Arguing About Economics
To the Editor:
In “Bad Advice for the Democrats” [July], Irwin M. Stelzer is so intent on championing his conservative economic orthodoxy (“the only map that has proved reliable—the low-tax . . . policies that produced the great Reagan boom of the 1980′s”) that he completely misses the central point of my new book, The Work of Nations: the Reagan boom excluded most Americans. Non-supervisory workers, constituting about two-thirds of the workforce, lost almost 11 percent of their inflation-adjusted earnings during these years.
Contrary to Mr. Stelzer’s caricature of my argument, I do not “blame” America’s top wage earners—whose income has surged in the opposite direction during the 1980′s—for the slide of their compatriots. Mr. Stelzer takes me to task for calling the top fifth “fortunate” instead of “most able” or “most productive.” At several points in the book I point out that the top fifth of wage earners were fortunate to have received a good education, and their children are fortunate to live in townships that can afford good schools, libraries, and parks. But I also use the adjectives “talented,” “skilled,” and “highly productive” to describe the top earners.
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