by Mad Rocket Scientist
Bloomberg recently had this article up, discussing income mobility in the US:
The short of it is that compared to other first world countries, for the past 35 years or so, not only has wealth been accumulating more and more at the top, but ascending the income ladder is getting harder and harder. So much so that even the tried and true ways that used to work (education, hard work, etc) are failing to pay off nearly as readily as they used to. Today, the single best indicator as to whether or not a person will be wealthy is the wealth of their family. There is also a lot of data to show that those who are wealthy rarely ever fall down the ladder.
This is known as “Being Sticky at Both Ends”.
As a person born of meager stature, I was raised under the idea that education and hard work will get me ahead. I got the education and I work hard, and compared to my beginnings, I am most certainly ahead (my standard of living is much higher than my parents and many of my peers from my youth), but even with the income of two professionals, my wife and I still struggle at times with finding economic security, which was the whole point of working hard and getting that education (i.e. economic security).
Of course, there are always stories of the modern Gatsby, the techno-whiz who makes it big with a widget, or the nobody who becomes a famous author/musician/actor/sports star, etc. so movement is still possible. It’s just getting difficult for those who are not such bright spots in the media.Now, if you are all so inclined, I’d like to elicit a discussion about how the ends got sticky, and what are some good ways to get them un-sticky (sans lube or soap and water). In order to keep it follow-able, I’d like to put forth some facts in evidence and lay down some ground rules:
- Please stay on topic – Don’t foray off into the weeds on some esoteric tangent. If you think it’s really that important, ask the admins if you can do a guest post.
- Don’t feed the trolls or encourage weed followers.
- The trouble with certain minorities ascending the income ladder is a given, so let’s not address that directly. Assume your test case is operating in a theoretical racially homogeneous society, from a decent family (no criminal history), but low on the socio-economic ladder.
- Whys and Hows can be social, economic, or regulatory, but be as specific as you can. No saying “It’s all the governments fault”, or “it’s because of greedy old rich white guys”, have some kind of real data to back it up.
- No one is going to have all the answers or see the whole picture, so don’t slam someone for only talking about a piece of the puzzle. We have discussions so we can ferret out all the pieces. To paraphrase the hacker from “Agents of Shield”, “No one person has 100% of the answer, but if 100 people have 1%, we are getting somewhere.”
- Let’s try to preserve liberty as much as possible for all involved – so sweeping suggestions like “tax the rich at 95%”, while legally, and maybe even politically, do-able is not going to solve the problem by itself.
- And related to number 6, be honest and not ideologically dogmatic. Please try to identify the inherent troubles & unintended consequences of your suggestions.
Ready? … Go!