The American Dream

I am still underwater here completing a few projects, but Brink Lindsey is blogging on the most recent study claiming that income growth and the American Dream are somehow dead for the average American. 

Seriously folks, if I had a betting market that would allow you to bet on either income mobility in the US or in France, which would you take?  Seriously?  Given that the US has higher economic growth, orders of magnitude lower barriers to entrepreneurship, and no history of bright-line class distinctions that carry down through history, as France does, where would you bet?

Well, actually, there is such a betting market, and it is called immigration.  Guess which way it is running for the most talented people for whom income mobility would pay the greatest benefits?  Have you heard the stories of the brilliant young technology minds moving from the US to France to start their new business?  Yeah, neither have I.

And don't make the mistake that "Oh, this is fine for smart college educated kids, but how about for poor people?"  Congress is currently tying itself into knots over the problem of about 12 million poorer people for whom America was such an economic attraction that they were willing to break the law to come here.  Which, coincidently, also goes a long way to explaining why US median income always seems stagnant in studies over the last 30 years.  It is because tens of millions of poor immigrants have come in at the bottom, bringing down the mean and median at the same time most individuals are climbing.  It is for this reason that the average individual can be doing better and better at the same time the mean is flat or even going down.

Postscript:  I was emailing back and forth with Brink and he made a great point, which you should look for him to embellish on his blog tomorrow, which I would summarize this way -- No number of dollars in 1970 would buy a laptop computer
loaded with a real-time strategy game that you can play with 64 of your
friends over the Internet or on which you could store a few thousands CD-quality (CD, what's a CD?) songs.

  • dearieme

    Do you get a lot of French immigrants in the US? We get a lot of them in Britain, where they are pretty welcome. London is said to be about the sixth most populous French city.