Movin' On Up

Today's eye candy is a chart from a WSJ op-ed from (ex-Senator) Phil Gramm and John Early, authors of the recent book, The Myth of American Inequality. The good-news headline: Upward Mobility Is Alive and Well in America.

[A Picture of Mobilty]

It's kind of a neat visual, showing the relationship between income of families containing teenage kids (as of 1996-2000) and the income of those kids in adulthood (2011-12). For example, from those 1996-2000 families in the bottom income quartile, 37.4% of their (now adult) kids were also in the bottom quartile in 2011-12.

It's worth thinking about what the chart would look like under alternative scenarios.

In a land where your income was completely independent of that of your parents, each bar would look the same, and each slice of each bar would be precisely 20%.

Alternatively, if your income quintile was fated to be the same as your parents, each bar would be a single-color 100%, from lowest to highest: blue, green, purple, orange, yellow.

That would also be what the chart would look like if all the kids were making twice as much as their parents did. Hm.

Obviously, we're in between those extreme scenarios, as you would expect.

But Gramm and Early make a point about these quintile comparisons:

But even these impressive numbers understate real income mobility in America. These studies measure relative mobility by comparing the children’s income quintile then and now. Relative mobility is a zero-sum game—by definition, 20% of households are in the lowest quintile and only 20% in the highest—but income growth isn’t. The vast majority of adult children had higher real incomes than their parents. To rise out of the bottom quintile, children’s inflation-adjusted income had to increase by more than the growth of the income ceiling for the bottom quintile during the years between generations—35% in Mr. [Michael] Strain’s study. Children reared in any other quintile had to see their real income as adults rise on average by roughly 50% above their parents’ income simply to avoid falling into a lower quintile than their parents. The climb to a higher quintile is steeper still.

In other words, if Joe gets (say) a 20% raise moving him into the middle quintile, that might drop middle-quintile Judy into the second quintile, even though she's no worse off.

So whenever you see these comparisons, take them with some skepticism, especially if they're being pushed by class warriors.

Briefly noted:

  • We Americans may be dealing with a surge of illiberal ideological intolerance, but things seem to be worse up north. Patrick Carroll looks at one case, and proposes a modest solution: Jordan Peterson’s License Fiasco Highlights Why Government Licensing Should Be Abolished. Centered around this tweet:

    This isn’t the first time the licensing system has been weaponized against professionals with unpopular views. In an infamous 2021 statement from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario—the provincial regulatory body for medical doctors—doctors were effectively told to get on board with the official Covid narrative or risk losing their license.

    “Physicians hold a unique position of trust with the public,” the statement reads, “and have a professional responsibility to not communicate anti-vaccine, anti-masking, anti-distancing and anti-lockdown statements and/or promoting unsupported, unproven treatments for COVID-19. Physicians must not make comments or provide advice that encourages the public to act contrary to public health orders and recommendations. Physicians who put the public at risk may face an investigation by the CPSO and disciplinary action, when warranted.”

    When the government can yank your chain like this, your liberty is an illusion.

  • [Amazon Link]
    (paid link)

    On a related note, Andrew Doyle (aka "Titania McGrath") takes a long look at A Puritanical Assault on the English Language.

    It is a truism that people are often educated out of extreme religious beliefs. With good education comes the ability to think critically, which is the death knell for ideologies that are built on tenuous foundations. The religion of Critical Social Justice has spread at an unprecedented rate, partly because it makes claims to authority in the kind of impenetrable language that discourages the sort of criticism and scrutiny that would see it collapse upon itself. Some would argue that this is one of the reasons why the Catholic Church resisted translating the Bible into the vernacular for so long; those in power are always threatened when the plebeians start thinking for themselves and asking inconvenient questions.

    Excerpted from his new book, Amazon link at your right.

  • J.D. Tuccille has an eye-catcher of a headline: Government Snoops in Maine Caught Spying on Peaceful Americans.

    Maine? Whoa, that state is within easy walking distance of Pun Salad Manor! What's goin' on, J.D.?

    Federal jurors awarded $300,000 in damages last month to a former Maine state police detective who was demoted after revealing that a joint federal-state intelligence operation gathers data on law-abiding people.

    The verdict spurred state officials to review practices at the Maine Information and Analysis Center, part of a national network of "fusion centers" that gather domestic intelligence. It also brought new light to operations that have fueled civil liberties concerns since their creation after 9/11.

    Guess what, Granite Staters? Our LFOD state has one of those too. Although I'm sure they'd never do anything like those Stasi-wannabes in Maine. Right?

    I ask this in near-total ignorance: corporations are subject to a patchwork raft of "data privacy" laws. Do any such laws apply to those "fusion centers"?

Last Modified 2024-01-30 6:53 AM EDT