GET OUT THE PITCHFORKS, PA, WE’RE HEADING TO TOWN!….Over at The Corner, even John Derbyshire thinks there’s some evidence that the middle class isn’t doing too well these days:
If the rich get richer while the middle class thrives, and some decent provision is made for the poor, I’m a happy man, living in a society I consider healthy and am proud of. If, however, the rich get richer while the middle class is struggling, or actually declining, I am not a happy man. There are some reasons to think that is happening, and you don’t have to be a socialist to worry about this.
It is, perhaps, telling that Derbyshire’s post sparked not a single response from his fellow conservatives. Even the neo-Lafferians at NRO seem a little too embarrassed by the whole thing to go through their usual exercise of digging up a few pseudo-statistics to demonstrate that, really, the middle class is going great guns under today’s Republican leadership.
Alternatively, maybe they figure they don’t have to bother. After all, liberals have been trying to get the country interested in rising income inequality for a couple of decades now, but with no luck. Steven Rattner, writing in the Wall Street Journal, suggests the day of reckoning may finally be here:
After months without a domestic agenda to capitalize on Bush administration unpopularity, Democrats are moving ? haltingly, disjointedly, belatedly ? toward embracing the mother of all electoral issues: the failure of robust top-line growth in the U.S. economy to filter into the wallets of Americans below the top of the pyramid.
….No amount of chaff can hide the failure of our remarkable productivity surge (and the accompanying robust growth of the overall economy) to meaningfully boost average wages, which have barely grown with inflation. Separated by income level, the picture is more dismal. From 2000 to 2005, for example, average weekly wages for the bottom 10% dropped by 2.7% (after adjustment for inflation), while those of the top 10% rose by 5.3%.
Rattner then goes on to talk approvingly about “thoughtful elements” of the Democratic party who are “carefully crafting solutions” to this problem. Unfortunately, this means that “haltingly, disjointedly, belatedly” is probably a pretty good description of what’s going on.
Still, who knows? Maybe Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama or some other Democratic worthy will start barnstorming the country asking middle class workers why their wages have barely budged during a period when the economy has nearly doubled. And perhaps that same worthy will suggest ever so delicately that it’s largely because that’s exactly the way the Republican Party likes it.
A man can dream, can’t he?