Liberals Can’t Read Graphs, Part 3

This research is exceedingly important. Yet, despite its overall quality and its stratospheric academic origins, it suffers from the de rigueur graphical illiteracy of modern liberalism.

Here is how the authors describe their findings in their own Executive Summary:

Wealth concentration has followed a U-shaped evolution over the last 100 years: It was high in the beginning of the twentieth century, fell from 1929 to 1978, and has continuously increased since then.

Here, meanwhile, is the author’s graph showing the wealth share of the richest 0.1% (one-tenth of one percent) of U.S. households:

Wealth Shares graph
click image for larger view

“Fell from 1929 to 1978” is an extremely peculiar way of describing the movement of that line over those years. As any child can see, the line has two declines — a minor one from 1968 to 1978, and the only major one from, of course, from 1932 to 1949, years when corporate capitalism was first dying and then under public command. From 1949 to 1968, the line is entirely flat, meaning that the richest 0.1% was maintaining its customary share of (rapidly expanding) wealth.

To conclude, as the authors do, that “there was a substantial democratisation of wealth from the Great Depression to the late 1970s” is profoundly crude, if not intentionally misleading. The supposed golden years of welfare state liberalism were exactly 1949 through 1968. But, as these authors themselves show but cannot acknowledge, wealth was not democratized one iota over that stretch!

The plain fact is that, under corporate capitalism, only systemic crisis and/or public anti-capitalist intervention ever democratize wealth. That simple fact, of course, is publicly unmentionable in our market totalitarian society, organized as it is around the thesis that the rich can never be rich enough.

3 Replies to “Liberals Can’t Read Graphs, Part 3”

  1. Yes, that is an extremely important corrective you make. To say that the America I grew up (towards the latter end of the designated period 1949-1969) in, featured the “democratization of wealth” is not to be “profoundly crude” or “intentionally misleading,” it is to lie. You put in it in the starkest of terms: not “one iota,” but these are academics who must lie because that is how critics are mollified.
    I did enjoy the Amazon “Echo” rebuttal you posted, which led me to the comments section of the link, where one fellow traveler divulged that the “fake happiness” of the horrific ad (super-hot Mom, schlubby Dad, as always) made him or her feel “stabby.”

  2. Yes, that ad is full of unusually irksome tropes, which is saying a mouthful, given the baseline. That’s one of the great achievements of this m-t culture. Vastly more people consider themselves connoisseurs of advertising, and go out of their way to remark on how “funny” and “clever” ads are than there are folks who have the first reaction to the massive insults from which ads are made. I think that’s one of the side-effects of the Super Bowl. It pushes this idea that ads are entertainment.

  3. Not sure what’s sending comments to the trash, but am very hesitant to disable the filters, due to the volume of actual spam comments we get. Until I figure out what broke, I’ll be sure to restore legit comments from trash.

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