"Look at the Harvard economics faculty, look at doctors over here at George Washington University . . . look at baseball players, look at football players," Snow told the Journal. "We've moved into a star system for some reason which is not fully understood."
The market, Snow explained, is rewarding the nation's most productive people with the highest compensation. And the rising tide, he argued, is lifting all boats.
"A rising tide lifts all boats" is an often used quote, most often by Republicans, although it was John F. Kennedy who first used it in a political sense to argue for tax cuts during his presidency. Ketzenberger points out that income figures for Indiana don't bear out Snow's claim. Citing median income figures showing an actual decline for Indiana over the past several years, he writes:
The median income for a Hoosier household fell 5.5 percent from 2000 to 2004, according to Jerry Conover, director of the Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University. That means half of Indiana incomes are above that level and half sit below.
And that means a household here is not making as much as it was in 2000. "I don't think Secretary Snow's statement is fully reflective of the marketplace," said Conover. Snow relied on averages to make his case, Conover noted, so significant jumps in income among high-end households will skew those averages.
It almost sounds like Snow is suggesting the solution for Indiana's lagging income is for the Pacers or Eli Lilly and Co. to sign more high-priced free agents.
"It reinforces the notion that the people in charge don't know what the hell's going on," said Willard Witte, an IU economics professor.
It's a long way from Washington to Kokomo, that's for sure.
Ketzenberger's comments highlight just how out of touch someone like Snow is. He is a multi-millionaire former executive of CSX, and he obviously doesn't know what it's like for the average American trying to earn a decent wage.
Just from personal observation, it certainly seems to me that the divide between the haves and have nots in America has changed dramatically in my lifetime. There are so many more super rich in this country than there were when I was growing up. But the vast majority of people are having to work harder and look for income from second jobs just to keep their heads above water. In the case of married couples, it's nearly impossible for one spouse to stay at home if they want any decent standard of living for their family. It wasn't that way when I was growing up.