Some here may be interested in the task Cafe Hayek sets its readers:
a contest to find examples from the web or the media that make the claim that our standard of living is stagnant or that the middle class can’t get ahead and so on. Or better yet that the middle class is falling behind. Or that all the gains of the last x years have gone to the top 1% or the top 20%.
This challenge came about because a commentor had observed that no one really believed wages had been stagnant – that was a straw man. At this point, multiple responses have indicated it is a fairly broad meme. That does not, of course, mean it is true. The churning of quintiles is another area of interest.
This is not unlike another widely dispersed meme that 1 in 4 women students is raped before she gets out of school. MacDonald at City Journal notes it is not widely believed by students themselves. Her article on campus bureaucracies’ attitude toward sex does little to cheer someone with three girls at different places in the “college experience.” It does, however, fill me with little fear for those girls’ safety. And they are also strong enough to withstand the temptations of such rubbish – believing they are without strengths and without responsibilities themselves.
In the village of my youth, gossip enlarged some threats and minimized others, looked at patterns in the community and drew conclusions. The proportions weren’t always just. Still, in many ways those days were more empirical than some conclusions reached with modern demography and sciences that need large funding. And the belief that things were hard in the past (by people who’d lived in the past and knew) and that girls shouldn’t get drunk (let alone with a guy they didn’t know) were derived from either a previous generation’s hard experience or our own.