Social Mobility


James Surowiecki, writing in the March 3rd issue of The New Yorker, discusses social mobility. Surowiecki writes:

The economy is growing more slowly than it did in the postwar era, and average workers’ share of the pie has been shrinking. It’s no surprise that people in Washington prefer to talk about mobility rather than about this basic reality. Raising living standards for ordinary workers is hard: you need to either get wages growing or talk about things that scare politicians, like “redistribution” and “taxes.” 

Surowiecki reports:

  • Social mobility in the U.S. has be stable for fifty years.
  • Mobility here is lower than in most European countries.
  • Social mobility isn’t crucial to economic well being.

What is important is an adequate standard of living. It isn’t important that children of working class families move into the middle class. What is important is that the economic well being of working class and middle class Americans improves with time. What is important is that working class parents, even single parents, be be able to feed their families, provide needed health care, take vacations, and send the kids to college. That hasn’t been happening.

© William Hungerford – March 2014

About whungerford

* Contributor at where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
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16 Responses to Social Mobility

  1. BOB MCGILL says:

    Did you read my information on consumption ? The planet CAN”T SUSTAIN the present
    population now ! We Americans comsume 20 times what people in other countries comsume !
    We need to figure out what is ENOUGH and then perhaps LOWER OUR STANDARDS. NOW you have a whole new class of people, what’s this ” working class” and ” middle class” ? You people just want ” MORE THAN YOU’LL EVER HAVE !!!!! 🙂


  2. whungerford says:

    Shall we lower our standards for those who can’t afford food and medicine, or for those who have accumulated more wealth than they possibly need?


  3. BOB MCGILL says:

    ” those who have accumulated more wealth than they possibly need ” pay for 95% of everything this country provides for those who can’t provide for themselves ! But you won’t be happy till you break them !
    Back off before you make a bigger mess for the less fortunate. For the kind of money I make, I donate a considerable sum to charity, but the more I’m taxed the less I give ! The GIMME, GIMME -GIMME attitude of some organizations turns me off, the DEMOCRATS being number ONE.


  4. BOB MCGILL says:…‎Cached
    Subscribe Donate to Charity Navigator · Home · My … Without charities and non-profits, America would simply not be able to operate. … Total giving to charitable organizations was $316.23 billion in 2012 (about 2% of GDP). This is an increase


  5. BOB MCGILL says:

    Right now I could expand my business,however that would mean I would have to work more and I would be taxed more. I am not the only one who is in this position. What I am going to do is ” SHRINK” my busness pay LESS TAXES and work less. AAAAANNNNNNNNDDDDDDDDDD, donate ZERO !!!!!!!! 🙂


  6. whungerford says:

    The idea that private charity provides adequately for human needs is simply wrong. For example, private contributions are only about 5% of the income of the Food Bank of the Southern Tier.


  7. BOB MCGILL says:

    When I was 8 years old,I would make $20.00 shoveling snow, on a day like today ! Where are they ? You people have not taught your kids how to work, you weren’t taught how to work. Well, let me tell you, they had better learn ! You are so concerned about our childrens future, well kiss it good-bye, because this country is going down the tubes real fast, and you will have no-one to blame but yourselves ! 🙂

    I HAVE NO KIDS and it is because of your attitude ! You will NOT make my kid a SLAVE to the system like you have me !


  8. BOB McGILL says:

    You’re the one who said GOOD RIDANCE when I said Tom Gulisano moved to Florida, didn’t you !

    B. Thomas Golisano Philanthropy. Tom Golisano Makes $20 Million Challenge Grant to Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida . Gift Will Support New Dedicated State …


  9. whungerford says:

    Golisano reportedly spent $93 million of his after tax money running for Governor. I guess he wasn’t left destitute: he seems to have had at least $20 million left.


  10. whungerford says:

    Whoops sorry, reportedly he has 2 billion left. NYS taxes didn’t leave him a pauper evidently.


  11. BOB McGILL says:

    Somewhere I posted that he paid $89,000.00 a day in state taxes, it was on the internet. That would mean New Yorkers will not be spending his money anymore. That must make him feel real bad.
    How many kids can you feed with $89,000 a day ? You must feel real proud !!! 🙂


  12. BOB McGILL says:

    whungerford, Are you related to Gov. Cuomo by chance ?


  13. whungerford says:

    Bob, with 2 billion, he could pay $100,000 per day for 20,000 days– more than 50 years.


  14. BOB McGILL says:

    And taxpayers do vote with their feet, moving to places with lower taxes, Forbes says. That’s especially true of people entering retirement. “They look at death taxes. They look at income taxes,” he said.

    “The fact is a lot of people move to Florida, people move to Texas and some people even move to states like Wyoming, Nevada and the state of Washington.” None of those states has a personal income tax.

    New York City and state taxes together already constitute “one of the highest tax burdens in the country,” Forbes said.

    “It has devastated New York State. Look at upstate. To think New York City is impervious to this kind of demand, look what happened in the 1960s and ’70s. They literally drove the city to bankruptcy. Why start on that path again?

    Forbes says it’s not surprising that the economy isn’t helping the poor under President Barack Obama.

    “When you have an economy that is stagnating, those who want to get ahead have the least chance to do it,” he said.



  15. whungerford says:

    NY has 67 billionaires, second only to CA with 85. NY is also near the top in billionaires per million people at 3.46–highest among large states (Washington DC and Montana are higher). We needn’t fear a billionaire drain.


  16. BOB McGILL says:

    How much you want to bet those 65 billionaires already have a house in Florida ? They just still go to work everyday. how long do you think they intend to stay in NY ? how long would it take for 65 to move out ?


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