Right-wing bullshit -- it never dies: This is from a sickeningly Pollyannaish Economist article called "Smile, These Are Good Times. Truly":
Strip out immigrants, and the picture of stagnant median incomes vanishes. Indeed, for the nine-tenths of the population that is native-born, middle-income trends continue their improvement of the 1950s and 1960s. For these people, inequality is not rising, but falling. Gregg Easterbrook cheekily points out in his excellent recent book, “The Progress Paradox” (Random House), that if left-leaning Americans seriously want better statistics about middle-income gains, then they should simply close their borders.
I guess this falls into the category of "too good to check" -- in this case, check in an issue of The New York Times from about six weeks ago:
Only a great influx of immigrants - many of them poor, but richer than they were in their home countries - has made inequality appear to widen in the statistics, Mr. Easterbrook says. "Factor out immigration," he writes, "and the rise in American inequality disappears." ...
It happens, however, not to be true. The millions of immigrants who have entered the country in recent decades have indeed made inequality look larger than it otherwise would. But even among households headed by native-born Americans, the rich have done far better than others over the past 20 years - as well as over the past 30, 40 or 50 years, according to government statistics and the economists who study them...."The fact of the matter is, income trends have favored people at the top of the income distribution, and that's true of native-borns, too," said Gary Burtless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, whose research is cited in Mr. Easterbrook's book. "There is no data source that disagrees with that simple statement. In fact, the better the data, the more that the skew appears."
Yes, native-born Americans across the income spectrum do make more money than before, but there's a big catch:
...Even in the bottom half of the distribution, the average native-born family makes about 20 percent more than it did in 1970, after adjusting for inflation, according to an analysis of census data by Andrew A. Beveridge and Susan Weber, both of Queens College. But ... less than half of the rise in pay among lower-income households comes from actual wage increases. Most of the rise is a result of families putting in more hours on the job as many women have joined the work force....
Yes, it's good that women aren't staying barefoot and pregnant. But, in terms of total hours worked per household, American families are running harder just to stay more or less in place (and you can add in more teenagers working at low-wage jobs, as the Economist does, cheerily). By contrast, as the Times notes, we just pay the well-to-do more per hour.
Even Easterbrook knows he was overstating the case:
Mr. Easterbrook, a senior editor at The New Republic who is a visiting fellow at Brookings, acknowledged last week that he had gone too far in the book. His discussion of inequality occupies a very small part of "The Progress Paradox," he said, and he was mainly arguing that immigration played a role in the rise in inequality. "Even if there were not that increase in immigration, there would certainly be a rise in inequality," he said in an interview. "I did a poor job of writing that page."
But isn't it more pleasant to say that everything really is coming up roses, and people who don't agree are just whiners?