America’s disappearing middle class

The declining share of low and moderate income workers in the American pie is undeniable; the relative share of such workers peaked as long ago as 1973. For those with only high school qualifications or less, their absolute earnings peaked in 1973 and have declined substantially since then. From 1973 to 1995, this appeared to be simply a case of the rewards for skills increasing, with low skilled workers suffering increasingly in terms of earnings and job losses compared to those with a bachelor’s degree or better. Since 2000, however, the paradigm has changed, with all sectors of the workforce losing ground in absolute terms, except for the top 1% who have gained essentially all of the modest gains in employee incomes under the George W Bush administration.

Read it all.  It’s interesting to note the gap in his analysis–which pervades the article–between 1995 and 2000, which covers most of the Clinton administration.  Same administration is noteworthy for its inaction in addressing the income disparity problem, content with letting Robert Rubin and Alan Greenspan direct the economy.  I don’t think that Hillary will repeat this inaction, but then again Hillary’s socialistic tendencies will not allow the economic growth necessary to facilitate the correction of the inequities we have in our society.  Before it’s over with, she will make both her husband and her opponents look like geniuses.

I also don’t entirely agree with the following:

The standard centrist and conservative response to inequality, that increased investment in education will solve the problem, is mostly tosh. A substantial percentage of the workforce, while perfectly capable of supporting themselves, are wholly unable to benefit from higher education at a sophisticated level, while “community college” higher education often provides them with skills that are marketable for a few years at best. Thus, increased investment in education is likely to have little effect at the lower end, beyond perhaps a few rare cases of successful remediation, while delaying inordinately the entry of those with high-end skills into the workforce.

The central problem with our education system is that it doesn’t really ground students in the basics, which are the things people do carry with them throughout life.

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