Given all of the policy wonkery that arose last week, especially at the presidential debate, this will be the first in a four-part series detailing each major issue that—hahahahaha.
Anyway, back to reality. A frequent response to articles like last week’s criticism of Trump’s tariffs is “Okay, so tariffs don’t work, but what would you do about the stagnation of middle class incomes?” (Often a “smart guy” is thrown in there somewhere.) It’s a difficult question because tariffs’ harms and inefficacy are a sufficient reason to avoid them, and, more importantly, because middle class incomes aren’t actually stagnating.
No, really. They’re not.
This might come as a surprise to many readers who for years have listened to politicians and pundits decry income or wage “stagnation” as one of the biggest problems of our time (and a big reason why capitalism or “libertarian economics” or whatever needs to be jettisoned). It’s a conventional wisdom that arose, in my opinion, because: (1) popular, but inaccurate or incomplete, measures of “middle class incomes” once showed stagnation; (2) few people updated their priors when new, more accurate data emerged; and (3) by that time the “stagnant incomes” talking point had become embedded in the national political psyche.