Last year’s median income data is great; last 15 years, not so much


The median income of an American household increased 5.2 percent in 2015, the largest single-year increase since 1967. The poverty rate also fell, and the portion of Americans without health insurance fell to about 10 percent. That’s good news, especially during a recovery whose benefits have disproportionately gone to the very rich and large corporations. The bad news is in the graph above. You will notice that median incomes have risen after the each of the seven recessions of the last 50 years except for two: the last two. Although the historical trend has been for incomes to exceed or at least return to their pre-recession levels during each recovery, the median income is still lower than it was in 2007 or, for that matter, 1998.

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David Brooks: Come on, son

Okay, who wants to hear one more page from my book?

In a column he describes as “a great luscious orgy of optimism,” David Brooks suggests today that we all stop worrying about the state of American governance, political discourse, finance and world influence, because the country is going to be saved by—ready?—population growth. Props to alert reader/muay thai enthusiast Mike Sebba for the link. We’ve discussed the vexing phenomenon that is Mr. Brooks before (as well as the vexing phenomenon that is Mr. Brooks.) He’s either the most insightful commentator who’s still frequently wrong or the most frequently wrong commentator who still manages a lot of insights. Either way, it’s as hard to get on board with him as it is to jump off into the lake. If he weren’t a conservative, or if he were not so consistently juxtaposed with the mind-warpingly boring Thomas Friedman, we at Combat! blog probably wouldn’t be pulling for him so much. As it is, though, he’s like your friend with the stutter who wants to be a stand-up comedian: you hope the world will suddenly start to work in such a way as to make David Brooks right. Usually, that is. Today, David Brooks has written a column whose fundamental assumptions are so bafflingly stupid as to merit a big old Come On, Son.

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