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Although I have a slight suspicion that you were partly thinking of my diary on wealth and poverty in Poland I actually mostly agree with you. There is a poverty trap in the US and it is extremely difficult to get out of and that it is as you say, a lack of 'jobs, education, skills, and opportunity.' Stats showing that plenty of poor people do move up are flawed because they are actually describing students who are poor at least in terms of formal income (i.e. not counting parental help and loans) but who quickly do well once they get out. At any given point they are a small portion of the low income group, but as they are a constantly replenished set, cumulatively they make up a large portion of those who at one point or another were in the bottom quintile. A more telling picture of class mobility compares where people end up relative to their parents, and there the picture is quite static. But in my opinion the most telling statistic about the bankruptcy of the American economic model is that median wages have stayed flat since the early seventies in spite of very substantial real per-capita growth. All that extra wealth has gone to the top fifth of society with a strong tilt to the top one percent.

The only parts where I disagree with you is about the poor not appearing in the stats - they do, and that relative to much poorer countries all classes of Americans are generally better off.

by MarekNYC on Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 03:55:30 AM EST

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