Growth In Family Income

They’ll call this ‘envy’. A rising tide no longer floats all boats. Some are a little equal-er than others. But no, the only explanation is “envy.” Or “guilt” I suppose. One or the other. Can’t be that the economic system is artificial and no longer working right. It can’t be that there’s no longer much correlation between hard work and getting ahead. Noting this problem can only, and always, be “class warfare.”

And they wonder why I won’t be voting Republican this year.

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  • Dean, look at the chart while holding your hand over the bright red bar. Also the chart on the left is done with Census Bureau data and the chart on the right is done with Congressional Budget Office data.

    When I get the time, I’m going to do a version of the chart where the data on the two time periods is pulled from the same source, and where there aren’t any bright red bars.

  • I’d like to see that chart, Dave.

  • fche

    “A rising tide no longer floats all boats. ”

    All the rates were positive, were they not?

    (Though decoding what the two charts are really saying is made more difficult because of the different axes, time durations, inflation/taxation accounting, plus that nice touch of the evil red column on just one side.)

  • fche

    The other thing about it is that this presumes that earning (not simply “getting”) money is somehow pejorative. If one looks at earning money instead as a good thing, then one need not be sore that someone got more of a good thing than another. More overall goodness in the world, from that point of view.

  • Any just economic system will have unequal results.

    But you can remove the word “just” as a qualifier: Any economic system will have unequal results.

    At least in macroeconomics.

    However, in recognizing that the system as we have it is artificial (and it is artificial) and inorganic (as it is not organic), and in recognizing that a sovereign duty is regulation of commerce, the question becomes what the most reasonable system is.

    Recognizing the reality that money is power, very much including power over others, is important.

  • Dishman

    I looked at the chart. I’ve got a number of questions and comments:

    1) How much of the difference is a change of accounting?

    2) Was there a fundamental change from accumulating assets to drawing income? Income does not track changes in net assets.

    3) Income isn’t wealth. Years of income allow the accumulation of wealth. I vaguely recall some woman saying she and her husband had trouble making ends meet with a combined income of over $400k.

    4) How do the top 1% by income compare with the top 1% by assets? I’ve had years where I out-earned 2 of the top 3 by assets (Gates, Buffett).

    5) How much have the top 1% professions changed? It doesn’t make much sense to talk about “the rich get richer” if we’re actually talking about a completely different set of people.

    6) How much turnover is there in the top 1%? What percentage of people on the top of left side also showed up on top of the right side? Bono was in the bottom 20% in ’79.

    Edit: I checked on Gates. He appears to have been drawing a higher salary than I remember. I have exceeded Buffett’s salary in a couple years.

  • fche

    Plus “family income” changes don’t account for a changing of average family size.

  • There are several one time things that make 1947 to 1980 look very good. For example, we finally abolished the laws making it legal to tread the bottom quintile like second class citizens. Also, how many working wives were there in 1947, and how many working wives were there in 1980?