The poverty of "Deep Poverty," continued: Brad DeLongagrees that Eric Alterman made a "mistake" when he said that "there has been a sharp increase in those living in extreme poverty." DeLong then asks
But what is the 'good poverty news' in the Census Bureau's report?
If there's good news, I assume it would be mainly that the poverty rate--and the "extreme poverty" rate--seem to have peaked, after the 2000 recession, at a lower level than they peaked after the previous recession. (See this familiar historical chart.) That's a good thing, no? On the other hand, poverty hasn't yet fallen to the low level achieved at the end of the Clinton boom/bubble. ... Will the rate continue to fall? Has it maybe become less volatile--less sensitive to both busts and booms? Only time will tell! ...
But I would think Democrats--especially Clintonite Democrats, should resist bogus bad news, like the left's spin on the "deep poverty" number, a number that was suddenly emphasized by opponents of Clinton's welfare reform when, after that law's passage, the regular old poverty numbers failed to soar as predicted. The "deep poverty" number didn't soar either, so leftish organizations like Robert Greenstein's Center on Budget and Policy Priorities moved on to noting that "deep poverty" increased (slightly) as a percentage of all poverty--a completely confected statistic that we shouldn't really care about. (We should care about how many people live in extreme poverty, not whether they're a greater or lesser share of all poverty. Their share might increase, after all, simply because efforts to get the easiest-to-help out of poverty are working.) ....
P.S.: E.J. Dionne falls for the Greenstein spin. ...
P.P.S.: If you underestimate how important Greenstein is in the leftish activist/media/politico machine, compare the NYT 's editorial on the just-released income and poverty numbers with Greenstein's press release. No phone calls were necessary! ...
P.P.P.S.: "Roland Patrick" comes up with similar "good news" in answer to DeLong. I'm skeptical, however, of arguments that claim the poverty rate isn't even a useful measure because it "moves in the wrong direction on good [economic] news." It looks to me like it moves in the right direction, but after a lag. ... But I'd love to see a poverty rate that makes two obvious corrections: 1) Don't count the millions of new immigrants who come to this country poor and swell the poverty numbers simply because they have yet to move up the ladder. What's the poverty rate in 2005 for those families that were here in 2000? Compare it with the rate in 2004 for families here in 1999, etc. ... 2) Don't count affluent people who, by reason of their affluence, are able to take off a year with no income and therefore show up as "poor" in the income stats. (I qualified for the Earned Income Tax Credit during one jobless year, even though I wasn't close to being poor in any relevant sense of the word.) You'd think the number of idle-affluent who earn no income and show up as "poor" would be increasing (as the rich get richer!). But if that's true then these people are making the "poverty rate" appear worse than it really is. If they're idle enough--zero income, despite lots of assets--they'll even show up as "deep poor." ... 12:51 A.M.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Who Needs Fox ... when you can have hot blogger-on-blogger actionin your laptop? It's a Plame Smackdown Preview between David Corn and Byron York at bloggingheads.tv, with all the simmering hostility of a pre-fight weigh-in ceremony! ... Seriously, they seem pissed off at each other, though Corn is in the awkward but tension-building position of trying to postpone substantive argument about the Plame/Armitage/Wilson story until his book, Hubris, actually appears in stores. (But see the links--including this one and this one--for the genesis of this promising feud. See also Maguire.) ... 1:20 P.M.
No mob: Mean Seth Mnookin isn't impressed with the old CJR Daily's "nearly 500,000 page views a month" (as claimed to the NYT). He says Columbia J-School dean Nick Lemann "was arguably right to focus the magazine's limited resources elsewhere." ... I guess there wasn't a huge market for huffily defending the pre-blog status quo! [They did more than that--ed I'm sure they did.]... 11:25 A.M.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
TODAY IN SLATE
The Democrats’ War at Home
How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?
Secret Service Director Julia Pierson Resigns
Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing
Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10
Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.
Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.
How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.
How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully
On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.