Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Real Samuelson DorkCard

Hey, I'm drunk, because the adoption trip seems to be in limbo. So it seemed like a good time to take a weed-whacker to Robert J. Samuelson's latest, "The Real Economic Scorecard."
[T]he conventional wisdom [that the economy sucks for most people] is wrong or, at least, misleading. Here's a more accurate assessment. For most Americans, living standards are increasing, albeit slowly, over any meaningful period.
Median family incomes did increase between the early 1970s and the early 1990s. But one huge factor in that trend was stay-at-home moms going from the norm to a dwindling minority. While this has been a good thing for women's equality, as a society we've traded time for money.

Median incomes also increased during the Clinton years, because we had a President with a clue. Median incomes have been stagnant during the Bush years.
Here are three reasons why [the conventional wisdom on the economy is wrong] (space precludes mentioning others):

First, comparisons are made to an artificially high benchmark -- the late 1990s "tech bubble."

Fair enough. So he compares the pre-'tech bubble' year of 1997 with...the pre-'housing bubble' year of 2004, right? Nope, he compares 1997 with 2007. Three years before the top of one bubble, with the top of the next bubble.

That's gonna get you some balanced comparisons, alright.

Strike one.
Second, immigration distorts commonly cited statistics.
Again, based on the 1997-2007 comparison; compare 1997-2004 or 2000-2007, and his 'evidence' vanishes.

Strike two.
Third, the census figures understate income gains by not counting fringe benefits.
And the biggest culprit is health insurance costs. But that isn't an income gain. That isn't any sort of gain. There's no added benefit that came with that. So how are workers better off as a result?

They aren't. Strike three, he's outta there.

Good thing space precluded him from bringing up even dumber arguments.

1 comment:

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