Skip to comments.Work pays!
Posted on 05/02/2003 12:53:14 AM PDT by JohnHuang2
Those for whom indignation is a way of life often inform us of the fact that families or households in the top 10 or 20 percent in income make far more money than people in the bottom 10 or 20 percent in income. What they almost never inform us of are how much money they are talking about and how many people in these different brackets actually work.
These omissions are neither incidental nor accidental. If the full facts were brought out, those facts would completely undermine the picture presented by the envy zealots or, as they prefer to be called, advocates of "social justice."
Despite the looseness with which the term "rich" is thrown around -- as in "tax cuts for the rich" -- most people to whom that term is sweepingly applied are far from being rich. First of all, whether you are rich or not depends on your wealth, not your income, but the statistics used by the envy zealots are almost always income statistics.
These are also usually statistics about family income or household income, which can be very misleading, because families and households differ substantially in size -- and where there are more people making money, they usually make more money.
While there are more than 19 million people working in households with incomes in the top 20 percent, there are fewer than 8 million people working in households in the bottom 20 percent. How much of an injustice is it that people who work get more money than people who don't work?
If you are talking about working full-time, 50 or more weeks a year, then there are more people doing that in the top 5 percent of households than in the bottom 20 percent. As Casey Stengel used to say, you can look it up. These are Census data, available on-line from the Current Population Survey, Table HINC-06.
It may not be a breakthrough on the frontiers of economics to say that work pays, but it does. Among households in the bottom 20 percent in income, there are more than 13 million people who do not work at all and fewer than 8 million who do work, counting both full time and part time workers.
How do people live without working? Millions in the bottom 20 percent live on the money earned by other people who do work and whose income gets taxed to pay for the non-workers. In addition, more than 4 million families in the bottom fifth in income live on property income and nearly 6 million live on various forms of retirement income, including Social Security. (Table FINC-06, for those who demand proof only from those they disagree with.)
What about those "rich" people we hear so much about? Studies that follow the same individuals over time have found that those in the top 20 percent and those in the bottom 20 percent are mostly the same people at different stages of their lives. Not only does work pay, when you have worked a longer time, it usually pays more.
High-income people are typically people who have reached their peak earning years in middle age. What does it take to reach the top 20 percent in income? In 2001, it took a little less than $85,000 -- for a whole household! (This is a different Census publication: "Current Population Reports," P60-218.)
How many yachts these people are going to buy, even if they get those "tax cuts for the rich" we hear about, is another story.
To reach the top 5 percent, you need an income of about $150,000 -- again, for a whole household. A middle-aged couple who have worked their way up in middle-class jobs, over a period of decades, can reach this peak -- and have much of it taxed away.
These publicly available numbers may be surprising news to some because neither in the media nor in academia do the envy zealots like to talk about actual dollars and cents. Or about work -- one of the few four-letter words that remains taboo.
They prefer to talk about percentage shares going to some people versus others. But people do not live on percentages. They live on money and on the things that money can buy, which is to say, their real income.
Despite all the hand-wringing about the fact that the bottom 20 percent get a smaller share than in times past, the real income of the bottom 20 percent has gone up by thousands of dollars. Moreover, the people who were in that bottom 20 percent in the past have also gone up into higher brackets.
When I bumped it, I was hoping some FReepers would. The lack of posts and bumps on this thread - and, more convincingly, the plethora of posts on other, more inane threads, all day long - could lead one to believe that some FReepers may be part of that non-producing group you refer to. Mr. Sowell is absolutely right, WORK is "a four-letter word," even (or especially?) on Free Republic.
There are worse things non-producers could be doing with their time, but there are better, too. What non-producers do with their time wouldn't concern me in the slightest if I wasn't providing (in part) for their support through taxes on my own work-earned wages.
Work pays! But so does sitting home collecting a check (or housing, food stamps, fuel assistance, child care, medical treatment, etc., etc.,) from those who do, and so the practice will continue. The worst irony of all is hearing the same people who have complained about supporting those on welfare gloat over how long they themselves have received unemployment compensation.
The sly evil of the non-producer situation is in the mindset of the one that is willing to accept the hand-out simply because it is offered. Temptation is common to man, after all. One ought to work not simply because it pays, but because it is right, healthy, God-ordained, stimulating to the mind, body, and spirit, and earns one the full enjoyment of rest when it is taken.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.