Monday, June 06, 2005

Ever wonder what folks like the Heritage Foundation want the rest of us to aspire to? Here's a revealing bit. Wrapping up their "class in America" series, the New York Times ran a few numbers, revealing that the hyper-rich are getting better off, while income for the middle class and poor is stagnating. Then they asked a few economists to comment. Here's one of the comments they got:

Those who contend that the extraordinary accumulation of wealth is a good thing say that while the rich are indeed getting richer, so are most people who work hard and save. They say that the tax cuts encourage the investment and the innovation that will make everyone better off.

"In this income data I see a snapshot of a very innovative society," said Tim Kane, an economist at the Heritage Foundation. "Lower taxes and lower marginal tax rates are leading to more growth. There's an explosion of wealth. We are so wealthy in a world that is profoundly poor."

But what the data say is that the middle class and poor are not better off. We're just, in effect, supposed to be happy about an "explosion of wealth" for somebody else, while, as Avedon Carol says, the Kanes and Tom Friedmans of the world keep telling us... give up our comfortable little welfare-state provisions in order to join the cut-throat new world the corporate globalizers want to give us, but they never tell us what we're going to win for it other than an endless life of struggle for what we used to have.

And it's not just them. Read Niall Ferguson, in Colossus, about how Europe is doomed because of its lazy 35-hour weeks. When I was in school, we were taught that the 40-hour work week was a proud achievement of the union movement, won literally with blood in the streets. When did a good lifestyle for the masses become something for a country to be ashamed of?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back during the oil shock of the late 70s the Shah of Iran told us that we Americans would just have to learn to work harder, as though the work week had anything to do with it. And I've read enough stories about socialist Europe going down the tubes the last 35 years to reckon that Sweden must have collapsed four or five times by now.


8:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The 35 hour week is anyway used in only a few sectors (like France, some German industries) and 40 hours are still the norm (in Britain, it is even higher).
The real difference with the US is not the weekly work but the holidays (4 or 5 weeks instead of 2).

9:37 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home