Friday, October 28, 2011

Class Warfare

Princeton political scientist, Larry Bartels, used data from the Census Bureau Historical Income Tables to shed light on the "Great Divergence" of inflation-corrected income growth across income levels. It turns out that income growth rates are highly correlated with the party of the President. Bartels attributes the first year of each presidency to the previous administration to allow time for changes in White House policies to take effect. The result is the kind of table Panderbear loves, chock full of political illumination.

Income growth rates were higher across all income levels under Democrats than under Republicans. For Democratic presidents income growth was somewhat greater for low income groups than for higher income groups. This pattern was most pronounced during the "Great Compression" that characterized the more egalitarian Great Depression and post-WWII era, when the wealth gap was at a minimum and realization of the American Dream soared. Except for the highest income group, growth rates were lower during Republican administrations, devastatingly so for the lowest income groups.

All Income Groups Do Better Under Democratic Presidents

Every attempt to increase tax rates for the highest income individuals and corporations, reduce the wealth gap, and restore the American Dream is met with the Republican pander that any such effort is class warfare. Panderbear concludes there is strong circumstantial evidence for class warfare in the income data. Namely, Republicans have declared war on all but the wealthiest Americans. And they're winning. One wonders how long such an obvious tilting of the scales in favor of the rich will be allowed to persist before Republicans are held to account at the polls. At least Occupy Wall Street has brought the symptoms of this war to light. As to what specific Republican policies cause the Great Divergence, stay tuned.

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