But to many laissez-faire conservatives, this news is far from gloomy. Writer-provocateur and Adam Smith Institute fellow Tim Worstall, writing at Forbes, complains (after warning that people often read statistics to justify their political biases) that the report will send folks “bleating away about the death of the American middle class” and collapsing into “shrieks of egalitarian horror” when we should be cheering. He argues that the “bleaters” have got it wrong. The real story is not that the middle class is shrinking but that the upper middle class is expanding and, most important, the ranks of the poor are decreasing.
In Worstall’s mind, the poor appear to be “movin’ on up,” just like George Jefferson of sitcom fame, catapulting into higher echelons to join the rich. Hooray for unbridled capitalism! How could everyone have gotten the story wrong?
Actually, Worstall gets it almost all wrong. He admits, in a note appended to his column, that he misread the Pew chart, which shows quite clearly that the ranks of the poor are, in fact, growing rather than shrinking. The theme song of this chart not “Movin’ On Up” but “Slip-Slidin’ Away.”