Another Stupid Pew Study

The Pew Charitable Trust just released a study recently that shows that median income for those in their thirties has fallen generation over generation for the first time in modern history and concludes that it shows that the “American Dream” is imperiled by “CEO salaries” and “income inequality” -- among other things -- and that our only salvation is through government intervention.

My goodness! Imagine a lefty think tank concluding that! That’s like the oil industry being opposed to climate change legislation. Its no wonder every major news source will reprint the report’s conclusions without an iota of skepticism.

It goes without saying that the economists working at a think tank like Pew believe capitalism unchecked will invariably end with the great many of us serving a few thousand czars that own everything; that no matter how well read or credentialed they become they still see the world with the same lazy Marxism they were first exposed to by the hacks teaching their first freshman survey courses.

While I think there is plenty in the study that leaves room for concern I also see a great over-eagerness to again take a single negative metric, frame it in such a way to be “unprecedented”, suggest that it demonstrates that market freedom imperils us and through intellectually dishonest slight of hand and a stupid, complicit media transform correlation into causation. I defy anyone to explain how Steve Jobs getting paid $260 million dollars this year directly depressed any thirty-something’s income. It’s simply a retarded conclusion.

A more realistic, less ambitious explanation for the income drop is that people are simply starting their careers later. This is a very well known phenomenon and has been reported on by NPR on several occasions. Microeconomics is basically the study of how people make decisions. Until our generation the decision to work was largely driven by necessity. The unprecedented wealth of our parents now makes work more optional. Many 30 something’s have used this additional discretion to do things such as acquire more education (or be lazy) that would have been economically unfeasible in previous generations.

In short the same argument lefty econs use to explain away the income discrepancy between the US and Europe can be employed here: the same or greater opportunity to make money exists; they are just choosing to work less.