Saturday, February 09, 2008

A Wonderful Country for Us

I was born at the tail end of the Great World Wide Depression. We lived in poverty for most of our childhood and youth and Maurie and I each got jobs in a factory. Here we are 50 years later living better than Solomon in all his glory.

What happened? Did we suddenly inherit a lot of money from some rich relative? Did we play the lottery and win? No, we were blessed to live in America, the best place in the world for poor people because few stay poor.

Thomas Sowell was recently interviewed on the supposed gap between rich and poor in America. Like so much that is reported in the news, it is a myth. Here is Dr. Sowell's comment.

It's maddening to me to keep hearing how the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, and so on. The fundamental difference is the difference between talking about abstract statistical categories and talking about flesh-and-blood human beings. Since the book came out, for example, there's been a study released by the Treasury Department based on income tax returns. There, they are talking about following the same human beings over a span of years, which is wholly different from following income brackets over a span of years, because in all the brackets more than half the people change in the course of a decade. So what happens to a bracket is an abstract question; what happens to the flesh-and-blood human beings is different.

For example, for the flesh-and-blood people who were in the bottom 20 percent of taxpayers in income in 1996, their average increase of income over the next decade was 91 percent -- so they almost doubled their incomes. Meanwhile, for the people in the top 1 percent -- presumably the rich who are getting richer -- their average income declined 26 percent. That's diametrically the opposite from what we're hearing from nearly every newspaper and practically every political platform.

Maurie, my elder brother, Tom, my younger brother and I are all prosperous America provides opportunities for the poorset of the poor to get ahead if they get an education, work hard and save money. We three did and came up out of poverty in a very few years. PTL we were born in America.

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