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Monday, March 10, 2008

"Some people would have you believe that all of this added income was funneled to the rich. But the math doesn't work out."
From "The Inequality Myth" (requires subscription), an article by Brad Schiller, Professor of Economics at American University and the University of Nevada, in today's Wall Street Journal.

Food for thought as we evaluate all the Presidential candidates, but especially the Democrats.

Professor Schiller points out what the mainstream media (MSM) and Democratic presidential candidates don't tell us. The data shows that:

a) the poor aren't always the same exact individuals in the U.S. Census data year to year,
b) the "pie" share they are "sharing" actually has grown considerably, and
c) there are fewer household members sharing what the Census data say they're averaging:

a)
To understand what's happening here, envision a line of people queued up for March Madness tickets. Individuals move up the line as tickets are purchased. But new people keep coming. So the line never gets shorter, even though individuals are advancing.

Something similar happens with the distribution of income... [A]n unchanged -- or even receding -- median marker could co-exist with individual advancement. The people who were at the middle marker before have moved up the distribution line. This is the kind of income mobility that has long characterized U.S. income dynamics.
...
The supposed decline of the poor and middle class is exaggerated even more by the dynamics of population growth. When people look at the "poor" in any two years, they think they're looking at the same people. That's rarely true, especially over longer periods of time.

Since 1998, the U.S. population has increased by over 20 million. Nearly half of that growth has come from immigration, legal and illegal. Overwhelmingly, these immigrants enter at the lowest rungs on the income ladder. Statistically, this immigrant surge not only reduces the income of the "average" household, but also changes the occupants of the lowest income classes.
Hence the March Madness basketball ticket-buyers line analogy.

b)
All the Census Bureau tells us is that the share of the pie consumed by the poor has been shrinking (to 3.4% in 2006 from 4.1% in 1970). But the "pie" has grown enormously. This year's real GDP of $14 trillion is three times that of 1970. So the absolute size of the slice received by the bottom 20% has increased to $476 billion from $181 billion. Allowing for population growth shows that the average income of people at the bottom of the income distribution has risen 36%.

They're not rich, but they're certainly not poorer.
c)
The "typical" household, however, keeps changing... the average household size has shrunk to 2.57 persons from 3.14 -- a drop of 18%. The meaning? Even a "stagnant" average household income implies a higher standard of living for the average household member.
Because there are fewer household members sharing that average household income.

So "the poor getting poorer" isn't as clear-cut a claim as the headlines (and Democratic Presidential candidates) have told us.

And "the rich getting all the breaks" claim isn't accurate either, according to the data:
The increase in nominal GDP since 2000 amounts to over $4 trillion annually. If you assume that all that money went to the wealthiest 10% of U.S. households, that bonanza would come to a whopping $350,000 per household. Yet according to the Census Bureau, the top 10% of households has an average income of $200,000 or so. The implied bonanza is so absurd that the notion that only the rich have gained from the economic growth can be dismissed out of hand.
...
The evident gap between income realities and political rhetoric may help explain why the "two Americas" theme, first asserted by John Edwards and since echoed by Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama, may ultimately fail to resonate with voters.
Professor Schiller does not wield a political club per se. It's a fairly calm, unpassionate discussion of some basic, readily-available facts, essentially a tell-it-like-it-is piece. He also does acknowledge the problems people personally are facing (and not at the very end of his column), saying "there is some substance to these fears of widening inequality and middle-class stagnation." He also points out that "laptop computers, iPhones and flatpanel TVs are fast becoming necessities rather than luxury items."

For some, even for many perhaps, but not for all. For my area at least, I'd think that "becoming poorer" would include, at the very least, huge items like not owning one's own home or car. It would equate to trying to hold down two or even three jobs. Having no health or dental insurance.

But wouldn't it also include not having any cable TV, no cell phone at all, no computer, perhaps not even a television set or home phone? No takeout food or even cheap restaurants. No vacation trips. No gambling at casinos, OTB or on football, basketball, etc.

If it's true that "only the rich have gained from the economic growth," then no one considered to "have become poorer" would be able to afford anything in that latter category. I know many can't, I'm well aware of the "Digital Divide." But how many considered "poor" by the Census Bureau data--or considered "poorer" by the Democrats--do afford those secondary things, when our parents' generation did go/would have gone without?

I don't know the answer. It's all just food for (hopefully honest) thought whenever we think we have to take sides in this "class warfare" rhetoric.

Those who have been regular visitors to our blogs know that we've helped and continue to help those less fortunate than ourselves, with dollars and time. This post isn't about not helping folks who need it. We have never turned away someone who needed help and we never will, no matter their politics or if they own an iPhone or not.

This post is about educating myself and other folks about the less-than-accurate depiction by the Democratic candidates of the economic situation here in the U.S. right here, right now.

And it goes both ways. I'm about to vote for a Democrat state Senator in my district because he's the pro-life one while the Republican is the pro-choice one.

Go figure.
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NATIONAL REVIEW Online's The Corner ~ Kathryn Jean Lopez links to Ap blog, 1/22/07

Associated Press/San Francisco Chronicle: Banno On Boxer and the Illegal Abortion Deaths Urban Legend

San Diego Union Tribune: more Boxer Urban-Legend-Debunk coverage

Ellen Goodman retraction impetus: Aa blog initiates The Straight Dope coverage...and is listed in National Review Senior Editor Ramesh Ponnuru's book The Party of Death, p. 255, Chap. 3 Endnote #11,   4/2006

NY Daily News: "Atheist's Site Is All The Rave

"After Abortion,...run by Emily Peterson and Annie Banno, two women who had abortions in the 1970s, ...tries to avoid the political tug-of-war that tends to come with this turf. They concentrate instead on discussing the troubling personal effects of abortion on the mothers." ~ Eric Scheske, Godspy contributing editor, in NC Register's "Signs of Life in the Blogosphere", 2/2006

"Godbloggers could, in the best of worlds, become the new apologists...[including] laymen with day jobs: Emily Peterson and Annie Banno, for instance, at the blog After Abortion..."~ Jonathan V. Last, The Weekly Standard online editor, in First Things's "God on the Internet", 12/2005

Amy Welborn, at BeliefNet, links to AfterAbortion blog's Crime & Abortion Series

Catholic News Service: Silent counterprotest at the March For Choice



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PREGNANT? UPSET? SCARED?
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We are too. Here are folks who can help:

Feeling Really Bad?: Call
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Suicide Hope Lines: U.S.A. (by state) or call 1-800-Suicide (784-2433)

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George & Linda Zallie, Stacy's parents, "assisting women who made the difficult choice of ending their pregnancy in finding nonjudgmental help" for suicidal feelings.

For immediate help, call tollfree, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: national, confidential, post-abortion-recovery hotlines:
1-877-HOPE-4-ME or
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...more help below...

AbortionChangesYou.com

"I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion...[many are] aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and [do] not doubt that it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace...You will come to understand that nothing is definitively lost and you will also be able to ask forgiveness from your child..."

MORE HELP:
Hope after Abortion
Ideas for Healing
Rachel's Vineyard Retreats
(non-Christians, even non-religious do attend; they also have interdenominational retreats designed expressly for people of any religion or no religion)
Abortion Recovery
"Entering Canaan" - a ministry of reverence for women and men who suffer following an abortion
Lumina - Hope & Healing After Abortion
Ramah
Option Line
Books that help
(includes non-religious Post Abortion recovery books)
In Our Midst
NOPARH
For MEN - Resources List
     ** UPDATED 2015 **

Message boards, chat rooms &
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Regional & local resources
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Obama On Abortion: A Summary 1990-2009

1) Obama Is 2nd-Highest-Paid Politician by Fannie Mae, Taking $126,346 in only 4 years as Senator; Now Derides GOP/Bush for Allowing Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac To Do Business, When It Was Democrat Presidents Bill Clinton & Jimmy Carter Who Passed The Law Requiring Fannie & Freddie To Give Out Bad Subprime Loans To Those Who Couldn't Afford Them, Which Caused The Entire Financial Meltdown … 2) Jim Johnson (Obama VEEP vetter and former Fannie Mae executive who made millions there) Backpedal … 3) Obama's hiring, connection, support of ACORN, which supported that very law and whose staff have been involved in voter fraud … 4) Rezko's Favor A "Boneheaded" Mistake … 5) Jeremiah Wright Backpedal … 6) Fr. Michael Fleger Backpedal … 7) NAFTA Backpedal … 8) Campaign Financing Backpedal … 9) Mr. "Negotiates-With-Terrorist-States" … 10) Bittergate … 11) Hamas' Chief Political Adviser Hopes BO Will Win Election … 12) Banning Handguns Backpedal … 13) Who Exactly Are "The Rich" He's Going to Sock it to? … 14) Flag Pin Backpedal … 15) Once Open to School Vouchers That Work, Now Deadset Against … 16) Now OK with residual force in Iraq...up to 50,000 troops. … 17) First voted against a law protecting babies who survive an abortion procedure, then lied saying he didn't, then finally forced to admit that he did vote to deny such born babies protection. 18) … "For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country." ~ MO

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