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If America's Middle-Class is Disappearing, It's Only Because Ordinary Americans are Getting Richer and Richer

I sent the following letter two days ago to the Wall Street Journal:

So Lou Dobbs might run for President ("CNN’s Lou Dobbs for President?
He Says No, Sort of
," January 7).  May the ghost of Adam Smith help us!

report one of Mr. Dobbs’s trademark roars: "The middle class in this
country, the majority in the country, has been ignored.  Our elites in
Washington, D.C., both political and corporate, are hell bent on
ignoring the majority."  Perhaps this claim is true, but if so the
inference Mr. Dobbs draws – that the American middle-class is in
trouble – is emphatically mistaken.  I quote my colleague Walter
: "Controlling for inflation, in 1967, 8 percent of households
had an annual income of $75,000 and up; in 2003, more than 26 percent
did. In 1967, 17 percent of households had a $50,000 to $75,000 income;
in 2003, it was 18 percent. In 1967, 22 percent of households were in
the $35,000 to $50,000 income group; by 2003, it had fallen to 15
percent. During the same period, the $15,000 to $35,000 category fell
from 31 percent to 25 percent, and the under $15,000 category fell from
21 percent to 16 percent. The only reasonable conclusion from this
evidence is that if the middle class is disappearing, it’s doing so by swelling the ranks of the upper classes."

Donald J. Boudreaux


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