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Prosperity's War on the Middle Class

Incredible piece in today's WaPo by the reliably-liberal Steve Pearlstein, reporting on a new study by a similarly reliably-liberal Clintonista economist show ing that indeed the middle class is vanishing -- due to prosperity. Ack! Hide the children and let's hope the MSM doesn't get hold of it. Pay no attention to the man with the facts behind that curtain!

OK, so here's the skinny: Liberal economist Stephen Rose does a periodic study entitled, "Social Stratification in the United States." it is intended to be a lefty foundation upon which to build all the class warfare "Two Americas" agenda. Only one problem -- this time around, the facts don't jibe with the rhetoric. The study, says Pearlstein, "Challenges the sky-is-falling rhetoric of the Democratic left." Doncha hate when that happens? Here's Pearlstein on Rose:

"...[R]umors of the demise of the American middle class are greatly exaggerated. In fact, living standards for most Americans are improving. Not everyone is flipping hamburgers or working at Wal-Mart. To the degree that the middle class is shrinking, it is because more people are rising out of it than falling from it."

Talk about wrecking a buzz! Somebody better go give Lou Dobbs a big hug. Don't tell him there's no Santa Claus, might be too much for the ol' boy to absorb in one day. A few more points, for good measure:

  • "It is often reported that the median household income in the US is $44,500. Of course, that takes in households of varying size, from singles to the Brady Bunch. Rose adjusts the data for household size and excludes those headed by people younger than 29 or older than 59 ...When he does, it turns out that the median income for the "typical American family" jumps to $63000, which in most parts of the country buys a pretty comfortable middle-class lifestyle."
  • "[F]rom 1979 to 2004, Rose calculates, the percentage of households in the "middle class" category -- those with incomes of $30,000 to $90,000 -- fell to 39 from 47 percent. But it would be hard to describe that as bad news when the proportion of well-off households -- those with incomes of more than $90,000 -- rose by nearly nine percentage points."
  • "One of the favorite liberal story lines is that the only way middle class families have been able to maintain their standard of living is by forcing mom to work more hours. But that, too, turns out to be an exaggeration. By looking just at married couples at various points in the income ladder, Rose found that for all but the poorest households, inflation-adjusted income was higher in 2004 than in 1979 even after factoring out any increase in spousal work hours."
  • "It is also a myth that the Great American Jobs Machine is producing mostly lousy, low-paying service jobs. [I]t turns out that the number of lousy, low-skilled jobs has been on a long, steady decline since 1979, while the number of "elite" jobs has been growing steadily."
  • There's even an accompanying graph that illustrates it all quite well. Again, this article is extraordinary for its source, as is the story. You'd expect an article like this from George Will about a study from the Heritage Foundation -- but not from Steve Pearlstein about a study from a liberal economist.

    And, sadly, you'll likely not hear much about this study, either. A middle class shrinking because of behemoth evil faceless "multinationals" is the stuff of daily TV. But a middle class shrinking because of good old-fashioned prosperity just doesn't make as good a story.


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    This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 30, 2007 11:05 AM.

    The previous post in this blog was 'A Full Tank of Hypocrisy'.

    The next post in this blog is Friday Follies: The Annual Rolling of the Cheese.

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