This WAPO op-ed from chief McCain economic adviser Donald Luskin may set some kind of record for unfortunate timing. Shorter Luskin: unless you happen to be among the few million wretched refuse of our teeming shores who purchased a subprime mortgage things are still pretty good so quit your bitching (I guess that’s not that short. It’s my first try at doing the blogger shorter thing, so spare me your elitist latte-sipping elitism about how it’s not very good. I am trying to become aware of all internet traditions).
In regard to the substance of Luskin’s argument, I know almost as little about economics as John McCain, but I do know this: Over the past 30 years median household income in the United States has barely risen, from about $40K to around $46K. At the same time, the gross domestic product has increased by about 120% (all of this in constant dollars. If GDP had remained the same per capita it would have increased by about 40%). In other words, the wealth of the nation has nearly doubled in real terms per person, yet the typical household is pretty much where it was 30 years ago. Which means, of course, that the typical household is vastly worse off relative to the top 5%, and 1% and especially top .1% of its neighbors.
Furthermore, in recent centuries American culture has been constructed around conspicuous consumption, constant televangelizing for the gods of consumerism, and media celebrations of fantasies of unlimited wealth.
So why is Donald Luskin surprised when the peasantry rattle their pitchforks?