Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Let's Pretend

That in a rational world this wouldn't be happening and that crap like this wouldn't be snuck in over the holidays. Winner of the "does doing drugs make me look stupider than a normal conservative" is Stephen Rose and his somewhat less than brilliant essay on myths about the middle class. Only a mother could love someone who thinks that $30K-100K in 2007 will pay for the same amount of living that it did in 1979 or that the decline of the middle class is because the poor didn't get richer.
Per capita gross domestic product has increased by more than 65 percent since 1979 -- growth that translates to $26,000 per household. If all that money had gone to the richest 10th of the population, it would now hold more than 60 percent of the national income. That's nearly twice as much as the super rich actually have, according to the best census surveys available.


True, fewer people today live in households with incomes between $30,000 and $100,000 (a reasonable definition of "middle class") than in 1979. But the number of people in households that bring in more than $100,000 also rose from 12 percent to 24 percent. There was no increase in the percentage of people in households making less than $30,000. So the entire "decline" of the middle class came from people moving up the income ladder. For married couples, median incomes have grown in inflation-adjusted dollars by 25 percent since 1979.
Even moms have issues with those who try to pander to their "betters" by trying to make it look like everyone but the poor made gobs of money in the last forty years, which is quite far from the truth but you have to look somewhere else for the information.
Wealth has become even more concentrated during the Bush years. Today, the richest one percent of Americans has 22 percent of all income and about 40 percent of all wealth. This is the biggest concentration of income and wealth since 1928. In 2005, average CEO pay was 369 times that of the average worker, compared with 131 times in 1993 and 36 times in 1976. At the pinnacle of America's economic pyramid, the nation's 400 billionaires own 1.25 trillion dollars in total net worth - the same amount as the 56 million American families at the bottom half of wealth distribution.
Does the babbling Rose let reality affect his opinion? Of course not, we still have the fuzzy employment statistics to suffer through. Just like wind velocity didn't exist in your first physics problem, high school and college graduates don't influence this equation either.
The claim that automation and international trade will create a large class of permanently unemployed American workers remains as fuzzy as ever. Certainly, in the churn of the modern economy, more firms are closing or reducing their labor forces. Every week for the past several years, nearly 1 million workers either quit or lost their jobs. But a slightly higher number were also hired in a typical week. At the national level, overall employment has grown slowly but steadily. And Commerce Department data show that even at the state level, including in Midwestern "Rust Belt" states, employment is up at least 14 percent since 1993, the year the North American Free Trade Agreement was passed.
But my absolute favorite was his assumption (and you know what they say about assuming), that companies weren't walking away from their commitments to retirees. Just goes to show that the WaPo doesn't read the NYTimes.
The policy, set forth in a new regulation, allows employers to establish two classes of retirees, with more comprehensive benefits for those under 65 and more limited benefits — or none at all — for those older.

More than 10 million retirees rely on employer-sponsored health plans as a primary source of coverage or as a supplement to Medicare, and Naomi C. Earp, the commission’s chairwoman, said, “This rule will help employers continue to voluntarily provide and maintain these critically important health benefits.”
So much for loyalty, it isn't like these rules start for the new hires. Nope, they apply to the people who have already paid their dues, need it the most, matter the least and have no way of changing their circumstances.

Let's pretend that America is still the place that if you work hard to make a company get ahead, that it will help you when you are old. Mind altering drugs are advised since reality is not cooperating.


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