I have been pretty busy today, and used up what little time I did have commenting on other blogs today, but I did want to post this interesting article about comments from Alan Greenspan.
Rich-poor gap gaining attention
By Peter Grier, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
Tue Jun 14, 4:00 AM ET
WASHINGTON - The income gap between the rich and the rest of the US population has become so wide, and is growing so fast, that it might eventually threaten the stability of democratic capitalism itself.
Is that a liberal's talking point? Sure. But it's also a line from the recent public testimony of a champion of the free market: Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.
America's powerful central banker hasn't suddenly lurched to the left of Democratic National Committee chief Howard Dean. His solution is better education today to create a flexible workforce for tomorrow - not confiscation of plutocrats' yachts.
But the fact that Mr. Greenspan speaks about this topic at all may show how much the growing concentration of national wealth at the top, combined with the uncertainties of increased globalization, worries economic policymakers as they peer into the future.
"He is the conventional wisdom," says Jared Bernstein, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank. "When I'm arguing with people, I say, 'Even Alan Greenspan....' "
Greenspan's comments at a Joint Economic Committee hearing last week were typical, for him. Asked a leading question by Sen. Jack Reed (news, bio, voting record) (D) of Rhode Island, he agreed that over the past two quarters hourly wages have shown few signs of accelerating. Overall employee compensation has gone up - but mostly due to a surge in bonuses and stock-option exercises.
The Fed chief than added that the 80 percent of the workforce represented by nonsupervisory workers has recently seen little, if any, income growth at all. The top 20 percent of supervisory, salaried, and other workers has.
The result of this, said Greenspan, is that the US now has a significant divergence in the fortunes of different groups in its labor market. "As I've often said, this is not the type of thing which a democratic society - a capitalist democratic society - can really accept without addressing," Greenspan told the congressional hearing.
The cause of this problem? Education, according to Greenspan. Specifically, high school education. US children test above world average levels at the 4th grade level, he noted. By the 12th grade, they do not. "We have to do something to prevent that from happening," said Greenspan.
So are liberals overjoyed by these words from a man who is the high priest of capitalism? Not really, or at least not entirely.(Full Story)