Income inequality

Scott Winship: Don't Believe Horror Stories About Fertility Rates, Income Inequality, and Economic Mobility

Americans have a reputation for being cockeyed optimists, but we're suckers when it comes to "declension narratives" about the fallen state of our world.

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Despite Americans' reputation for cockeyed optimism, we have always been suckers for declension narratives—the idea that the Golden Age ended sometime in the past and we have the bad luck to live in a world that is uniquely awful, unfair, and corrupt. Donald Trump built a successful presidential campaign on making America great again and his successor Joe Biden routinely harkens back to a time when things were better and more on the level.

Three of today's most widespread declension narratives involve fertility rates, income inequality, and economic mobility. We have fewer children than ever, goes the popular story, because nobody—even the wealthy!—can afford them anymore. The spread between rich and poor has never been bigger and it's only increasing. Kids today will be the first generation in America to have a lower standard of living than their parents.

These stories resonate with us emotionally and have obvious political utility, but are they true? My guest today is Scott Winship, the director of poverty studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He says that these declension narratives are misleading at best and outright wrong at worst. The reason families are getting smaller is because women have more control over their bodies and generally want fewer kids. When you factor in after-tax income and transfer programs, poor people are in fact doing better than ever. And his research shows that about 70 percent of us will make more inflation-adjusted income than our parents—a figure that hasn't changed in the past 50 years.

Winship has a doctorate in social policy from Harvard and, prior to joining the right-of-center AEI, he did stints at the Brookings Institution and Pew Research Center. Nick Gillespie talks with Winship about why we want to believe the world we live in is getting worse, how his thinking about social progress and ideology has changed over his career, and how he thinks we might make it easier for poor people to participate more fully in society. Winship also gives a defense of the much-maligned discipline of sociology as a vital way of understanding the world around us.

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  1. All is well! All is well!

    1. Consume product, don’t ask questions, listen to the blue box on your wall.

      1. Blue screen of death is sooooo windows 98

        1. Windows 10 now features the blue spinning wheel of ‘waiting for no reason’.

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          2. I hate that wheel!

    2. Is it just me or does “declension” sound like a procedure for dealing with vaginismus?

    3. I’m not buying it. Everyone knows that Everything Is So Terrible And Unfair! ™

  2. The suit hides his manboobs well. The purple tie and shirt on the other hand reminds me of Lindsay Graham… what means?

  3. Get better at recognizing controlled opposition. Without honing that skill, using aesthetics as a proxy is a solid strategy.

  4. When you factor in after-tax income and transfer programs, poor people are in fact doing better than ever.
    Three cheers for euphemisms. YAY! YAY! YAY!

    1. Yeah even without transfer payments and counting before tax income, poor people are doing better than ever

  5. “Economic Mobility”

    My favorite example of economic mobility is Reason.com’s benefactor Charles Koch. Rising from humble beginnings, he absolutely earned every one of his 63,600,000,000 dollars through hard work and dedication.

    1. The last twenty-years have been exceptionally kind to regulation wrangling billionaires.

  6. I make more than my parents but still can’t afford a house or retirement

  7. Look at any prediction of demographics over the next century. Americans aren’t coming out on top. To quote Steyn the future belongs to those who show up.

    1. Worse still, especially for libertarians, liberty isn’t coming out on top.

      “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

      Turns out Reagan was a cockeyed optimist in assuming the United States will exist in the future, that we’ll have children or children’s children, or that even if we had them, we’d be allowed to tell them about places where men were free.

  8. I’ve never had more children than I do right now.

  9. Look over there, folks! Not there, over there!
    See?
    Sunshine and rainbows.

  10. “Winship has a doctorate in social policy from Harvard and, prior to joining the right-of-center AEI, he did stints at the Brookings Institution and Pew Research Center.”

    Harvard, AEI, Brookings and Pew, huh?
    I can’t think of anyone better placed to tell us how “we might make it easier for poor people to participate more fully in society”.
    I wonder if free and fair elections will be mentioned?

    1. Corruption of every institution.

  11. “When you factor in after-tax income and transfer programs, poor people are in fact doing better than ever. ”

    This smacks of true “let them eat cake” bullshit. May as well tell Africans they’re lucky that only 1 of 10 will be malnourished instead of 3 of 10. Isn’t that so great?!

    1. Yes, that does sound pretty damn great for those two out of ten that would otherwise be malnourished.

      If you’re really concerned about the other ten percent there are ways that you, personally, can help.

      1. Only wants to help with your money.

        1. Hey, look at the generous V.P. and Second Man: they reported income of more than $1.6 million in 2020 and gave whopping <2% to charity. Almost everyone of those conservative Mormon folks gave at least 5 times more.

        2. I’ll have you know that Raspberries is one of the most generous people alive with other folks money.

    2. Businesses can’t find workers because so many people would rather collect unemployment benefits while they watch Neflix than look for work. We are definitely transitioning between the “Good times make Weak men” and “Weak men make Bad times” stages

    3. If by Africans you mean people in Africa, the problem there is a lack of economic freedom due to corrupt governments. Not sure what you want to do about it. Toppling and replacing governments doesn’t often work out as planned.

      1. It will be interesting to see how china’s new imperialism works out.

    4. “May as well tell Africans they’re lucky that only 1 of 10 will be malnourished instead of 3 of 10. Isn’t that so great?!”

      Does a citation come with that, or are you just going to throw our your declension narrative and let it lie there like a dead squid on a hockey rink?

      And don’t forget to prove you are not Tony transitioning.

      1. A dead squid on a hockey rink is a beautiful thing. What have you got against nature’s creations to compare them to a raspberry post?

        I can’t even.

  12. https://twitter.com/LeonydusJohnson/status/1395174438283448324?s=19

    Communists should be viewed as worse than Nazis and the hammer and sickle more offensive than the swastika.

    “Rep. Ilhan Omar’s daughter added a communist symbol to her bio. Isra Hirsi has talked before about how she writes some of her mother’s tweets. During the BLM race riots in her city, Isra put out a call for donations for rioters. She has also called for a communist insurrection. [Link]”

    1. Rockefeller and Morgan couldn’t even buy an Obamaphone !

      Hedonics has elevated our poorest to wealth beyond Croesus.

    1. “One woke journalist losing a job offer is worse than a million normies being doxxed and/or fired over offensive tweets ” /ENB

      1. I’ll have a cosmo.

        /Nick G.

    2. “That means one of the New York Times’s most vaunted reporters who the newspaper has doggedly stood by even as the project has come under withering criticism by historians for its inaccuracies didn’t qualify for a permanent appointment.”

      Maybe the historical inaccuracies have something to do with it?

      “Daniel Kreiss, an associate professor at Hussman, also condemned the controversy over Hannah-Jones’ hiring…’Nikole Hannah-Jones is one of the most prominent journalists in the United States, frankly in the world, today and [is] doing exactly the kind of work that is necessary to help the US come to terms with its racial history”

      Prominence and having the correct narrative are apparently more valued by this journalism professor than getting the story factually correct.

    3. So is BLM going to tear up Madison Avenue over this?

  13. “The reason families are getting smaller is because women have more control over their bodies and generally want fewer kids.”

    Which suggests that is recipe for civilizational suicide, if it results in a lower than replacement live birthrate.

  14. The problem with lower fertility rates is that entitlements were built on a Ponzi scheme. Need to keep having every more children born into indentured servitude to the prior generation and greater expense to each succeeding generation. Liberals will tell you entitlements are moral when they are in fact the most hateful immoral programs ever created.

    1. Thats what immigrants are for. Get with it man

  15. What, me worry?

  16. Fertility rates are plummeting because underage teens are spending more time playing World of Warcraft and Fortnite than having unprotected sex.

    Now here is someone out of touch with reality.

    http://www.reddit.com/r/LockdownSkepticism/comments/ngj9g8/column_the_evidence_is_clear_covid_lockdowns/

    A quote from the article.

    The problem with this argument is that there’s very little evidence that lockdowns themselves damaged local economies more than individual behavior that would have happened anyway, lockdowns or not. Nor is there much evidence that lifting lockdowns produced a faster recovery.
    Those who have studied the course of the pandemic in the U.S. and Europe understand why the lockdowns have less economic impact than one might expect. The reason is that people made their own choices to stay at home or to patronize only businesses where they felt relatively safe.
    As Austan Goolsbee and Chad Syversen of the University of Chicago said of their study of the economic slump during the pandemic, “The vast majority of the decline was due to consumers choosing of their own volition to avoid commercial activity.”

    1. “The vast majority of the decline was due to consumers choosing of their own volition to avoid commercial activity.”

      MOAR STIMULUS NEEDED!

  17. I don’t get why progs suddenly want us to be having more kids? I thought our planet was overpopulated and too many babies cause climate change. I also thought all sex was rape…wait, maybe they want all single womynz to have free access to sperm banks so they can have babies whenever they want, once they get tired of their Yorkies and Frenchies

    1. “…I thought our planet was overpopulated and too many babies cause climate change…”

      That fraud Ehrlich still gets ink, and not one of his predictions proved to be true.

  18. Less people in poverty? That just means they have to raise the poverty bar so more people are under it.

    Poor people are like racists, there are so few of them, the Left has to invent them

  19. Anecdotal, but most people I know in middle age don’t (and won’t) have kids, or have at most one.

  20. When you factor in after-tax income and transfer programs, poor people are in fact doing better than ever.

    Of course they are better off! If you benefitted from a “transfer preogam and got “after tax income,” wouldn’t you be better off too?

    Nick’s writing this shit like it’s a good thing! How is it good for those from whom the money was “transferred?”

  21. never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

    Turns out Reagan was a cockeyed optimist in assuming the United States will exist in the future, that we’ll have children or children’s
    https://wapexclusive.com ,children, or that even if we had them, we’d be allowed to tell them about places where men were free.

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