Bob, Seamus and Sarah are watching TV. The debunkers are on it. Debunker 1: I can’t believe Sally thinks she can come to our party. Debunker 2: She isn’t NEARLY as rich as WE are! Bob: Ah, I hate this reality show trash! How can you stand to watch this? Seamus: Huh? Sorry, I don’t really have a personality outside of preaching about economics. I just do whatever you guys are doing. Sarah: Shush! I’m trying to watch. Debunker 1 is bathing in piles of money Debunker 1: Ohh money... Bob: No! It’s everything that’s wrong with this country! The 1% flaunting its wealth in front of all of us, just begging for class warfare! We must overthrow the bourgeoisie! (as Bob rants an SKS appears in his hand and a communist hat on his head) Seamus: *cough* Actually, the popular conception of the 1% and the 99% as non overlapping classes is mostly inaccurate. Bob: What? How could that even be possible? Sarah: Yeah, how could that be possible you FOOL! Bob: You foolish fool! Sarah: The king of fools. Seamus: Because! People are constantly moving in and out of their income brackets! According to an article in the New York times by professor of social welfare Mark R. Rank, 12% of Americans will find themselves in the top 1% for at least 1 year! And 39% of Americans will spend a year in the top 5%! And more than half of all Americans will, at some point, be in the top 10%! These facts conflict heavily with the popular conception that the US is made of distinct economic classes, rather than fluid income brackets! Another important detail that’s often overlooked is work experience! Inequality arguments almost always ignore the natural increase in wages over a career. But a large contributor to what we call “income inequality” is the fact that older people work many more years than younger people and therefore have more money! Bob: But… I thought the middle class is shrinking! Seamus: It is! Because the upper class is growing! Bob: AH! They get EVERYTHING! Seamus: No, Bob, that’s a good thing! It means that steadily over time, more people are leaving the middle class and becoming rich! Adjusted for inflation, the number of people earning less than 50,000 dollars per year has steadily shrunk since 1970, whereas the number of people earning 6 figures or more has steadily grown! Bob: Oh. Sarah: Huh. Seamus: It’s not to say that things are always fair, or that every rich person came by their money ethically, but one thing’s for sure: the common conception of social class in America as being an unchanging plutocracy is sorely mistaken!

Common Sense Soapbox


About this show

Short videos with a punchy, comedic tone and entertaining Socratic characters taking on trending issues and important concepts from a classical liberal perspective, written & animated by Seamus Coughlin.

Is Income Mobility More Important Than Income Equality?

April 9, 2019

Bob gets upset at the existence rich people, thinking that there is a permanent class of people at the top, and a permanent class at the bottom, but Seamus helps him understand that over time, people are actually constantly moving up and down the income distribution. Most of us start nearer to the bottom and work our way up as we gain experience and skills.


Written by Seamus Coughlin & Jennifer Maffessanti
Animated by Seamus Coughlin
Produced by Sean W. Malone


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