They Are Different Freaking People

Why is this concept so hard to get across - averages do not reflect individuals.  Individuals move up and down through the averages all the time, such that the "rich" and "poor" today are often circumstantially different people than they were 10 or 20 years ago.  But Kevin Drum and the left will never get it

Over the past three decades, these families have seen their incomes double and triple while the rest of the country stagnated.

Repeat after me -- the families in the 1986 rich are NOT the same families in the 2006 rich.  Some overlap, of course, but many do not.

Even if all the averages were stagnant, it could be very possible for every individual in the average to be doing better year over year but have the averages stagnate.  For one, individuals typically gain income as they age and gain experience.  The reason the averages don't move with them is that new workers, both teenagers and poor immigrants, move onto the list from outside, often at the bottom.  If you look at the same group of people today and ten years ago  (therefore leaving out new entrants into the work force over that period and what they do to the averages) you will find them doing much better.

And I thought this was funny:

by getting the centrist optics right, Obama has been able to move more boldly than he otherwise could have.  Republicans who paint him as the second coming of Karl Marx just look like idiots these days.

Note that he is not arguing Obama is not acting like Karl Marx, just that he is successfully avoiding being percieved as such.  Boy, that sure must be a real communications achievement for a man who gets so much tough scrutiny and skepticism from the media ;=)

By the way, does anyone else find it weird that the Democrats have decided to do battle with Ruch Limbaugh, rather than any actual, real Republic elected official.  Is this a Democratic strategy, to find someone they can safely demonize without political power to strike back, or a Republican strategy to use Limbaugh as a stalking horse to save them from taking tough opposition positions?


  1. Greg:

    Democrats are good at one thing especially. They recognize who is the greatest threat to their power. Sarah Palin is the most recent example. A strong, independent, successful attractive woman who was a conservative. The left saw her as their public enemy #1, and destroyed her.

    Now that there are NO Republican leaders in Congress, the left sees Rush Limbaugh as the most influential voice of the conservative movement (and they are right), so they are attempting to destroy him.

    If elected Republicans understood this fact, they could just rally around this person and/or philosophy and have tremendous success.

    But they're too busy in trying to go along and get along. Pathetic.

  2. Tom Kelly:

    One data point of anecdotal evidence. In 1986 I had taxable income of 1.1 million dollars (I believe that would be around 2 million in today's dollars). I wrote a check at the end of the year for $357 K in income taxes- over and above my estimated payments. So I was very high income but single and living in a one bedroom apartment where the rent was $310 a month.

    Last year my taxable income was $0 as my latest venture is struggling. I now live with my family in a 5 bedroom "executive" home with 2 SUV's in the garage and my children attend private school. I paid $0 in income tax.

    So, though I'm an outlier, definitions of rich and poor are certainly arbitrary.

  3. Matt:

    If there's one thing that should be understood when dealing with your everyday Republican, it's this: Don't screw with Limbaugh. It doesn't matter if you're Obama or Michael Steele. More average Republicans listen to Limbaugh than press releases by any elected or party officials. Everyday conservatives love that guy more than the libs hate him.

  4. Link:

    Limbaugh is a problem. He's anathema to independents and Hispanics. Obama and Rahm are picking a fight with Rush as a distraction. It makes Rush stronger, but the Republicans weaker.

    Palin -- unfairly -- has the same problem.

    Rush wants to be divisive -- it's good for ratings.

  5. morganovich:

    the limbaugh thing is a sign of immaturity in obama. (in my opinion he is simply utterly unqualified experientially and emotionally to be where he is)

    he is so focused on message and on dominating the news cycle that having someone else in there disagreeing with him is just too much for him. he is getting goaded into a debate that he needs the class and sense of his own place to not get drawn into. but he won't. now that he has engaged, disengaging from a pit bull like rush will be very difficult. this was a serious error, and he will pay for it through his whole tenure.

    but it's also interesting in another respect: rush is ultra-conservative enough that many centrists (and libertarians) have some real issues with him. if obama can get him to be the center of the republican party, then they will have a difficult time reaching out to the middle int he next election.

    what really gets me is this: politics has so far eclipsed substance at the moment that no one in DC seems to even care about the consequences of their actions. they are not even playing a zero sum game, but a negative sum one, and they keep raising the stakes again and again. news is about how a policy will appeal to a demographic. commentators speak of policy like it's a chess match. right, wrong, fairness, reasonableness, and efficacy seem to never come up at all.

    in such an environment, nothing can flourish save parasites.

  6. Franco:

    Coyote, your comment on income growth is spot-on. I made $17,000 in 1995. In 2007, I made over $300,000. This Kevin Drum guy is an idiot. My income went up by almost 20x. I worked my tail off and there was a bit of luck involved but I made it. My brother-in-law came here from the middle east with $300 in his pocket in 1993. He couldn't speak English. He is making six-figures and owns his own business. The way to succeed is hard work and personal responsibility. Drum does a disservice to the people he thinks he's helping by regurgitating this drivel or maybe he just parrots the marxist party line for some reason.

  7. the other coyote:

    I graduated from high school in '86. I think I made about $1000 that year (on the books, any way...). My oldest sister was in the process of flunking out of yet another expensive private school, because she's a f@#k up. She always has been. She likes to party, indulge in all her victim fantasies, and basically sit on the couch, watch Oprah, eat bon-bons, and blame all her problems on my evil capitalist father who wouldn't send her to France her sophomore year in college. At the time, she had a .9 GPA, and if she was my kid, I would have refused a French party excursion as well.

    Fast forward 23 years. My oldest sister is still a f@#k up. Her husband grew up and got a job, but they live in a small midwestern city where you can get by on not a lot of money. I'm guessing my household income is 10x what theres is.

    Even though we came from the same litter, same genetics, same upbringing, same parents, same socio-economic class, 23 years later, one of us is "rich" in the left's world and one of us is "poor." I'd really like for someone on the left to turn a lightbulb on and realize that my sister is not poor because she's unfortunate, or downtrodden; she's poor because she won't hustle. For whatever reason, she developed an outlook on life that (1) it's not her fault and (2) we all OWE her something.

    Which explains why she's a raving leftist, I'm becoming a libertarian, and why I haven't spoken to her in 10 years.

  8. Allen:

    Brink Lindsey just touched on the issues of measuring income, wealth, and hourly wages in the cato's daily podcast the other day.

  9. morganovich:

    white house spokesman now engaging with cramer over at CNBC.

    there appears to be no pig with which these guys won't wrestle.

    this sort of thing will stick to them.

  10. John Dewey:

    other coyote,

    I have more than a handful of siblings. It was interesting to observe them changing over the years from redistributionist liberals to conservatives as they worked hard to achieve economic success. But two of them remained economic failures and remained redistributionist liberals. As you said, "same litter, same genetics, same upbringing, same parents, same socio-economic class", yet some learn to take care of themselves and others remain parasites.

  11. Jim Collins:

    The Government called...........they want their money back............all of it.
    Something about Joe Biden wanting to recover it...........

  12. Henry Bowman:

    The Democrats have settled into a pattern in which they attack people rather than the ideas anyone espouses. In executing this strategy, they rely heavily on their most obedient servants in the media. I briefly saw even the sometimes-coherent Juan Williams ranting about Rush Limbaugh a couple of days ago, carrying on as though Limbaugh was the leader of the Republican Party, which he is not and I suspect does not want to be, as it would entail a huge cut in pay. The servitude of the media was nowhere so obvious as when Palin was the VP nominee -- I've never seen anything quite like that episode.

    I've come to the conclusion that perhaps one-third of the Democrats are quite literally insane. The others simply want free stuff.