Monday, June 05, 2006

What's Right with Kansas - growth and jobs

Thomas Frank is very confident that the people of Kansas are fools for supporting Republicans, even conservative one, when they could be voting for big government, higher taxes, and even higher taxes, and welfare for everyone. His book on this is What's the Matter with Kansas? But Thomas Frank has it wrong. Kansas is not sinking in poverty due to cruel capitalism and global trade. Scapbook in the Weekly Standard discovered (Link - scroll down to "Dog Bites Man") that David Leonhardt in the New York Times corrected poor Frank:
Close inspection uncovers a big problem with Mr. Frank's economic analysis. Wages haven't been falling in Kansas. Up and down the economic spectrum, they have been higher in the last few years than they were at any point in the 1980s or 90s, according to inflation-adjusted numbers from the Economic Policy Institute. The median Kansas worker made $13.43 an hour in 2004, 11 percent more than in 1979, which might help explain why many people don't vote on bread-and-butter issues anymore. . . . More to the point, some other improvements have accelerated recently. In just the last 15 years, the murder rate has been cut almost in half. Many big cities are far more vibrant places than they used to be. About 33 percent of young adults get a bachelor's degree these days, up from 25 percent in the early 1990s. The gap between men's and women's pay reached its lowest ever last year. The divorce rate has stopped rising. Many luxuries of earlier generations--owning a three-bedroom house, flying across the country, calling relatives who live overseas--are staples of middle-class life. If all this doesn't add up to a rise in living standards, I'm not sure what the phrase means. We couldn't have said it better ourselves.
The New York Times printed this? Yes.

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