Tuesday, March 21, 2006

John Snow's Efficient Star System

Now, the Wall Street Journal editorial page loves the Bush Administration. And I think this is because the Bush Administration loves the Wall Street Journal. And I further think that this is because, while the stories they write do make the administration look ridiculous, as any honest analysis must, they have the good grace to keep it out of internet searches and make people pay to read it.

This is a little experiment. Until Next Monday night, you should have access to a Wall Street Journal interview with Treasury Secretary John Snow, which is probably the most inane thing I've read since the last interview with a Bush Appointee.

What's got me all in a tizzy is that the Treasury Secretary, the fomer CEO of CSX, a hella big company, is richer than me, and says stuff like, "We've moved into a star system for some reason which is not fully understood. Across virtually all professions, there have been growing gaps." This is of course a fine thing to say. But, to him it's a defense of his economic stewardship! It's not okeh! The man has a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Virginia!

And this is what I love about the Journal:

Mr. Snow's case relies on averages, which can be skewed by big gains among the wealthiest. Other data suggest the typical family has seen little advance in income or net worth since Mr. Bush took office. Census Bureau data show median family income -- half of families have income greater than the median, half have less -- fell 3.6% from 2000 through 2004. Incomes for the poorest families fell even further. The only group to gain was the family at the 95th percentile -- that is, richer than 95% of all families. Data for 2005 are unavailable.

Alan Krueger, a labor economist at Princeton University who served in the Clinton administration, cited Labor Department data that showed the real median wage rose 3% from 2000 to 2005. Gains were smallest for the lowest-paid workers and largest for the best-paid. "From the standpoint of the work force, it's been a very weak recovery," he said. Wage data don't incorporate the effects of taxes, investment income or government payments.

As for net worth, a triennial Federal Reserve survey found that the net worth of the median family rose 1.5%, after inflation, from 2001 through 2004. That is far less than the 17% increase from 1995 to 1998 and the 10% increase from 1998 to 2001. The survey wasn't conducted in 2000 or 2005.

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