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Friday, March 06, 2015

david autor and the new defense of the 1 percent: don't do the math! look over here at this shiny neo-liberal platitude!

It took a while for the research of economist David Autor to reach the rightwing mimosphere, but it is there now. Autor's claim has become gospel for the rightwing set: As David Brooks puts it, If we could magically confiscate and redistribute the above-average income gains that have gone to the top 1 percent since 1979, that would produce $7,000 more per household per year for the bottom 99 percent." This is said to mislead, so that you think, oh, 7,000 isn't much. But if you do the math, that means every household in american would be making 315,000 dollars more per year. 
I think this is close to my estimate. To quote the EPI institute: "The CEO-to-worker compensation ratio was 20.1-to-1 in 1965 and 29.0-to-1 in 1978, grew to 122.6-to-1 in 1995, peaked at 383.4-to-1 in 2000, and was 272.9-to-1 in 2012, far higher than it was in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s."
So, imagine that CEOs were making the same salary in 2012 and the compensation ratio was 29.0. Average CEO compensation was $14.1 million in 2012. Thus, the average worker would be making 486 thousand dollars.
We are fucked.
Brooks of course goes on to compare real money earned with a fake premium on college education, "But if we could close the gap so that high-school-educated people had the skills of college-educated people, that would increase household income by $28,000 per year." Of course, Brooks doesn't repeat the idea that every year since 1979, the bottom 99 percent would be earning 28,000 more per year.
Now, it is possible that Brooks, who has no head for math, is misquoting Autor. But if he is correct, than Autor is a bigger putz than he appears, since obviously an increase of 28,000 over 45 years is much less than an increase of 316,000. Autor's work is in the domain of justifyng the wealthy and red herringism. Don't think about that one percent! But he accidentally seems to have confirmed just what we know.
We are so fucked.

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