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Income and Wealth (Greenwood Guides to Business and Economics) Hardcover – September 30, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0313336881 ISBN-10: 0313336881

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Product Details

  • Series: Greenwood Guides to Business and Economics
  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwood (September 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0313336881
  • ISBN-13: 978-0313336881
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,404,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The election season, once again, brought up the myth that Americans are worse off because inequality of income has been increasing in the United States. Myths are harmless in literature. But if Democrats, like Rep. Nancy Pelosi, start using it as evidence for raising taxes when the new Congress reconvenes, there is potential for real damage to the economy and to our living standards. Cato Institute senior fellow Alan Reynolds' new volume Income and Wealth assembles facts to explain and understand this myth, using figures from the Statistical Abstract of the United States. Reynolds also provides a clear guide to the countless academic studies on the subject."

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New York Post



"[E]xplodes much of the downbeat economic conventional wisdom."

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The Salt Lake Tribune



"As part of a series aiming to improve economic literacy and decision- making, this volume is meant for general readers, high school and college students, or as a review for graduate students and those in business. Reynolds provides a guide to the growth and distribution of income and wealth in the US. He addresses statistics purported by the press and economists, arguing that these perspectives are often influenced by a misunderstanding of basic concepts and measures. He then explains those concepts and measures, as well as work and income, the idea that the middle class is declining, and claims that average wages have not increased, and includes a discussion of the income of the top one percent. He discusses CEOs and stock options, the distribution of wealth, using consumption as a measure of living standards, and recommendations to fix wage or income inequality."

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Reference & Research Book News



"Alan Reynolds has produced a most important examination of one of the dominant political myths for this current two-year run-up to the 2008 presidential election….Mr. Reynolds argues persuasively in Income and Wealth that poverty and wealth in America are not directly related to each other; the poor are not poor because of the well-to-do. Moreover, both the upper one percent and lowest 10 percent of incomes are affected by unrelated dynamics that have nothing to do with the Democratic nostrum of income redistribution via tax remedies--Robin Hood-onomics….In easily accessible prose, he shows us how the two Americas crowd is messing with our minds with its statistical fabrications….Whether the truths revealed by Mr. Reynolds will silence the two Americas myth will depend on how widely his book gets circulated in this coming year. The truth may set us free after all."

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The Washington Times/The American Spectator



"Reynolds challenges many so-called myths held by academics, columnists, and public affairs junkies concerning inequities in the recent growth of individual income and wealth in the US. Beginning with a useful, lucid-to-the-general-reader chapter on concepts and measures, this book is intended to show that the growing gap between the rich and the poor in the US is mainly the result of the number of workers in households and their age and education, and that the so-called disappearance of the middle class is more statistical than actual. In fact, Reynolds contends that since 1973 total labor compensation has been increasing and that the distribution of consumption expenditures by income class points to a reduction in inequality as compared with 1986. A critical chapter refutes recent literature concerning huge increases in income going to the top 1 percent of taxpayers as being due merely to changes in tax laws. Reynolds also addresses the minimum wage, taxes, immigration, international trade, and globalization. The book excels in charts and tables, glossary of terms, and references, including online resources. An extremely useful addition to the literature in the ongoing conservative-liberal debate on the distribution of US income and wealth. Highly recommended. General readers; academic audiences, upper-division undergraduate and up; professionals."

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Choice



"Income and Wealth is stunning in its revelations and its deflations of popular Democratic superstitions….Reynolds, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, is an economist of acute precision. For years he has defended the capitalist way of doing things, and this volume is a high tribute to his championship of basic American ideas."

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National Review Online

Review

"Turn to any page of Income and Wealth and you will be blown away. You will find something important about income and wealth that you didn't know and would probably want to know. Once you read this book, you'll realize what stunning economic progress the average American family has made. You'll also realize that the main way to get wealthy is--are you ready?--to work."

(

David R. Henderson, Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, author of Making Great Decisions in Business and Life

)

More About the Author

Alan Reynolds is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and was formerly Director of Economic Research at the Hudson Institute. He served as Research Director with National Commission on Tax Reform and Economic Growth, an advisor to the National Commission on the Cost of Higher Education, and as a member of the OMB transition team in 1981. His studies have been published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Joint Economic Committee, the Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta and St. Louis and the Australian Stock Exchange. Author of Income and Wealth (Greenwood Press 2006), he has written for numerous publications since 1971 including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post,The Financial Times, The New York Times, National Review, The New Republic, Fortune and The Harvard Business Review. He is also former columnist with Forbes, Reason and Creators Syndicate.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Conventional wisdom tells us that: (1) the vast majority of US households have experienced no increase in real income for more than a quarter century; (2) real wages have been stagnant for that same period; (3) low-wage burger-flippers have replaced high-paid factory jobs; (4) only the top one percent or ten percent have benefited significantly from rising productivity or asset prices; and (5) the once-robust middle class has been shrinking.

Just about everybody treats those assertions as if they are facts. That includes politicians on both sides, talking-head partisans, economics correspondents, and columnists--many with undisguised or thinly-veiled political agendas. They are supposed to be the experts, and the masses (like me) have to trust them; after all, our busy lives permit us only a limited amount of time for paying attention to politicians and the press. When the experts are nearly unanimous, that's a good signal that the five conventional wisdom assertions have to be true . . . isn't it?

That brings us to the big surprise, which Alan Reynolds sums up clearly and concisely: "Not one of those statements is even remotely close to being true."

This book is one of the best debunkings of conventional wisdom I've come across in a decade. It is a step-by-step dismantling of conventional wisdom about income and wealth distribution. Alan Reynolds does it methodically, one point at a time--using direct quotes from people who make those assertions, clear logic explaining what's wrong or misleading about those assertions, and facts and figures from easily-checkable references to official, government-published sources (such as the Statistical Abstract of the United States, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics).
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Robert A. Ross on February 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I consider myself a blue collar American now retired and with time to try to understand these economic conditions I find I have been living within. If you feel you are not understanding what you are reading or the media is telling you about as concerns inflation, unemployment, rich-poor income gaps, etc., then this is probably the book for you, too. I feel it is very clear and very complete, but I will have to read it again, mostly because it changed my mind on so many things, I want to be sure where I have been left in my opinions on these things. The price, which I consider high for a "blue collar" reader, may hold you back. It did me for a few weeks. But, I am glad I finally ordered it.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Allan D. Bennett on March 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
OK, maybe the book is a bit advanced for high schoolers (thanks to the stranglehold that the teachers' unions have on the public school system). But the main point is this--Reynolds lays out his case in plain English, in a manner accessible to anyone with an open mind, that so much of the economic commentary emanating from the "minds" of pundits and politicians is just pure BUNK.

The main themes of the book, which recur throughout, are these:

1) Most published reports of income/wealth inequality are based, at best, on incomplete measures, failing to account for government transfers (from "rich" to "poor") and for the painfully obvious fact that two-earner households tend to have higher household incomes than one-earner or (especially) zero-earner households.

2) "Static" analyses of income/wealth inequality fail to account for the simple fact that people's income and wealth tend to increase over time as they develop ever greater skills and as their 401K plans grow over the years.

Reynolds also points out the only effective ways to achieve "true" income/wealth equality. Either have widespread poverty, so that nobody has anything, or have exorbitant tax rates so that nobody can keep anything.

This should be a very important book as we all decide what sort of President to elect in 2008.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Henry Oliner on January 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Income and Wealth challenges the prevailing misconceptions that there is a growing inequality in the distribution of wealth and income in the United States. Alan Reynolds addressed the specific studies and meticulously picks apart both the inaccurate methodology, and the preconceived assumptions that drive poor conclusions from even poorer data.

Having greater inequality is not synonymous with having more poverty: some of the poorest nations have some of the most equal distribution of income. Poverty is equally shared rather than wealth unequally shared.

Reynolds shows that measurements of wage inequality is a poor measurement of living standards. Many of these studies are measured pre tax, and exclude transfer payments which may include as much as 70% of the income of the lower quintile. Many used the data obtained by ignoring transfer payments to argue for ... more transfer payments. Wealth accumulating in middle class retirement accounts are also often excluded.

The data is further distorted by comparing income before the 1986 tax reform when corporate tax income was shifted from C-corps to S-corps and thus went from NOT showing up on personal tax returns to now being included. Tax changes also changed the impact that stock options had on the income of the upper quintile.

The author argues that measurements of all income or consumption provides both an easier to measure and a more accurate measurement of the inequality in living standards. Such an approach indicates that the inequalities are much less drastic; in many cases there has been very little change, depending on which years are picked as beginning and ending points. The time period selected to measure can also greatly impact the results of such studies.
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