Monday, June 06, 2005

Class Wars and Too Much Ideology

I like the New York Times because it, along with the Wall Street Journal, remain among the few truly literate news sources around. But the op-editors mostly piss me off, especially now that William Safire has left. Bob Herbert and Maureen Dowd are probably their most liberal columnists and I usually find little to agree with them on, despite being fairly moderate myself. The Times' series on class in America, entitled Class Matters, does a pretty good job investigating this intriguing topic.

Still, Bob Herbert's op-ed today pretty much pissed me off. His basic tenet is that, because the rich and ultra-rich have so far distanced themselves in terms of wealth from the lower- and middle-classes, the current system of taxation and wage distribution is inherently unfair and a result of policy that favors corporations (employers) and the wealthy. This to the say that the wealthy do not pay their "fair share" of taxes. The other part of his editorial concerns basic wage growth, saying rather truly:
Revolutionary improvements in technology, increasingly globalized trade, the competition of low-wage workers overseas and increased immigration here at home, the decline of manufacturing, the weakening of the labor movement, outsourcing and numerous other factors have left American workers with very little leverage to use against employers.

What is also (more) true here is that these same circumstances have kept inflation at bay, such that real wage growth actually means more. What Herbert also neglects to say, though he has obvious evidence for it, is that the large majority of middle- and lower-class Americans do not move up because they neglect to save. His point:
Many in the middle class are mortgaged to the hilt, maxed out on credit cards and fearful to the point of trembling that all they've worked for might vanish in a downsized minute.

.The main reason most Americans do not get to live the American dream is because they spend all or more of the money they earn, pursuing one facet of the dream by accumulating lots of stuff. I know I sound like Dave Ramsey, but seriously (and this holds true for the government, too), holding spending in check is absolutely necessary to create prosperity.

So, the increasing wealth of the wealthy is not the problem - they are saving. The decreasing saving of the middle class is, and that's what needs to be encouraged by our leaders.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reason for the growing gap between the wealthy and the not wealthy, is that the weathly, who control the cost of things, are continually charging more for products, while continuing to pay less for the labor to create those products.

11:06 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

You kind of look like Karl Marx too.

Corporations - who are really in charge of determining prices - are not magically able to negate the economic laws of supply and demand. If they are increase a price, then demand for that product will change. Fortunately, prices have been somewhat restrained by massive productivity growth. Our economy has become much more efficient recently, and granted, most of the wealth that new efficiency has accrued to its architects - the entrepreneurs and financiers of that revolution.

6:03 PM  

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