On ABC News, Diane Sawyer told her viewers the Occupy Wall Street protests have spread to “more than 250 American cities, more than a thousand countries — every continent but Antarctica.”
There’s a problem with that statement.
There’s only 195 countries in the world!
She proceeded to advance the agenda of those protesting by running down statistics to illustrate income inequality: “So how much does the top one percent in this country earn? Well, on average their incomes, $1.1 million. Compare that to the bottom 90 percent, 100 million households. They earn an average of $31,000.” She fretted that since the 1980s, “the top one percent saw their incomes go up more than 11 times what the rest of America saw.”
The rich are getting richer!
But what she failed to mention, and what no leftist will tell you, is this:
America is a place where you have a better chance to get ahead and even get rich.
That’s what the income inequality numbers don’t show: Income mobility, the movement between income levels in our economy. Few of us remain at the same income level throughout our lives. We move up and sometimes down depending on our age, our career advancement, and fluctuations in the economy.
When you look at the statistics for income mobility, the numbers show that the poor are doing anything but standing still. America’s democratic capitalist society is more upwardly mobile than at any other time in history.
According to the U.S. Treasury Department study of American taxpayers, about half of those in the lowest income group when filing their tax returns in 1996 moved into a higher income category by 2005. Twenty-five percent moved into a middle- or upper-income group, while more than 5 percent moved into the highest quintile.
Diana Furchtgott-ROth, former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, says that this upward mobility is reflected in a dramatic improvement in living standards among low-income people over the past two decades:
In 1985, 38% of poor households owned a home – by 2005 it was 43%. And these homes were of better quality than the 1985 homes. In 1985, 17% of these homes had sentral air conditioning, and in 2005, 50% did. Fifty-six percent of homes owned by poor households had washing machines in 1985, and in 2005, it was 64%
That’s from “How Capitalism Will Save Us: Why Free People and Free Markets Are the Best Answer in Today’s Economy.” You can buy a used copy on Amazon for a dime. I highly recommend it.
The facts are simple. While the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting richer also.
Oh, but what about the wealth disparity? There’s a huge gulf between the rich and the poor in America. That’s wrong, right?
There’s a good explanation for that too:
…there is a wider gulf between poor and rich incomes today than in years past. But it’s not because the poor are falling behind, but because more low-income people than ever are coming here.
…the portion of the total U.S. population born in foreign countries jumped from 5 percent in 1974 to 12 percent in 2004. Today’s top points of origin are not the European nations as they were in years past, but the world’s poorest countries, such as Mexico, Haiti, Cuba, the Dominican Republica, Nicaragua and El Salvador, among others.
Even the most mathematically challenged among us would acknowledge that the influx of so many tens of thousands of low-skilled, low income people is going to widen the extremes of income in this country.
These facts are simply that: facts. The income disparity is because of the increase in immigration of poor people, not the rich fleecing the poor.
The American people move up in wealth. If you are poor now, and work your hind end off, you won’t be poor for long.
Wall Street protestors don’t like to talk about those facts because they damage the narrative that capitalism is brutal and cruel. But socialism and communism have killed millions through starvation, forced labor and outright executions.
Pardon me if I don’t care if there are protests in a thousand countries. The popularity of a position doesn’t make it the correct position.
That fallacy is called Argumentum ad populum:
The facts are simple. It’s better to be a poor, free man under capitalism than a cog in wheel of collectivism. Churchill said it best, “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”
While under capitalism, you might not be as rich as the next guy, but under socialism, unless you are the ruling class, you will be just as miserable.
While that line of thinking might not be popular in the minds of protestors in a thousand different countries, it doesn’t make it any less true.
Update: Linked at Publius Forum. Thanks, Warner.