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To Where Is America’s Middle-Class ‘Disappearing’?

Here’s a letter that I sent two weeks ago to the Washington Post:


Kudos to Robert Samuelson for reporting on Stephen Rose’s research on real income growth in America over the past 50 years (“The rise of the upper middle class,” August 17). But why is news that is unambiguously good – “most of those who have left the middle class have moved up, not down” – buried in the column’s bowels rather than featured as the lede?

By leading with the finding of rising income inequality, Mr. Samuelson implies that inequality is not only an evil in itself, but one that is more newsworthy than is the fact that most Americans have enjoyed an increase in absolute prosperity.

Focusing on income differences fuels envy and shrouds what is surely the most important achievement of the American economy in the past half-century: increased prosperity for almost everyone.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030


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