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The "Working Poor" Scam -- Thomas Sowell
Capitalism Magazine ^ | June 2nd, 2004 | Thomas Sowell

Posted on 06/03/2004 10:29:06 PM PDT by Capitalism2003

Summary: Census data show that most people who are working are not poor and most people who are poor are not working.

(Excerpt) Read more at capmag.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: scam; thomassowell; workingpoor
[www.CapitalismMagazine.com] The "Working Poor" Scam by Thomas Sowell (June 2, 2004)

BusinessWeek magazine has joined the chorus of misleading rhetoric about "the working poor." Why is this misleading? Let me count the ways.

First of all, Census data show that most people who are working are not poor and most people who are poor are not working. The front-page headline on the May 31st issue of BusinessWeek says: "One in four workers earns $18,800 a year or less, with few if any benefits. What can be done?"

Buried inside is an admission that about a third of these are part-time workers and another third are no more than 25 years old. So we are really talking about one-third of one fourth -- or fewer than 10 percent of the workers -- who are "working poor" in any full-time, long-run sense.

Nevertheless, the personal human interest stories and the photographs in the article are about people in this one-twelfth, even though the statistics are about the one-fourth.

As for "What can be done?" that is a misleading question because the article is about what other people can do for the "working poor," not what they can do for themselves, much less what they did in the past -- or failed to do -- that led to their having such low earning capacity.

The theme is that these are people trapped by external circumstances, and words like "moxie" and "gumption" are mentioned only sarcastically to be dismissed, along with "Horatio Alger." But the cold fact is that what the intelligentsia call the American Dream is no dream.

An absolute majority of the people who were in the bottom 20 percent in income in 1975 have since then also been in the top 20 percent. This inconvenient fact has been out there for years -- and has been ignored for years by those who want more government programs to relieve individuals from responsibility for making themselves more productive and therefore higher income earners.

While the economy is "rewarding the growing ranks of educated knowledge workers," BusinessWeek says, this is not so for "workers who lack skills and training." In a country with free education available through high school and heavily subsidized state colleges and universities, why do some people lack skills and training?

More important, what is likely to cause them to get skills and training -- pay differentials or largess in money or in kind from the taxpayers as "entitlements"?

This is an agenda article and facts that get in the way of the welfare state agenda get little attention, if any. Meanwhile, notions that have no factual basis are asserted boldly.

For example: "Working one's way up the ladder is becoming harder, not easier." Evidence? Wage rates for people in the bottom 20 percent have not risen much over the past 30 years.

The fallacy here is that it is not the same people in the bottom 20 percent over the past 30 years. Most people in the bottom 20 percent do not stay there even one decade, much less three. Young, inexperienced beginners do not remain young or inexperienced or beginners their whole lives.

Some people, of course, never learn -- and never rise. Creating entitlements for them reduces any need to learn. But that is the way BusinessWeek urges us to go.

They want higher minimum wages imposed, despite evidence that minimum wage laws reduce employment. Why would anyone think that making labor more costly would not affect employment, when higher prices reduce the amount of anything else that is bought?

BusinessWeek wants "better day-care options" -- "especially for single moms." In other words, unmarried girls should have babies and expect the taxpayers to pick up the tab for taking care of them. And if we subsidize such irresponsible decisions, will that not have the same effects as subsidizing other things?

Another liberal notion promoted by BusinessWeek is making it "easier to form unions." Workers can get unionized right now just by voting for a union in a government-supervised election. How much easier should it be?

The problem is not a difficulty in forming unions. What has happened is that workers themselves increasingly vote against unions because they have learned the hard way that unions cost jobs, even if BusinessWeek is unwilling to learn that lesson.

About the Author: Thomas Sowell has published a large volume of writing. His dozen books, as well as numerous articles and essays, cover a wide range of topics, from classic economic theory to judicial activism, from civil rights to choosing the right college.

1 posted on 06/03/2004 10:29:06 PM PDT by Capitalism2003
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bump


2 posted on 06/03/2004 10:32:21 PM PDT by Diddle E. Squat
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To: Capitalism2003
BusinessWeek magazine has joined the chorus of misleading rhetoric about "the working poor."

BusinessWeek enjoys employing misleading rhetoric in lots of areas.

3 posted on 06/03/2004 10:34:48 PM PDT by Dont Mention the War
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To: Capitalism2003; Admin Moderator; Jim Robinson

Cap, if you didn't get permission to post whole article, some of it must be removed.............FRegards


4 posted on 06/03/2004 11:03:27 PM PDT by gonzo (As a pilot, I can assure you that you can never have too much fuel, unless you're on fire...........)
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To: Diddle E. Squat
"...personal human interest stories and the photographs..."

Goebbels Would Be Proud.

5 posted on 06/03/2004 11:05:44 PM PDT by endthematrix (To enter my lane you must use your turn signal!)
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To: Diddle E. Squat

Sowell's problem is he doesn't know his place.


6 posted on 06/03/2004 11:42:56 PM PDT by Old Professer
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To: gonzo

Where is the edit button? I didn't notice the 250 word rule until I already posted it...woops

I'm sure Sowell wouldn't mind though...I own all of his books ;)


7 posted on 06/04/2004 12:53:33 AM PDT by Capitalism2003 ("Greedy capitalists get money by trade. Good liberals steal it." David Friedman)
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To: Capitalism2003
Thomas Sowell:

Speak for yourself loafer! You think that I achieved the pinnacle of academic and professional success by letting freeloaders like you sponge off of my intellectual property?

I'm not some happy-go-lucky academician like Professor Walter Williams. If you cross Sowell you are practically inviting a major league intellectual smack-down.

The next time you hear from me will be in a court of law, so I highly suggest that you get your share-the-wealth, Huey Long acolyte ass to the nearest Jacoby & Meyers while the getting is good.

8 posted on 06/04/2004 1:58:37 AM PDT by The Scourge of Yazid
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To: Capitalism2003

Excellent article.


9 posted on 06/04/2004 2:56:41 AM PDT by livius
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To: livius
bump!
10 posted on 06/04/2004 6:12:16 AM PDT by Capitalism2003 ("Greedy capitalists get money by trade. Good liberals steal it." David Friedman)
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To: gonzo

Three things that are of no use to a pilot.

1. Fuel in the tanks at the FBO

2. Altitude above you.

3. Runway behind you.


11 posted on 06/04/2004 6:15:08 AM PDT by jwpjr
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To: jwpjr

More rules for pilots, jwpjr:

1) It's easy to make a small fortune in aviation - just start with a large fortune.

2)A good landing is one you can walk away from - A great landing is one where you can use the plane again.

3) Speed is life, and altitude is life insurance - No one has ever collided with the sky.

..........FRegards


12 posted on 06/04/2004 7:57:51 PM PDT by gonzo (As a pilot, I can assure you that you can never have too much fuel, unless you're on fire...........)
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To: gonzo

A million thanks for the additional rules! I'll pass them along to my son who is helicopter pilot for a sheriff's office here in Florida. I would LOVE to have made my living flying, but it was just not in the cards. I am thrilled for him. One of his favorite sayings is "It's all fun and games, until the engine quits!". Amen.

And of course the old standard, "There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots".


13 posted on 06/04/2004 11:59:36 PM PDT by jwpjr
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To: jwpjr
"...A million thanks for the additional rules! I'll pass them along to my son who is helicopter pilot for a sheriff's office here in Florida.

I'm an 'Bold Pilot', pally, and I scared myself enough times to become an 'Old Pilot'.

Here're the rotating-wing-thingy rules:

1) - 'A helicopter is a collection of rotating parts going round-and-round, and reciprocating parts going up-and-down - all of them trying to become random in motion, while zig-zagging on some general heading!
2) - Helicopters can't really fly - they're just so farking ugly that the Earth immediately repels them!
3) - The difference between a Helicopter-Pilot and a pig? - A pig doesn't sit in a bar 'till 0300 trying to pick-up a helicopter pilot!

4) - try to keep the number of your landings equal to the number of your takeoffs.

Where's your son flying, jwpjr? I'm in Pinellas County, near Pasco County. I know the Sheriffs' here, and I'd be happy to meet him. FReepmail only, of course, pal. Stay well, bud............FRegards

14 posted on 06/05/2004 10:59:00 PM PDT by gonzo (God bless Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan, their children, and the USA. We were lucky to have them!.....)
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