Rich getting richer, faster
Income inequality is increasing very rapidly in the US, according to a new report by the Congressional Budget Office:
The increase in incomes of the top 1 percent of Americans from 2003 to 2005 ($524.8 billion) exceeded the total income of the poorest 20 percent of Americans ($383.4 billion), according to a new report by the Congressional Budget Office. “On average, incomes for the top 1 percent of households rose by $465,700 each, or 42.6 percent after adjusting for inflation. The incomes of the poorest fifth rose by $200, or 1.3 percent, and the middle fifth increased by $2,400 or 4.3 percent.” [NYT/Think Progress]
Most men are simply priced out of the marriage and dating market. If you dropped a mere $100K in the yearly bank account of those lonely, "shy" men women would be all around and over them. Because the men would have higher RELATIVE status. Which would make them sexy instead of losers. [whiskey_199]
W_199 went on to assert that this putative sociological fact is attributable to the hardwired shallowness of women. I hear this argument pretty often, almost always from men. The moral of the story is invariably that modern women are too snotty for their own good. If you were casting about for a whole gender to blame using the same premises, you could just as easily argue that men are lazy SOBs who refuse to better themselves. Yet, that's seldom the moral of the story. Nor should it be.
I wish liberals would talk more about how increasing relative economic inequality might be affecting people's day-to-day lives. Abject material deprivation is only part of the problem. For example, it wouldn't surprise me to learn that a lot of young people are priced out of marriage--not because they can't find a willing partner, but because they don't have enough financial stability to "justify" getting married.
If you don't have substantial assets in common, or a job that would give benefits to a spouse, marriage just isn't as practically alluring as it might have been.
I don't view declining marriage rates as a problem--unless marriage is just one more dream that is being squelched by inequality. Obviously, a lot of people disagree with me about the intrinsic value of high marriage rates. Often, they cloak their social conservatism in utilitarian arguments about how marriage is a great solution to poverty.
Addressing poverty and other kinds of income insecurity might actually give people more incentive to get married.
Of course, as Amanda notes so often, it's easier just to blame women.