Intersecting Minds: Education, Business and Technology at the North Carolina State Jenkins Graduate School of Management

Hey, This Guy Wrote My Textbook | January 26, 2009

Steven Landsburg that is. He wrote “Price Theory of Economics,” the textbook used in our Microeconomics class. Landsburg has a brief article out today for the Atlantic, in which he argues the economic situation isn’t that bad. Key passage:

Start with this: You are better off than you were four years ago. After adjusting for inflation, the average American earns about $2500 a year more today than on the day of W’s second inaugural. That same average American now spends a little less time at the office or on the assembly line, and a little more time on vacation or on the couch…

Today we’re in a recession–a moment in time when the march of growth stalls and even gets set back by a couple of years. This happens every now and then. Really. But things pick up again and we move on. Some people get set back a little farther than others; some are unemployed for a while. But the pool of resources is still near an all-time high.

It’s an interesting argument to be sure, and it sounds persuasive on the surface. Yes, the average American does earn $2500 more per year. But this doesn’t take into account the massive income disparities Americans witnessed through the last decade. In fact, real wages for over 80% of American workers declined, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

While I wouldn’t consider myself an extreme pessimist on the economy, I do think the vast majority of Americans are a site worse off than we were four or even eight years ago.


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