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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 4 of W. Michael Cox’s and Richard Alm’s still-important 1999 volume, Myths of Rich & Poor (original emphasis):

At best, real wages are an indirect barometer of how well we’re doing.  If we want to know about living standards, it’s better to use direct indicators of what Americans own, what they buy, and how they live, not some proxy, whether it be earnings or income.  Before accepting wholesale the verdict of the data on real wages, Americans should at least consider what’s happening to consumption.  If the data indicate that the average family doesn’t have as much now as in the early 1970s, it will confirm the case for the country’s economic decay.  An America consuming more than ever, however, would go a long way toward refuting a pessimistic view that relies on anecdotes and the data on declining real wages.

And in fact, the consumption possibilities for ordinary – even for poor – Americans are much higher today than they were three or four decades ago.


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