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Myths Of Rich And Poor: Why We're Better Off Than We Think Paperback – January 13, 2000
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Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Kirkus Reviews
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Top Customer Reviews
Where the book is too breezy, in my opinion, is in its treatment of the policy implications of its statistics. Suppose we take it as proven, based on their data and analysis, that between 80 and 90 percent of the people below the poverty line are not truly poor, based on what they are able to consume. Two questions arise, which the book fails to answer.
1. To what extent have government programs, such as social security, food stamps, etc., enabled these people to escape true poverty? If government programs are what has alleviated poverty, then the official poverty line may still be a valid measure of the need for government assistance.
2. What sort of solution is there for hard-core poverty--the 2 to 4 percent of the population who are poor by any definition? How much of their poverty is amenable to economic solutions, and how much of it instead requires medical treatment--for mental illness, substance abuse, etc.?
While Cox and Alm help set the stage for more informed policy discussions, they do not really undertake those discussions.
Shattering Modern Economic Fables
The media bombards us daily with stories about economic hardship: corporate layoffs, trade deficits, homelessness, minimum wage battles, families in poverty. Bad news sells newspapers and increases television ratings - it's ironic that the media's own economic interest is served by trumpeting economic disaster.
These messages have been repeated so often they've been exalted to the position of Conventional Wisdom. Everyone knows by now that the poor are getting poorer while the rich are getting richer, that we've become a nation of hamburger flippers, that both parents need to work in order to support a family, and that our children are the first generation in our history who will not be better off than their parents.
Enter Michael Cox, an economist with the Federal Reserve, and Richard Alm, a business journalist. As they state in Myths of Rich & Poor, "these statements of America's economic failure are not just wrong, but, in each and every instance, spectacularly wrong." A combination of statistics and elegant methodologies are the tools they use to shatter these modern economic fables. The clarity of their writing doesn't hurt either.
It's impossible to read this book without realizing that we are winning the war on poverty. Today's average "poor" families have goods and services that rival yesterday's middle class families: 60% have microwaves, 50% have air conditioners, 93% have color televisions, and 60% have videocassette recorders.
More impressive is the income mobility within our economy. Most poor families don't stay poor.Read more ›
The book compares material well-being and shows the profound improvement in American standards of living since 1970. It also tackles government reporting, showing how government staistics presents COSTS but fail to measure VALUE.
The book seeks to present data in new measurements, in terms of hours worked to purchase equivalents, etc.
It's very well done.
I would like to see an update to current times, taking into account the effects of massive government spending under Presidents Bush43 and Obama. When the government sucks so much money out of the economy and runs the printing press full tilt, it does have an impact on the economy. How much? When labor force participation rates drop and vast swaths of the citizenry become permanent wards of the state, it does have an impact on the economy. How much?
Those are the questions.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I had to read this for an economics class, all it is is facts. You can look those up on the internet now a daysPublished on November 25, 2011 by JakeDaSnake92
This is a terrific book. Yes, the data are all 14 or more years old but it's still very timely. There are numerous self styled progressive academics making hand-wringing... Read morePublished on April 14, 2011 by MT57
There are two main problems I see with "Myths of Rich and Poor: Why We're Better Off Than We Think", and I might as well get those out of the way, so that my review ends on a high... Read morePublished on January 10, 2008 by V.H. Amavilah
Some of the reviewers of Myths point out that the authors do not account for the role of government welfare programs in reducing poverty. Actually poverty in the U.S. Read morePublished on March 21, 2006 by P M
We all hear about how the Japanese make better cars, we cannot compete in the steel industry, Indian engineers work for less, our graduate schools are filled with Asians, etc. Read morePublished on October 26, 2004 by M. Nowacki
Michael Cox, of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank and Richard Alm, a journalist by way of the university of Kansas, wrote this book five years ago prior to the 2000 presidential... Read morePublished on July 15, 2004 by Eugene A Jewett
The authors clearly have a good grounding in basic economic concepts, which they discuss clearly. They make a number of excellent points, but it is sometimes hard to find them... Read morePublished on April 15, 2004 by Richard Asmuth