Friday, June 10, 2005

Was It the Long Version of Inna Gadda Da Vida?

Paul reprises his nostalgia for the Great Depression and World War II:

Since 1973 the average income of the top 1 percent of Americans has doubled, and the income of the top 0.1 percent has tripled.

Why is this happening? I'll have more to say on that another day, but for now let me just point out that middle-class America didn't emerge by accident. It was created by what has been called the Great Compression of incomes that took place during World War II, and sustained for a generation by social norms that favored equality, strong labor unions and progressive taxation. Since the 1970's, all of those sustaining forces have lost their power.

Since 1980 in particular, U.S. government policies have consistently favored the wealthy at the expense of working families ....

The good ol' days when it took putting 15 million men in military uniforms to cure the 17% unemployment of the late New Deal?

However, if the problem begins to appear in 1973, wouldn't it be somewhat more likely that the cause is located in the 1960s, rather than the 80s? We wouldn't have to look very hard to find plausible candidates, such as the War on Poverty...the Civil Rights Act of 1964...the Sexual Revolution...Feminist ideology.

It's hardly beyond plausibility that the breakdown of cultural norms of responsibility and morality would have unleashed forces that retarded the ability of the least skilled to enjoy the prosperity that the college educated middle class--such as Princeton economists--did.

Or that the explosion of unwed mothers might have contributed to stagnant income growth and lack of mobility.

That giving special classes of citizens the right to sue their employers for not promoting them, might make those citizens more dangerous to employ in the first place, thus preventing their getting their feet on the first step of the ladder.

Or, how about the transformation of teachers' unions (the NEA in particular) from a professional association to a monopolistic union that destroyed most inner city public schools ability to prepare students for productive lives.

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