The myth of American inequality How government biases policy debate

Phil Gramm

Book - 2022

"Everything you know about income inequality, poverty and other measures of economic well-being in America is wrong. In measuring income inequality, poverty and other indexes of well-being our government does not count two-thirds of all transfer payments that are received or any of the taxes paid. When we get our facts straight poverty has virtually been eliminated, income inequality is lower than it was in 1947 and America is still the great land of opportunity"--

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Subjects
Published
Lanham : Rowman & Littlefield 2022
Language
English
Main Author
Phil Gramm (author)
Other Authors
Robert B. (Robert Burton) Ekelund, 1940- (author), John (Mathematical economist) Early
Physical Description
viii, 255 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
9781538167380
  • Preface
  • 1. Introduction: Official Statistical Measures Understate America's Well-Being
  • 2. Inequality in Producing and Consuming in America
  • 3. Poverty in America
  • 4. Trends in Income Inequality
  • 5. Causes of the Growth in Earned-Income Inequality
  • 6. Measures of Well-Being
  • 7. What about the "Super Rich"?
  • 8. The American Dream Is Alive and Well
  • 9. Fifty Years of Economic Progress
  • 10. Policy Implications and Conclusions
  • Appendices
  • Notes
  • Index
  • About the Authors
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Former U.S. senator Gramm and economists Ekelund (coauthor, The Economics of Art) and Early claim in this wonky yet misleading study that, contrary to popular belief, income inequality in America is declining, not rising. The root of that faulty perception, they argue, lies in the U.S. Census Bureau's policy of not counting food stamps, Medicaid and Medicare benefits, and many other kinds of "transfer payments" as income, and in not deducting taxes paid from household incomes. If those numbers were adjusted, the authors claim, income disparity would appear one-fourth as large as it currently does. They also quibble with the price indexes the government uses to measure inflation, dismiss arguments that America's "super wealthy" don't pay their fair share of taxes, and cite Ebenezer Scrooge as an example of "how wealth accumulation benefits society" ("His investments created jobs and growing prosperity for others just as Warren Buffett's investments do today"). The authors' assumption that only those "physically or mentally unable to care for themselves" would fall through the cracks of America's social safety net rings false, as does their claim that the 40-hour work week is a natural by-product of "the massive wealth and productivity of our modern economy," and not of labor reform activism. Myopic and ill-considered, this provocation won't change minds. (Sept.)

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