"I sympathize with the poor, but the number of poor
who are to be sympathized with is very small. "Cross country comparisons have been performed for a number of
years using different measures where the countries included Australia, Canada,
Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden and United States.
To sympathize with a man
whom God has punished for his sins is to do wrong.
Let us remember there is not a poor
person in the US who was not made poor by his own shortcomings." -
Russell Conwell, minister
and graduate Yale law school, "Acres of Diamonds" sermon
The studies have examined income mobility elasticity (the percentage of
increase in a sons income associated with a 1 percent increase in the
fathers income), correlations between income of two generations as well
as examining the probability of someone
born in one income level moving to another.
All of these studies have
drawn the same conclusion, that the United States has lower, not higher,
mobility than other wealthy countries.
For example, in the studies on
income mobility elasticity, it was seen that an American mans income is
nearly twice as reliant on his fathers background as a Canadian
One interesting study examined the
probability that a son
will remain in his fathers income quintile, where a quintile represents
one-fifth of the population ranked from lowest to highest income.
that study of six countries (Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, the United
Kingdom, and the United States), the data demonstrate that 42 percent of the
American sons of fathers born in the poorest quintile landed in the poorest
This rate of the persistence of poverty was far
higher than the 30 percent found in the United Kingdom and well above the 25
percent to 28 percent range found in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Norway." -
Howard Steven Friedman
"For decades, the wealthy have been held up as
people to be admired, victors in the Darwinian economic struggle by virtue
of their personal ingenuity and hard work.
supported fiscal policies that undermined middle and working-class interests
partially because they saw themselves as rich-people-in-waiting:
time, toil and the magic of compound interest,
anyone could retire a
That mind-set has all but been eradicated by the damage sustained by
the average worker's nest egg, combined with
the spectacle of
bankers and financial engineers
maintaining their lifestyles with multimillion-dollar bonuses while the
submerged 99% struggle for oxygen.
By my count, roughly one-quarter of the names on the
Forbes list of the 400 richest
Americans got there by inheritance (and by no means have all of them
enhanced the family fortune with their own toil or brainpower).
years ago, it was common to think of the rich as a special breed.
may soon come around to George Orwell's view that the
only difference between rich and poor is income." - Michael Hiltzik, March
"Wait a minute - you're going to help firefighters and
police to attain the American Dream while some of us can only
Let's see, we help
school teachers, we help welfare mothers (Section 8) and now we want to help
firefighters and police who already make a good salary.
There's a group
of us who are just under the "middle class" who get no
help at all.
Am I jealous?
You're damn right I am." -
"A survey for the
New York Times in 2005 found
that 80% of those polled believed that it was possible to start out poor, work
hard and become rich, compared with less than 60% back in 1983.
America has an unusually low level of intergenerational mobility:
parents' income is highly predictive of our incomes as adults.
Intergenerational mobility in America is lower than in France, Germany,
Sweden, Canada, Finland, Norway and Denmark.
Among high-income countries
for which comparable estimates are available, only the United Kingdom had a
lower rate of mobility than America.
The intergenerational findings
paint a portrait of a society in which
family background matters a
middle class, an increase
in income volatility has led to an increase in the
frequency of large negative
income shocks, which may be expected to translate to an increase in
Despite solid growth in GDP, household short-term
income mobility at the median in 2003-04 was no more favorable than in the
recession years of 1990-91.
A large academic study released in 2014
found income mobility has not changed appreciably in the last 20
The recent economic expansion has generated tepid growth in
median household income, and a considerable increase in the risk of major
income losses from year to year.
Today's record levels of both
secured and unsecured debt mean income losses may
have lasting effects on finances.
Both large upward and large downward
movements have become more frequent, and it is coherent to argue that this
combination produces greater insecurity compared with a more stable economic
This may be evidence of a fundamental shift in the
relation between economic growth and economic security, as may be the finding
that even those who work overtime on a consistent basis no longer appear to be
able to generate much upward mobility for their families." - Tom Hertz,
2001 Married couples are
twice as likely to file
for bankruptcy and more likely to
lose their homes to foreclosure than childless couples or single
To most families in
America today a second income is not a luxury but a necessity.
it takes two incomes to survive,
financial shocks such as the involuntary loss of a job or a health crisis, are
much more likely to devastate the family.
America over 30% of marriages end within the first 10 years.
41% of first marriages end in divorce after an
average of 8 years.
Living together prior to getting married can
increase the chance of getting divorced by as much as 40%.
children growing up in America today are being raised without their
Working Americans are being forced to chose between economic
security or getting married and having children.
"This debunks the myth
of America as the land of
opportunity, but it doesn't tell us what to do to fix it." - Bhashkar
Mazumder, senior economist Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
"Our people are good people; our people are kind
Pray God some day kind people won't all be poor."
Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
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