Richer and Poorer


As I often remind readers, this blog is primarily concerned with three basic fiscal and economic problems facing the U.S. They are: 1) our stagnant economy, 2) our massive debt, and 3) income inequality. Today I discuss inequality. The March 16 2015 issue of the New Yorker contains an extensive article on this topic by Jill Lapore, “Richer and Poorer.” However it suffers a common defect of only presenting one side of a complex issue.
There are facts about inequality which more people need to be aware of. For example:

  • The scope of income inequality is greatly reduced once incomes are adjusted for government transfers and federal taxes as shown in the following chart from the Congressional Budget Office.
  • There is a strong correlation between inequality and growth as shown by the second chart just below from the World Bank.
  • Globalization has had a dramatic effect on incomes world-wide as low skill work has shifted from the developed world to the developing world as shown in the chart below from the Wall Street Journal. Hundreds of millions of people in the developing world have been lifted out of poverty at the cost of lost jobs to low skill workers in the U.S. and other developed countries.
    Capture3Any effective strategy for decreasing income inequality needs to be reality based. Yes, it exists but its severity is exagerated. The Americans who need help the most are the ones unlikely to either attend or graduate from college. What they need most is vocational training to prepare them for the millions of high skill jobs going begging in the U.S.
    The best thing we can do to decrease income inequality in the U.S. is to get our economy growing faster. Since the end of the Great Recession in June 2009, it has grown at the historically slow rate of 2.2% of GDP and this slow rate of growth is predicted (by the CBO) to continue indefinitely under current government policies. A return to the historical 3% growth rate would create jobs and better jobs for millions of the unemployed and under-employed as well as providing bigger raises for the middle class as employers have to compete for qualified workers.
    How can we make the economy grow faster? I have addressed this critical issue many times and will return to it soon.