Monday, June 18, 2012

What We Knew Already: US Working Class Decimated By "Free Market" Economics

According to the US Census, US median wealth declined 38% between 2007 and 2010. While some working class people may have recovered economically since 2010, few have been untouched by structural changes. As we have noted in previous posts, inequality has been increasing in the US since the late 1960s and working class wages have been stagnant. The so-called middle-class adapted to structural changes by having smaller families, going to college and borrowing money for housing, education, and medical costs. But in 2007, the first bubble burst and the financial and housing foreclosure crisis ensued. In response, neoliberals and neoconservatives responded by bailing out large banks, investment firms and insurance companies (2008-2009) then calling for austerity at the federal, state, and local levels (2010-). "Banks" have consolidated power while the working class remain in peril.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

US Supreme Court Reinforces Slow Descent Into Fascism

On April 2, 2012, the US Supreme Court upheld the rights of police and jailers to strip search Americans for the smallest offenses. Florence v. County of Burlington is only the latest judicial decision or law limiting the rights of the People. Recently, the US Congress also passed HR 347, a law criminalizing the disruption of government meetings.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Unemployment and Income Numbers Fail to Illustrate US Worker Struggle

The official (U3) unemployment rate is increasingly becoming irrelevant in explaining the employment picture. Note the gap between U3, U6, and Shadow Stats Unemployment.

Behind the numbers: young unable to enter the market and others unable to reenter the market in a meaningful way. So many stories on our travels of the "flexible workplace": an architect selling luggage at Macy's, a woman having to take a retirement or face layoff, adjunct profs with little pay and no benefits, the state worker downsized and doing the same job for less as a contractor, college grads who cannot find work that can pay off their student loans.

The mainstream media tends to use income rather than wealth as an indicator of equality and economic health. But wealth, the accumulation of assets minus debts, gives us a bleaker picture, as tens of millions of people owe large amounts on their homes, student loans, and consumer loans. In 2007 the average wealth of the bottom 40% US residents was only $2200; imagine what the numbers must be in 2012.

For women and people of color, the decline of wealth is more stark. African American families now only have 5 cents in wealth for every dollar that a white family owns; the median income of African American single women is $100.