Skip to main content

A single graph proves that the birth of neoliberalism coincides with a dramatic loss of power for the working class


The following graph depicts the radical divergence between productivity and compensation of a typical American worker after 1973. It essentially proves that the upper class has been overwhelmingly benefited during the last four decades or so, at the expense of the working class:



As described by the source, the hourly compensation of a typical worker essentially grew in tandem with productivity from 1948 to 1973. After 1973, these series diverge markedly. Between 1973 and 2014 productivity grew 72.2 percent, or 1.33 percent each year, while the typical worker’s compensation was nearly stagnant, growing just 0.22 percent annually, or 9.2 percent over the entire 1973–2014 period. Further, nearly all of the pay growth over this 41-year period occurred during the seven years from 1995 to 2002, when wages were boosted by the very tight labor markets of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

This divergence of pay and productivity has meant that the vast majority of workers were not benefiting much from productivity growth; the economy could afford higher pay but was not providing it.



Costas Lapavitsas, professor in economics at the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies, explains analytically how the working class has lost dramatically with the rise of financial capitalism and the accompanying neoliberal ideology during that period depicted in the graph above:

Finance is a sector of the economy in mature countries which has grown enormously in terms of size relative to the rest of the economy, in terms of penetration into everyday lives of ordinary people, but also small and medium businesses and just about everybody, and in terms of policy influence. Finance clearly influences economic policy on a national level in country after country. The interests of finance are paramount in forming economic policy. So that is clear. Finance has become extraordinarily powerful. And that, in a sense, is the first immediate way in which we can understand financialization. Something has happened there, and modern mature capitalism appears to have financialized.

Financialization is basically a profound historical transformation of modern capitalism that began in the 1970s, and it's now been running for about four decades.

What's happened to big business is very interesting. Two things have happened to it. First, big business has become increasingly capable of financing investment out of retained earnings. It retains its profits, and on a net basis it finances investment pretty much out of that. Of course, it still uses banks, but it doesn't rely on banks on a net basis to finance investment. That gives it a certain degree of independence from banks. In addition to that, big business has made so much in retained profits - currently US big business is sitting on piles of cash - that it can use those funds to play financial games, to engage in financial transactions and financial activities on its own account. So big business has financialized. Large enterprises have acquired some of the character of financial institutions, have become bank-like, and they engage in these transactions, and they change the structure of their own organization as they do that.

Second economic change, and very, very important, too, relates to banks. If big businesses is doing that, banks must do something else to make profit. They lend less to businesses for investment and so on, and they play more games in the financial markets. They become transactors in financial assets, and they make profits increasingly not from lending, but from fees, commissions, and trading. They become traders in financial assets. At the same time, banks have also turn households. Households have become a very profitable activity of banks, a new activity. This is a new phenomenon in the development of capitalism.

The third change has to do with households, workers, ordinary people. And what we see there in the last three to four decades is that ordinary people have been drawn into the financial system like never before. Households have become financialized. Finance has become a fundamental part of household life.

Why is that? Partly because wages have been stagnant. Wages have been absolutely flat in [the US] for decades. Partly because of that, people have turned to debt.

The financialization of everyday life, of households, is a bit of a complex story. What is actually happening is not simply that you borrow in order to consume. That also happens. What is actually happening is people need access to health, education, housing, and a variety of other needs. Every country has systems of provision for these things. These modes of provision have historically, traditionally, incorporated public provision, some methods of public provision. What we've witnessed the last three to four decades is a retreat of public provision. Public provision has retreated, private provision has taken its place. As this is happened, finance has emerged as the facilitator of that. So we turn to private provision to solve our housing needs, our health needs, our education needs, and finance makes profits out of that, basically, without having any skills in doing these things.

At the same time, we've had changes in institutions and in ideology. The changes in institutions are very clear. We've had wave after wave of deregulation. Labor market has become more deregulated, and financial markets have become more deregulated. And in addition to deregulation what we've had is the rise of the ideology of neoliberalism. Deregulation goes hand in hand with neoliberalism, the idea that the market is good, the state is bad. In [the US], this is a very powerfully held idea, more powerfull here than anywhere else. It's extraordinary how powerful this perception is and how a lot of social issues are understood in this way.

What have we got after four decades of this? These changes, seen very clearly in the United States, have created, firstly, a deeply unequal country, a deeply unequal society. Financialization is fundamentally about inequality. We see this inequality in terms of income, where the top 10 percent and the top 1 percent draw an extraordinary proportion of income annually, but we see it in terms of the functional distribution, the distribution of income between capital and labor. Labor has lost dramatically during the last three to four decades in [the US] and in just about every other mature capitalist country that has financialized.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How CIA altered the ending of Orwell's 'Animal Farm' to project Communism as the sole tyrannic system

globinfo freexchange

This interesting short documentary by AJ+, explores the cultural war between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. In an effort to project Communism as the evil against capitalist West and the "free world", CIA had to covertly interfere through various ways in art, music, literature, philosophy.

In one of these cases, the documentary reveals how CIA altered the ending of Orwell's 'Animal Farm' to project Communism as the sole tyrannic system. It is also interesting the fact that the case involved an animated film, indicating that CIA's cultural propaganda was targeting minor Americans in order to "train" them ideologically.

According to the story, George Orwell, who wrote such middle-school classics as 1984 and Animal Farm, described himself as a Democratic Socialist. And he was actually pretty anti-Stalinist and anti-Soviet-style socialism, something which was unusual among Leftist circles at the time.

We already live in a permanent recession in which the Wall Street mafia secretly and continuously is being bailed out with billions by the Fed!

globinfo freexchange
Jimmy Dore and Dylan Ratigan explain in this video the secret mechanism through which the Fed is permanently bailing out the Wall Street mafia with billions. 
Dore refers to a September article by CNN Business with information that, under normal circumstances, should have made big headlines, generating massive anger.
We were trained not to be surprised by the liquidity injections that the central banks like the Fed and ECB provide to the biggest financial institutions. When at the same time, the real economy, and especially the small-medium business sector is literally struggling to survive in the capitalist West.
Yet, in this case, some additional information reveals something impressive. As Dore highlights from the article: 
                  Until this week, the Fed hadn't launched an operation like this since 2008. [...] Still, the fact the Fed needed to pump $128 billion into the system on successive days shows that a crack has emerged in a seldom-discusse…

It's now or never: the first step for a Sanders/Corbyn synchronization in power must be done on 12 December in UK

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the global working class
by system failure
Two years ago, we wondered whether a US government under Bernie Sanders, together with a UK government under Jeremy Corbyn, could mark a decisive victory against neoliberalism. Whether it could mark the beginning of the end of the Reagan/Thatcher awful legacy.

It seems that the time has come for the first step towards this prospect.

The oncoming UK general election on Thursday 12 December 2019, will be the most critical for decades, especially for the global working class. The outcome will determine to a significant degree, whether the capitalist West will change course away from the destructive neoliberalism, towards a form of Democratic Socialism. A new model that will resurrect the social state, while at the same time, will seriously deal with the great environmental challenges, defying big interests and rejecting the for-profit-wars model.



As we already pointed out, the whole Brexit issue is pri…

The global youth radicalization and the fight for Socialism

by Eric London
Across the world, in countries as culturally distinct as Ecuador, Lebanon, France, Germany, the US, Iraq, Chile and Haiti, a new generation of working class youth is making its powerful entrance onto the battlefield of the global class struggle.

Citing the international scope of recent mass demonstrations, the Guardian's Simon Tisdall recently wrote: “Each country’s protests differ in detail, but recent upheavals do appear to share one key factor: youth ... This global phenomenon of unfulfilled youthful aspirations is producing political time bombs. Each month in India, one million people turn 18 and can register to vote. In the Middle East and North Africa, an estimated 27 million youngsters will enter the workforce in the next five years.

The political awakening of the most educated, urbanized and technologically interconnected generation in history is of critical strategic significance for the entire working class. 
Born beginning in the 1990s, today's youth…

Το Μητσοτακικό καθεστώς βάζει σε εφαρμογή το σχέδιο για τη δημιουργία κράτους σκληρής καταστολής

globinfo freexchange

Μετά το πρώτο βήμα που έκανε το Μητσοτακικό καθεστώς για τη δημιουργία Ειδικών Οικονομικών Ζωνών εντός της Ελληνικής επικράτειας, δηλαδή για τα φέουδα του 21ου αιώνα, όπως είχαμε προβλέψει, φαίνεται ότι, δυστυχώς, αρχίζει να επαληθεύεται και το σχέδιο για την ανασύσταση του δεξιού παρακράτους.  
Ήδη από το Μάιο του 18, είχαμε επισημάνει ότι σε ομιλία του στη βουλή, ο Μητσοτάκης ξεκίνησε το παραλήρημα του περί βίας αναφερόμενος συγκεκριμένα στα 'Εξάρχεια', τους 'Ρουβίκωνες' και τους 'αγανακτισμένους'. Και στο σημείο αυτό, πάλι κάτι ξέχασε: τους φασίστες.
Έτσι, έστειλε σήμα στους μηχανισμούς του αστικού καθεστώτος ότι θα συνεχίζει να το προστατεύει εγκαθιστώντας ένα κράτος σκληρής καταστολής, χωρίς να πειράξει το ακροδεξιό βαθύ κράτος που επιστρατεύει η εγχώρια ολιγαρχία όταν αισθάνεται κίνδυνο. Ένας κίνδυνος που μπορεί να έρθει σε περίπτωση νέων αναταραχών από τις βάναυσες πολιτικές λιτότητας που ο Μητσοτάκης θα συνεχίσει να εφαρμόζει π…

Slavoj Zizek: we may be entering an era of widespread civil unrest

RT
Anti-establishment protests are popping up all over the world, in countries with different political systems, and various levels of wealth. We may be entering an era of widespread civil unrest.

Trump threatens to transfer the endo-capitalist war into a civil war level

globinfo freexchange
Donald Trump finally counter-attacked against corporate Democrats and their persistent desire to impeach him, through the ultimate threat: a civil war. In a recent tweet he wrote:
"... If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.
....If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.” Pastor Robert Jeffress, @FoxNews — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2019
Speaking to the Real News Network, Jeet Heer of The Nation pointed out:
The civil-war tweet is almost like a threat. It’s like, 'Well, this is a nice little Republic you got here, and it’d be a shame if anything happened to it.' But the thing is that this civil-war talk did not originate from T…

Under digital surveillance: how American schools spy on millions of kids

Fueled by fears of school shootings, the market has grown rapidly for technologies that monitor students through official school emails and chats
by Lois Beckett

Part 5 - Shifts in culture

School officials say that their primary motivation for using surveillance technology is the chance to save a student’s life. But schools are monitoring students’ digital documents in real time for a wide range of content they see as problematic, from swear words to nude images and pornography to cyberbullying to evidence of drug and alcohol use.

In Weld county, Colorado, a student emailed a teacher that she heard two boys were going to smoke weed in a bathroom, Hernandez, the student services and safety director, said. Gaggle immediately alerted school officials: “Within four minutes of her sending this email, the troops had deployed,” she said.
Gaggle also automatically sends students a scolding email any time they use a profanity.

A few school districts have chosen not to send students Gaggle’s war…

Julian Assange's extradition process is 'a charade'

The Real News Network
Filmmaker John Pilger attended Julian Assange's last court hearing and observed not only that Assange is visibly suffering from prison mistreatment, but his defense is not being given a fair chance to make its case against his extradition to the US.


Bernie and AOC demonstrate how Baby Boomers could help Millennials escape the neoliberal Matrix

globinfo freexchange
In a recent ad, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez explains why she endorsed Bernie Sanders for President. Yet, it would be interesting to examine a specific point she makes at the beginning of this short video. AOC says:
                    The first time I ever heard about Bernie Sanders was when I was a waitress in a greasy spoon diner type of restaurant in downtown Manhattan. And I had been working 12 hour days. I didn't have health insurance. I was being paid less than a living wage. And I didn't think that I deserved any of those things, I thought that that's just how life was.

Her last (highlighted) phrase tells you a lot of how deeply the neoliberal perception has penetrated inside societies and especially inside the minds of new generations. Entire generationshave been trained to believe that that's how things are, in order to accept the neoliberal order and retire from any attempt to overthrow it.
As we wrote in a previous article, during the last f…