Why so glum, Lou Dobbs, Sen. Webb, and George W.? Nick Gillespie sighs at the “war on the middle class!” meme:
The rich are indeed getting richer (the bastards). As Steven Lagerfeld points out in the Winter 2007 issue of The Wilson Quarterly (not yet online), those 130,000 households at the very top of the earnings pyramid have increased their share of pretax wage and salary income from 2 percent in 1973 to just under 7 percent in 2004. Folks in the top 5 percent of households–those making more than $166,000–have seen their inflation-adjusted annual income jack up by a hefty two-thirds since 1970. But everyone is getting richer. In real dollars, every quintile has posted significant annual increases over the past 35 years, ranging from $3,000 for the lowest quintile to $13,000 for the middle quintile to over $25,000 for next-to-highest one. And the individuals in those quintiles change all the time, something even The New York Times, which wrings its hands on class matters like an obsessive-compulsive, admits. Urban Institute economists Daniel P. McMurrer and Isabel V. Sawhill estimate that between 25 percent to 40 percent of individuals switch quintiles in a given year and that “rates of mobility have not changed over time.”
Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.