War (on Poverty) is Over, If You Want It

Please listen to Christian Broda, from this profile in the American :

We are underestimating the gains from trade…The current statistical interpretation ignores the fact that a poor household today can access goods that, in the 1960s, they could not—microwaves, DVDs—and, more importantly, that the prices of the staples that lower-income households consume have also gone down dramatically.

[…]

In the ’60s, all the talk was about trying to win the war against poverty… The bottom line with our study is that we may have won the war against poverty without even noticing it. Here we have Congress debating why the poor in America haven’t been able to grasp the great economic growth we’ve seen in the last 30 years. ‘It’s been only concentrated in the top 1 percent,’ they say. And, absolutely, that segment has grown a lot. But that doesn’t mean that the poor haven’t been able to access part of that progress.

Will anyone listen? Stagnant real wages and skyrocketing inequality have a kind of  truthiness irresistible to the papers and the partisan wonks. If that story, the premise of a few too many badly argued op-eds and books, turns out to be based on a series of mistakes, I fear there will be no rush to admit to them.

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