Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mobility or Higher Standards?

James Surowiecki would have us consider derailing the focus on mobility before it gets full steam and instead think about a general higher standard of living.
"More important, in any capitalist society most people are bound to be part of the middle and working classes; public policy should focus on raising their standard of living, instead of raising their chances of getting rich. What made the U.S. economy so remarkable for most of the twentieth century was the fact that, even if working people never moved into a different class, over time they saw their standard of living rise sharply. ... Raising living standards for ordinary workers is hard: you need to either get wages growing or talk about things that scare politicians, like “redistribution” and “taxes.” But making it easier for some Americans to move up the economic ladder is no great triumph if most can barely hold on."

It's a strong point, one which Paul Krugman then takes up and restates more snappily with,
"if you want a society in which everyone has a decent life, you need to construct a society in which everyone has a decent life — not a society in which everyone has a small but equal chance of living the lifestyle of the rich and famous. ... Since anyone could find himself or herself downwardly mobile, social mobility arguably actually strengthens the case for a strong safety net."
Mobility isn't all it's cracked up to be. It has downs with it's ups. Unlike an overall higher standard of living.

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