Class Warfare

     In his November 14 Washington Post column, Sebastian Mallaby released what must have been hours of pent up frustration about everything from inequality in the United States to legislators planning to cut Medicaid, food stamps, free school lunches, and child-care subsidies. He detailed dismal number after number to make some startling, yet erroneous, claims. Mallaby could have at least citied authorities or studies that could back up his rant. Instead, he simply tossed one-liners onto the wall and hoped they would stick.

     Here are a few snippets from Mallabys diatribe:
    In response to President Bushs speech in New Orleans, Mallaby quipped the president was joking, obviously about lifting people out of poverty. Mallaby then incorrectly claimed that the presidents congressional allies now propose to cut Medicaid, food stamps, free school lunches and child care subsidies. Congress does not plan cuts, but reductions in the rate of growth. As a matter of fact, according to the Congressional Budget Office, these reductions in the rate of growth constitute a 2% nick in Medicaid and a 0.6% cut in food stamp growth. Of course, Mallaby calls this paltry change a scandal.
      Mallaby then carped that Congress does not propose to save money by undoing the tax cuts that have handed an average of $103,000 a year to people making over $1 million. Mallaby ignored the big picture behind tax cuts because it would have undermined his point. The most recent round of tax cuts has narrowed the federal deficit as revenue growth has outpaced spending. Government receipts increased 9.2% as spending only grew 1.9% over FY2005. His column didnt even mention the economic or job growth from the tax cut regimen.
      Evoking phrases like the gilded age and painting a picture of a new class bound society, Mallaby made a bold claim with no sourcing whatsoever (not to mention grasping for unnamed studies from the 1970s). He wrote, Inequality in the United States is now more pronounced than in any other advanced country. He also claimed that in 1980, the top fifth of families earned 7.7 times as much as the bottom fifth; by 2001 that ratio had risen to 11.4 Instead of offering documented facts and statistics, Mallaby omitted myriad positive indicators for the American economy and American families, even despite a summer of devastating hurricanes. Among which, an average of 179,000 jobs per month were produced by the economy over the past 12 months. GDP growth has been robust at 3.6% over the last fiscal year. In addition, theBusiness & Media Institute has documented how the media consistently misreport poverty figures.

     A May 19, 2005 editorial by Catos Alan Reynolds in the Wall Street Journal clarified some of the myths that Mallaby passed off as dismal fact. As Reynolds stated, it helps to focus on a few reasons why some people earn more than others they work harder, and have more experience and/or more schooling. Reynolds also noted that such inequality studies make a dubious comparison because Only the top group has no income ceiling, and the lower income limit defining membership in that top group rises whenever incomes are rising.

     Experience and schooling are especially important for lower income Americans trying to climb the economic ladder. If Mallaby were truly interested in curbing a morally intolerable and economically wasteful condition, hed explore a solution to two problems that bar the poor from experience and schooling: a minimum wage law that restricts job supply and pushes unskilled workers out of the market, and inadequate public schools insulated from market competition. Repealing the minimum wage and implementing school voucher programs would go a long way toward achieving these ends: much further than class warfare rhetoric from the Post.