Thursday, April 7, 2011

Proof Positive: A Rising Tide Does NOT Lift ALL Boats

It appears, in fact, to only lift the yachts.

And you just KNOW it's only gotten worse since 2001, right?

Cynics, specifically American Exceptionalist, free market fundamentalist conservatives, might argue that the foregoing graph doesn't prove anything. They might argue something along the following lines:

  • If the "pie" - i.e., [real] total wealth - grew fast enough over the period, 
  • the bottom 60% might still be better off than they were 20 ~ 30 years ago...
    • ... notwithstanding their shrinking share.
And they might have even have a bit of a point.

But how then do they explain this?

Relative Poverty Rates in Twenty-One Rich Nations at the Turn of the Century (2000) for Children
Source: Timothy M. Smeeding, 2008. “Poorer by Comparison.” Pathways 3-5.

American Exceptionalism, indeed!  If American-style capitalism is so self-evidently superior to any other economic system, why do we have more poor people, per capita, than almost all of the rest of the industrialized world? And by such a large gap?

I haven't even gotten to the cross-country education comparisons...

Only willful ignorance seems to explain the fervent belief in American Exceptionalism. Free market fundamentalism is clearly an act of faith, because empirically the facts don't seem to agree.

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