Friday, September 3, 2010

Please sir, I'd like some more

The residue of thirty years of trickle down economics:

The median male worker earns less today, adjusted for inflation, than he did 30 years ago.


In the late 1970s, the richest 1 percent of American families took in about 9 percent of the nation’s total income; by 2007, the top 1 percent took in 23.5 percent of total income.
Wealthy elites pushed this, first via their wholly own subsidiary, the Republican Party. They found a way, paradoxically and utterly without conscience, to make their desire to escape fair taxation appear populist to today's teabag types.

Then Democrats, by and large, meekly and weakly acquiesced - the buffet they could now get into was so sumptuous. I used to think that the pressure of post-Nixon campaign finance reform drove Democrats into the eager and mercenary arms of Goldman Sachs and friends, and I still think that had some effect. But the full story is more complicated, as it usually is.

Liberals triumphed over labor and conservative Democrats in 1972, and the party focused more on race and sex than on class. Actually, we focused on the poor, too, just not on the middle class, where we had traditionally been strong defenders of a fair share for wage-earners (even when that bled into racism in the South and ethnic discrimination in the North).

We liberals brought better education into the fore of the Democratic Party, but we also brought less staunch willingness to call bullshit on the elite consensus about economics, which was the wolf in sheep's clothing of the neo-classical synthesis. I almost bought into it myself as an undergrad. Almost. Then I saw how convenient it was for the elites to believe that the invisible hand of the market had magically selected them (to be born well!), and I'm always skeptical of the use of so-called knowledge to reinforce entrenched power, especially if that knowledge comes with a willingness to ignore glaring contrary facts.

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