Saturday, June 11, 2005

New York Times reporter calls colleagues un-American?

Ohio Liberal has a post entitled Class in America in which he highlights several New York Times articles in the Class Matters series. With article titles like Shadowy Lines That Still Divide, When Richer Weds Poorer, Money Isn't the Only Difference , No Degree, and No Way Back to the Middle (by the way, don't tell Bill Gates that) and Richest Are Leaving Even the Rich Far Behind the Times wallows in sociological and class angst.

It appears that Charles McGrath didn't get the memo on the series. How else can you explain his oversight in writing the following:


There is an un-American secret at the heart of American culture: for a long time, it was preoccupied by class. That preoccupation has diminished somewhat - or been sublimated - in recent years as we have subscribed to an all-purpose, mass-market version of the American dream, but it hasn't entirely disappeared. The subject is a little like a ne'er-do-well relative; it's sometimes a shameful reminder, sometimes openly acknowledged, but always there, even, or especially, when it's never mentioned.

And to throw irony on top of unwitting insult the title of his article is 'In Fiction, a Long History of Fixation on the Social Gap'

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

If you find yourself depressed by the 'glass is half empty' analyses of this series, Porkopolis recommends that you read Walter Williams' Only in America for some self-motivating therapy:

...According to Drs. Thomas Stanley and William Danko's research published in their book "The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy," 80 percent of today's American millionaires are first-generation rich.

Drs. Stanley and Danko listed other characteristics of these 8.2 million millionaire households. Fewer than 20 percent inherited 10 percent or more of their wealth. More than half never received as much as a dollar in inheritance. Fewer than 25 percent received "an act of kindness" from a relative greater than $10,000, and 91 percent never received, as a gift, as much as $1 from the ownership of a family business.
Update: Et Tu Bloge fisks the Times on their use of statistics in one of the articles as well.
Update: Larry Kudlow provides more perspective in Rich People Are Government’s Best Friend.
Update: More thougths from Alan Reynolds over at in The top one percent.
Update: The hits just keep on coming on this meme. Powerline takes Paul Krugman's distortions on the middle class to task.
Update: Dafydd ab Hugh provides some additional powerful and thought provoking perspective again at Powerline. A must read!


Anonymous JD Arney said...

Read this if you ever get the chance:

Anyway, the point of the New York Times series was that it's getting harder and harder to become middle class. The working poor had a much greater chance of advancing and living comfortable decades ago. The gap between the wealthiest and the poorest in this country has become monstrous. This is a problem, whether the Right wants to face it or not. It'll have to be dealt with sooner or later.

"More than half never received as much as a dollar in inheritance."

Heh. You read that one way, and I read it the other. Nearly half of all millionaire households received inheritance money.

I'm rambling at this point, so I'll stop, but seriously take a look at that book if you get the chance. If you suspect it's partisan hackery then just pick it up at the library and give it a shot. It changed my opinion on a few things, and reinforced my opinions on a few others. I imagine it'd do the same for you.

June 27, 2005 at 2:45 PM  
Anonymous JD Arney said...

Working Poor

Easier link for the book.

June 27, 2005 at 2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'll accept the diagnosis made by the book Working Poor, but not the liberal prescription of income redistribution.

There's a scene in the movie Primary Colors where Jack Stanton (John Travolta) is giving a speech in Union Hall and tells the workers something to the effect that jobs that involve 'muscles' are going to the places that can provide it as cheap as possible. On the other hand; he makes the case to the audience that he doesn't offer any easy answers because the real solution to their job losses involves education; in essence brain power as opposed to muscle power.

Can liberals and conservatives at least agree on this? Can liberals drop the wealth transfer mechanism as a solution?

Conservatives like myself seek a to cut the fat and waste out of government so that we can spend judiciously, at the local level, on education. Getting rid of the Department of Education and its $70 billion annual budget is a good first start. I've seen with my own eyes that the cycle of the working poor can be broken in one generation with education.

June 28, 2005 at 12:24 PM  

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