Thursday, September 3, 2009

Land of Opportunity

I often get into arguments about poverty and its causes. Those on the left frequently argue that the poor are poor because they lack opportunities, and that big business must be restrained to allow the poor to flourish. I counter that big business gives opportunity to poor people in the form of a job. Luckily, the data is on my side:

Two studies by the U.S. Department of the Treasury (1992a, 1992b) examined income mobility using a panel that followed 14,351 taxpayers over the period from 1979-1988. (8) The first Treasury study found that 86 percent of taxpayers in the lowest income quintile in 1979 had moved to a higher quintile by 1988 and 15 percent of them had moved all the way to the top quintile.

Eighty-six percent of the poorest 1/5 of our country improved their economic status. Fifteen percent became the richest 1/5 of our country! Don't tell me there's no opportunity in America.

What's that? You want more current data? Sure!

Both absolute and relative income mobility has been large and upward in the past ten years for those starting with below-average incomes; 80 percent of taxpayers had incomes in quintiles as high or higher in 2005 than they did in 1996, and 45 percent of taxpayers not in the highest income quintile moved up at least one quintile[2].

America, land of opportunity.

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