Life Among the Thetes
By Arnold Kling
stagnating real working-class wages are calculated by using a meaningless overall average rate of price inflation. Some things–college tuition, apartments in Manhattan, health care–have gotten more expensive much faster than average. This means that people who buy a below-average amount of those things are better off than the statistics show. A healthy person living in an unfashionable city with no student loans to pay off can get by on a fairly modest income. The flipside of the declining marriage rate is that fewer men are supporting families. To a certain puritanical frame of mind that views toil as a virtue in and of itself, this may seem unfortunate. But in many respects it’s a natural outgrowth of progress.
we could be headed into an era of highly unequal economic classes. People at the bottom will have access to food, healthcare, and electronic entertainment, but the rich will live in an exclusive world of exotic homes and extravagant personal services. The most popular bands in the world will play house concerts for the rich, while everyone else can afford music downloads but no live music.
My guess is that when it comes to health care, there will be huge spending differentials by social class, but with very little difference in outcomes. Reliable cures will be affordable. Exotic treatments, futile desperation efforts, and lots of precautionary scanning, not so much.