Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Obama's Misguided Obsession With Inequality

An excellent piece, from Robert Grady, at the Wall Street Journal:
Here is the bottom line: In periods of high economic growth, such as the 1980s and 1990s, the vast majority of Americans gain, and have the opportunity to gain. In periods of slow growth, such as the past four and a half years since the recession officially ended, poor people and the middle class are hurt the most, and opportunity is curbed.

Consider the Census Bureau data, which measure only money income. The data show that median family income adjusted for inflation has not been on a steady or stagnating path since the 1970s. It fell, in real terms, by 5.7% from 1974-1982, when slow growth and high inflation ravaged the average family. Tellingly, in this period, real income fell for the bottom four quintiles, but held steady for the top 20%.

From 1983 to 2007, however, median family income grew substantially—by 21.6% above inflation—and real income grew for all five quintiles. Then, beginning in 2008, real income plunged again, both for the median family and for all quintiles.

The point is this: If the goal is to deliver higher incomes and a better standard of living for the majority of Americans, then generating economic growth—not income inequality or the redistribution of wealth—is the defining challenge of our time.