Whenever I am going through a rough patch in my life, it’s nice when a friend offers kind words of encouragement, some motivational thoughts — Hey! You can get through this! — and everything eventually gets better.
Perhaps that’s what JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon was thinking when he in effect told the poor — Buck up! Things are much better than you realize. Dimon, a billionaire, was speaking at an event in Detroit last week when he noted the positive effects technology was having on inequality, even with wages stagnant for so many workers for so long. “It’s not right to say we’re worse off,” he said. “If you go back 20 years ago, cars were worse, health was worse, you didn’t live as long, the air was worse. People didn’t have iPhones.”
I like my iPhone, but I had no idea it had the power to make up forthree decades of stagnant wages, especially for those workers on thelower half of the income scale. No wonder Steve Jobs was so beloved.
Things-aren’t-so-bad arguments seem to fall into a few distinct archetypes, some more much more worthy — and entertaining — than others.
The first is a pushback against the Malthusians, or the idea that humans will outstrip the earth’s resources, mainly arable land. Morgan Housel, at the Motley Fool, offers a fine example of why we shouldn’t listen to these doom-and-gloom types.
The second type notes that regardless of how good things may be, humans tend to find the negative. When comedian Louis CK told Conan O’Brian that “Everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy,” it went viral because it was a) hilarious and b) it resonated as true.
The last type, including the one made by Dimon, is both cynical and deeply misleading . . .
After this column was published, it was brought to our attention that news reports on the speech in question were incomplete. The speech discussed a range of measures to reduce income inequality including skills training, strengthening inner-city schools, structuring a just immigration policy, and growing economic markets. This information should have been referenced and we regret the omission.)
Continues here: Jamie Dimon Reduces Income Inequality