Thomas Sowell points to the transient nature of the nation’s top one percent of income earners and--in so doing--also points to the deceptive nature of most public discussion of the top one percent as a permanent oppressor class. Leaving aside the question of oppression from the super-rich, the fact is that people move in and out of income brackets all the time. The highest levels of fluctuation occur at the top and at the bottom. Few remain in the top for longer than a decade; just as few remain permanently on the bottom.
Sowell quotes Anna Quindlen by way of segue to this point. Quindlen, in an article for Newsweek lamented that, "the share of the nation’s income going to the top 1 percent is at its highest level since 1928." I cannot resist pointing to her choice of words in this lament. The "share" of the "nation’s income" going to the top one percent distresses her? It distresses me that she thinks it’s the "nation’s income" and that the nation should have any thought about what "share" of it goes to anyone. It’s the "nation’s" income? What did "the nation" do to earn it? And how do we get a share? By the graces of some magic pie slicer in the sky? No matter how big the pie, I guess the kids will still fight over who got the bigger slice. (I know mine do.) Isn’t that why it’s a good idea get the government out of the pie baking and pie slicing business? After centuries of this kind of fighting, the smart kids who founded our country figured out that the only pie worth eating is the pie one learns to bake for himself. Then you don’t have to fight anyone for a piece and you don’t have to worry about the size of your neighbor’s pie (unless you’re amused and inspired by that sort of sport). You can always try to bake a better one next time if yours doesn’t suit. Whatever its size and whatever its flavor, you can take pride in your own pie and rest assured it is--at least--undoubtedly better than the crumbs that would be thrown your way if there were only one pie to be doled out by your "betters," a.k.a., the experts. In America there isn’t just one big pie for all of us greedily to nibble upon. There’s roughly 300,000,000.