Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 4, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

DEEP THOUGHTS....Noodling on the latest poverty figures, Mickey Kaus says that we may be overcounting the poor. He suggests two corrections. First, don't count new immigrants, and second:

Don't count affluent people who, by reason of their affluence, are able to take off a year with no income and therefore show up as "poor" in the income stats....You'd think the number of idle-affluent who earn no income and show up as "poor" would be increasing (as the rich get richer!). But if that's true then these people are making the "poverty rate" appear worse than it really is. If they're idle enough zero income, despite lots of assets they'll even show up as "deep poor."

Yep, that's our problem: Thanks to skyrocketing income inequality, the idle rich are more idle than ever! Get those bums off the poverty rolls!

Kevin Drum 11:51 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (102)

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Speaking of which, could the Democrats address the problem of overwork? It would be much appreciated.

Overchoice too, is a problem. Went to France, and loved their grocery stores. Everything is clearly labelled -- only 100% juice can merit the name "juice" -- so there is more freedom as a consumer. Here even 2% juice is "juice" and the consumer has to decipher business decisions. Added up, these small moments amount to weekly and persistent stress that I don't want to have. Imagine how much healthier we would be if we actually knew what we were eating too.

Posted by: Pothique on September 4, 2006 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

All of those people in the top 2% of affluence are inflating the numbers of the bottom 12%!

Posted by: Hostile on September 4, 2006 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Poor Mickey, he probably can't see that the thundering herd approaching is fixing to storm the Bastille.

Posted by: HokieAnnie on September 4, 2006 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

The rich have low incomes because they have good financial planners who put them into tax-free bonds and offshore tax shelters.

Posted by: bob on September 4, 2006 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

As an aside, I'd like to say that Kaus is my favorite pundit to find really annoying. I'm tempted to enumerate the reasons, but I'll let it lie and stick to the topic at hand--his most recent triple-bank shot stupidty. So, I wonder, how many of the rich and idle live off the corpus of their wealth rather than the interest or other income generated from the corpus. Those in the latter category won't be counted as impoverished. So, Kaus must think that the number of the asset-wealthy living off the corpus of their wealth has become so large that its messing up our poverty numbers. To quote the sage, "What a maroon."

Posted by: SS on September 4, 2006 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks to skyrocketing income inequality, the idle rich are more idle than ever! Get those bums off the poverty rolls!

What nonsense. It's perfectly accurate to count wealthier people who are not working as poor. As all students of economics know, real income takes into account inflation. If somebody has no income for that year, it means he's actually losing money because the money he has is being depreciated by inflation. So in reality the "idle rich" as you call them are actually losing money. People who are losing money are certainly in the poverty rolls. Since liberals like yourself believe people in the poverty rolls deserve welfare checks, they should also be receiving welfare money.

Posted by: Al on September 4, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Kaus confuses (perhaps deliberately) income with wages.

Posted by: Joe on September 4, 2006 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Dear God, this guy is an idiot. How does he keep his job?

Posted by: Farinata X on September 4, 2006 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Each of us has a fairly wide circle of friends and associates of work age, say 200 of them. Do you have more than one friend that is taking the year off with no pay?

No? I didn't think so. Therefore, I estimate the percent of the work age population that does this to be no more than half a percent. Expanding this to the whole population, not just work age, and the percentage gets smaller.

Micky Kaus has a habit that I recognize from all the engineers I work with. A habit that tries to poke holes in every assertion it hears. This can be a very good trait in an engineer, you have to know the limits. This can be a very good quality in a policy wonk, as long as its in private.

It's not a good quality in a pundit.

Micky needs to do more homework on stuff like this. I recommend that he get a good estimate of the error he proposes and how much it might have changed over time before he blathers stuff like this.

Posted by: Doctor Jay on September 4, 2006 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Um, if you're rich rich rich and you take a year off from your gainful labors (ring! ring! "Hello? This is J. P. Gotrocks. Buy!" click. ring! ring! "Hello? This is J. P. Gotrocks. Sell!" click. OK so that's done; now to resume my nap) to pursue fashion models and shnort cocaine, isn't it customary to cash in a few of your securities in order to finance your binge? That counts as capital-gains income, I think.

Posted by: W. Kiernan on September 4, 2006 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

What does Mickey Kaus have in common with Paris Hilton? You see their names everywhere, but no one seems quite sure why....

Posted by: Jim on September 4, 2006 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

"People who are losing money are certainly in the poverty rolls. Since liberals like yourself believe people in the poverty rolls deserve welfare checks, they should also be receiving welfare money."

Nice try, troll. People who can afford not to work are not poor. Plain and simple. Poverty is about having trouble making the rent, buying food, and lack of access to health care. But since you're OK, don't worry about it.

Posted by: Slideguy on September 4, 2006 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

Jim Nails it.

But seriously, this attempt to justify poverty is beyond disgusting. It seemed that Mr. Kaus was not in line when the Flying Spaghetti Monster was handing out shame. Did he sit back after he wrote this and applaud himself or did he get a sick feeling in his stomach? I'd really like to know the answer to that.

Posted by: gq on September 4, 2006 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Tell that to my siblings, whose father - after a successful career as a network exec - decided to piss it all away at businesses (for which he had precisely zero talent). After the first one failed, we lost the homes, the cars, the stability, and security. And even if he hadn't been oblivious to the needs and potential and aspirations of his children, and had tried to go back to doing what he did well, the chances of him being able to get back in the game declined by the year; ask around among white collar people how easy it is to reenter that world when they're into middle age and have lost or left their jobs. My parents' lives have been a slowly unfolding tragedy since I was twelve years old, and while there's no question it was in their case almost entirely their own fault (in fact it was all quite senseless), remember that punishing them and people like them means also punishing their children. In some cases it means kids with IQs in the top one percent, and the capacity for almost anything, ending up as addicts, on the streets. Hardship doesn't have to make you heard - it can make you a better person - but that is always the more difficult choice. No one should forget that.

Posted by: Linus on September 4, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

The poverty number should be a count of people who's basic needs are not being met. If basic needs are being met through friends, family, private charity, or government assistance, then a simple shortage of current income is not a problem that requires further state intervention. Further, if the current poverty number does include people who's basic needs are being met (and my understanding is that this is the case), then it is nothing but a tool to promote a political agenda.

Posted by: Randy on September 4, 2006 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

This is the most ridiculous statistical analysis ever. Rich folks who "take off" live off their income investments; dividends, interest and the like. The year Lee Iaccoca took a $1 salary he earned more than $2milion in stock options. Hardly the stuff of poverty.

Posted by: mike irwin on September 4, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

If they have lots of assetts then they will have income from dividends and other income the assetts throw off.

If they don't have any income from those assetts, they need to fire their financial people and stop screwing around.

Posted by: NaR on September 4, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Nobody should (1) read (2) call attention to Mr. Kaus. He writes for Slate, for fuck's sake.

Posted by: norbizness on September 4, 2006 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

I am one of those people. I left my six figure income job to start my own company in February 2005. I have not had a single "official" paycheck since then. I've invested my savings, IRA and all of my stock money into the company and take money out monthly, to pay myself back for the money I lent the business.Initially I used savings to pay bills. I have had no paycheck for 18 months and probably won't see one until the beggining of 2008. So, yes there are people like me that could officialy be considered "poor" since I have had no paycheck for a long time.

Posted by: nradisic on September 4, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Micky Kaus has a habit that I recognize from all the engineers I work with.

But Kaus's speculation falls far below engineering standards. An engineer would say, "Okay, we're talking about 37 million people living in poverty in 2005. How many idle rich would need to be eliminated from the count if we wanted a significantly more accurate number?" Kaus's suggestion is the equivalent of saying we might make progress in paying down the national debt by asking people to send in their spare change once a week. Orders of magnitude off.

Posted by: RSA on September 4, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Kaus' comments can only be described as Dickensian in their attitute toward the poor.

Alternatively, he could close his eyes, tap his heels together, and declare that there are no poor.

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on September 4, 2006 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Al raises an interesting point. Liberals favor giving money to chose who choose not to work, and had to be dragged kicking and screaming into welfare reform. Why should some people who choose not to work be compensated, while others don't? I'd love to take a year off.

Posted by: American Hawk on September 4, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

C'mon Kevin! We're just one bizarre concession to the right away from universal health care. Mickey can feel it!

Posted by: keptsimple on September 4, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

It's wankerish, but: the way the counters count things is indeed full of deceptive loopholes. However, don't trust that the critic has gotten the loophole correctly parsed.

PS - Please allow the following self-promotion and check out the following post to NGs under a couple of titles:

Astronomers are a bright bunch (compared to some others out there...) so let's take a cue from them. Instead of hemming and hawing forever about
whether Pluto is "really a planet," they decided to dethrone and demote it to a new category called "dwarf planet." Well... let's put to rest the bickering about the simmering sectarian conflict in Iraq. Let's just call it a "dwarf civil war" and move on!

(Er, whether we can *really* move on is also debatable. Maybe we can Solomonically pull out half the troops and call it a "dwarf withdrawal."
Hey - maybe we can call the current Administration a "dwarf presidency" - although many will object to the generosity thereby granted...)

...

Posted by: Neil' on September 4, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

It's really something special to be there at the moment when someone descends into self-parody.

Posted by: craigie on September 4, 2006 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

I don't buy the argument about the very rich folks who take a year or two off somehow being counted as very poor people because they don't have an income. The super affluent have money working for them and recieve dividend income.


And what about the poor folks who aren't counted because they are not reachable due to homelessness? And why shouldn't we count new immigrants (at least the legal ones). If they are poor they are poor. They may be able to get off the poverty rolls soon, but that means they will not be counted anymore.

Sounds like yet another attempt to sweep the problem of growing disparities under the rug.

Posted by: bt on September 4, 2006 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

nradisic:

So, yes there are people like me that could officialy be considered "poor" since I have had no paycheck for a long time.
No one said there weren't any such people, but who believes there are enough to inflate the poverty statistics?

Posted by: wahoofive on September 4, 2006 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

I don't wonder why Kaus blogs at Slate.

I do wonder why he is a contributing editor to the Washington Monthly?

What does that mean anyway, "contributing editor?" How does that differ from jackoff that occasionally writes for us? He is a jackoff that occasionally edits other articles for you?

But given what a douchebag he is, why is there any association between him and the WaMo?

Posted by: jerry on September 4, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Dear God, this guy is an idiot. How does he keep his job?

Your first sentence answers your second.

Posted by: exasperanto on September 4, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

"Work is the best and safest way for the poor to escape being poor. The best thing liberal Bill Clinton ever did politically was "to end welfare as we knew it." - mhr

100% correct.


Ironically the Democrats controlled Congress for forty years fighting poverty prior to 1994 and poverty still exists.


Posted Monday, Oct. 24, 1994

"For now, the big winners in the expansion will continue to be not consumers but corporations, many of which have been reaping huge profits after slashing their payrolls and other costs. Just last week PepsiCo said its third-quarter earnings rose 18% over those of a year ago, to $541 million. Motorola's profits surged 50% to $380 million. Chrysler topped both those gains with profits of $651 million, which represents an increase of 54%. Such news helped spark a rally on Wall Street that lifted the Dow Jones industrial average 55 points in a single day and 113 points for the week."


Clinton was all about the corporate elite wasn't he?

Posted by: Jay on September 4, 2006 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

I`m one that has had no income (of any kind) this calendar year. I had a "stroke" in January & was ordered not to drive for 6 months even though I am in fine shape and have few remaining effects of the event. Since I have to drive to do my job, I`ve been out of work with no income since late January. Certainly a year off without pay but hardly "rich". There are many reasons why someone might go a year without income OTHER THAN being "rich"

(yes, the 6 months is up now so maybe it won`t be the entire year I`m "incomeless"; so what ?)

Posted by: Mr. Stroke on September 4, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

What my immigrant parents taught me by their example was to work hard and to study hard. And to be suspicious of anybody especially political types who come around near election day saying how much they want "to help." Work is the best and safest way for the poor to escape being poor.

Good for you! You had smart parents. What liberals worry about are the people who don't have parents like that, are stuck in crappy schools, and have little other support to succeed. What do you suppose should happen to these people who basically make up all the poor. Is let them starve your advice? I think it is cute how conservatives think poverty will be solved with a little school of hard knox. That's a nice thought but a fantasy. Without direct help from someone, whether through government or charity, the poor will remain poor. If you can consider yourself a moral person and care not about the poor, then good for you again. I cannot consider anyone moral who sees the poor and mutters, "so what."

Posted by: kj on September 4, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

The growing number of writers like Kaus who justify (or dismiss) impoverishment simply indicates the growing unease our culture is feeling with the eye-boggling (i.e., impossible to miss) inequities we see around us every day. Is it guilt? Is it fear? How long will it take for the hoi-polloi to get that they're being shafted, and the resultant backlash to arrive? Didn't they say something about rich men and camels back in Sunday School? Is there some kind of hypocritical contradiction here? Oh, hell, fuck that. I got mine, Jack.

But...what if?

Posted by: Riggsveda on September 4, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Once again you tendentiously misreport Mickey's post: he pointed out that the fundemental flaw in calculating poverty of "the poor" is the discrepancy between reported income and their outgo. I can confirm this, after many years working in child support enforcement and public assistance, I would have to say less than 10% of my clients could provide a budget of their reported income that matched their most fundemental expenses. The vast majority of folks that are counted in these statistics are single moms or abscent fathers with a vested interest in fudging the figures.

Posted by: minion of rove on September 4, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

"What liberals worry about are the people who don't have parents like that, are stuck in crappy schools, and have little other support to succeed. What do you suppose should happen to these people who basically make up all the poor." - kj


Stop keeping them hostage to your promises. Government can not eliminate poverty, nor can can it micro manage individual lives. In 2005, the US gov't spent over $360 billion in entitlements, most of which directed towards those in poverty, and it didn't even make a dent.

Democrats do a huge disservice to the poor by telling them that they can not succeed without the governments help. That actually helps perpetuate generational poverty.

Somehting the left will never understand.

Posted by: Jay on September 4, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Do liberal intellectualls really give a tinker's
damn about "the poor"?

Um... It's a "tinker's dam", a barrier used as a temporary mold in metalwork. Back in the olden days, people said "a tinker's dam" rather than saying "damn" to avoid blasphemy in their words (but not their thoughts).

Posted by: Wapiti on September 4, 2006 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Socialism lowers society to it's lowest common denominator. There are plent of examples, and many of you are welcome to move to a socialist country and fester in mediocrity.

Posted by: Jay on September 4, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Money spent on "poverty" programs and other assorted assistance to those at the bottom of the wealth distribution are numbers that display the failure of our systems to completely meet all needs w/in the economy ("failure of the market to clear") & are part of the significant externalities of our current economic measurement structure. The numbers lie and few are paying attention.

"There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept." - Ansel Adam

Posted by: daCascadian on September 4, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

"Money spent on "poverty" programs and other assorted assistance to those at the bottom of the wealth distribution are numbers that display the failure of our systems to completely meet all needs w/in the economy.........." - da


First of all, our system is not designed to "distribute" wealth, nor is it designed to meet "all needs" within the economy.

Why don't liberals understand capatilism.

Posted by: Jay on September 4, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Jay: ...In 2005, the US gov't spent over $360 billion in entitlements, most of which directed towards those in poverty, and it didn't even make a dent.

What can you possibly mean, "it didn't make a dent"? Of that $360-billion you cite, nearly all of it is in Social Security benefits. Are you saying that if all the recipients of Social Security benefits were suddenly cut off from receiving checks, there would be zero change in poverty rates? Good Lord, that's stupid.

Do you know what the poverty rate was and is in the U.S.A.? According to this U.S. Census Bureau web page, which took me all of sixty seconds to Google up, the poverty rate of Americans went from 22.4% in 1959 to 11.3% in 2000. Since 2000 the abominable GWB Administration has succeeded in running it back up to 12.6%, and we can expect that trend to continue for as long as the radical Right stays in power, but even so there's one Hell of a difference between 22.4% and 12.6%; I'd call that a pretty significant "dent."

Posted by: W. Kiernan on September 4, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

This is just silly.

If *all* of the top 1% wage earners decided to take a year off and play golf it would add... 1% to the current poverty roles by Mr. Kaus' strained logic. If 12% had earned less that the poverty limit then that figure would jump to 13%. Yeah, that would be an 8.25% increase.

And Al, sorry but all general assistance programs in this country have an assets test that would amount to pocket change for the top 1% of our wage earners. Typically it is $1000 bucks for all assets. But I agree some of our top earners might qualify given the level of honesty they exhibit, however I doubt they would enjoy the application process.

And, as stated above, there is a real difference between wages and income. I would suspect that the majority of those truly wealthy via inheritance don't work at all. And exactly 0% of those that do are plumbers or mechanics. Sitting on a board of the kids' private school or the family foundation just doesn't seem to count.

Posted by: Nat on September 4, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

W. - you answered your own question. In 2005 (one year) $360 billion spent did not lower the rate one iota.

Congrats, most liberals are not even that stupid.

Posted by: Jay on September 4, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

...our system is not designed to "distribute" wealth, nor is it designed to meet "all needs" within the economy.
Why don't liberals understand capatilism."

Then maybe the system needs to be changed, Jay.
Why do conservatives use capitalism as a club to keep the rest of us down?

Posted by: Xboy on September 4, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

in other words, jay, if you can't stamp out poverty,let's stomp on the poor. i mean hell, it's quite a burden on all those poor rich folks to have all those welfare enriched poor folks around, right?

Posted by: mudwall jackson on September 4, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Wapiti Re: tinker's dam. Thank you, Really. Though I fear this will become yet another Cliff Claven moment of mine soon.

Posted by: jerry on September 4, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

"Then maybe the system needs to be changed, Jay.
Why do conservatives use capitalism as a club to keep the rest of us down?" - Xboy

No, the system is just fine. Maybe you need to change. In fact there are countries that offer cradle to grave programs for those unable to compete, move there.

mudwall, your comment is just too stupid to respond to.

Posted by: Jay on September 4, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Wapiti

You sir, are a liar and a knave!

Posted by: jerry on September 4, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Jay >"First of all, our system is not designed to "distribute" wealth, nor is it designed to meet "all needs" within the economy.

Why don't liberals understand capatilism."

And why can`t rightwing fascists like yourself learn to use Preview (and be able to spell) ?

It is capitalism dip stick & according to the rightwing noise machine if the market would just be allowed to work its magic all markets would clear & everyone would have all they need.

You need to learn some basic Economics not to mention how to use Preview

Better rightwing pontificators please !

(at least they need to actually understand Econ 101 phrases)

"The first lesson of democracy is not to hold the public in contempt." - Ronnie Earle

Posted by: daCascadian on September 4, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

This is my country, too, Jay, and I'm not going anywhere.
In this entire thread you are the only one to mention "cradle to grave programs." You seem to be arguing with that voice in your head again.
And I've been hearing that "If you don't like it, move!" bullshit all my life. Don't you conservatives ever get tired of repeating the same tiresome lines regardless of the circumstances?
Guess not.

Posted by: Xboy on September 4, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

If we accept the analysis, wouldn't the sensible thing be to hike the tax burden of the really rich so that they couldn't squirrel enough away to artificially inflate the poverty figures? You can't argue this would discourage people from working and striving, since the people we're taling about manifestly _not_ working and striving; they've reached so level of "F#&( You Money" and are just goffing off; if nothing else, their immortal souls are in danger from failing the Protestant Work Ethic. Help these people to end their idleness: take their money away before they go to Hell.

Posted by: Phalamir on September 4, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Yep, that's our problem: Thanks to skyrocketing income inequality, the idle rich are more idle than ever! Get those bums off the poverty rolls!

It is not "our" problem. It is a limitation of our ability to measure what we want to measure, and it is a limitation of the subsequent statistics.

Posted by: republicrat on September 4, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

"..our system is not designed to "distribute" wealth, nor is it designed to meet "all needs" within the economy.
Why don't liberals understand capatilism."


We do, actually. AND we can spell it.

ALL systems "distribute wealth". Ours increasingly takes from the poor and gives to the rich. The greatest period of overall prosperity this country has ever seen - the period when all incomes rose and which saw the awesome rise of the American middle class - was the time when taxes on the wealthy, and on corporations was the highest. The Republicans have spent the last 70 years working to roll back those gains, and they've just about finished it off with the latest round of tax cuts for the wealthy and draconian bankruptcy "reform".

Those so-called reforms let corporations off the hook for their underfunded pension plans, but make it all but impossible for the poor, even if the bankruptcy was brought on by health problems or extended service in the military reserves.

Posted by: Slideguy on September 4, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

There are nasty-minded punks who post here whose stance on any issue is not based upon political considerations but, rather, on what would an asshole most likely believe. It's an affirmation of their pathologies and it makes them feel tough.

Best not to respond.

Posted by: exasperanto on September 4, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Jay: W. - you answered your own question. In 2005 (one year) $360 billion spent did not lower the rate one iota.

Lower it relative to what, 2004? Christ on a crutch, use your brain. You're comparing the poverty rate today to the rate in the recent past when the very same entitlements you criticize were in place. Anyone would expect the poverty rate would scarcely change between when the Federal government issued $360-billion in entitlement checks in 2005 and when they issued $355-billion or whatever in checks in 2004. The difference between the existing poverty rate, with the Federal government spending $360-billion on entitlements, and the hypothetical poverty rate in the hypothetical case that the $360-billion had not been spent, that would be a measure of the effect of entitlement spending upon the poverty rate.

That $360-billion in entitlements - most of which, incidentally, was financed over previous years by the Social Security recipients themselves as FICA taxes, meaning that the recipients were unquestionably genuinely entitled to these entitlements - is responsible for many, maybe most, of those Social Security recipients not being in poverty today. If the $360-billion in checks had not been issued, then the poverty rate would obviously have been much higher - imagine the financial plight of America's retirees if their SS checks were suddenly cut off. It is an unarguable fact that spending that $360-billion kept tens of millions out of poverty. That is obviously a lot more than an iota.

Posted by: W. Kiernan on September 4, 2006 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Since my last posting on this thread was so erudite and unassailable no one even attempted to question it, let me support my argument with this link to Harvard Econ Professor Greg Mankiw's blog:

http://gregmankiw.blogspot.com/2006/09/measuring-poverty-income-vs-spending.html

Posted by: minion of rove on September 4, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

alternative takes:

http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=090106B

http://blog.nam.org/archives/2006/09/unions.php

I suppose the Democratic strategy is to persuade swing voters that we are much worse off than we actually are, and to deny the actual gains of the last 6 years.

Admittedly the increased total federal budget is a problem. this year it will be 2% of GDP. If present trends continue it will be lower next year. But to assert that almost everything is worse for us in the middle of the income distribution is false.

Posted by: republicrat on September 4, 2006 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

"ALL systems "distribute wealth". Ours increasingly takes from the poor and gives to the rich. The greatest period of overall prosperity this country has ever seen - the period when all incomes rose and which saw the awesome rise of the American middle class - was the time when taxes on the wealthy, and on corporations was the highest. The Republicans have spent the last 70 years working to roll back those gains, and they've just about finished it off with the latest round of tax cuts for the wealthy and draconian bankruptcy "reform"." - slide something

Really?

"Even before last year's tax cut was enacted, overall federal tax burdens for middle- and low-income taxpayers were lower, on average, than they had been in most years of the past several decades. This was largely a result of income tax burdens having fallen fairly sharply. The Treasury data show that in 1999, the typical family of four with two children was paying a smaller percentage of its income in federal income taxes than at any time since 1966.


The tax cut enacted last year has reduced tax burdens further. This analysis' update of the Treasury data shows that in 2001, the year for which Americans are now filing income tax returns, a median family of four will pay a smaller share of its income in federal income taxes than in any year since 1957.


Similarly, this analysis' update of the CBO data on overall federal tax burdens finds that when households' total federal tax burdens are considered including their payroll, excise, and other taxes, along with the income taxes they pay most categories of households will face a lower average tax burden in 2001 than in any year from 1979 to the present. (1979 is the first year these CBO data cover.) For example, the middle fifth of taxpayers will pay an average of approximately 16.3 percent of income in total federal taxes in 2001, the lowest percentage during the 22 year period examined. The second-lowest percentage occurred in 1983, when such households paid an average of 17.1 percent of income in federal taxes."


http://www.cbpp.org/4-10-02tax.htm


It's a great platform for which to run on though, convincing people that America sucks and that they're all being fleeced, while the Democratic leaders jump back in their limo's and speed off.

Good luck with all of that.

Posted by: Jay on September 4, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Jay: Socialism lowers society to its lowest common denominator. There are plenty of examples, and many of you are welcome to move to a socialist country and fester in mediocrity

No, you are welcome to move to Somalia or some other anarchic state, where, there being basically no government whatsoever, there is not a speck of oppressive socialism to be seen. Ah, paradise! There your inner moral superiority, unemburdened by the imposition of cruel and unfair taxes and those innumerable "nanny-state" regulations we suffer, can flower to the fullest. We'll just stay back here under the iron heel of statism and admire your success from afar.

Posted by: W. Kiernan on September 4, 2006 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

"No, you are welcome to move to Somalia....blah blah blah" - w. something

No I prefer the current US economy thank you. But you do whine very well.

Posted by: Jay on September 4, 2006 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

And what's the Federal deficit this year? How do you suppose these tax cuts you extol were financed? According to this chart (chart 4, page 6) the Federal surplus went from about +2.5% of GDP in 2000 to -4% in 2005. Do you think that's sustainable? If so, I've got a nice adjustable-rate mortgage for your house I'd like to sell you. You and the comedian who continued that blue line off to the right of the vertical line through 2006 on that graph, where it magically bounces off the bottom of the Dubya dive and takes off up up up!

Posted by: W. Kiernan on September 4, 2006 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

No I prefer the current US economy thank you.

Oh you do? And here I thought, on the basis of your previous comments, you were somehow dissatisfied with that $360-billion per year in Federal entitlements spending, and you advocated slashing that expenditure. Excuse me! I mistook you for one of those anti-Social Security jackasses. But since you prefer the status quo, I guess that makes you yet another intelligent citizen who wants nothing to do with what the current Administration euphemistically terms "Social Security reform."

Posted by: W. Kiernan on September 4, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

"I guess that makes you yet another intelligent citizen who wants nothing to do with what the current Administration euphemistically terms "Social Security reform." - w. something


wrong again, though I suppose you get use to being wrong.

And thanks for not letting me put my own money into my own private account for retirement.

Posted by: Jay on September 4, 2006 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

ID-YACHT!

Posted by: Bob Neal on September 4, 2006 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, so I'm not letting you put money in a 401K plan like the one I've got, now? Wow, I'm one potent dude, got amazing long-range powers I don't even know about. Meanwhile how about that transition from a 2.5% Federal surplus to a 4% deficit, and its relation to the GWB tax cuts you admire so much and the long-term fiscal outlook for this country? Got anything to say about that topic or are you hoping it'll just evaporate?

Posted by: W. Kiernan on September 4, 2006 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

"Oh, so I'm not letting you put money in a 401K plan like the one I've got, now?" - w.

wrong AGAIN. I am refering to the mandated withholding that goes everywhere else besides my retirement account, just like your Democratic Senators like it.

"Meanwhile how about that transition from a 2.5% Federal surplus to a 4% deficit,...." - w.

First of all that was a PROJECTED surplus and it will be reduced like any other deficit, by growth. With 12 consecutive quarters of 3-4% GDP growth it will be reduced greatly in due time.

Now our debate is over, you're too confused and regurgitate too many Democratic talking points to take you seriously.

Have a nice day

Posted by: Jay on September 4, 2006 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Uh, the "idle rich" still have income, and plenty of it. I have friends who have a W-2 income of zero. They earned no wages whatsoever. However, their investment incomes are well into the 6- or 7-figure area. Believe me, Kaus--none of these people show up on poverty figures because poverty figures are not based solely on W-2 data.

Stupidest man alive? Kaus is in a tight race with Luskin, Fieth, and Rumsfeld.

Posted by: Derelict on September 4, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Oh Boy,
That Kaus sure makes you think, doesn't he?

It really is easy to reduce the poverty rate by selectively choosing not to count certain people as "actually" being poor.

But of course, this gets a little tricky. Recent immigrants can't be cut out of current numbers unless you also count them out of historic numbers. And I'm not sure Kaus would like the results if one were to do that. Remember that many recent immigrants are not poor at all, but are highly skilled software engineers, doctors, etc., from such places as China and India. Ten or twenty years ago, this was not the case. So if anything, taking recent immigrants out of the picture might actually accentuate the growth of the percentage of those living under the poverty line. And anyway, it doesn't make sense to exclude "recent immigrants" from poverty statistics, when we don't make this arbitrary distinction in any other statistics we compile.

As far as not counting the "idle rich", this is a joke. If Kaus stuck his head out of his ass and looked at statistics by locality or tract, he would plainly see how absurd his assertion that the "idle rich" have a measurable impact on poverty statistics really is. In the wealthiest tracts where one would suspect large numbers of these "poverty-stricken" idle rich to live, one actually sees poverty rates very close to zero. As Kaus knows very well, salaries and wages are not the largest component of income for anyone who is able to take a year off without pay. They would still be earning capital gains, dividends, etc., and thus would not show up as living under the poverty line. So what Kaus is saying is utter bullshit.

Of course, one could go even further than Kaus. Why stop with simply discarding the poverty figures for the "idle rich"? Why not discard them for all "idle" people in general? Like those hip, educated folks that end up working at Barnes and Noble becuase they aren't go-getters. Those people aren't "really" poor. You can't be hip and be poor at the same time. Poor people should have dirty faces and work in a coal mine or as chimney-sweeps or something. They should definately not be listening to Belle and Sebastian. That should shave off at least a couple percentage points off that poverty rate.

Someone alert the Census Bureau, Kaus-the-Kuntrarian is on the case!

Posted by: kokblok on September 4, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Jay--

Wake up, my boy. The reason why payroll taxes are so high has little to do with the Social Security system itself, and even less to do with "Democrats". The payroll taxes are being used to fund myriad programs which used to be funded by income taxes on the well-to-do. The real shift to using payroll taxes to pay for general government expenses began under Reagan, and the impetus was hardly "re-distributive", unless you mean distributing wealth upwards in the form of lower top-tier income tax rates. Many Democrats voted for this as well, but the impetus came from the Republicans' "low-tax" promise, the biggest pile of bullshit that has ever been laid at the feet of the American people.

Yeah, it does suck. Payroll taxes are the some of the most regressive taxes we have. If our income taxes made any sense, we'd have no need to borrow from the SS fund to pay for our government. Write your freaking congressman, by all means.

Posted by: kokblok on September 4, 2006 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

Jay, I am fascinated at your solution: if you don't like it, move. Why did all the conservatives not leave when they were so exercised about the commie-pinko-liberal-socialist government? I could be wrong, but it may be that the conservatives decided to take over and remake the country in their desired image.

Or could it be that the other side (our side) was kind enough to remind you that we are all in this together? And it is not a suicide pact unless you make it one?

Congratulations on the takeover and the suicide pact. Me, I want to pull back from the brink and survive.

Posted by: Mellifluous on September 4, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

He suggests two corrections. First, don't count new immigrants, and second:

don't count the poor!

Posted by: tug on September 4, 2006 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

Mickey Kaus is paid to be an ignorant shill, which is undoubtedly nice work if you can get it.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 4, 2006 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

He suggests two corrections. First, don't count new immigrants, and second:

don't count the poor!

or multiply the number by zero and subtract it from 1 million.


Posted by: marry on September 4, 2006 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

Ugh.

Poor means those whose yearly income is below a certain amount, yes.

But if you have any sort of assets, your income is floated by those.

It isn't the measure of the difference between your income and your spending.

Income includes everything from working at jobs to appreciation on your house, interest on your checking account, sales of properties and anything of value.

Personally, if everyone or anyone was able to be 'rich' enough to meet the poverty level by sheer interest on their checking account, the world would be a better place.

Posted by: Crissa on September 4, 2006 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

W. - you answered your own question. In 2005 (one year) $360 billion spent did not lower the rate one iota.

Congrats, most liberals are not even that stupid

Great.

And if a hundred ton ship drops a twelve ton anchor into hundred acre lake, how much will the level of the lake change?

Posted by: Crissa on September 4, 2006 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

The 'amnesty' bill will 'cost' $126 billion.

...However, every one of those dollars are ones we are getting from them without giving it back now.

Every one of these 'illegals' pays taxes and social security (via 'identity theft') and don't get a dime back.

'Amnesty' - Where immigrants who slipped through the cracks in our system get to pay for these 'entitlements' twice, and yet the congress marks it as a loss for the government.

Posted by: Crissa on September 4, 2006 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

I guess Drum's blog is now a childcare center- somewhere a wife or mother is saying "Boy, it is sure is nice when Jay plays on the computer".

Kinda surprising though, that Jay isn't deeply immersed in the collected wisdom of Mickey Kaus. They seem to be operating at about the same level (can't bring myself to call it intellectual).

If Kaus is uncomfortable with the number of people in poverty, why doesn't he just pretend there are fewer of them? It's not like the rightwing is handing our any demerits for just making stuff up. Then Kaus could be sure that people like Jay really really like him.

Posted by: serial catowner on September 4, 2006 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

Jay: First of all that was a PROJECTED surplus and it will be reduced like any other deficit, by growth. With 12 consecutive quarters of 3-4% GDP growth it will be reduced greatly in due time.

That chart you're trying so hard to ignore - a product of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, by the way - shows four, count 'em, four projections for the Federal deficit. You can be entirely sure that they have factored any prospective GDP growth into their projection. Before the projections start, they show the current data as reported by the Congressional Budget Office. According to my handy engineer's scale, here's the trend line:

+2.3. +1.4, -1.4, -3.5, -4.1

yet from this fixed historical data, the CBO projects that in the next fiscal year the deficit percentage will immediately bounce upward! I suppose that will be driven by all the cheap oil exports from newly democratized, peaceful Iraq. Optimism is a beautiful thing, I guess. I myself would not look at the trend line shown above, which looks a lot like the trajectory of something thrown over a cliff and predict a complete turn-around starting tomorrow, but then I am not working for the Congressional Budget Office either.

Anyway, all four of the projections take off from this magic bounce point. The happiest projection shows a deficit every year all the way to the year 2014, but by that time, after having accumulated trillions of dollars of additional national debt at an average rate of about 1.7% of GDP in the interim, we'll almost be breaking even. The most pessimistic projection, happy fun bounce and all, shows a Federal deficit equal to 4.8% of GDP in the year 2014.

The interesting part is the reason for the four projections. In the most optimistic one, drawn in blue, we barely break even - and this is assuming that a.) contrary to the GWB Administration's expressed desire, we do not renew all the GWB Administration tax cuts which expire on given dates, b.) we abandon the GWB Administration's desired so-called "Alternative Minimum Tax reform," and c.) we factor in "increased discretionary appropriations," whatever that's supposed to mean - I'm guessing it has something to do with continuing to pay Grandma's Medicare bills.

In other words, even in the scenario where Democrats take charge and promptly overturn all of the GWB Administration's tax-cut initiatives, we still expect to run a huge, massive deficit for the entire next decade. If, however, we continue the GWB Administration's reign of error, our deficit problem will continue to get even worse over the next decade. And this is the word from the happy-fun-bounce optimists at the CBO!

Now our debate is over, you're too confused and regurgitate too many Democratic talking points to take you seriously.

Well, one of us is confused, that's for sure. But don't bother to reply; you've definitely got a big clue deficit yourself, which you won't find any cure for in your soggy bag full of stale Republican blathering-points.

Posted by: W. Kiernan on September 4, 2006 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

Kaus is like a pundit who wants to show that the black population in Southern California is so much better off than they were 10 years ago.

He decides simply not to count the blacks in the City of Los Angeles. Minor little detail.

(I think this argument actually was made by a real pundit and that Kevin had eariler posted to it, but I can't remember who it was...)

Posted by: kokblok on September 4, 2006 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

who the fuck is kaus? i mean i know he's in the backwater least-visited 'kausfiles' at slate but who the fuck is he and how is it that this tumbling tumbling dick-weed actually has a voice and is considered a pundit and not that itch at the back of your throat?

who the fuck is this little shit?

Posted by: jack on September 4, 2006 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

WOW - That is some impressive stupidty. I don't want to click through the link to find out the Kaus wasn't really being that dumb, because my expectation for the midget is that he was deadly serious when he wrote that.

Posted by: Doug on September 4, 2006 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

Um... It's a "tinker's dam", a barrier used as a temporary mold in metalwork. Back in the olden days, people said "a tinker's dam" rather than saying "damn" to avoid blasphemy in their words (but not their thoughts).

And that, my friends, is why I read blogs.

Posted by: craigie on September 4, 2006 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

This reminds me of the people who say 46 million uninsured isn't a problem because it includes people who don't buy insurance because they don't feel like it.

Posted by: Seth D. on September 4, 2006 at 10:26 PM | PERMALINK

It's true that this is joke, but not for the reasons given above. According to the census web site, income "Excludes capital gains or losses."

Capital gains are specifically excluded, so the hypothetical fat cat living off his portfolio for a year could be considered poor. The reason to discount it is that there are undoubtedly so few of these people that they have no noticeable effect on the overall statistics.

Posted by: George Dorn on September 4, 2006 at 10:33 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: qq on September 4, 2006 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

If someone is idle rich but not recieveing any income from the government, assistance, how are they counted as poor. The only way the government knows your income is if you apply for assistance or off your 1040. If you are idle rich your income on your 1040 would still show that you are far from poor. The whole argument sounds like BS to me.

Posted by: ckerst on September 4, 2006 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

"Don't count affluent people who, by reason of their affluence, are able to take off a year with no income"

Hmm, I think this needs further explanation by Kaus. How do the rich manage to have no income for a whole year, no dividends, no interest on deposits, no profits from investments, no rents from real estate et etc? And wouldn't this be economically an awful dumb thing to do, have no income in one year and pay higher taxes in the next? Isn't there a risk that the IRS might become interested in such a strange behaviour? Even if there were rich people that dumb, how does Kaus come to the conclusion that their number is statistically significant in any way? Really, this is about the most idiotic explanation I heard for a long time, at least from someone outside of the administration!

Posted by: Gray on September 5, 2006 at 2:42 AM | PERMALINK

Dear God, this guy is an idiot. How does he keep his job?
Posted by: Farinata X

Yeah. Just so. Delusional.

Posted by: CFShep on September 5, 2006 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

What is truly sad is so many of people seem to think that were throwing money at the lazy poor in this country. What there is America is not a war on poverty, but a war on the poor.
We flush billions on dollars down that huge black hole called the Pentagon. I agree that we need a strong defense, but Iraq and the many useless projects of the defense contractors and their congressional stooges waste the lion's share of money.
What about corporate welfare? What about the subsidies that industry receives? You dont bitch about that.
Finally, I never believe the unemployment statistics or any information generated by the government to that end. It only includes those who are looking for work, not those who have just given up.

Posted by: Joel on September 5, 2006 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

kokblok: Kaus is like a pundit who wants to show that the black population in Southern California is so much better off than they were 10 years ago.

He decides simply not to count the blacks in the City of Los Angeles. Minor little detail.

isnt that how rod paige got his graduation stats to look so good in houston...

just stopped counting dropouts?

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on September 5, 2006 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK


THE TOP-5 U-S BUDGET DEFICITS:

1. 2004 (George W. Bush) $413 billion

2. 2003 (George W. Bush) $378 billion

3. 2005 (George W. Bush) $318 billion

4. 2006 (George W. Bush) $296 billion (projected)

5. 1992 (George H. W. Bush) $290 billion

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on September 5, 2006 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Wow. Mickey Kaus is, to put it delicately, stupid. He's one of a number of 'left wing' pundits whom I could do without. (He can't beat Richard Cohen, though. Cohen out-stupids them all.)

Of course, right wing stupid is typically even more stupid, and is worsened by being louder. Jay is a brilliant example - W. Kiernan, thanks for putting up the good fight. I'm not sure it's worth it though, Jay's not really here for debate, he's just here to say stupid things over and over until there's no room for comment left.

mhr is just as stupid. Not only does she (he?) use the lovely rhetorical trick of trying to draw parallels between modern democrats and old-line communists, she does it poorly.

Kerry did work - he was in the Navy after all, and even saw combat duty. Perhaps to mhr, this isn't work; I wonder how this argument would go over with our troops in Iraq. He was also a district attorney, ran a private law practice, and started a successful small business (Kilvert and Forbes is still in business in Fanueil Hall, although he sold it years ago.)

Posted by: Fides on September 5, 2006 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Show me a beverage that has less than 100% juice labeled "juice" and I'll buy you a new car. The law is the same here. If it is less than 100% it is labeled "beverage" or some such....never juice.

Posted by: mac on September 5, 2006 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

"Since liberals like yourself believe people in the poverty rolls deserve welfare checks, they should also be receiving welfare money." - Al

For you information, Al, people who get welfare have to qualify, meaning they have NO assets. The rich who don't have an 'income' typically have enormous assets. They do not qualify nor deserve welfare. I know that the system is flawed, but for the most part a good system.
Let's vote to fix it, not kill it.

Posted by: tj on September 5, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

"...who the f--- is k[l]aus? i mean i know he's in the backwater least-visited 'kausfiles' at slate but who the fuck is he and how is it that this tumbling tumbling dick-weed actually has a voice and is considered a pundit and not that itch at the back of your throat?"

He's another one of many people paid by his corporate masters to promote their views. Think of him as being employed by one of those "think tanks," which are run as hobbies by the ultra-rich to try to knock the stench of feudalism off their conservative wet-dreams.

Formally or not, it's also how the Bush Administration tries out their worst ideas. If no one raises too much of a fuss over it, look to see Tony Snow act surprised and claim that this is they way it's always been done. We have always been at war with Oceania.

When the statistics suck, stop gathering them, or hide them under the couch cushions. In between, hire marketing experts.

Posted by: John on September 5, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

What cracks me up about these idiots who say so what about the poor so they can put down a lib (I am neither a liberal NOR a Conservative - I take the best ideas of both and find the best solutions), I ask you these two questions. Answer them and you may be viewed as smart. Fail to answer with one of your canned RNC talking points, you will lose:

1) How do the poor fix their situations when education is skyrocketing, entry level jobs do not pay enough to live on and companies continue to lay people off despite this "great economy" Bush tells lies about?

They can't get loans to start businesses? They need to work, right? Why deny them a living wage. I own a business and pay way above the minimum wage. I do it because my workers WORK HARD for their wages. They feel they are MAKING PROGRESS in life and that leads to more productivity. Too bad Bush and Co. don't understand this :( THAT is how you help people.

2) If we continue to ignore the poor, I fear for my children's future! Do you really think they'll feel part of our society? Do you not think somewhere down the line they will band together and possibly create a situation that explodes? Basically who's to say if things don't get better through smarter economic policies at the government level (yes, George, YOU ARE SUPPOSED to create economic policies that benefit us ALL) that we don't see riots that make the L.A. and race riots of the 60s look like parties?

Guess you don't care about America then. You righties must only care about yourselves. Guess what? When judgement day comes, don't be surprised when NONE OF YOU get taken to wherever it is you go in the nude while the rest of us rot here on Earth. I bet y'all will be hanging here with LaHaye and his buds looking at each other like "what went wrong" before this country goes to hell in a handbasket.

Nah, you say? Think again. We cannot rely on the government for handouts, YES. BUT, we need our industry and brightest thinkers to figure out how to keep this country competitive in the area of job creation. YES, GOOD job creation, not McJobs.

Posted by: Beady Eye Guy on September 5, 2006 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

My friend is a female minority... widowed... then divorced... no assets, no savings, nothing... now she is unemployed... lives in a tourist town at the end of the season, so most places close up and she can't find work... She spplied for food stamps, and received *drumroll* $10/month!!!

So, my question is, if all the conservatives keep saying they're just throwing money at poor people, where the hell is this money?!?!?!?!

It's not like she can't or won't work, everything closes up around here this time of year. Noone is hiring. So she is trying, but getting nothing.

How friggen bad off do you have to be before you can get more than $10/month in help?

Posted by: stonicus on September 5, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

It's worth remembering the definition of the word hack

Posted by: Kuas on September 5, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Beady eye,

Re; "Do you not think somewhere down the line they will band together and possibly create a situation that explodes?"

Not likely. Historically, successful revolutions have been led by frustrated members of the upper class. Successful revolutions are not spontaneous affairs. They require planning, logistics, and money. Instances of true peasant revolts are rare and are usually put down easily (reference Napolean's application of "a whiff of grape" to the Paris mob).

Stonicus,

Re; "...if all the conservatives keep saying they're just throwing money at poor people, where the hell is this money?!?!?!?!"

Good question! Where is all the money? Answer; most of it goes to middle and upper class welfare programs. And why not? They're putting all the money in, why shouldn't they get something back?

I've suggested in the past that those who are interested in helping the poor would be better off to bypass the government entirely. Its true that voluntary contributions might be somewhat less than involuntary contributions, but the amount of bureaucratic skimming would also be considerably less. Not to mention the amount skimmed for military spending, corporate welfare, and miscellaneous pork. I honestly believe that the poor would come out ahead.

Posted by: Randy on September 5, 2006 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, certainly. By all means, take them off the rolls.

All three of them.

Carolyn Kay
MakeThemAccountable.com

Posted by: Carolyn Kay on September 6, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

The immigrant counting is interesting. I think that there are a lot of things that the Bush moonies don't want to talk about with current immigration trends. The fact that we seem to be letting in a lot of people who don't make that much is one of them.

A lot of the "high tech" workers who are recent immigrants don't make that much and many actually reduce incomes in their fields by cutting salaries earned by their native peers. You see this in higher education where someone is supported by their family for one or two reasons: the ability to take an American degree back home for the prestige and/or the ability to convert their visas and be the keystone of chain migration. As a result, staying in the game through multiple PhDs is important enough to make them see working for very little money as an excellent investment, but NOT for a carreer in that field. This does depress wages.

You also see this in "high tech" immigration where people with questionable skills (to put it mildly) seem to be working for less than they should. They are actually qualified to make half of what the person that they replaced is making, because they cannot do what the person they replaced can do. The employer has decided that this is good enough, and so the immigrant makes "less" than their degree or position would suggest.

Both of these things have an impact on US wages and taxes, and I am not sure that we should be encouraging them. I think that it would be a good idea to break these numbers out and be forced to ask "why are the numbers so low". The Bush folks aren't asking this at all.

And then, of course, we also have the Bush goal of letting in the bottom 20% of Mexican society to mow lawns for stavation wages. They don't seem to be wondering how these folks, many of whom barely speak Spanish, will get into the US middle class. But hey, I am probably one of those cynical people one step away from treason according to Bush and his folks.

Posted by: fredneck on September 6, 2006 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

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