An example of this type of bad analysis can be found on this blog post which is commenting on a report on downward mobility in America. The blogger commenting on the findings of the report states:
"But turn that around and what do you get? A fairly simple recipe for staying in the middle class: Go to college, get married, stay married, steer clear of hard drugs.
Do those simple things and the odds are on your side. The keys to a financially successful life seem to be family, education, sobriety. Seems boring and obvious, doesn’t it? But it also suggests that American life isn’t quite as bad as the press wants to paint it."
I guess this blogger has a different perception of the definition of “simple” than I do. My assertion is that if 50% of marriages fail- staying married is not simple. Paraphrasing Billy Graham, America’s most revered evangelist, he once asked his wife if she had ever considered divorce to which she replied “no - but I have considered murder”.
Is it simple to go to college? The US public primary and secondary education system has been in decline for 30 years. Post-secondary education costs are sky rocketing, while middle class wages are stagnant to declining and health care costs are growing at 2-3 times the rate of GDP.
What about the broader question of mobility in general. Can someone born in urban America achieve the middle class in the same way that someone who is born in Fairfax, Virginia?
What depresses me about society is that we often fail to even achieve the minimal threshold of discourse necessary to move policy forward. We do not reach agreement on the definition of the core of the problem.
Of course, the longer we take to address systemic imbalances the bigger the problem gets (see my dragon analogy last post). Have another burger and beer, watch a football game - Rome is slowly burning.
My feelings and frustrations on this and other public policy points on this can be summed up in this way.
JERRYPOURNELLE: DESPAIR IS A SIN:
“I do not warn you of a future you cannot avoid. On the other hand I have for forty years warned that we are approaching a precipice, and yet we continue to move toward it. Sometimes I get discouraged.”