Saturday, December 21, 2013

Average is Over

In this book, Tyler Cohen makes the case that the US is on a path to higher inequality. He argues that those who can work with computers and smart machines will increase their earnings and everyone else will be relegated to low-income status. We have all heard this before.
Cohen explicitly promotes the Horatio Alger myth by name and claims that people with enough self-determination and discipline will do well in this environment. He claims that government fiscal issues will push the low-income earners toward areas of the country with low taxes and middling public services. He quite literally promotes US slums where housing is worn down, services are shoddy, and people make do.
Cohen’s right-wing dreamery continues as he claims that America will grow more conservative (read right-wing) over time as America grows older.
Cohen seems to miss that immigration completely voids his predictions. Yes, income inequality is growing, and computer jobs are the future. However, H1-B visa abuse has confounded countless numbers of American IT professionals who can’t compete against what is essentially taxless indentured servitude that always seems to get paid on the low side.
Also, Latino immigration is changing the demographics of America in a profound way. This influx of Latin Americans will tend to keep America younger than it would be, confounding Cohen’s idea that America will age into right-wing conservatism. Furthermore, Latinos may be conservative on the level of personal lifestyles and morality but they are far from conservative on society and government.

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