It is a useful rule that whenever a consensus forms among the lumpen intelligentsia-that is, among those in the press, TV, academia, and politics-it is time to take a contrary view. There has been a fairly constant chatter, reaching a crescendo in this election year, about the
Competitive damage reports have been thick and fast. One of the more serious comes from Thurow himself, who argues that declining
This is a serious charge, but alas, the facts are otherwise. Says Manhattan Institute fellow Ed Rubenstein, “Thurow’s figures are from a highly misleading Census Bureau report” issued last March, entitled, “Workers With Low Earnings: 1964 to 1990.” According to the study, 39.7 percent of men 18 to 24 years old who worked full time in 1990 had low earnings, compared with 18.1 percent in 1979. The percentage of all low-earning full-time workers was 18 percent in 1990, up from 12.1 percent in 1979.
As defined by the survey, however, “low earnings” does not mean poverty. Any full-time, male worker with an income below the poverty line for a four-person family was labeled a low earner regardless of his actual family size. Since few men 18 to 24 years old are married, much less heading a family of four, the census report vastly overstates the case. In fact, says Rubenstein, only 12.9 percent of men with low earnings were poor in 1990. Among all full-time workers, the official poverty rate in 1990 was only 2.6 percent.
Income aside, what is the truth about
Perhaps most important, the report offered two conclusions, as reported by the Times. First: “
In other words, as project director William Lewis was quoted as saying, “It’s not obvious that the
Well, not obvious to those not living in