Things That Matter More Than Lipstick

The WSJ:

“Workers with professional degrees, such as doctors and lawyers, were the only educational group to see their inflation-adjusted earnings increase over the most recent economic expansion, adding to the concern that the economy has benefited higher-earning Americans at the expense of others.

Workers in every other educational group — including Ph.D.s as well as high school dropouts — earned less in 2007 than they did in 2000, adjusted for inflation, according to data from the Census Bureau. Data don’t include 2008 earnings.

The recent data are the latest reminder of how college degrees, long seen as a path to the middle class, no longer guarantees fatter paychecks every year. The statistics also indicate how deeply economic divisions have grown despite the economic expansion that started in 2001.”

Here’s a handy chart:

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One of the things a President ought to worry about is: how can we turn this around? How can we help to ensure that people who don’t have professional degrees see their inflation-adjusted earnings go up over time, rather than down? And one of the things we, as citizens, ought to worry about is: which candidate is most likely to do this?

Here are some good profiles of the economic thinking of the two candidates. I selected them for thoughtfulness, not combativeness or point-scoring. This matters too much for that. The profile of Obama is by David Leonhardt in the NYT. It’s a lot tougher to find a good rundown on McCain’s economic philosophy. Here’s one from the WSJ that’s interesting and thoughtful, but three years out of date; here’s an interesting piece from the Weekly Standard; and here’s one by Jared Bernstein in TAP. If anyone knows a better one, let me know in comments and I’ll update.

This matters more than whatever the controversy du jour is tomorrow. Democrats or Republicans: the whole country suffers when we are collectively distracted by stupid things.

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