We hear more about inequality when times get tough than when the economy is booming.
This suggests most people are satisfied with positive growth, but that, when the opposite occurs, some fall back to covetousness and envy. When dissatisfied, we look around for someone to blame.
So what’s roadblocking the long-run upward trend?
There’s the recent bust in the ol’ boom-and-bust. But there’s a deeper problem here. Maybe.
Sheldon Richman, editor of The Freeman, notes that America’s upward mobility is stymied by a whole heckuva lot of government intervention . . . and that a New York Times story about how Americans “enjoy less economic mobility than their peers in Canada and much of Western Europe” should surprise no one, for America isn’t “the land of the free” and Europe isn’t exactly “socialist” — it’s more a case that the “economies of America, Canada, and Europe are all variations of corporatism, in which government power primarily benefits the well-connected and well-to-do.”
America differs from Europe in the particulars of its interventionism, not in kind.
Still, things could be worse. Veronique de Rugy, writing in the February Reason (not yet online), shows that downward mobility was in evidence pre-Bailouts. Of 1999’s 675,000 millionaires, only 38,000 remained millionaires in 2007.
That, surely, is enough 1 percenter income decline to satisfy your worst schadenfreude.
On a brighter note, de Rugy insists there’s still dynamism in the American economy, and that the lowest income earners had, during the same pre-bust period, made substantial gains.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.