Friday, February 03, 2012

Don't Believe Charles Murray on Inequality

Murray of The Bell Curve infamous "fame" often finds a way to blame the poor for their condition while ignoring structural causes. The game is fixed in the top 1%'s favor. Let's pay attention to those like Chait who point this out. - Fr. Rick
******************

Inequality and the Charles Murray Dodge

http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/01/inequality-and-the-charles-murray-dodge.html
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 27:  Paris Hilton attends the 1 OAK Las Vegas Nightclub Grand Opening at the Mirage Hotel & Casino on January 27, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by David Becker/WireImage)
Why are the very rich doing so well? Family values.

The appearance of income inequality on the political agenda has left conservatives casting about for a response, and after several months of floundering, it has increasingly narrowed down to two words: Charles Murray. Murray is the author of a new book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, which attributes the decline of the middle class to deteriorating social norms. Non-elite whites, he argues, are failing to sustain healthy marriages or strong child-rearing and work habits, leading to economic decline.

I haven’t read Murray’s book, so I can’t evaluate the argument. I have many reasons for skepticism that it actually explains what it purports to explain. There’s Murray’s non-confidence-inspiring history, the intuitive possibility that deteriorating social norms are at least partially the result and not the cause of economic stagnation (it’s no longer easy for a blue-collar earner to support a family), and the simple fact that, you know, many Americans are not white, which limits the value of a book about white people as a totalistic social explanation. But even if we grant, for the sake of argument, all the claims being made on Murray’s behalf, the basic point is that it is not a plausible response to the problem of income inequality. It’s an attempt to change the subject.

Rising income inequality is a phenomenon of the top one percent pulling away from everybody else. Conservatives want to redefine the question as concerning the top 20 percent against everybody else. If you redefine the question as being about the top quintile against the bottom four-fifths, then you can start talking about marriage and Charles Murray and safely steer the debate back onto comfortable conservative terrain. David Brooks tries that sleight of hand in his column today:

Democrats claim America is threatened by the financial elite, who hog society’s resources. But that’s a distraction. The real social gap is between the top 20 percent and the lower 30 percent. The liberal members of the upper tribe latch onto this top 1 percent narrative because it excuses them from the central role they themselves are playing in driving inequality and unfairness.

But these are two completely separate issues. Yes, the top 20 percent has done better than the bottom 80 percent, and it’s very worth exploring the role of social norms in this divergence. But income inequality has occurred between the top one percent and everybody else:

A more blunt version of this technique was previewed a couple months ago by the American Enterprise Institute’s James Pethokoukis, perhaps the right’s most enthusiastic inequality denier. Pethokoukis cited a chart, compiled by Political Calculations, purporting to show that the only change in inequality results from changed family status. Pethokoukis triumphantly presented this as the “The one chart that explodes the myth of U.S. income inequality,” and used it to segue, as Brooks does today, to Murray’s arguments about family values:

So what we have here, as always in America it seems, is culture trumping economics (though the data don’t take into account how different income groups have different inflation rates, another equalizer). AEI’s Charles Murray has a new book coming out that will expand on how values and culture influence inequality.

But the chart is completely wrong. Reader Jacques Distler pointed out to me that it relies on census data, which only asks households if they earn more than $100,000 a year. Since all the change in income inequality has come within households earning well over that mark, the census data is not going to capture the rise in income inequality. (Think of it this way. Imagine you want to show that basketball centers get taller as you move from high school to college to the NBA. If your tallest category is "six foot two and over,” you’re not going to show much of an effect.)

I e-mailed Lane Kenworthy, an inequality expert, who confirmed this for me. Inequality between the top one percent and everybody else has increased dramatically.

The growing gap between the top one percent and everybody else has a lot of important implications, the most immediate being a simple fight over resource allocation. Democrats insist that any fiscal adjustment require the richest one percent to make a meaningful contribution, while Republicans insist that it must not. That’s an important debate. The root causes of the gap between the top 20 percent and the bottom 80 percent is also interesting and important. But “hey, look – Charles Murray!” isn’t a very salient response to the problem of inequality.


Labels: , , , ,

6 Comments:

Blogger oakleyses said...

coach purses, louis vuitton handbags, kate spade outlet online, nike air max, michael kors outlet, michael kors outlet store, oakley sunglasses, burberry outlet online, coach outlet store online, michael kors outlet online, louis vuitton, louboutin shoes, louis vuitton outlet, louis vuitton outlet online, louis vuitton outlet, polo ralph lauren outlet, gucci handbags, oakley vault, longchamp handbags, polo ralph lauren, coach outlet, michael kors outlet online, tiffany and co jewelry, jordan shoes, burberry outlet online, ray ban outlet, nike air max, coach outlet, cheap oakley sunglasses, kate spade handbags, red bottom shoes, ray ban sunglasses, chanel handbags, christian louboutin shoes, nike free, tory burch outlet, christian louboutin outlet, nike shoes, prada handbags, tiffany jewelry, longchamp outlet, michael kors outlet online, prada outlet, longchamp outlet online, michael kors outlet online

Wed Oct 22, 10:21:00 PM 2014  
Blogger oakleyses said...

north face pas cher, louis vuitton pas cher, nike roshe run, hollister, barbour, ralph lauren pas cher, converse pas cher, nike air max, vans pas cher, nike air force, abercrombie and fitch, nike trainers, louis vuitton uk, true religion outlet, mulberry, sac louis vuitton, ray ban pas cher, nike huarache, nike free pas cher, michael kors canada, hollister, timberland, longchamp pas cher, hermes pas cher, sac vanessa bruno, air max, nike blazer pas cher, longchamp, ray ban uk, lacoste pas cher, michael kors uk, chaussure louboutin, air max pas cher, nike free, sac michael kors, louis vuitton, burberry pas cher, ralph lauren, nike roshe, air jordan, true religion outlet, new balance pas cher, lululemon, oakley pas cher, guess pas cher, nike air max, scarpe hogan, tn pas cher, north face, true religion

Wed Oct 22, 10:22:00 PM 2014  
Blogger oakleyses said...

babyliss pro, p90x workout, valentino shoes, canada goose pas cher, rolex watches, canada goose outlet, abercrombie and fitch, mcm handbags, lululemon outlet, canada goose outlet, new balance outlet, soccer shoes, bottega veneta, wedding dresses, insanity workout, hollister, canada goose, jimmy choo shoes, ugg outlet, ugg boots, north face outlet, uggs outlet, ghd, asics shoes, marc jacobs outlet, giuseppe zanotti, ferragamo shoes, longchamp, reebok outlet, birkin bag, north face jackets, canada goose uk, celine handbags, vans outlet, nfl jerseys, uggs on sale, ugg, moncler, mont blanc pens, roshe run, canada goose outlet, moncler outlet, mac cosmetics, chi flat iron, herve leger, beats headphones, moncler, ugg soldes, soccer jerseys, instyler ionic styler

Wed Oct 22, 10:24:00 PM 2014  
Blogger oakleyses said...

longchamp outlet online, burberry outlet online, michael kors outlet online, christian louboutin shoes, longchamp handbags, ray ban outlet, michael kors outlet online, louis vuitton outlet, oakley vault, chanel handbags, nike air max, louboutin shoes, kate spade handbags, prada handbags, louis vuitton handbags, coach outlet store online, kate spade outlet online, christian louboutin outlet, longchamp outlet, nike free, gucci handbags, louis vuitton outlet online, polo ralph lauren, louis vuitton outlet, oakley sunglasses, tiffany and co jewelry, michael kors outlet online, cheap oakley sunglasses, michael kors outlet, tiffany jewelry, burberry outlet online, ray ban sunglasses, coach outlet, louis vuitton, michael kors outlet online, prada outlet, coach purses, jordan shoes, nike shoes, tory burch outlet, nike air max, red bottom shoes, polo ralph lauren outlet, michael kors outlet store, coach outlet

Mon Oct 27, 10:50:00 PM 2014  
Blogger oakleyses said...

oakley pas cher, hollister, timberland, air max, nike roshe, true religion outlet, air max pas cher, sac vanessa bruno, ralph lauren pas cher, abercrombie and fitch, new balance pas cher, north face pas cher, chaussure louboutin, hollister, longchamp pas cher, hermes pas cher, nike roshe run, lululemon, barbour, nike air force, vans pas cher, air jordan, nike blazer pas cher, michael kors canada, nike air max, louis vuitton pas cher, ray ban pas cher, guess pas cher, nike free pas cher, louis vuitton uk, nike trainers, nike free, scarpe hogan, nike air max, true religion, longchamp, ray ban uk, north face, ralph lauren, sac louis vuitton, tn pas cher, converse pas cher, burberry pas cher, nike huarache, true religion outlet, louis vuitton, mulberry, sac michael kors, lacoste pas cher, michael kors uk

Mon Oct 27, 10:53:00 PM 2014  
Blogger oakleyses said...

insanity workout, mac cosmetics, vans outlet, ghd, moncler, moncler, wedding dresses, moncler outlet, abercrombie and fitch, jimmy choo shoes, north face outlet, instyler ionic styler, north face jackets, roshe run, canada goose pas cher, new balance outlet, uggs outlet, rolex watches, asics shoes, ugg outlet, soccer shoes, canada goose uk, herve leger, birkin bag, longchamp, canada goose, reebok shoes, canada goose outlet, valentino shoes, canada goose outlet, ferragamo shoes, nfl jerseys, uggs on sale, p90x workout, soccer jerseys, hollister, lululemon outlet, mcm handbags, ugg soldes, celine handbags, ugg boots, mont blanc pens, canada goose outlet, chi flat iron, bottega veneta, marc jacobs outlet, ugg, beats headphones, giuseppe zanotti, babyliss pro

Mon Oct 27, 10:54:00 PM 2014  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home