This is Part 3 in a 5-part history series focusing on US imperialism, globalization and neo-liberal economics across the world over the last 40 years. Each subsequent part will be published on consecutive Tuesdays.
Additionally, there is what is called neo-liberal economics. This is an effort to try to explain the development particularly of the US economy within a global context.[ii] Often said to be based on the principles of the free market—itself an ideological conceptualization[iii]—neo-liberal economics is definitely not free, but is highly developed to benefit the wealthy and powerful of the US Empire; thus, it is intended to further enrich those who are already well off while providing additional economic resources to support the US Empire. And it serves to rationalize the domestic disembowelment of the US domestic economy, which has already destroyed the economic well-being and security of millions in this country, while making the disenfranchised think that the failure was their’s alone, and not the result of systematic design by the rich and powerful, and that they are unable to resist these larger social processes through their social isolation and feelings of individualism that have been further enhanced by the elites.
It is an analysis of these processes in the post-World War II (post-1945) period.
The US emerged from the global destruction of World War II all-but-unscathed and with the most technologically-advanced economy in the world; besides having the atomic bomb and dropping it twice on Japan, and the strongest naval and air forces in the world, they soon created the CIA (the Central Intelligence Agency) to help them maintain political dominance in the world whenever and whereafter possible.[iv] The US Empire was built on the back of a strong economy—McCoy (2017, In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power. Chicago: Haymarket Books) points out that the US produced 50 percent of the world’s production of goods and services in the early 1950s (as much as that produced by all of the other countries in the world, combined)—and this was joined with international financial institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), each designed to help protect the global economy from the flaws of unregulated capitalism that led to the Great Depression, a global economy that American economic architects assumed would always be dominated by the United States.
For people in the United States, this led to 26 years of increasing and almost equal real economic growth inside of US society.
The years between 1947 and 1973 are considered the “golden years” of the US society.[v] The values are presented in 2005 dollars, so that means that inflation has been excluded and that the findings in this chart can be compared with Figure 2 and Figure 5, below: these are real dollar values, and thus are valid comparisons.
Figure 1: US Family Income, in US dollars, Growth and Distribution, by quintile, 1947-1973, in 2005 Dollars[vi]
|Lowest 20%||Second 20 %||Third 20%||Fourth 20%||95th Percentile[vii]|
|Difference (26 years)||$11,386 (97%)||$19,215 (101%)||$27,554 (107%)||$36,769 (101%)||$54,318 (91%)|
Data for the first period, 1947-1973, shows there was considerable real economic growth for each quintile. Over the 26-year period, there was approximately 100 percent real economic growth for the incomes at the top of each quintile, which meant incomes doubled after inflation was removed; thus, there was significant real economic growth in the society.
And importantly, this real economic growth was distributed fairly evenly. The data in the fourth line (in parentheses) is the percentage relationship between the difference between 1947-1973 real income when compared to the 1947 real income, with 100 percent representing a doubling of real income: i.e., the difference for the bottom quintile between 1947 and 1973 was an increase of $11,386, which is 97 percent more than $11,758 that the top of the quintile had in 1947. As can be seen, other quintiles also saw increases of roughly comparable amounts: in ascending order, 101 percent, 107 percent, 101 percent, and 91 percent. In other words, the rate of growth by quintile was very similar across all five quintiles of the population.
By the mid-1960s, however, the World War II war-torn countries of France, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom had recovered to such an extent that their corporations were able to compete with those of the United States in Europe and Japan. By the 1970s, some of these corporations were competing with US corporations inside the United States. And by the 1980s, foreign corporations were increasingly investing in productive facilities inside the US, enhancing their competitive situation against US firms.
Ronald W. Cox points out that these changes resulted in “the falling rates of profit faced by US-based corporations during the late 1960s and early 1970s,” which extended throughout the 1970s into the mid-1980s.[viii] He focuses on “an examination of the measures taken by US corporations in response to lower profit rates,” which “include both market-based restructuring aimed at lowering input costs, combined with political organization aimed at shifting US state policy in a neoliberal direction,” results he and Cathy Skidmore-Hess had reported in 1999.
Cox explains in some detail:
For US corporations, the traditional approach to maintaining profit rates has been to use oligopolistic market power and position to raise prices. This strategy could only be used by firms whose market share in a given industry was at a level of concentration that made it cost prohibitive for new firms to effectively enter the market and to compete at lower prices. The most globally competitive US-based corporations in automobiles, steel, chemicals, and machine tools enjoyed such an advantage over their competitors through the immediate post-World War II period. This enabled these firms to effectively capture the most dynamic, value-added segments of the US market against domestic and foreign competitors for the first two decades after World War II. However, by the mid-1960s, there were visible cracks in the oligopolistic structures that allowed those firms to dominate the US market.
Rising competition from Japanese and German exporters, followed by market penetration from the newly industrializing countries of Asia, weakened the hold that US-based oligopolies had on the domestic market. The ability of US oligopolistic firms in key industries to raise prices to maintain profitability was undercut by the influx of greater foreign competition. Furthermore, foreign firms that retooled after World War II had a built-in advantage over their US counterparts: they adopted newer technologies that made them more competitive and had a lower time horizon of “sunken” costs compared to their US competitors. US firms, having developed their productive assets during the 1930s, had higher pension and medical care obligations than their foreign counterparts—a reflection of both the high levels of privatization of these costs in the US compared to Europe and the lengthier time horizon for US firms in being obligated to these costs. During the first two decades of the post-World War II period, the most globally competitive US firms could use their status as “early industrializers” to establish oligopolies that dominated the US market in all of the leading sectors of manufacturing. That strategy was becoming untenable with the rise of increased global competition.
US corporations had to look to other strategies in an attempt to overcome the declining rate of profit. A convergence of events in the late 1970s and early 1980s led corporations to restructure their operations through merger and acquisition strategies that involved buying out, or merging with, competitor firms, and subsequently shedding assets in a restructuring process designed to focus business operations around a core set of activities. This involved a reorganization of the corporation around global supply chains in which the highest valued-added profits accrued to corporations at the top of the chain. From the mid-1980s to the present, there has been a greater concentration of market share controlled by the corporations at the top of the value-added chain of production, especially in ‘the high-technology and/or strongly branded segments of the global markets….’ This process has coexisted with an increasingly complex global production system of small and medium-sized producers and suppliers that completes with each other to satisfy the terms of production that are increasingly being established by the ‘system integrators’ at the top of the supply chain (Cox, 2012: 15-16).[ix]
The unfettered world that the US economy had operated within after World War II was changing: no longer under control of the United States, it was shifting from a centralized system dominated by one country to a decentralized one that was much more competitive. By the 1980s, increasing competition was also coming from corporations from some of the so-called developing countries. These trends have only continued to develop. And, in fact, what we have subsequently seen is both competition against and collaboration with competing firms of other countries, including companies from formerly colonized nations.
Production in the US had stagnated in the 1970s, and this was joined with increasing monetary inflation. The US was clearly losing its economic advantages to competing countries.
The Business Roundtable—a grouping of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of leading US corporations—was formed in 1972 to begin offering “solutions” in response to the economic lethargy they saw developing.[x] Basically, they decided that they could no longer tolerate trade unions that limited their managerial control on shop floors, and developed strategies to remove that problem.
The rise and triumph of the corporate neo-liberal agenda did not simply happen because of ‘market forces’ or globalization. The most powerful corporations in the US—many of them the most powerful in the world—organized to make it happen; they developed their own consensus and mobilized their vast resources and network to make it happen. They were determined to counter the surge in labor militancy and reverse the wage gains that took place in the 1960s and peaked during the last phase of the Vietnam War in 1969-71. The corporate offensive was not only aimed at constraining workers’ militancy and reducing wage gains, it was also a response to the challenges that seemed to be posed by the various protest movements of the 1960s, movements that appeared threatening to the status quo and had resonances among young and Black workers (emphasis in original) (Richard Roman and Edur Velasco Arregui, 2013: 7).[xi]
These strategies included actions on multiple levels. They challenged trade unions on shop floors, but they went much further than that. They decided that they would “outsource” labor-intensive production to countries that had low labor costs, especially to those that had the means to control labor, and which would compete to get investment for their countries. They would work with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank to get them to provide infrastructure investments for these countries to support any new foreign investment. They would upgrade technology in US factories, replacing workers with newly designed machines with “labor-saving” aspects. They would work with “leading” intellectuals to develop an understanding of the changes needed that was conveyable to the public—hence, the propagation of what became known as “neo-liberal” economics. They would support politicians and judges who would support their program. And they would support and fund politicians who would advance these ideas as part of their electoral campaign, especially at the national level.
The philosophy of neo-liberal economics was key to this strategy. Basically, it argued that the well-being of US corporations was central to the well-being of the US economy, that the US economy is central to the well-being of the United States Empire, and that key to the well-being of US corporations was to eradicate any restrictions on US corporations,no matter how deleterious doing so was to US society.[xii] This meant allowing US corporations unfettered control over their work forces, marginalizing if not destroying trade unions in their factories and other operations. It meant undermining strikes by allowing “replacement workers” (scabs) and ensuring their job “rights” after strikes ended. It meant allowing contractual workers and part-time workers to replace full-time workers. It meant undercutting health and safety protections, workers’ compensation schemes (for those hurt on the job), and any other restrictions that might limit production and productivity. And it meant prohibiting any regulations/ restrictions on corporate decisions as to where, and under what conditions, they could invest or disinvest from communities.
As I wrote in 1984, “This offensive [cutting production costs of corporations] has taken many approaches. It includes ‘rationalization” (getting rid of surplus and/or old plants), modernization, concessions, and bankruptcy. Oftentimes, an attack will combine several of these approaches.”
I further explained,
The point of mentioning these different industry and company approaches is to show many different ways workers are under attack. Each one of these attacks is ultimately an assault against unions. The important goal is to destroy worker resistance on the shop floor. Every company wants to be able to force workers to do what the company wants, when the company wants, how the company wants. They see unions as institutionalized forms of resistance, and if a union is standing up for its members at all, they want to subjugate and crush it (Scipes, 1984: 20-21).
Yet, neo-liberal economics went beyond “liberating” the particular corporations from the “oppression” of treating their workers respectfully: it meant restructuring the entire social order. As Francis Fox Piven notes, neo-liberal economic politics were a set of policies carried out, in the name of individualism and unfettered markets, for the deregulation of corporations, and particularly financial institutions; the rollback of public services and benefit programs; curbing labor unions; ‘free trade’ policies that would pry open foreign markets; and whenever possible, the replacement of public programs with private markets (Piven, 2006: 17).[xiii]
It also included tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, as well as cuts in environmental programs.
The right-wing forces that opposed governmental intervention in the economy (unless it benefited them or their corporate sponsors)—whether opposing the social programs of the 1960s (often for racist reasons), or because of economic philosophy—coalesced in the presidential campaign and, beginning in January 1981, in the administration of Ronald Reagan. These people took an ideological approach that any governmental intervention in the economy was deleterious to economic growth and societal well-being: Reagan parsed it, saying “Government isn’t the solution; it’s the problem.”[xiv]
I argue, however, there was more than profit maximization that was driving this adoption of neo-liberal economics: the elites were feeling the increasingly successful economic competition from other countries as a direct threat to their ability to support and maintain the US Empire, and so they began transferring economic resources away from the United States and its people toward supporting the US Empire and particularly the US military.[xv]
In 1980, and again in 1982, the economy contracted. In 1982, the ideologues under Reagan convinced him of the necessity to wring inflation out of the economy, and the government did not intervene to “restimulate” the economy: although interest rates reached 21 percent, which were economically devastating, Reagan did not launch new social programs or increase funding for established ones. Unemployment exploded, reaching the highest levels since the Great Depression.
At the same time, Reagan attacked the labor movement, the one force—despite its many limitations—that had provided economic advancement for millions of Americans.[xvi] When the air traffic controllers’ union (PATCO—Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization) struck in 1981, Reagan brought in military air traffic controllers to break the strike. (One of the great errors made by the national-level leaders of the labor movement, having disastrous effects, was refusing to shut down the entire airline industry, which was still heavily unionized, to stop Reagan’s union busing.) The Federal government’s union busting, and other right-wing legislative and court decisions that attacked the labor movement, unleashed business’ ability to increase productivity at the direct expense of workers—particularly by moving labor-intensive jobs to low wage countries like Mexico and China (destroying jobs in the US) and by investing in capital-intensive machinery that was also designed to eradicate jobs.[xvii]
Yet Reagan, despite the mythology that has been created around him, ended up hurting the economy in a long-term manner that has rarely been acknowledged. He engaged in massive deficit spending, only this spending was not to help the American people in general; it was to help the richest Americans, the US military and the arms industry: Reagan began spending hundreds of billions of dollars each year on the war department—I refuse to call it “defense”—and he did it by doubling the national debt in eight years: when he came into office in 1981, the US national debt—from 1789 under George Washington to the end of Jimmy Carter’s administration—was at $ .909 trillion dollars; when Reagan left, eight years later, it was $2.7 trillion.[xviii] (It has continued rising since then under both Democratic and Republican presidents, and as of October 2022, it is over $31 trillion (Alan Rappeport and Jim Tankersley, 2022, “US Debt Surpasses $31 Trillion.” New York Times, October 5: B-1 and B-3. On-line at https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/04/business/national-debt.html.).[xix]
In other words, the US economy has done as well as it has over the past 40+ years—although never as well for regular people as it did between 1947-73—because the US government has been writing “hot checks” to pay for its expenditures. At some point in time, that debt will have to be repaid—and it’s not going to be pretty.[xx]
To return to our story: along with the attacks on unions, unfunded wars, etc., the philosophy of neo-liberal economics collapsed our dominant societal values into one thing: profitability. If something enhances the potential of increased profitability of business, it is good; if it does not—no matter how important anything else is—it is bad. If regulations on food or air/water quality or worker/food safety cost corporations money, they are bad and should be immediately disbanded, no matter how beneficial they are to people, the environment or to our general social order. It is this “philosophy” that the US government has been pushing around the world, and it has hurt billions of people, including tens of millions within the United States.
What this has meant for labor is that anything that has limited business’ power in the workplace—unions themselves, strikes, any type of health and safety regulations, etc.—has been attacked by corporations. Additionally, through legislative and/or court decisions, actions that have limited workers’ collective power—protecting strike breakers, contract labor, and efforts to destroy unions through privatizing public services, etc.—have been supported. Again, anything that hinders or reduces profitability, no matter how much of a social good it provides—is bad: that is the philosophy and impact of neo-liberal economics.
Yet something else has happened in the United States in addition to adopting neo-liberal economics. The social upsurge during the 1960s-early 1970s—including the Civil Rights/Black Power movements, the women’s movement, the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) movement, the environmental movement, the anti-Vietnam War movement, and especially the anti-Vietnam War movement inside the US military—scared the crap out of the ruling elites. They decided that they would do whatever they could do to ensure that collectivity, and especially collective action, would never again raise its ugly head in this social order.[xxi]
To accomplish this, they have been creating a culture of individualism to undercut any aspirations of collectivity. Basically, as long as you and your loved ones are ok, you do not have to worry about the well-being of anyone else in the country—and, in fact, they told people that caring about others would undermine their individual interests. They created what I called the “I’ve got mine, screw you, Jack” culture and society. And this “screw you, Jack” ideology has been very successful: despite growing income inequality in the United States—that is more extreme than some of the poorest nations on the planet (e.g., Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Mozambique, Uganda, and Vietnam; see Part 4)—there was no nationwide discussion of this income inequality from about 1973 until the Occupy Wall Street movement that emerged in the Fall of 2011, almost 40 years.[xxii]
So, starting probably in about 1978, but specifically with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, right-wing ideologues (including their allies in the mainstream media, such as the founders of FOX and the rest) have deceived the country into believing that anything that hinders business’ potential for enhanced profitability is bad, and that all forms of collectivity are self-defeating. Thus, Reagan not only moved the Republican Party to the far right, but he got the Democratic Party to move to the right as well: arguably, no subsequent US presidential administration has passed as liberal a domestic program as Richard Nixon’s between 1969-73.[xxiii]
We can get some idea of the impact of all of this on ordinary Americans when we look at economic growth between 1973-2001, and especially when we compare the data in Figure 1 (1947-73), above:
Figure 2: US Family Income, in US dollars, Growth and Distribution, by quintile, 1973-2001, in 2005 Dollars
|Lowest 20%||Second 20 %||Third 20%||Fourth 20%||95th Percentile[xxiv]|
|Difference (28 years)||$3,323 (14%)||$7,167 (19%)||$15,643 (29%)||$30,553 (42%)||$66,739 (58%)|
When looking at the figures for 1973-2001, something vastly different from the 1947-73 figures (Figure 1) can be observed. What can be seen? First, economic growth has slowed considerably: the highest rate of growth for any quintile was that of 58 percent for those who topped the fifth quintile, and this was far below the “lagger” of 91 percent of the earlier period.
Second, of what growth there was, it was distributed extremely unequally. And the growth rates for those in lower quintiles were generally lower than for those above them; the impact was regressive, not progressive: for the bottom quintile, their real income grew only 14 percent over the 1973-2001 period; for the second quintile, 19 percent; for the third, 29 percent; for the fourth, 42 percent; and for the 80-95 percent, 58 percent: loosely speaking, the rich are getting richer, and the poor poorer.
Why the change? I think three things in particular. First, as industrialized countries recovered from World War II, corporations based in these countries could again compete with those from the US—first in their own home countries, and then through importing into the US, and then ultimately when they invested in the United States. Think of Toyota: they began importing into the US in the early 1970s, and with their investments here in the early ‘80s and forward, they now are the second largest domestic US auto producer.
The second cause was the restructuring of the US economy which, based on the work of Ronald W. Cox, was discussed above, moving from oligopolistic control to commanding global supply chains. On the corporate management level, they obviously made decisions to do this restructuring. Big business organizations worked very hard to find and elect politicians who would pass laws/make policies that would allow them to restructure and implement the projects they sought. They supported Supreme Court candidates who would accept such changes and allow these changes to be institutionalized. And they would work with foreign governments that would allow them into their countries, and especially where governmental leaders were willing to keep a tight rein on any workers’ movement that might emerge. And the biggest prize was opening China to foreign transnational investment.
After a long-range and extensive campaign among politicians and the American public by the largest transnational business organizations, China’s accession to the WTO [World Trade Organization] followed a little more than a year later. It was a tremendous accomplishment for the interests of transnational capital, as US and EU policymakers negotiated concessions that far exceeded those of previous less developed country (LDC) members (Breslin, 2000). These concessions would allow US transnational firms to deepen their profitability by allowing them greater access to the China market and by enabling them to integrate China into their global supply chains. In short, China’s accession to WTO was a watershed for transnational capital, particularly for high-tech firms that were the most poised to incorporate China into already existing networks of transnational accumulation (emphasis added) (Cox and Lee, 2012: 36).
And as these transnational corporations integrated China into their global supply chains, they downsized and/or closed their US production facilities, wiping out millions of jobs in the United States.[xxv]
Third cause for the change has been the deterioration of the American labor movement: from 35.3 percent of the non-agricultural workforce in unions in 1954, to only 12.0 percent of all American workers in unions in 2006—and only 7.4 percent of all private industry workers are unionized, which is less than in 1930![xxvi]
This decline in unionization has a number of reasons. Part of this deterioration has been the result of government policies—everything from the crushing of the air traffic controllers when they went on strike by the Reagan Administration in 1981, to reform of labor law, to reactionary appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, which oversees administration of labor law. Certainly, a key government policy, signed by Democratic President Bill Clinton, has been the North American Free Trade Act or NAFTA. One analyst came straight to the point:
Since … [NAFTA] was signed in 1993, the rise in the US trade deficit with Canada and Mexico through 2002 has caused the displacement of production that supported 879,280 US jobs. Most of these lost jobs were high-wage positions in manufacturing industries. The loss of these jobs is just the most visible tip of NAFTA’s impact on the US economy. In fact, NAFTA has also contributed to rising income inequality, suppressed real wages for production workers, weakened workers’ collective bargaining powers and ability to organize unions, and reduced fringe benefits (Scott, 2003, “The High Price of ‘Free’ Trade: NAFTA’s Failure Has Cost the United States Jobs Across the Nation.” Washington, DC: Economic Policy Institute, “Briefing Paper # 147, November 17: 1. On-line at https://www.epi.org/content/cfm/briefingpapers_bp147).
These attacks by elected officials have been joined by the effects due to the restructuring of the economy, especially by the largest transnational corporations. There has been an overall shift from manufacturing to services.
However, within manufacturing, which has long been a union stronghold, there has been significant job loss: between July 2000 and January 2004, the US lost three million manufacturing jobs, or 17.5 percent, and 5.2 million since the historical peak in 1979, so that “Employment in manufacturing [in January 2004] was its lowest since July 1950” (CBO, 2004, “What Accounts for the Decline in Manufacturing Employment?” Washington, DC: Congressional Budget Office, Economic and Budget Issue Brief, February 18. No longer available on-line.)
The job loss across the manufacturing sector was widespread and deep:
The AFL-CIO details the American job loss by the manufacturing sector in the 2001-05 period:
Computers and electronics: 543,000 workers or 29.2 per cent
Semiconductor and electronic components: 260,100 or 36.7 per cent
Electrical equipment and appliances: 152,500 or 26 per cent
Vehicle parts: 153,400 or 18.6 per cent
Machinery: 289,400 or 19.9 per cent
Fabricated metal products: 235,200 or 13.3 per cent
Primary metals: 144,800 or 23.5 per cent
Transportation equipment: 246,300 or 12.1 per cent
Furniture products: 58,500 or 13.4 per cent
Textile mills: 158,500 or 43.6 per cent
Apparel 220,000 or 46.6 per cent
Leather products: 24,700 or 38.3 per cent
Printing: 159,300 or 19.9 per cent
Paper products: 122,600 or 20.4 per cent
Plastics and rubber products: 141,400 or 15 per cent
Chemicals: 94,900 or 9.7 per cent
Aerospace: 46,900 or 9.1 per cent
Textiles and apparel declined by 870,000 jobs 1994-2006, a decline of 65.5 per cent (Source: AFL-CIO, 2006: 2. “China Trade: Deficits, Jobs, Investment and Exploitation.” On-line at http://www.afl-cio.org/issues/jobseconomy/globaleconomy.upload/china_learnfacts.pdf. No longer available, cited in Scipes, 2009: 16-17).
This is due to shifting to global supply chains at the highest levels (such as computers and other information technology-related products along with automobiles), combined with general outsourcing of labor-intensive production overseas (such as garments, shoes) and, more importantly, technological displacement as new technology has enabled greater production at higher quality with fewer workers in capital-intensive production such as steel (see Fisher, 2004, “Why Are We Losing Manufacturing Jobs?” On-line at file:///Users/kimscipes/Downloads/ec%2020040701%20why%20are%20we%20losing%20manufacturing%20jobs%20pdfl; no longer available).
There are multiple “causes” given for these changes in manufacturing in addition to the above. Some analysts have blamed burgeoning trade deficits for the rise: “… an increasing share of domestic demand for manufacturing output is satisfied by foreign rather than domestic producers” (Bivens, 2004, “Shifting Blame for Manufacturing Job Loss: Effects of Rising Trade Deficit Shouldn’t be Ignored.” Economic Policy Institute Briefing Paper. On-line at https://files.epi.org/page/-/old/briefingpapers/149/bp149.pdf). Others have even attributed it to changes in consumer preferences (Schweitzer and Zaman, 2006). Whatever the reason, of the 50 states, only five (Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming) did not see any job loss in manufacturing between 1993-2003, yet 37 lost between 5.6 and 35.9 percent of their manufacturing jobs during this period (Public Policy Institute, 2004, . “Manufacturing Employment.” On-line at www.ppinys.org/reports/jtf2004/mfgemploy.htm; no longer available.)
However, part of the credit for deterioration of the labor movement must be given to the labor movement itself: the leadership has been simply unable to confront these changes and, at the same time, they have consistently worked against any independent action by rank-and-file members.[xxvii]
However, it must be asked: are the changes in the economy presented herein merely statistical manipulations, or is this indicating something real?
This point can be illustrated another way: by using CAGR, the Compound Annual Growth Rate, a tool commonly used in the financial world. This is a single number that is computed, based on compounded amounts, across a range of years, to come up with an average number to represent the rate of increase or decrease each year across the entire period. This looks pretty complex, but it is based on the same idea as compound interest used in our savings accounts: you put in $10 today and (this is obviously not a real example) because you get ten percent interest, so you have $11 the next year. Well, the following year, interest is not computed off the original $10, but is computed on the $11. So, by the third year, from your $10, you now have $12.10. Etc. And this is what is meant by the Compound Annual Growth Rate: this is compound growth averaged by year across a designated period.
Based on the numbers presented above in Figure 1, the author calculated the Compound Annual Growth Rate by quintiles (Figure 3). The annual growth rate has been calculated for the first period, 1947-1973, the years known as the “golden years” of US society. What has happened since then? Compare results from the 1947-73 period to the annual growth rate across the second period, 1973-2001, again calculated by the author.
Figure 3: Annual average percentage of family income growth, by quintile, 1947-1973 compared to 1973-2001
|Population by quintiles||1947-1973||1973-2001|
What we can see here is that while everyone’s income was growing at about the same rate in the first period—between 2.51 and 2.84 percent annually—by the second period, not only had growth slowed down across the board, but it grew by very different rates: what we see here, again, is that the rich are getting richer, and the poor poorer.
If these figures are correct, a change over time in the percentage of income received by each quintile should be observable. Ideally, if society were egalitarian, each 20 percent of the population would get 20 percent of the income in any one year. In reality, it differs. To understand Figure 4, below, one must not only look at the percentage of income held by a quintile across the chart, comparing selected year by selected year, but one needs to look to see whether a quintile’s share of income is moving toward or away from the ideal 20 percent.
Figure 4: Percentage of family income distribution by quintile, 1947, 1973, and 2001, as measured in 2005 Dollars[xxviii]
|Population by quintiles||1947||1973||2001|
|Top fifth (lower limit of top 5 percent, or 95th Percentile)– $184,500||43.0%||41.1%||47.7%|
Unfortunately, much of the data available publicly ended in 2001. However, in the summer of 2007, after years of not releasing data any later than 2001, the Census Bureau released income data up to 2005. It allows us to examine what has taken place regarding family income inequality during the first four years of the George W. Bush Administration.
Figure 5: US Family Income, in US dollars, Growth and Distribution, by quintile, 2001-2005, 2005 Dollars
|Lowest 20%||Second 20%||Middle 20%||Fourth 20%||Lowest level of top 5%|
|Difference (4 years)||-$851 (-3.2%)||-$834 (-1.8%)||-$621 (-.01%)||-$728 (-.007%)||$3,527 (1.94%)|
Thus, what we’ve seen under the first four years of the Bush Administration is that for at most Americans, their economic situation has worsened: not only has overall economic growth for any quintile slowed to a minuscule 1.94 percent at the most, but that the bottom 80 percent actually lost income; losing money (an absolute loss), rather than growing a little but falling further behind the top quintile (a relative loss). Further, the decrease across the bottom four quintiles has been suffered disproportionately by those in the lowest 40 percent of society.
This can perhaps be seen more clearly by examining CAGR rates by period.
We can now add the results of the 2001-2005 period share of income by quintile to our earlier chart:
Figure 6: Percentage of annual average income growth per year by percentile, 1947-2005
|Population by quintiles||1947-1973||1973-2001||2001-2005|
|Top 95 percentile||2.51%||1.66%||.48%|
As can be seen below, the percentage of family income at each of the four bottom quintiles is less in 2005 than in 1947; the only place there has been improvement over this 58-year period is at the 95th percentile (and above).
Figure 7: Percentage of family income distribution by quintile, 1947, 1973, 2001, and 2005
|Population by quintiles||1947||1973||2001||2005|
|Top fifth (lower limit of top 5percent, or 95th Percentile)– $184,500||43.0%||41.1%||47.7%||48.1%|
What has been presented so far, regarding changes in income distribution, has been at the group level within the US social order; in this case, quintile by quintile. It is time now to see how this has affected society overall. This will be addressed in Part 4.
This history series is co-published by ZNetwork and Green Social Thought.
Part 4 continues the discussion on “neo-liberal economics.” You can read the entire series (all 5 parts) here.
Kim Scipes, PhD, a former printer, is a long-time trade unionist and labor activist, currently a member of the National Writers Union Local 1982, AFL-CIO. He is also Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Purdue University Northwest in Westville, Indiana, USA. He has published four books to date, and over 250 articles—in peer-reviewed, general specialty, and activist journals and newsletters—in the US and in 11 countries around the world. His work, including his entire book on the KMU Labor Center of the Philippines, can be accessed for free at Publications – Purdue University Northwest (pnw.edu). He is also a co-founder of LEPAIO (Labor Education Project on AFL-CIO International Operations), whose web site is at https://aflcio-int.education/.
[i] This section on “neo-liberal economics” draws heavily on my previous work—see particularly Scipes (1984, “Industrial Policy: Can It Lead the US Out of Its Economic Malaise?” New Labor Review, San Francisco State University Labor Studies Program, Vol. 6, Spring: 27-53. Updated in pamphlet form, December 1984. Pamphlet version is on-line at https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/read/35435605/industrial-policy-can-it-lead-the-us-out-of-its-economic-malaise; 1999, “Global Economic Crisis, Neoliberal Solutions, and the Philippines.” Review of the Month, Monthly Review, Vol. 51, No. 7, December. On-line at https://monthlyreview.org/1999/12/01/global-economic-crisis-neoliberal-solutions-and-the-philippines/; 2006, “When Will the AFL-CIO Leadership Quit Blaming the Chinese Government for Multinational Corporate Decisions, US Government Policies, and US Labor Leaders Inept Responses?” MR-on-Line, July 3. On-line at https://mronline.org/2006/07/03/when-will-the-afl-cio-leadership-quit-blaming-the-chinese-government-for-multinational-corporate-decisions-us-government-policies-and-us-labor-leaders-inept-reponses/; 2009. “Neo-Liberal Economic Policies in the United States: The Impact of Globalization on a ‘Northern’ Country.” Indian Journal of Politics and International Relations, Vol. 2, No. 1, January-June: 12-47. On-line at https://znetwork.org/znetarticle/neo-liberal-economic-policies-in-the-united-states-by-kim-scipes-1/; 2016b, “Introduction” to Kim Scipes, ed. Building Global Labor Solidarity in a Time of Accelerating Globalization (Chicago: Haymarket Books). On-line at https://www.academia.edu/25374866/INTRODUCTION_to_Scipes_ed_Building_Global
_Labor_Solidarity: 3-10)—but has been supplemented by extensive additional readings, particularly by Robert Brenner, 2003, The Boom and the Bubble: The US in the World Economy. London and New York: Verso.); Ronald W. Cox (2012, “Corporate Finance and US Foreign Policy” in Cox, ed., Corporate Power and Globalization in US Foreign Policy. London and New York: Routledge: 11-30; Cox and Sylvain Lee, 2012. “Transnational Capital and the US-China Nexus” in Cox, ed.: 31-55; Cox and G. Nelson Bass, 2012, “The Foreign Policy of Organized Labor in the Context of Globalization” in Cox, ed.: 56-78; David Gibbs, 2012, “The Military-Industrial Complex in a Globalized Context” in Cox, ed.: 95-113; David Harvey, 2005, A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press; Frances Fox Piven, 2006, The War at Home: The Domestic Costs of Bush’s Militarism. New York: New Press; Richard Roman and Edur Velasco Arregui, 2013, Continental Crucible: Big Business and Unions in the Transformation of North America. Halifax and Winnipeg: Fernwood; and Daniel Skidmore-Hess, 2012, “The Corporate Centrism of the Obama Administration” in Cox, ed.: 79-94. Additionally, as will be seen, I also include some research I did around 2013, and which was published in Scipes, 2021, Building Global Labor Solidarity: Lessons from the Philippines, South Africa, Northwestern Europe, and the United States (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books): 9-11, as well as some research included in Scipes, 2017, “The Epic Failure of Labor Leadership in the United States, 1980-2017 and Continuing.” Class, Race and Corporate Power, Vol. 5, Issue 2, Article 5. On-line at https://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/classracecorporatepower/vol5/iss2/5.
[ii] Please excuse my limiting of focus to the United States; there are parallel processes taking place in every country of the US Empire, including in the major imperial countries of Western Europe. However, the case of the US is most clear, and it is the dominant country of the empire, so in an effort seeking maximum clarity, I limit my comments therein, while recognizing these processes extend far beyond this single example.
[iii] What do I mean by “ideological construction”? We have been taught that there are economic markets, where men (and more recently, women) can interact as equals, to buy and sell goods and services based on their own interests, and this is guided by “the invisible hand” of the marketplace. First of all, especially at levels higher than the “mom and pop” corner grocery story, buyers and sellers are almost never equal; sellers overwhelmingly have greater power over buyers: “if you don’t give me what I want, I ain’t selling.” Perhaps the classic example of the one case where buyers have more power than sellers is the labor market; employers can hire whoever they want, as long as they do not obviously discriminate on certain social factors (“race,” gender, disability, sexual orientation, etc.).
Propagating this lie of equality, when it is not an accurate representation of social reality but is a myth, is intended to confuse if not flat out lie to people; i.e., it is intended to keep you under control of those of whom it is in their interest to lie.
Using the free market model also limits consideration to consumption of products—do you have the money or credit to purchase something or not?—and precludes consideration of effects of production on workers or the environment; i.e., it is a very narrow and restricted “model” of the economy.
I would argue that a more complete model, albeit with limitations, is that developed by Karl Marx,1867/1967, Capital, Volume 1. New York: International Publishers, and his political descendants.
[iv] The CIA was created under the National Security Act of 1947 (see Rachel Santarsiero, compiler and editor. 2022. “The National Security Act Turns 75.” National Security Archive, George Washington University, Washington, DC. On-line at https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/briefing-book/intelligence/2022-07-26/national-security-act-turns-75. For extensive documentation of their operations over the years, see William Blum, 2000, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower. Monroe, ME: Common
Courage; 2014. Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II—revised
edition. London: Zed; and 2015. America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy—The Truth About US Foreign Policy and Everything Else. London: Zed.
[v] This section on income inequality in the United States, as well as a section further below, is taken directly from Scipes, 2009. Unfortunately, this does not systematically address racial or gender-based stratification within US society, which is well-established; for an analysis of how these factors effect health in this country, see Donald A. Barr, 2019, Health Disparities in the United States: Social Class, Race, Ethnicity, and the Social Determinants of Health, 3rd Ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
As will be seen in Figure 1, below, this will be seen so positively because of the massive improvement in people’s real incomes between 1947 and 1973, and that this income growth was fairly evenly distributed to all quintiles within the social order. Thus, as exemplified by this period, there was a real material basis to the ideal of “the American dream” and that it was achievable by all.
However, the “assumption” that this material improvement continued after about 1973, will be challenged by data below. As will be seen, “the American dream” lost a lot of its material base, and became a hollow ideological “talking point” for increasing numbers of Americans.
[vi] A moment of explanation to help you understand what you are looking at. To judge economic inequality within a society, sociologists (and some economists) will gather as complete a set of economic data as possible, based on income and/or wealth, organized by family or individual, and present it from smallest amount to the largest. Income data is easier to get, so it is usually presented, as is done here. Then the income amounts will be divided into quintiles or fifths, and these are organized from the lowest quintile to the highest. Then, when measuring, they will put the dollar number for the highest amount (the top) of income/wealth in the quintile, as so you can compare them over time, to see where income distribution is growing or falling.
[vii] The US government does not want us to understand how much income is being garnered by the top five percent (5%) of the population, so their data for the fifth (and highest) quintile stops at 95 percent; the number is for the person at the 95th percentile. This is different from how they present data for the tops of the other quintiles. Nonetheless, since they do this consistently, it is comparative with other years despite the obvious limitation.
[viii] He cites Harlan Prechel (1997, “Corporate Transformation to the Multilayered Subsidiary: Changing Economic Conditions and State Business Policy.” Sociological Forum, Vol. 12, No. 3: 405-439. 414), writing “… as reflected in a dramatic fall in the rate of profit during this period for the top 500 industrial firms from 7.7 percent from 1973 to 1981 to 4.8 percent from 1982 to 1986…” (Cox, 2012: 18).
[ix] One statement in Cox’ statement deserves attention: he refers to the rising industrial nations of Asia. According to Scipes, “First, clearly, this development started with and/or benefited from the US’ Cold War against ‘communism,’ and later he argues, “this economic development was designed to establish or re-establish capitalist hegemony in the various countries and US imperial hegemony in the region …” (Scipes, 2020b, “Regional Aspirations with a Global Perspective: Developments in East Asian Labour Studies.” Educational Philosophy and Theory, Vol. 52, No. 11: 1214-1224, 1216. On-line at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/341719609_Regional_aspirations_with_a_global_perspective_Developments_in_East_Asian_labour_studies). The irony is that by providing “investment sites” to transnational corporations, this provided more possible sites to which US corporations could relocate from the US.
[x] As documented numerous times by several authors in Cox, ed. (2012), the Business Roundtable has been a major operative advancing the interests of the largest US-based transnational corporations and particularly in advancing their interests in the highest echelons of US government circles, and has been quite successful in its efforts.
[xi] See the discussion of their operations against the labor movement in Cox and Bass (2012).
[xii] The point that the US economy is central to the well-being of the United States Empire has not been made, at least publicly; US officials refuse to describe its empire as such. However, an empire is dependent upon or have access to a vibrant and expanding home-country economy.
[xiii] What she last referred to is the selling of public entities—such as water treatment and provision systems, electrical generating capacity, school systems as well as individual schools, transportation projects (commuter rail systems, highways, bridges), etc.—to private corporations, replacing public control with that by corporate managements; to put it another way, shifting these projects from serving common interests to becoming private, profit-making schemes. These processes are generally known as “privatization.”
[xiv] In a powerful analysis, Cox (2012: 16-30) details the process by which leading US corporations acted upon the Reagan and subsequent presidential administrations of both political parties, and got them to shape US foreign political economic policy to benefit these corporations, at the direct expense of workers in this country. It is a detailed analysis that deserves serious consideration, which it does not appear to have garnered to date.
[xv] According to Macrotrends (2023, “US Military Spending/Defense Budget, 1960-2023.” On-line at https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/USA/united-states/military-spending-defense-budget), but added by this author, total US military spending from 1982 (first budgetary year of the Reagan Administration) to end of Donald Trump’s administration in 2021: $18,215.91 billion or $18.216 trillion. (This is before Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.)
Further, we can compare US military spending in 2021 with that of 10 of our “allies”: US-$800.67 billion; UK-$68.37 billion; France-$56.65 billion; Germany-$56.02 billion; Saudi Arabia-$55.56 billion; Japan-$54.12 billion; South Korea-$50.23 billion; Italy-$32.01 billion; Australia-$31.75 billion; Canada-$26.45 billion; and Israel-$24.34 billion. (Macrotrends, 2023). In other words, in 2021, the US alone spent $800.67 billion, where our 10 allies combined spent $455.5 billion.
This is an important point that has not been sufficiently understood by progressives in the United States: the US has an empire, and its dynamic is different than that of the United States as a country, but the economic and political elites do not want us to understand this differentiation: they want us to think that projection of the empire, as it tries to dominate the rest of the world, is actually defense of the country. How wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan—plus various US “global” commands in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and East Asia, and all of their related operations everywhere else in the world —have anything to do with “defending” the United States is beyond human comprehension; its mythmakers make those pushing religious dogmas look like pikers.
Differentiating between the empire and the country is absolutely essential to disaggregating American “nationalism.” Also, money spent on the empire is money that cannot be spent on education, health care, ending inequities in our society, strengthening our infrastructure, and/or addressing climate change and environmental destruction, all projects designed to help Americans and other good people around the world.
[xvi] One of the great myths of American life—propagated heavily by business, government, and the mainstream media—is that as productivity increases, our standard of living automatically rises. This “suggests” that business “takes care” of its workers economically by periodically enhancing workers’ pay.
The reality is that it has been the trades unions, through negotiations and through striking, that have forced business to raise wages and extend social benefits. And even non-union workplaces have generally raised wages/benefits to comparable levels, as part of their campaign to keep their workers from unionizing. In short, and following Jack Metzgar (2000, Striking Steel: Solidarity Remembered. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.), the “working middle class”—which includes members of the of skilled trades, unionized industrial workers, and later, public sector workers—was created by the labor movement, and they joined the traditional “middle class” occupations like lawyers, doctors, insurance agents, etc., to create the “great American middle class.” The “working middle class” was not created by the mythical “benign” efforts of business, but by the determined efforts of millions of workers joined together in the US labor movement.
The attacks on the unions since 1981, as I show below, have devastated the economic well-being of tens of millions of Americans, which in turn has led to much of the social turmoil inside the United States.
[xvii] Again, see Cox (2012: 16-30) where he details the transformation of the US economy from our traditional model to global supply chains. “The US state was an especially important conduit in providing the political, legal, and organizational opportunities for US-based transnational firms to restructure their operations during the 1980s” (Cox, 2012: 25).
For an in-depth examination of the Apple Corporation, which is one of the most developed US-based transnational firms, and how this has affected workers in China, see Jenny Chan, Mark Selden, and Pun Ngai, 2020, Dying for an iPhone: Apple, Foxconn, and the Lives of China’s Workers. Chicago: Haymarket Books.
[xviii] This makes it appear that Reagan tripled the National Debt, but you have to subtract the amount he inherited, so the actual increase was a doubling.
[xix] Every year, the Federal government establishes a budget, saying it plans for certain programs and the costs to finance them, and then it will pay for them out of tax receipts. After the end of the budgetary year—which currently ends on September 30—the government will report that “we overspent our budget” (reporting a deficit) or “we brought our budget in lower than expected” (reporting a surplus). Then that year’s results (surplus or deficit) is added to that of every other year, going back to 1789, when the US became an independent country, and that cumulative total of surplus/deficits is known as the “national debt.”
Understand that between 1789, when the US became an independent country and 1981, the end of Jimmy Carter’s administration, the US national debt was $ 909 billion, or $ .9 trillion. This included paying for the War of 1812; the Civil War; the war against Native peoples on the Plains; the Spanish-American War (including the US-Philippine War); World War I; World War II; wars in Korea and Vietnam; as well as the Tennessee Valley Authority (that brought electrification to the US South), the Interstate Highway System, and the space program to that date, plus any other Federal spending; this covered 192 years. In just a little over 40 years, from when Reagan entered the White House, the National Debt grew $30 trillion under both Republicans and Democrats. Today, as stated, the national debt exceeds $31 trillion (Rappeport and Tankersley, 2022).
On February 15, 2023, the New York Times published an article stating that recent report by the US Congressional Budget Office estimated that the US National Debt would increase by $19 trillion by 2033 (Tankersley and Rappeport, 2023, “US on Track to Add $19 Trillion in New Debt Over 10 Years.” New York Times, February 15. On-line at https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/15/business/national-debt-biden.html.
That is what happens when you indulge in massive military spending for the US Empire, and you reduce taxation on the corporations and the rich.
[xx] At the end of the third quarter of 2022 (September 30, 2022), the US Gross National Product (GNP) was listed at $25.89 trillion (Y Charts.com, (A financial advising firm). 2023. US Gross National Product. On-line at https://ycharts.com/indicators/us_gross_national_product); yet the National Debt was listed within a few days of that as being over $31 trillion (Rappeport and Tankersley, 2022). This means the National Debt is approximately 119.7 percent of GNP. In other words, even if every person in this country was willing to work for free for an entire year, we still could not eradicate the National Debt.
At the end of 1980–Reagan had been elected in November and took office within about 20 days–the National Debt was $ .907 trillion, and the GNP (on December 31, 1980) was $2.768 trillion (Y Charts, 2023), so the National Debt at that time was approximately 32.5 percent of GNP.
[xxi] A keyway this has been done is through mythologizing history: a perfect counterexample is provided by the film, “Sir, No Sir!” (David Zieger, 2005, Sir, No Sir! Displaced Films. On-line at https://www.netflix.com/title/70043764). Despite herculean efforts to “put the [Vietnam] war behind us” by the US government, Zieger brilliantly reports the existence of an anti-war movement within the US military, and its impact on the US military’s ability to fight the war. (This anti-war movement inside the US military, in which I participated, has generally been “lost” to US history; for efforts to ensure it does not get lost, see David Cortwright, 1975, Soldiers in Revolt: The American Military Today. Garden City, NY: Anchor Doubleday; Richard Moser, 1996, The New Winter Soldiers: GI and Veteran Dissent During the Vietnam Era. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press; William Short and Willa Seidenberg, 1992, A Matter of Conscience: GI Resistance During the Vietnam War. Andover, MA: Addison Gallery of Art, Phillips Academy. On-line at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Matter_of_Conscience; and Richard Stacewicz, 1997, Winter Soldiers: An Oral History of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. New York: Twayne Publishers; for an analysis of the war on working people, see Penny Lewis, 2012, Hardhats, Hippies, and Hawks: The Vietnam Antiwar Movement as Myth and Memory. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.) Comparing Zieger’s film to the “history” of the war, as is generally reported, shows how much the “real history” has been mythologized. Nick Turse’s (2013) book on Vietnam, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, also demonstrates the mythology of the war that has been propagated by the US government, and then destroys it by use of official US Army records.
[xxii] Michael Moore’s 1989 film, Roger and Me, and his 2009 film, Capitalism: A Love Story, are the only examples of which I know that question neo-liberal economics and that reached a wide public audience during this period. For an evaluation of Moore’s films, see Bridie, 2022.
[xxiii] I cannot indicate how painful it is for me to write these words; Nixon, to many of my generation, was the epitome of evil. It shows how far backwards this country has traveled, under both Democrats and Republicans.
Nixon didn’t pass these progressive laws, especially around the environment and health and safety laws for workers because he believed in them, but to undercut the progressive movement (including the anti-Vietnam War movement) that had forced him to address these issues in this manner.
For an excellent analysis of the Obama Administration’s politics, see Daniel Skidmore-Hess (2012).
[xxiv] The US government does not want us to understand how much income is being garnered by the top five percent (5%) of the population, so their data for the fifth (and highest) quintile stops at 95 percent; nonetheless, since they do this consistently, it is comparative with other years despite the obvious limitation.
[xxv] Robert E. Scott reports that approximately 3.2 million jobs lost “is the net cost of growing US trade deficits with China between 2001 and 2013” (Scott, 2014, “US-China Trade Deficits Cost Millions of Jobs, with Loses in Every State and in All but One Congressional District.” December 18. Economic Policy Institute. On-line at https://www.epi.org/publication/u-s-china-trade-deficits-cost-millions-of-jobs-with-losses-in-every-state-and-in-all-but-one-congressional-district/2).
For a detailed look at how transnational capital was able to get China incorporated into their global supply lines, and the impact on the global economy, as well as effects on Chinese workers, see Cox and Lee, 2012. For a look at Apple’s (and Foxconn’s) operations in China, see Chan, Selden, and Ngai, 2020. And for a look at how the AFL-CIO leadership was attacking the Chinese government for decisions made by transnational corporate leadership and the US government, see Scipes, 2006.
[xxvi] Things have gotten considerably worse since this section was published in 2009.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2022, only 10.1 percent of the total workforce was unionized, and 6.0 percent of the private sector. (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2023, “Union Members, 2022.” On-line at https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/union2.pdf.).
[xxvii] I have been writing extensively on AFL-CIO foreign policy over the years; most importantly has been Scipes (2010a), with an update, and extensive review of the literature in Scipes (2022, “The AFL-CIO’s Foreign Policy Program: Where Historians Now Stand.” Class, Race and Corporate Power, Vol. 8, Issue 2, Article 5 (October). On-line at https://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/classracecorporatepower/vol8/iss2/5). For another excellent article on AFL-CIO foreign policy, see Cox and Bass (2012).
This failure of AFL-CIO leadership was detailed in Scipes, 2017, “The Epic Failure of Labor Leadership in the United States, 1980-2017 and Continuing.” Class, Race and Corporate Power, Vol. 5, Issue 2, Article 5. On-line at https://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/classracecorporatepower/vol5/iss2/5 (with an update in 2024, which is forthcoming), and followed by Scipes, 2020a, “Is It Time for a New Labor Center in the United States?” Z Net, February 19. On-line at https://znetwork.org/znetarticle/is-it-time-for-a-new-labor-center-in-the-united-states/. There is a massive literature on this by many different authors, and the single best source to date (which needs updating!) is my “Current Labor Issues” Bibliography, available on-line at https://www.pnw.edu/faculty/kim-scipes-ph-d/publications/contemporary-labor-issues-bibliography/.
[xxviii] Dollar values, given for the top income of the respective quintiles (in first column) are from 2005, as shown in Figure 5, below.
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