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From Rags to Riches to Rags

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

–  Mark R. Frank, New York Times, April 18, 2014

…Since the early 1970s, the gap between the top and bottom of the income distribution has expanded significantly…the only group to have experienced real economic gains during this period has been those in the top 20 percent, with gains heavily concentrated in the top 10, 5 and — most famously — 1 percent…

The picture drawn of the 1 percent has been that of a static population, just as the 99 percent is often portrayed as unchanging…

But is it the case that the top 1 percent of the income distribution are the same people year in and year out? Or, for that matter, what about the top 5, 10 and 20 percent?…

Our Response & Your Comments

We step outside our Beaver State to consider on  issue that’s as alive in Lane County, Oregon as Lane County, Kansas and points east.

You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting some politician waving the bloody shirt of the evils of  “Income Inequality.” It’s usually politicians trying to get votes from people who think they’re always getting the short end of the stick.

These politicos are trying to tell us “If you’re rich you stay rich. If you’re poor you’re doomed to poverty.” True? No. Coming out of school we typically start with low paying jobs. Then our incomes increase. Sometimes we lose our jobs and they move down. Then they move up again as we get new jobs and more experience. When we retire we earn less and move down the income ladder.

A majority of Americans spend at least part of their lives among the richest 10%. And a majority will live at or near poverty temporarily.

The point is that few Americans stay either very rich or very poor. The bigger point: America is still very much the land of opportunity.


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