"You know, I don't know about you, but when I was growing up, you know when I was flipping burgers at McDonalds, when I was standing in front of that big Hobart machine washing dishes or waiting tables, I never thought of myself as stuck in some station in life," Ryan told at least two thousand fired up supporters at Lakewood High School in suburban Denver. "I thought to myself: I'm the American dream."What is even more important is how he so naturally ties his personal background to a bigger, conservative message. People don't stay all their lives at one place in the economic scale. Where we were as young people is not where we will end up if we work hard and apply our talents.
Thomas Sowell has been making this point over and over.
All sorts of statements are made in politics and in the media as if that top 1 percent is an enduring class of people, rather than an ever-changing collection of individuals who have a spike in their income in a particular year for one reason or another. Turnover in other income brackets is also substantial.Ryan is echoing this line from Abraham Lincoln: "The man who labored for another last year, this year labors for himself, and next year he will hire others to labor for him."
There is nothing mysterious about this. Most people start out at the bottom, in entry-level jobs, and their incomes rise over time as they acquire more skills and experience.
Politicians and media talking heads love to refer to people who are in the bottom 20 percent in income in a given year as “the poor.” But, following the same individuals for 10 or 15 years usually shows the great majority of those individuals moving into higher income brackets.
The number who reach the top 20 percent greatly exceeds the number still stuck in the bottom 20 percent over the years. But such mundane facts cannot compete for attention with the moral melodramas conjured up by politicians and the media when they discuss “the rich” and “the poor.”
This is such an obvious point, but so many people miss out on the idea of incomes changing over time and so they don't understand the power of that dream.