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Author Archive | Rick Wolff

French Election’s Deeper Meaning

France’s presidential election results are deeply contradictory.  The victory for the “patronat” — the nation’s dominant big business community — may prove extremely dangerous in terms of an enemy reawakened by that victory.  The losses for the French left — which still retains the support of half the nation’s electorate — may provoke its return […]

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Old Distributions, New Economy

The macro march backward of domestic income and wealth distribution has become remarkable.  At least we thought so enough to pen the following remarks.  In 2006 the corporate profits share of the national economy retouched its 1929 high.  Wage and salary income broke its 8 decade low watermark.  Our new economy increasingly replicates the distributional […]

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Capitalism’s Three Oscillations and the US Today

Throughout its history and across its geography, capitalism has swung back and forth between private and state forms.  The former reduces while the latter enlarges the state’s intervention in the economy.  The economic events that precipitate swings (in both directions) have been various mixes of recession and widening inequality.  Political oscillations have paralleled the economic. […]

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Reversing the American Dream

Perhaps the fastest growing new “wealth-management” tool in the US is the reverse mortgage.  The Federal Housing Administration insured 76,351 such mortgages in 2006 compared with 43,131 in 2005.  Industry officials expect around 120,000 reverse mortgages to be signed in 2007.  In 1990, only 150 reverse mortgages were arranged.  Traditional mortgages were the crucial means […]

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The Decline of Public Higher Education

Over the last quarter century, Americans got used to the idea of their children going on to colleges and universities.  In the early 1970s, about 8.5 million Americans attended such institutions; by 2004 the number had doubled.  The US population across this time rose by less than 50%.  This spectacular growth in our student population […]

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The Real Costs of Executives’ Money Grabs

Annual Fundraising Appeal Friends of MRZine and Monthly Review! The continuing existence of MRZine and Monthly Review depends on the support of our readers.  Unlike many other publications, we make all new Monthly Review articles, as well as MRZine articles, available online, free of charge.  We do so without drawing any advertising money at all […]

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To US Leaders: About China, Be Careful What You Wish For

Annual Fundraising Appeal Friends of MRZine and Monthly Review! The continuing existence of MRZine and Monthly Review depends on the support of our readers.  Unlike many other publications, we make all new Monthly Review articles, as well as MRZine articles, available online, free of charge.  We do so without drawing any advertising money at all […]

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The “Iraqis Must Now Provide Security” Fantasy

Annual Fundraising Appeal Friends of MRZine and Monthly Review! The continuing existence of MRZine and Monthly Review depends on the support of our readers.  Unlike many other publications, we make all new Monthly Review articles, as well as MRZine articles, available online, free of charge.  We do so without drawing any advertising money at all […]

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Exit Poll Revelations

Exit polls conducted at last week’s elections reveal the contradictions and limits of the Democrats’ victories.  As reported in the New York Times (November 9, 2006, page P7), the four fifths of US voters who are white preferred Republicans (52 to 48 percent), while Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians chose Democrats (by 89 to 11, 70 […]

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Globalization Risks and Costs

Critics have exposed how globalization’s benefits have been unequally distributed around the world.  Many of the world’s poorer regions have become poorer still in relation to the regions that gained.  And within regions, it turns out that globalization often worsens wealth and income inequalities.  However, critics admit and defenders boast that at least for some […]

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The Minimum Wage, Labor, and Politics

The minimum wage tragedy goes beyond the 15 million US workers now earning $5.15 per hour or $206 per forty-hour week before tax and other deductions.  It goes beyond the facts that $5.15 was already low when Congress set it in September, 1997, and that Congress has since kept it frozen at $ 5.15.  Meanwhile, […]

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Reaping the Economic Whirlwind

Consider these basic facts about the US economy today.  First, real hourly wages fell, on average, between the first quarter of 2005 and the first quarter of 2006.  At the same time, the productivity of those workers rose.  No advanced degree is required to grasp what’s happening here: workers who produced more output this year […]

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US Housing Boom Goes Bust

A sharp reversal is now hitting the US housing market: another of this system’s endemic boom-bust cycles.  As is widely known, over the last decade at least, while the US economy became sharply more unequal (rapidly rising gap between rich and poor), it managed to avoid a severe recession.  Goods and services purchases kept rising […]

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Global Oil Market Dangers

International intrigues and eventually war — with all its now daily horrors — flow partly from the highly unstable economics of global oil.  Not only has this been true for a long time, it promises to continue that way unless and until some mass movement ends it.  The report of US planning to bomb Iran […]

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The Fallout from Falling US Wages

Real wages in the US rose during every decade from 1830 to 1970.  Then this central feature of US capitalism stopped as the figures below show: Source: Labor Research Associates of New York based on data from the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics; wages expressed in constant 1982 dollars. 1964 $302.52 1974 […]

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Immigration and Class

Migration between countries occurs if and when it “resolves” social and especially class contradictions inside both of them.  One set of contradictions pushes people out of a country just as another set of contradictions in other countries pulls them in.  Finally, while migration “resolves” some social contradictions, it likewise engenders or aggravates others. These days, […]

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Lessons of a Left Victory in France

France’s leading bureaucrats, from President Jacques Chirac on down, have been defeated.  French neo-liberalism — the dismantling of its welfare state in favor of business —  has suffered a serious blow.  A powerful alliance of high-school and university students and of organized labor achieved the victory against the government’s law that undercut job security for […]

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Reform vs Revolution: Settling Accounts

US liberals — left, right, and center — have always justified reformism on the grounds that it is realistic.  “Nothing more than a limited set of reforms is achievable in the present circumstances” has been their mantra.  They insist that efforts toward more basic “revolutionary” social changes would be successfully resisted by the capitalist establishment, […]

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Evangelical Economics

(Dedicated to the memory of Harry Magdoff) Right-wing faith-based politics in the US has its counterpart in faith-based economics. The school of economics that dominates education, journalism, and politics — called “neoclassical” economics — has absolute faith in two secular gods. These are private property and markets. Neoclassical economists believe that these two institutions cause […]

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US Pensions: Capitalist Disaster

The US pension systems for workers are now widespread disasters.  Many corporations and many cities and states lack the money to pay all the benefits they have promised and legally owe to present and future retirees.  Estimates of the shortfall range around $450 billion in the private sector plus at least another $300 billion in […]

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