As Media Matters reported, Fox's John Stossell went on Fox & Friends to discuss his special Rich Man, Poor Man which aired on both of their networks, and made some dubious claims about what's happened to income growth for those who are living in poverty:
Fox's John Stossel claimed that it's a "myth" that "the poor are getting poorer" and that they are actually getting "richer." In fact, incomes for the bottom fifth have shown almost no growth in recent decades, and the numbers Stossel used to support his argument were cherry-picked.
Incomes At The Bottom Have Shown Almost No Growth In Decades; Stossel Calls It "Getting Richer"
Stossel: "The Rich Have Gotten Richer, But So Have The Poor." From Fox News' Fox & Friends:
STOSSEL: There are just two myths. One is that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. And the truth is yes, over time the rich have gotten richer, but so have the poor -- 20 percent richer since I was in college. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/24/12]
CBPP: "The Era Of Shared Prosperity Ended In The 1970s." From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report:
Census family income data show that the era of shared prosperity ended in the 1970s and illustrate the divergence in income that has emerged since that time. CBO data allow us to look at what has happened to comprehensive income since 1979 -- both before and after taxes -- and offer a better view of what has happened at the top of the distribution.
As Figure 2 shows, between 1979 and 2007, average income after taxes in the top 1 percent of the distribution rose 277 percent, meaning that it nearly quadrupled. That compares with increases of about 40 percent in the middle 60 percent of the distribution and 18 percent in the bottom fifth.
The report included this graph:
[Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/5/12]
Media Matters has a lot more charts and information in their post along with debunking more of what Stossel said on the air.
Here's the promo for Stossel's special which you can watch the very beginning of in the clip above from Fox Business Channel where it originally aired this week: Rich Man, Poor Man:
People complain about poverty in America. But what does poverty mean today?
This recent Heritage Foundation study shows that poor people have cars, air conditioning, modern electronics--things even kings didn't have decades ago.
There is wealth disparity, but that isn't bad; it's just a byproduct of freedom, and life is better when people are free. The rich get richer, and the poor get...richer.
People want government to help the poor, but Charlie Sykes, author of A Nation of Moochers, joins us tonight to talk about how government programs make people dependent.
Scott Rasmussen polls people on income inequality and shares some surprising results.
Cliff Asness share why it's income mobility we should worry about, rather than income equality.
On thing that hinders that is government schools. Patrick Byrne joins us to explain why school choice will improve prospects for kids.
We're certainly not helping kids with unsustainable programs like Social Security and Medicare that push debt onto future generations. Charles Goyette and Marc Lamont Hill debate the fairness of entitlements.
This wasn't the first attack I've seen by Fox on this issue where they're going after those living in poverty because heaven forbid some of them have cell phones, air conditioning, cable television and aren't quite poor enough to suit them because they're not living on dirt floors with no electricity.
What's really pathetic is seeing those on Fox, like Stossel, go after anyone taking government assistance as "moochers" while simultaneously cheerleading for the policies that put them there in the first place, like outsourcing, union busting, destroying our public school system, corporate welfare and income redistribution to the upper 1 percent and the destruction of our manufacturing base in America.
For his part, Stossel did address some of the "corporate welfare" as well during his show, but he did a lot of mixing apples with oranges and what might be smart government investments with those who might be abusing the system. All in all, the show was nothing but pushing more Libertarian clap-trap about everyone being capable of pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps and something that read like a page out of a Ayn Rand novel with the bigger themes of "job creators" compared to those looking for a "handout" and those who are "productive" members of our society as compared to those lazy "moochers" out there.
I don't know how anyone could watch his special without seeing the underlying racism there with pushing the same old Republican memes that all black people are just lazy and don't want to work and doing their best to try to divide Americans by pitting white people against blacks. To call this sort of "journalism" cynical would be treating it too kindly, not that it's worthy of being called "journalism" either. It's propaganda aimed directly at white people to make them angry that there are poor black people out there gaming a system and taking advantage of them rather than take a bigger look at the economic policies that have driven so many Americans into poverty, regardless of their race.