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On this week’s episode of Banter, Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Richard Reeves discusses his book “Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It.” The book argues that the top 20 percent of income earners in America are increasingly passing their status to their children, reducing overall social mobility for the bottom 80 percent. “Dream Hoarders” received considerable attention upon its release in 2017. Check out the links below for more information including a review of the book by AEI Director of Economic Policy Studies Michael Strain.
The jobless rate is falling faster in Decatur, Illinois — an aging industrial city south of Chicago — than almost anywhere else in America. More than three percentage points in the past year. But look closer, as Wall Street Journal reporters Mark Peters and Ben Leubsdorf do, “and this city of 75,000 resembles many communities across the industrial Midwest, where the unemployment rate is falling fast in part because workers are disappearing: moving away, retiring or no longer looking for a job.”
The relocation issue is particularly interesting. The piece tells the story of a laid-off Caterpillar worker, Denny Ryder, who left Decatur last year for Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He found work at a Caterpillar contractor:
While Mr. Ryder was confident he could find a job in Decatur, he didn’t feel it would match the wages and benefits at Caterpillar, where he worked for 19 years. “I probably could have lost a lot of money and found a job in Decatur,” said Mr. Ryder, who has taken to life in North Carolina, from enjoying the hills to swimming in the ocean for the first time.
It’s not just left-wing progressives and Occupy Wall Street remnants who think US income inequality is a problem. A large 2014 Pew poll found that about two-thirds of Americans think the income gap has gotten worse and that government has a role in reducing that difference. Even 45% of Republicans think government should do something.
But do what exactly? Noam Scheiber in The New York Times summarizes research that found just 13% of wealthy Americans said government should “reduce the differences in income between people with high incomes and those with low incomes.” And only 17% percent said the government should “redistribute wealth by heavy taxes on the rich.” (Also, according to a different study, the wealthy view the income gap as reflecting the results of individual choices and mistakes rather than larger forces.) The rest of America, on the other hand, finds more appealing the idea of tax-driven redistribution. Scheiber points to a 2013 Gallup poll that found by 52%-45% Americans think wealth should be more evenly distributed with 52%-45% favoring tax hikes on the wealthy.
How will the next US president see things? The same as their donors, according to Scheiber:
After the closing of my little construction company at the end of 2013, I was fortunate to find work as the CFO of a local, private group of companies. It was a typically messy situation, run on checkbook balances, accounting and finances unreliable, inaccurate, misleading and chronically behind. There was some nominal book-cooking going on, […]
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