShrubCo is a world in which there are 100 really really rich people, and a zillion peasants outside the gates.

In other words, they don't call them banana republicans for nothing.

Posted by: craigie on July 20, 2006 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

Which is why the gay activists want to shut down the BSA.

Posted by: Thomas on July 20, 2006 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

Roach's take is right on the money. The equity is all of the bubble and debt has piled to the sky. The retrench will not be pretty either in the US or globally. I'm just trying to find a good inflation hedge.

Posted by: buffpilot on July 20, 2006 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think the members of our middle class are going to set back and take it for long.

I disagree. They'll take it, and they'll take it long and hard.

Posted by: Vicente Fox on July 20, 2006 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Not really. To use just one example, in the 1960s much of the poor and the working class in this country were absolutely devoted to Jack and Bobby Kennedy, because they sensed, correctly, that they had their best interests at heart. The same applied earlier to Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Posted by: Stefan on July 20, 2006 at 2:52 PM

It is so nice when the rich "care" about the needs of others after themselves have everything they need and want. Stepping out the penthouse to check how the other 30 million are getting on. Good ole Bush sets up 7 mile no-protest boundaries around his precious self, oh yes another caring rich person.

Posted by: No Thang on July 20, 2006 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely and GC:

This was a classic http://www.godaddy.com/gdshop/superbowl05/landing.asp?se=%2B

Posted by: Thomas on July 20, 2006 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

"Someone is always telling me I'm advocating a crime, when what I really am is a smartass."

No, not really. Insightful and funny, yes, but not a smartass. You'll have to work much harder if you want to graduate to smartass status.

Posted by: Joel on July 20, 2006 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

buffpilot:

Franklin Templeton's Asset Allocation Fund has a good inflation hedge fund and conservative growth fund.

Posted by: Thomas on July 20, 2006 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

How many members of your states congressional delegation have children serving in the Armed Forces right now? My state has exactly one - Senator Bond's son is an intel officer in Iraq right now. Last I knew of the entire house and senate there were three service members. Someone correct me if I'm wrong. I just finished my last summer class today, I'm not researching anything for at least a week, even with Google.

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

Do you mean to tell me every teacher I ever had was wrong? My parents should demand a refund of tuition all the way back to Montessori.

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas - Thanks. I will be doing my 401K checkup next week. Plus wanted to do a little balancing.

Posted by: buffpilot on July 20, 2006 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

How many members of your states congressional delegation have children serving in the Armed Forces right now? Posted by: Global Citizen

Most of my state's congressional delegation isn't old enough or is just barely old enough to have children 18 years old or older.

Posted by: JeffII on July 20, 2006 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

buffpilot: I have a nephew who is a 1st Lt. stationed at Nellis. He pays almost a grand a month for a one-bedroom, maybe it has 850 sq. ft.

My husband was a Titan guy, so when we were in the desert it was the early 80's and you could actually rent an apartment in Tucson for $295 a month. When we were in Little Rock and Wichita, housing was cheap and we bought houses and saved money for the inevitable orders to the northeast or the west coast, places that were expensive even then.

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

WHat happened to tbrosz?

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

1. Although the market did far better under Clinton than under Bush, that's only two data points. You're too smart to draw generalized conclusions based on such a tiny sample.

I'm a Wall Street lawyer whose friends are hedge fund managers, investment bankers, etc. -- let's just assume I have some knowledge of more than two data points when it comes to financial matters and the overall health of this economy.

2. Suppose the Dow Jones took off spectacularly in the next two years. Wouldn't you still vote Democratic?

Yes, because (i) a two year gain wouldn't outweigh five prior years of stagnation, nor the clear historical and economic evidence amassed over the past sixty plus years that the market under Democrats outperforms the market under Republicans (even when factoring the Great Depression in); (ii) economics aside, the Democratic Party is still a far better protector of both civil liberties and national security than the Republican; and (iii) the Republican Party has proven itself to be, largely, a front organization for a criminal enterprise devoted to looting the public monies of the US taxpayer for its own gain.

Posted by: Stefan on July 20, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Hell, I would be in favor of a cabinet level position that saw that the pres got a hummer first thing every morning if letting his pecker out of his pants kept him from starting unnecessary wars and spying on Americans. Call it the Secretary of Presidential Stress Alleviation.

Isn't that Condi Rice's job already?

Posted by: Stefan on July 20, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

GC,

I hope your nephew is renting. If not I suggest he sell (dump) for whatever he can get. Otherwise I hope he has fun at Nellis. I never was stationed there but flew in and around it all the time. Plenty of TDYs there also. Flyover country (where I live BTW) is still very affordable. The places that will get axed are mainly the blue east/west coast cities. You can do well in Ohio, or Indiana, or TX etc. The DC area will get fried (and is already prices down 5% YOY and inventory up in some places 500% - spring selling season was a disaster).

I also like your new whitehouse position, but what if Hillery or Rice are the next pres.?

Posted by: buffpilot on July 20, 2006 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

Holy heck, Globe, the National Guard is evacuating half a million people from St. Louis because of the heat and power outages.

Get blogging or sandbagging or -- underground -- or something!

Posted by: Windhorse on July 20, 2006 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

Although the market did far better under Clinton than under Bush, that's only two data points. You're too smart to draw generalized conclusions based on such a tiny sample.

Are we dealing with idiots who cannot perform rudimentary searches on the web?


We found that the S&P 500 has averaged a total return of 14.1% per year under Democratic presidents since April 1945, and 11.8% under Republicans.

See here.

Posted by: nut on July 20, 2006 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

Tbroz had to get a job the RNC wasn'y paying enough.

Posted by: Mann Coulter on July 20, 2006 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Windhorse - haven't seen you for a while. I'm on the other side of the state sweltering in the heat and waiting for nightfall - it's supposed to drop to the 70's tonight! Yippee!

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

craigie: I once did a job there, and I, being a western professional type, got first class treatment. Five star hotel, personal driver, etc. But I noticed that the western hotels were all in one complex, guarded. No retail establishment of any real consequence didn't have a man outside with a shotgun. One night, the guy who had hired me invited me to his house for dinner. To get there, you go into a gated, guarded community kind of like you see in the US, except these guards were armed. At the boss's house, there were more armed people in the house who provided his own family's security.

I grew up like that when I lived in South American and Asia as child -- penthouse apartment, cook, driver, etc. Life was good, because we could pay people what was pennies for us but a princely sum for them to take care of us.

But the driver had to carry a gun, and a bodyguard accompanied my father to work, and we had to be chaffeured everywhere because we couldn't walk outside on our own for fear of crime and kidnapping. We could borrow a friend's yacht for vacation, but to get to the harbor we'd have to drive past children as young as three or four begging for food in the street. We could get a ride on a helicopter, but that helicopter would fly us over hillside slums where the inhabitants had to use a bucket as a toilet because they had no running water, and where their homes were washed away with every monsoon.

Having seen that firsthand for much of my childhood, having seen the effects of how distorting rampant poverty side by side with obscene wealth is to a society, I am more and more concerned that I see the United States sliding in that direction. A democracy cannot survive under those conditions.

Like craigie says:

I'm sorry, but being rich is not worth that much trauma. I'd much rather live a normal life surrounded by people who feel they have a chance to succeed without killing me and taking my stuff.

Posted by: Stefan on July 20, 2006 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

Holy heck, Globe, the National Guard is evacuating half a million people from St. Louis because of the heat and power outages.Posted by: Windhorse

Are you sure they aren't being evacuated just because it's St. Louis?

Seriously, we've become an extremely feeble branch of our species, and a not very bright one.

While they are evacuating people during a modest heat wave in the Midwest (Global warming, what global warmning? It will be in the 90s this weekend in Seattle, for the second time this summer, and it's only the middle of July), tens of thousands of people are still moving to the desert SW where the temperatures are typically 5-10 degrees hotter everyday from June to September than those people are attemping to flee in St. Louis.

In short, considering everything else going on right now, we're fucked.

Posted by: JeffII on July 20, 2006 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with craigie & Stefan.

I also have a wholly esthetic theory of wealth distribution: a graphic representation of wealth distribution should in the ideal case resemble a circle. Many in the middle, few at the top & bottom.

If I start a political party, it'll be the Round Party. We can probably incorporate images of women's breasts into our campaign ads, which would probably be popular.

Posted by: obscure on July 20, 2006 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

I have some knowledge of more than two data points when it comes to financial matters and the overall health of this economy.

Stefan, I too have seen studies showing that the stock market did better under Democratic administrations. I'm an expert in statistical inference and can assure you that the data doesn't come close to proving a causal relationship. However, for what it's worth, I agree that the market has done better underf Dems over a long period of time.

2. Suppose the Dow Jones took off spectacularly in the next two years. Wouldn't you still vote Democratic?

Yes, [I would still vote Democratic] because (i) a two year gain wouldn't outweigh five prior years of stagnation, nor the clear historical and economic evidence amassed over the past sixty plus years that the market under Democrats outperforms the market under Republicans (even when factoring the Great Depression in); (ii) economics aside, the Democratic Party is still a far better protector of both civil liberties and national security than the Republican; and (iii) the Republican Party has proven itself to be, largely, a front organization for a criminal enterprise devoted to looting the public monies of the US taxpayer for its own gain.

The intent of my question was "economics aside", and you have answered it. I would vote Republican for similar reasons to your (ii). I see the Republicans as far better protectors of civil liberties, better on defence, etc. I imagine many of the lower middle class people who vote Republican have similar views.

Posted by: ex-liberal on July 20, 2006 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

I see the Republicans as far better protectors of civil liberties,

AHAHAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

*wiping tears of laughter from eyes*

Seriously, do you write your own jokes, or does someone help you with your material?

Posted by: Stefan on July 20, 2006 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

I see the Republicans as far better protectors of civil liberties, better on defence, etc. I imagine many of the lower middle class people who vote Republican have similar views.

I live in Texas and can tell you that you are wrong. Bush, as many here now know, has destroyed civil liberties, is not better on defence [Q U A G M I R E]
Our Borders are porous as ever, Bush has misspent and underfunded DHS, not to mention the lack of funding for the NCLB. War profiteering, Billions lost in Iraq..Bush has also set the large number of hispanics [Legalized] in Texas against the republicans thanks largely to Hack [Fox] News.

Republican voters here are walmart voters. Currently they don't care for a congress that won't even raise min wage.


Posted by: Milton Friedman on July 20, 2006 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

JeffII: I'll take 110 with 5% humidity over 90 & 90 any day of the week.

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

I would vote Republican for similar reasons to your (ii). I see the Republicans as far better protectors of civil liberties, better on defence, etc. Posted by: ex-liberal

Best joke posting of the day! Your funny, ex-liberal. Or is it ex-sentient? What an idiot. Thank god you're not an American citizen.

Back down the rabbit hole for you, Alice.

Posted by: JeffII on July 20, 2006 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Not to mention the Bush/Cheney Republican Rendition;

http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2006/07/guantanamo.html

Posted by: Milton Friedman on July 20, 2006 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

Ah! The good old causation vs. correlation.

If all else fails, proclaim yourself to be an expert on Statistical Inference, and bring up the old standby!


Must have obtained the Ph. D. degree in Statistical Inference from Oshkosh Community College.

Posted by: nut on July 20, 2006 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

Milton Friedman, rendition may be an awful policy, but it's not particularly Bush/Chaney/Republican. The rendition program was started during Clinton's Presidency.

Posted by: ex-liberal on July 20, 2006 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

Well, this has been fun, but I have one lab left to teach for summer school, and it starts in 16 minutes, and the bus will be at the stop in five. Gotta go.

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 20, 2006 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

If you scroll down into this article: http://www.motherjones.com/news/exhibit/2006/07/exhibit.html

you can see a chart that breaks down how each income quintile has down since 1970.

The rich have done well, the poor are totally flatlined, and the middle classes have had modest gains (in constant dollars).

The source for that chart is:
US Census Bureau, Income in the United States: 2002, "Table A4 Selected Measures of Household Income Dispersion: 1967-2002."

Posted by: Clara Jeffery on July 20, 2006 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

Clara - Three points should be born in mind on that chart:

1. It shows "household income", rather than "per capita income". During the period shown, the average number of people in a household shrunk. (I think the shrinkage was greatest among the poor.) So, a flat household income means an increasing per capita income.

2. Most people move between quintile groups. I, for one, have been in all 5 quintiles at varous points in my life.

3. The particular individuals who were in the lowest quintile in the 1960's did indeed have an increase in average real income. Their improvement doesn't show on the chart, because many of them moved to a higher quintile. Their place in the bottom quintile was taken by new poor people, many of whom were recent immigrants or young adults just beginning their career.

Posted by: ex-liberal on July 20, 2006 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

Republican economic fantasies, er, policies, whether intentional or not, exacerbate this kind of situation. The end game of ShrubCo is a world in which there are 100 really really rich people, and a zillion peasants outside the gates.

In other words, they don't call them banana republicans for nothing.

So brilliant. And all our little trolls and all their little Republican friends believe that they're going to make it into that 100.

Posted by: shortstop on July 20, 2006 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

So.
When it starts to hit a little close to home, everybody's got a little Socialist in 'em.

Posted by: farmergiles on July 20, 2006 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a WSJ Article I remembered seeing a while back and managed to dig up again just now.

"Wages Fail to Keep Pace With Productivity
Increases, Aggravating Income Inequality"

http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB114341649383308604-nD9yJIDaBrnnGoDZYhxAfVf7Sbg_20070326.html?mod=rss_free

Posted by: CalD on July 20, 2006 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

I realize it's a little late in the thread to ask, but is everyone sure that Kevin Drum's brain still works?

In this thread he complains about something that is caused in part by illegal immigration and supported by those who profit from illegal immigration.

In the previous thread, he played the standard "liberal" game of calling the MMP "fringe".

So, in one thread he supports illegal immigration, in the other he complains about its effects.

So, does Kevin Drum's brain work?

Posted by: TLB on July 20, 2006 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK
2. Most people move between quintile groups. I, for one, have been in all 5 quintiles at varous points in my life. ex-liberal always-republican 8:43 PM
In fact there is less income mobility now than at almost any stage of American history. You need new talking points from the RNC: yours have been discredited long ago

It's spelled v-a-r-i-o-u-s.

Posted by: Mike on July 20, 2006 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

I see the Republicans as far better protectors of civil liberties

He's correct. In a "I claim the right to destroy the peace of this lake with my personal watercraft." kind of way.

Posted by: exasperanto on July 21, 2006 at 1:53 AM | PERMALINK

Hi TLB,

if you ever bothered reading anything, you would know that repeated studies of the effects of illegal immigration on wage levels have never managed to turn up more than a very small effect in terms of lowering wages for the very lowest-income employees. And it has absolutely no effect on the wages of those in the top 60% of wageearners.

Yet wages are static or falling for everyone not in the top 20%, and indeed are almost static for everyone not in the top 5% The vast majority of income gains have gone to the top 1/2 of 1%.

Unless you make over $300,000 a year, you're a rube. The ultrarich are taking all your money. You're working harder and harder, producing more and more wealth - and the top couple million guys in the country are taking it all away from you.

Posted by: brooksfoe on July 21, 2006 at 3:49 AM | PERMALINK

Most people move between quintile groups... In fact there is less income mobility now than at almost any stage of American history.

Mike, your response doesn't contradict my statement. Regardless of how today's income mobility compares with the past, it is a fact that most individuals today will not spend their lives in the same income quintile.

Posted by: ex-liberal on July 21, 2006 at 6:12 AM | PERMALINK

Regardless of how today's income mobility compares with the past,

No, not regardless. The fact that upwards income mobility is decreasing is the very point of this discussion.

it is a fact that most individuals today will not spend their lives in the same income quintile.

Many will move down in income quintiles. This is perhaps not the strong argument you're looking for....

Posted by: Stefan on July 21, 2006 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

Many will move down in income quintiles. This is perhaps not the strong argument you're looking for....

Stefan - here's a comon pattern. Say a child is living at home. His parents' income puts him in the 3rd quintile. He leaves home and takes an entry level job. Now he's in the bottom quintile. As he gets promoted, he moves up to the 2nd quintile. He gets married to a working wife. Now his household income doubles, so he moves up to the 4th quintile. As he and his wife gain seniority, he enters the top quintile. When he retires, he moves back down to the 1st or 2nd quintile.

The point is, even though the average real income in the bottom quintile isn't growing, the real income of an individual in the bottom quintile may grow substantially.

Posted by: ex-liberal on July 21, 2006 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

Stefan -- I won't be available later today, but here's a brain teaser:

Which income quintile has the most people in it?

Posted by: ex-liberal on July 21, 2006 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

Stefan -- I won't be available later today,

Busy doing more advanced research on statistical inference?

but here's a brain teaser: Which income quintile has the most people in it?

Here's another one: which is heavier, a pound of rocks or a pound of feathers?

Posted by: Stefan on July 21, 2006 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

Good try, Stefan, but....

The top quintile includes many more people than the bottom quintile. These are "household income" quintiles. Households consisting of more people naturally tend to have more total income.

IIRC the average household in the top quintile has about one full person more than the average household in the bottom quintile.

Posted by: ex-liberal on July 21, 2006 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal- you are a purveyor of hogwash.

There have been quite a number of studies recently on income mobility in the United States and they have looked at the data in a number of ways and come to the same conclusion. American workers are more likely to stay in the same quintile than in the past and they are less mobile when compared to workers in other nations. The conclusion is that post-war upward mobility is dead in the US and the Horatio Alger myth is just that- a myth.

A recent paper by Jntti and colleagues* looked at intergenerational mobility and found that mobility is lowest in the United States, and highest in the Nordic countries, even workers in the UK are more mobile than workers in the US. Not really part of the national image.

Daniel Aaronson and Bhashkar Mazumder at the Chicago Fed recently published a paper entitled Intergenerational Economic Mobility in the U.S. 1940 to 2000. They analyzed data from the last six decades and conclude there has been a significant decline in the mobility of American workers since the 1980s:

We use two sample instrumental variables to estimate intergenerational economic mobility from 1940 to 2000. We find intergenerational mobility increased from 1940 to 1980 but declined sharply thereafter, a pattern similar to cross-sectional inequality trends. However, the returns to education account for only some of these patterns. The time- series may help to reconcile previous findings in the intergenerational mobility literature.

Our estimates imply a somewhat different pattern for the intergenerational income correlation, a measure insensitive to changes in cross-sectional inequality that has implications for rank mobility. We find the post-1980 decline in intergenerational rank mobility marks a return to historical levels.

Consequently, by 2000, the rate of intergenerational movement across the income distribution appears historically normal, but, as cross-sectional inequality has increased, earnings are regressing to the mean at a slower rate, causing economic differences between families to persist longer than earlier in the century.

We can argue about the merits of income mobility but the immobility of the American worker is a hallmark of the contemporary American economy, it sets it apart from other developled nations and contrasts with the past.


*American Exceptionalism in a New Light: A Comparison of Intergenerational Earnings Mobility in the Nordic Countries, the United Kingdom and the United States

Posted by: bellumregio on July 21, 2006 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal:

You've made a couple unsupported contentions in this thread to dismiss household income trends:

1) There are many more people per household in the upper incomes, and
2) Household size has been shrinking in the lower incomes faster

Care to support either of these?

(Even if they were true, I'm not sure "per capita" income is more meaningful—if working parents are making less money and having less kids because they can't afford them, is that really a good economic trend? It would certainly explain both of the trends you claim without evidence, but I'm not sure I'd call it a good thing.)

Posted by: cmdicely on July 21, 2006 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal:

BTW, while it doesn't cover the whole 1970-present time period, this CBO chart shows that using equal people per quintile and adjusting for household size, the share of income in the bottom three quintiles was declining almost monotonically over 1979-1997, that in the fourth quintile relatively stable, and that in the top quintile growing pretty consistently.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 21, 2006 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK
The point is, even though the average real income in the bottom quintile isn't growing, the real income of an individual in the bottom quintile may grow substantially.

Please present statistics supporting the contention that this measure is growing.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 21, 2006 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

You've made a couple unsupported contentions in this thread to dismiss household income trends:

1) There are many more people per household in the upper incomes, and
2) Household size has been shrinking in the lower incomes faster

Yes, let's do see the support for these statements. Poorer people have fewer children, rich people have many.

That doesn't sound counter-intuitive at all. By this logic India and Africa are barely keeping up replacement populations while Monaco and Switzerland are bursting at the seams.

Posted by: trex on July 21, 2006 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

This has been hilarious.

Thank God, if He exists, for the prefix in the ex-liberal.

Posted by: nut on July 21, 2006 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Mike, your response doesn't contradict my statement. Regardless of how today's income mobility compares with the past, it is a fact that most individuals today will not spend their lives in the same income quintile. Posted by: ex-liberal

Actually, since the beginning of time, most people are born into and die in the same general income bracket. They may move within this bracket (middle-middle income moving to upper-middle), but very few of the poor move into the middle income brackets, fewer yet of the middle move into the upper income brackets, and only a statistically meaningless number of the poor (typically entertainers, pro athletes, drug dealers) move into the upper income brackets.

Posted by: JeffII on July 21, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK
Actually, since the beginning of time, most people are born into and die in the same general income bracket.

Plenty of fairly rich people, as young adults, move out and are still supported in their well-to-do lifestyle largely by their parents, with little to no income, of the type that shows up in statistics, of their own for a period.

So, certainly there is some age related mobility in statistical categories, even if it isn't substantive mobility.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 21, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

"I don't spend a lot of time worrying what's going to happen in 100 years."

The conservative worries about the last 100 years - the liberal, about the next hundred.

Posted by: Dan S. on July 21, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

The Christian worries about neither.

Posted by: Thomas on July 21, 2006 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

Matthew 6:25-34.

Posted by: Thomas on July 21, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

Proverbs 6:16-19.

Posted by: trex on July 21, 2006 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

If you think I am doing any of those things, trex, please let me know.

Posted by: Thomas on July 21, 2006 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

We can't complete this great national enema until the GOP's residual cultists -- the Christ crazies, the declassed dimbulbs, the powerless provincials whose major life achievement is being white -- have been reduced to financial desperation. The new debt peonage will make that happen very soon. Only question is, Will it happen in time for this election, or will the legislative parasites get two more years to perpetuate consumer coercion?

Posted by: Fake apostle II on July 22, 2006 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

"No amount of chaff can hide the failure of our remarkable productivity surge (and the accompanying robust growth of the overall economy) to meaningfully boost average wages, which have barely grown with inflation."

Gaaah!

Please, can someone have a quiet word with an economist? Ask them what will happen when productivity is growing faster than GDP.

The reason wages and employment are not growing strongly is because productivity is.

Posted by: Tim Worstall on July 23, 2006 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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