Fact-Checking Ben Shapiro On Economic Globalism. Verdict: Liar

ben shapiro economic globalism

Ben Shapiro Calls Bernie Sanders A Liar—Then Lies Profusely.

Earlier this week Bernie Sanders tweeted:

Basically, he pointed out that most Americans are being left behind by the current wave of economic globalization—Trump says the same thing.  In fact, it’s probably why Trump won.

Everyone knows they’re getting screwed by the elites.

Yet in response, Ben Shapiro, editor-in-chief of the Daily Wire, wrote this hit-piece, calling Bernie a liar who’s full of crap.

In doing so, he’s obliquely calling Trump, and his supporters, full of crap (which is how he spent his time during the last election).

Of course, Ben is full of crap, and his “7 reasons” are mostly lies.

And no, I’m not a Bernie fan—but I love the truth and hate liars, no matter which side they’re on.  Without honesty, we have nothing.

Now let’s go through his article point-by-point and play “find the fib”.

1. America’s Globalist Elites Exist.

Shapiro says:

…there is no such thing as the “Top 0.1%” Sanders…make[s] it sound as though there is a tiny oligarchy of uber-wealthy people who earn all the money in the United States year after year… That is nonsense. The constituency of the top earners in the United States changes dramatically year after year.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, Ben, but there is an entrenched plutocratic class here in America—and they’re about as corrupt and nepotistic as the Russians you like to bitch about.

Sanders isn’t talking about the random sports stars and artists who briefly poke their heads under the velvet rope, nor the guy with the local hardware store who climbed to the 2nd floor of the ivory tower (only to leave his wealth to his drug-addled waste of a son)—he’s talking about families who’ve been rich for generations, and the people they “helped” (bought).

He’s talking about the Rothschilds, who’ve bankrolled the West for 250 years.  He’s talking about the Rockefellers, and the Duponts.

He’s talking about the billionaire, and globalist patron George Soros (whom the Rothschilds made)—ok, he’s not talking about Soros, but I am.  Trump is.

These guys collude.  They buy politicians and media personalities to cloak their activities.  And they don’t want competition.

Yet Ben Shapiro says they don’t exist, and he defends the economic globalization they’re pushing for.

Verdict: lie.

2. The Middle Class Is Shrinking.

His second point is that “the upper middle class has wildly expanded”.

Nice try.

Notice how he adds in the caveat “upper” middle class.  He does this because the “middle and  lower” middle class has been shrinking—America’s income distribution is beginning to resemble a barbell, as opposed to a bell curve.

Since 1973 income inequality has been rising dramatically in America (there proportionally are more rich people, but also more poor people).

We know this because of a measure called the Gini Coefficient: the higher it is, the more inequality; the lower, the more equality.

Right now, the GC for American incomes is where it was during the 1920s, and is comparable to the GC in places like Russia and Brazil—who wants to be like them?

Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that.  In fact, I recently did a whole article on America’s shrinking middle class.

gini coefficient chart


Offshoring to the 3rd world caused by economic globalization.

Verdict: lie.

3. Real Incomes Stagnated For Most Americans.

Of course, Ben’s next point is that:

Income has not stagnated for most Americans. While some wrongly claim that income has stagnated for the “bottom 90 percent of earners” since the 1970s, that’s not true…From 1979 to 2009…median income rose by $17,600.

The lie here is that he’s talking about nominal income, not real income.

Nominal income means the dollar value that you earn (the number on the bill); real income means what you can buy for your dollar—it accounts for inflation.

Here’s the data plotted to account for inflation:

real vs nominal US wages

As you can see, real wages peaked in 1973: you could buy more chocolate bars with the average hourly wage in 1973 than you could in 2014.

In fact, let’s look at some goods (McDonald’s hamburgers, bottles of Pepsi, and Hershey’s chocolate bars) that are directly comparable:

graph showing purchasing power of americans, it has shrunk between 1985 and today


And it’s not just cheap stuff like food: the price of household appliances has more than doubled in the last few decades as well.

Your dollar doesn’t go as far as it used to.  Period.

Ben is full of crap.

Verdict: lie.

4. Income Mobility In America Has Decreased.

Ben agrees that income mobility has decreased, but he rationalizes it by saying:

It is a lie that income mobility in the United States has stagnated. It’s just that people are making decisions that cause more income immobility, such as having children out of wedlock.

I somewhat agree with his point, social liberalism is causing many people to royally screw up their adult lives before they really begin.

But it’s not all rosy—even millennials that do everything right still can’t keep up to where their parents were at their age.

The economy has ossified.

And if we’re being frank, a lot of the perceived “income mobility” is because (i) professional athletes (mostly from poor backgrounds) are making buckets of money, whereas before that wasn’t the case, and (ii) affirmative action programs give jobs to people from poor backgrounds—it’s not because the economy is more competitive.

And don’t get me wrong, I hate affirmative action programs: I believe in merit.  But there’s no doubt they’ve added cosmetic income mobility.

Verdict: half-lie.

5. Global Poverty Has Dropped Dramatically.

Ben’s right.  Global poverty has dropped dramatically since the 1970s.

But who cares?  That’s irrelevant when it comes to America’s income distribution.

Verdict: non sequitur.

6. The US Life Expectancy Has Risen.

Although modern medicine is mostly iatrogenics, I won’t dispute that the US life expectancy has risen.

But this is also irrelevant: living a long time isn’t a proxy for wealth past the de minimis level (where you can afford quality food, and have sufficient free time to exercise).

For example, Sicilians are the longest-lived people in the world, despite being relatively poor and having crappy healthcare (by American standards)—they live a long time because of their lifestyle, not because they’re rich.

Verdict: non sequitur.

But before moving on, I’d like to point out how incompetently Ben handles his data—this guy should stop writing about anything remotely relating to numbers, it’s amateur hour.

He says that since 1979 the life expectancy has risen by about 5 years, and then goes on to say “and remember, that figure includes all the premature death thanks to self-inflicted health problems, car accidents, and homicides.”

He undermines his own point.

For example, almost twice as many people died every year in the 1970s in car accidents, despite the population being much smaller—this would lower the life expectancy, but in the 1970s.  Maybe if they had the same safety standards and technology we have, they would’ve lived longer.

The same goes for medical treatment: cancer and AIDs are no longer death sentences.  We live longer because of better technology, not because people are relatively wealthier.

7. Living Standards Have Risen Dramatically In The United States.

Ben says:

Remember the gas lines of 1979? How about the lack of air conditioning, landlines, lack of personal computers… our living standards are much higher now than they were 38 years ago thanks to technological development…the average poor person in the United States is rich by global standards.

This is all true, but again, it’s not because people are economically better off in real terms, it’s because of technological growth—the real engine of economic growth.

People living in mud huts in rural Africa also have cellphones too, that doesn’t mean they’re richer or that Africa’s made economic progress; it just means they can spend their money on more options—rather than buying 2 pigs, they buy a pig and a phone.  Presto, they suddenly look relatively wealthy compared to their parents who could only buy 2 pigs.

Let’s look at the data.

Between 1934 and 1985 the average American household’s discretionary spending increased as a proportion of their income—meaning that they spent less of their money on needs (food, clothing, shelter), and more of it on wants.

That’s what economic progress looks like.

However since the 1970s a gap appeared between the average discretionary spending, and the median.

The mean remained stable at 50% (buoyed by income gains at the top), while the median actually went “back in time”—most people saw the cost of living increase faster than their income, which is reflected in their spending patterns.

Therefore, most Americans have actually seen a decrease in relative prosperity over the last 40 years—yes their incomes have risen, but this rise has been largely mitigated by dramatic increases in fixed costs (like rent).


declining middle class chart

Here’s what that divergence looks like plotted linearly.

difference between median and average consumption

Keep in mind, the mean and median were very similar until this divergence: the reason real prosperity has decreased for most Americans is because of increasing inequality.

It’s not a mirage, as Ben would have you believe.

Verdict: lie.

Overall Verdict: Ben Shapiro Is A Liar

Ok, let’s tally it up: in his article, Ben Shapiro told 4 and a half lies, half a truth, and presented 2 irrelevant non sequiturs that added nothing to his case against Bernie Sanders.

Bernie’s right, America’s economy is broken and needs to be fixed—stop carrying water for globalist interests and put America first, Ben.

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Select Sources:

Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Civilian labor force participation rate by age, gender, race, and ethnicity.” Accessed June 5, 2016. https://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_table_303.htm

Chao, Elaine L. 100 Years of US Consumer Spending, Data for the Nation. New York: US Department of Labor, 2006.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, “All Employees, Manufacturing.” Accessed Nov 20, 2016. https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MANEMP

Hipple, Steven F. “People Who Are Not in the Labor Force: Why Aren’t they Working?” Bureau of Labor Statistics: Beyond the Numbers (4), 2015.

Maddison, Angus. The World Economy: Historical Statistics. Paris, OECD Publishing, 2003.

Olver, Lynne. “The Food Timeline.” Accessed July 15, 2016. https://www.foodtimeline.org/foodfaq5.html#

Townhall.com “The Major Trends in US Income Inequality Since 1947.” Accessed June 10, 2016. https://finance.townhall.com/columnists/politicalcalculations/2013/12/05/the-major-trends-in-us-income-inequality-since-1947-n1757626/page/full

About Spencer P Morrison 160 Articles
J.D. B.A. in Ancient & Medieval History. Writer and independent intellectual, with a focus on applied philosophy, empirical history, and practical economics. Author of "Bobbins, Not Gold," Editor-In-Chief of the National Economics Editorial, and contributor to American Greatness. His work has appeared in publications including the Daily Caller, the American Thinker, and the Foundation for Economic Education.