Hits and Misses

Scott Sumner on what it means to be a real progressive: “I’d take most of the money we spend on welfare and move it overseas.”

Mobility persists: 84% of Americans have higher family incomes than their parents had at the same age, across all levels of the income ladder.

A work safety net — which would guarantee a full-day, minimum-wage job — could completely eliminate poverty in America.

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  1. Bubba says:

    Mobility persists: 84% of Americans have higher family incomes than their parents had at the same age, across all levels of the income ladder.

    I continually hear people say how America makes nothing of value — just Big Macs and whoppers. Thus, the only jobs available to ordinary Americans are the crappy jobs serving other Americans who have crappy jobs. There is supposedly a hollowing out of our economy — leaving only rich and poor but nobody in between.

    But, despite all the hollowing out, I see people drive Lexus’, Porsches, BMWs and have million dollar homes within walking distance of my house. On my way to work I pass by a airport with multi-million dollar private and corporate jets sitting on the tarmac. I’m not sure where all that money comes from. I can only assume it all belongs to our Chinese corporate overlords who are flying in and out to check on their indentured servants and serfs.

  2. Don Levit says:

    The finding that family incomes are higher is not surprising in that the vast majority of family incomes in prior generations consisted of one income while today there are two incomes
    In regards to
    Mobility this comes into play most dramatically for the top 10 percent of incomes
    The fact that others get into this exclusive club does not change the fact only one out of ten people is allowed
    In addition while income may be higher there is no mention of assets which I believe have not grown twofold to support the corresponding increase of income earners per family
    Don Levit

  3. Anne says:

    The Scott Sumner article is interesting. It’s certainly true that the global poor are poorer, on average, than the American poor. But I’m not sure that moving the money spent on the American welfare system could alleviate that, both in terms of amount (there are A LOT of impoverished people in the world) or in terms of creating the kinds of long-term economic opportunities that could truly combat systemic poverty (“give a man a fish,” etc etc).

    • Devon Herrick says:

      This is an argument I’ve heard before. If liberals really wanted to help the poor (rather than redistribute income for a political purpose), they would focus their efforts in impoverished areas around the world. They could help 100 times more poor people by providing income to poor widows and orphans in India and Africa than subsidizing poor Americans who are wealthy compared to poor people around the world.

      Of course, Americans care about the poor in other countries. But we tend to have more sympathy for our neighbors who need help than people thousands of miles away.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Didn’t FDR advocate for a “work safety net” of sorts?

  5. Ava says:

    The most encouraging part of this “mobility renaissance” is how widely distributed it is — a full 56 percent of American adults today have smartphones. And yet, the narrative that plagues the airwaves is that the United States is facing declining economic mobility, despite the vast number of modern-day mobility breakthroughs available to all.

    There really does seem to be a disconnect between reality and people’s perceptions.

    • Lacey says:

      Does the 56 percent include children? Why do I see so many children with smartphones?

    • Ted says:

      You’re correct though, Ava. There does seem to be a disconnect. I guess the media just prefers promoting the bad over the good.

  6. Erik says:

    While I do believe working gives one purpose, I am tired of paying welfare to low-income workers so corporations can increase their profit.

    We have to get away from the corporate culture of “Externalizing” costs of labor.

    Private profit with public responsibility…