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August 24, 2009

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Over a longer time period, I'd say the middle class is doing quite well: http://austrianeconomists.typepad.com/weblog/2009/08/more-evidence-that-were-all-getting-richer.html

Even if wages have stagnated recently, it's still hard to make fair historical comparisons because goods and services tend to get better and cheaper over time, which means a more appropriate way to look at the middle class is not in earnings, but how many work-hours are required for goods and services (1997 Dallas Fed, Time Well Spent article).

Not that I want to portray the view that I'm optomistic about the future of the US (and our economy), but I 'm not exactly pessimistic either.

I don't see why "we" need any sort of energy "plan" or "strategy." I don't have my notes with me (so the numbers below are pure guesses), but I remember hearing quite a bit about this at an NBER conference and it really bothered me because we don't need to guess how energy problems will be addressed in the future. For instance, travel back to like 1850.... if I was going to tell you the world population was going to grow by 500% and that the world energy consumption was going to grow 30 times in the next 150 years and then asked you how "we" would meet this amazing growth, policy answers would have center on current techologies. It's actually future entrepreneurs that end up figuring out ways to address problems. So, I definitely agree that its our institutions and not the creativity of future entrepreneurs that is disconcerting. If there is any reason to be pessimistic its that we are seeing huge amount of distruption in the free market by government and if we keep choking off the free market eventually more than just the economy will fail.
(sorry for the long-winded and disjointed response, but I'm on lunch!)

Thanks, Derek. As always, insightful remarks. W/r/t middle class incomes, I agree with you that things have gotten better over the long term. My specific point was as to Tim's observation and incomes. Obviously, that's not the entire picture, and consumption perhaps offers a better measure of comparison. When we compare middle-class Joe in 2008 to middle-class Joe in 1908, consumption is the difference, with income meaning very little. But in the short-term, we're comparing middle-class Joe to himself only five years before, which makes income a sharper relative measure (especially since the consumption was likely debt-fueled over this particular time period).
I think we're in agreement on the future of energy point. I never said we need a plan or strategy because I think you're right. And your point about not being able envision the future (whether it turns out good or bad) is what I said is a cause for strong optimism: that human knowledge advances just as you say. If we were to charge a committee to set forth an energy plan, then we might just add to our worries.

If there is any reason to be pessimistic its that we are seeing huge amount of distruption in the free market by government and if we keep choking off the free market eventually more than just the economy will fail.

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The arguments raised in this article have some basis. Yes more jobs are not centered around either lower paying or higher paying jobs with not much left in the middle.

Dystopian possibility is a new point raised these days.

May I know guys if what is a Dystopian anyway?

I don't understand anything. I seems that I'm reading a poem article.

Is this dystopian period really have a significant effect to the entire history of america.

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Wow. This is a very interesting article. The arguments raised in this article have some basis. Yes more jobs are not centered around either lower paying or higher paying jobs with not much left in the middle. I hope you will make more updates regarding this particular article.

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