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Poor Mouthing Prosperity
Wall Street Journal ^ | 9/21/06 | Brink Lindsey

Posted on 09/22/2006 7:46:09 PM PDT by ProtectOurFreedom

Out of the stagflation and malaise of the 1970s emerged a new and improved American economic system -- less regulated and unionized, more globalized and entrepreneurial than the old triumvirate of Big Government, Big Business and Big Labor that preceded it. And ever since, a considerable portion of the political left's intellectual energy has been spent in poor-mouthing the ensuing prosperity.

Complaints about increasing inequality and a supposedly declining middle class have formed a familiar litany since the days of Ronald Reagan. Now Jacob Hacker, a political science professor at Yale, seeks to call attention to another alleged failing of the new, more market-oriented economy: rising levels of risk and insecurity. "Over the last generation," he writes, "we have witnessed a massive transfer of economic risk from broad structures of insurance, including those sponsored by the corporate sector as well as by government, onto the fragile balance sheets of American families."

As evidence, Mr. Hacker cites the growing volatility of family incomes, escalating bankruptcy and foreclosure rates, the collapse of defined-benefit corporate pensions, and the swelling ranks of Americans without health insurance. And where does the primary blame for these ills reside?

What to make of Mr. Hacker's case? See below...

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Business/Economy; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: jobs; naysayers; poverty; prosperity
What to make of Mr. Hacker's case? (continues) * Let's start with the biggest risk of all: that of premature death. Back in 1970, during Mr. Hacker's golden age of economic stability and risk-sharing, the age-adjusted death rate stood at 12.2 deaths per 1,000 people. By 2002, it had fallen more than 30%, to 8.5 per 1,000. In particular, infant mortality plummeted to 7.0 from 20.0, while the number of Americans killed on the job dropped to three per 100,000 workers from 18.

* Next, look at the two main indicators of middle-class status: a home of one's own and a college degree. Between 1970 and 2004, the homeownership rate climbed to 69% from 63%, even as the physical size of the median new home grew by nearly 60%. Back in 1970, 11% of Americans 25 years of age or older had a college or higher degree. By 2004, the figure had risen to 28%.

* As to consumer possessions, the following comparison should suffice to make the point. In 1971, 45% of American households had clothes dryers, 19% had dishwashers, 83% had refrigerators, 32% had air conditioning, and 43% had color televisions. By the mid-1990s all of these ownership rates were exceeded even by Americans below the poverty line.

No matter how the doom-and-gloomers torture the data, the fact is that Americans have made huge strides in material welfare over the past generation.


Great article! The numbers are very clear, especially in material wealth, our poorest citizens today have more than the average family had in 1971! That is unbelievable.

1 posted on 09/22/2006 7:46:10 PM PDT by ProtectOurFreedom
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To: ProtectOurFreedom

Well put.

In Dinesh Desouza's excellent book "What's So Great About America", his father said: "I want to go to a country where the poor people are fat..."

As for bankruptcies? There are so many people living beyond their means...two cars, cell phones, satellite tv, plasma screens, huge houses in upscale neighborhoods and so on.

2 posted on 09/22/2006 7:56:43 PM PDT by rlmorel (Islamofacism: It is all fun and games until someone puts an eye out. Or chops off a head.)
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To: rlmorel

What would you call poor Americans in Europe? Middle Class!

3 posted on 09/22/2006 8:21:18 PM PDT by Onelifetogive (* Sarcasm tag ALWAYS required. For some Freepers, sarcasm can NEVER be obvious enough.)
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To: ProtectOurFreedom
By the mid-1990s all of these ownership rates were exceeded even by Americans below the poverty line.

Ho. Lee. Crap.

Wrap your mind around that for a moment.

In 35 years a society goes from a certain (high) level of prosperity to one where the "poverty" line is higher even than that. You won't find many people who believe in the American Way more than I do, but that just blows my mind.

"Success" is too weak a term.

My middle-class lifestyle is damn good. In 35 years, will this will be called poverty? I'd better fasten my seatbelt.

4 posted on 09/22/2006 8:30:56 PM PDT by Physicist
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To: ProtectOurFreedom


5 posted on 09/22/2006 9:03:36 PM PDT by Cacique (quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat ( Islamia Delenda Est ))
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To: ProtectOurFreedom

That is a great read.

Sadly, the tactics from the dems succeed as often as they fail. Just look at the numerous polls where people say they feel good about their own economic situation but bad about the overall economic outlook.

I have never understood that.

I still laugh about Kerry calling it the worst economy ever. Where is he now?

The GOP does not do a good job of articulating the amazing performance of our economy despite all that we have suffered in the last 5 years (9/11, Katrina and other hurricanes, and high gas prices).

6 posted on 09/22/2006 9:09:41 PM PDT by volunbeer (Pelosi)
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To: ProtectOurFreedom

I was a kid in 1971 and we had a dryer and a refrigerator. However, we had a B&W TV, an attic fan, and my mom did the dishes. We were considered solidly middle class, and never thought of ourselves as needy. What person today, even in the poorest ghetto doesn't have color TV, vcr/dvd, cable, a computer, a refrigerator, A/C, a dishwasher, and access to a washer/dryer? In 1971, when I was in school, there was the one or two "fat kids" in my classes. Now it seems chubby kids are the norm. We NEVER ate out, and played and biked for hours after school. It's weird how the poorest kids are the fattest.

7 posted on 09/22/2006 10:05:01 PM PDT by boop (Now Greg, you know I don't like that WORD!)
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To: volunbeer
[I still laugh about Kerry calling it the worst economy ever. Where is he now?]

I'm laughing now about the fact that the Democratic Party's Autumn '06 campaign strategy seems to be FOCUS ON BUSH'S ROTTEN ECONOMY. Just two days ago Nancy Pelosi was making a big speech about the "worst economy since Hoover" and babbling about how so many Americans are in such horrible shape financially because of GREEDY REPUBLICANS.

What the f*** are these people thinking? The Republicans are hardly going to great lengths to make themselves popular with the base and are presenting the Democrats with a golden opportunity to win something politically and all they can do is try to bull**** America into believing that our vibrant and healthy economy, which finds even the poorest Americans enjoying a high standard of living, is really more like the Great Depression. As ridiculous as it sounds, the Democrats would have more success going back to "talking tough" about national security.

We're really screwed if these DIMWITS ever get back in power.
8 posted on 09/22/2006 10:11:04 PM PDT by spinestein (Follow The Brazen Rule!)
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To: spinestein

we're screwed now because of these dimwits IMO

even out of power they still manage to screw things up

9 posted on 09/22/2006 10:14:30 PM PDT by volunbeer (Pelosi)
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