working poor

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pages: 311 words: 130,761

Framing Class: Media Representations of Wealth and Poverty in America by Diana Elizabeth Kendall

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Bernie Madoff, blue-collar work, Bonfire of the Vanities, call centre, David Brooks, declining real wages, Donald Trump, employer provided health coverage, ending welfare as we know it, framing effect, Georg Cantor, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, haute couture, housing crisis, illegal immigration, income inequality, lump of labour, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, payday loans, Ponzi scheme, Ray Oldenburg, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, telemarketer, The Great Good Place, Thorstein Veblen, trickle-down economics, union organizing, upwardly mobile, urban planning, working poor

For example, current estimates suggest that as a direct result of the 2010 oil-spill crisis, thousands of working-class jobs may be lost in the fishing industry, tourism, and the oil-drilling and oil-service businesses. Below the working class in the social hierarchy is the working-poor category (about 13 percent of the U.S. population). Members of the working poor live just above or below the poverty line. Typical annual household income is about $25,000. Individuals identified as the working poor often hold unskilled jobs, seasonal migrant jobs in agriculture, lower-paid factory jobs, and minimum-wage service-sector jobs (such as counter clerk in restaurants). As some people once in the unionized, blue-collar sector of the workforce have lost their jobs, they have faced increasing impoverishment. A large number of the working poor hold full-time jobs, and some hold down more than one job, but they simply cannot make ends meet. At the bottom end of the working class, there is often a pattern of oscillating mobility in which people move back and forth between the working-class and the working-poor categories.

However, as goods-producing jobs have decreased, union membership has dropped to a small fraction of 9781442202238.print.indb 123 2/10/11 10:46 AM 124 Chapter 5 the labor force.10 Consequently, the power of the working class to influence economic and political decisions has diminished; today, the media frequently characterize the working class as low in political participation. Some scholars believe that the working poor should be a category separate from the working class, but my examination of media coverage suggests that the working class and working poor are discussed somewhat interchangeably, particularly as more working-class employees are “only a step—or a second family income—away from poverty.”11 As a result, societal lines, like media distinctions, between the working class and working poor have become increasingly blurred. Global shifts in the labor force through outsourcing, downsizing, and plant closings have created more fluidity between the two groups. Some analysts place the working poor at 13 percent of the U.S. population; so, when combined with the working class (30 percent), these two categories together constitute approximately 43 percent of the population.

Some articles in the 1860s even suggested that the best role for the trade unions was to send the working poor to the western United States rather than demanding higher wages for them in the Northeast. According to an article titled “Help for the Working Poor,” if the “trades’ unions would contribute money to send their poor to the West, instead of supporting them in idleness here, they would render a better and more lasting service.”21 In other words, too many of the working poor were sitting idle, and trade unions could reduce the problem not by making demands on employers in the Northeast but by helping relocate these workers to “the fields of the West, free for them and aching to be cultivated.”22 For many years, media reporters have viewed the working poor and the activities of labor unions as problematic, resulting, according to some scholars, in an antilabor bias deeply embedded in media culture.


pages: 261 words: 78,884

$2.00 A Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America by Kathryn Edin, H. Luke Shaefer

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, clean water, ending welfare as we know it, future of work, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, impulse control, indoor plumbing, informal economy, low-wage service sector, race to the bottom, randomized controlled trial, Ronald Reagan, War on Poverty, working poor, Works Progress Administration

Drawing on Ellwood, the new president’s plan would add time limits to AFDC, but it would also increase the benefits of work to poor parents through a dramatic expansion of the EITC. By doing this, he argued, the country would “make history. We will reward the work of millions of working poor Americans by realizing the principle that if you work forty hours a week and you’ve got a child in the house, you will no longer be in poverty.” As Clinton was announcing plans to bolster the efforts of the working poor—whom many saw as deserving, but for whom there was little to no aid—he once again borrowed from Ellwood, making the case that the working poor “play by the rules” but “get the shaft.” It was time to “make work pay.” According to Jason DeParle, however, Ellwood worried that Clinton’s rhetoric on welfare time limits was too harsh. Were Ellwood’s own words going to be used to push families with children off the rolls and into deep poverty?

BEFORE EXPLORING STRATEGIES that will lift up the $2-a-day poor in a radically different way than has been done before, it’s worth revisiting recent welfare history. We’ve seen that David Ellwood’s 1988 manifesto, Poor Support, called for replacing welfare, not just reforming it. He turned a spotlight on a portion of the poor who rarely got any attention—or much help—from the government: the working poor. Ellwood believed that by shifting the social safety net to support those who worked but remained in poverty, America could design a form of poor support that would avoid the criticisms lodged against welfare. In the 1990s, President Clinton and Congress acted on Ellwood’s ideas and bolstered the well-being of working-poor parents dramatically through tax credits that provided a substantial pay raise in the form of a wage subsidy. The largest of these programs, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), is now generous enough to lift more than 3 million children above the poverty line each year.

Perhaps his only mistake was in assuming that this failure at the very bottom of the economic distribution would be visible and obvious, when in fact, throughout history, American poverty has generally been hidden far from most Americans’ view. America’s cash welfare program—the main government program that caught people when they fell—was not merely replaced with the 1996 welfare reform; it was very nearly destroyed. In its place arose a different kind of safety net, one that provides a powerful hand up to some—the working poor—but offers much less to others, those who can’t manage to find or keep a job. This book is about what happens when a government safety net that is built on the assumption of full-time, stable employment at a living wage combines with a low-wage labor market that fails to deliver on any of the above. It is this toxic alchemy, we argue, that is spurring the increasing numbers of $2-a-day poor in America.


pages: 299 words: 83,854

Shortchanged: Life and Debt in the Fringe Economy by Howard Karger

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big-box store, blue-collar work, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, delayed gratification, financial deregulation, illegal immigration, labor-force participation, late fees, London Interbank Offered Rate, low skilled workers, microcredit, mortgage debt, New Journalism, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, payday loans, predatory finance, race to the bottom, Silicon Valley, Telecommunications Act of 1996, telemarketer, underbanked, working poor

Their car is getting old, and they hope to send at least one of their children to college. The Danforths are America’s working poor. They’re also the propellant for America’s fringe economy.21 Almost one in four American workers lives in poverty or close to it. Thirty-five million people work full time but still don’t make an adequate living. These workers are the nursing home aides, poultry processors, pharmacy assistants, child-care workers, data-entry keyers, janitors, and other employees of the secondary and tertiary labor markets. They are also the 53% of underemployed Wal-Mart employees with no benefits and a 32-hour workweek. As David Shipler writes, “The term by which they are usually described, ‘working poor,’ should be an oxymoron. Nobody who works hard should be poor in America.”8 Since the 1980s, the relative wages of these workers have declined.9 The growth of the fringe economy parallels the economic development of the 1990s and early 2000s.

In 1999 about 3.3 million hourly workers (4.6% of the workforce) earned the minimum wage.12 Among full-time workers age 16–24 that number was 10.2%, and among part-time workers it was almost 12%.13 In 1997 the minimum wage brought a three-person family to only within 77% of the poverty line; by 2003 the figure had gone down to 67%.14 Although the minimum wage only impacts a small portion of the workforce, it is used widely as a benchmark for setting wages in the secondary labor market.22 The Economic Policy Institute estimates that households with one adult and two children require $14 an hour—far more than the current $5.15 minimum wage—to live barely above the poverty line. Sixty percent of American workers earn less than $14 an hour, and unskilled entry-level workers in many service occupations earn $7 an hour or less.15 The working poor are also more vulnerable to the vicissitudes of life than the middle class. For example, more than 40 million Americans lack health insurance, and unanticipated events such as illnesses or family emergencies may require workers to take off time without pay, leading to a temporary shortfall in income and increased debt. Given the low incomes of the working poor, it’s not surprising that a fringe economy that promises quick cash with few questions asked has become a high-growth sector. The growth of the fringe economy can also be partially attributed to the 1996 welfare-reform legislation signed by former president Bill Clinton.

The poor and credit-poor live in a world where borrowing means temporarily or permanently losing a valued possession or paying an exorbitant fee for a small cash advance. The following is a brief roadmap to Shortchanged. Chapter 1 looks at the scope and size of the fringe economy and the characteristics of its customers. It then examines the major players in the fringe economy, including mainstream financial institutions. Chapter 2 explores key factors that explain the phenomenal growth of the fringe sector, including stagnant wages, the rising numbers of working poor, the impact of welfare reform, immigration, and the rise of the Internet. Chapter 3 looks at the functionally poor middle class, an economic group increasingly targeted by the fringe sector. It also investigates the role of household debt in the growth of the fringe economy. Having a credit card is almost a necessity in America’s plastic-driven society. Without one you can’t rent a car, book a room or flight, or order goods online.


pages: 407 words: 136,138

The Working Poor: Invisible in America by David K. Shipler

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Bonfire of the Vanities, call centre, David Brooks, full employment, illegal immigration, late fees, low skilled workers, payday loans, profit motive, Silicon Valley, telemarketer, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, War on Poverty, working poor

With moving under statement, he develops a compassionate picture of the working poor.” —The Star-Ledger (Newark) “A work of stunning scope and clarity.… He brings the reader close enough to the challenges faced every day by his workers to make them feel it when the floor inevitably drops out beneath them.” —The Buffalo News “The scope and importance of David Shipler’s The Working Poor brings to mind Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle.” —Deseret News (Salt Lake City) “A powerful exposé that builds from page to page, from one grim revelation to another, until you have no choice but to leap out of your armchair and strike a blow for economic justice.” —Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed “There is no better book on poverty in America than The Working Poor because it describes in vivid detail the sort of day to day problems and the cycles that these folks are involved in … really thought-provoking in a very important way.”

—Los Angeles Times “Moving and meticulous.… Unlike other sympathetic chroniclers of the working poor, he doesn’t demonize their employers.” —The Baltimore Sun “Masterly… a series of memorable portraits.” —The Hartford Courant “This urgent new book obliterates the notion that impoverished people are simply lazy…. Shipler is a skilled interviewer whose knack for erasing himself from the picture lends this book anintimate quality.” —Time Out New: York “Shipler’s report is gripping, his characters more alive than those found in many novels.” —Austin American-Statesman “Splendidly animated by Shipler’s empathy—his ability to see people and more important to depict them, not as statistics or symbols of injustice, but as human beings.” —The Miami Herald “The Working Poor will make any relatively well-off reader look at the struggles of the poor differently.… [It] deserves a place on the American bookshelf next to Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed.”

Therefore, I use “poor” not as a statistician would. I use it as imprecisely as it should be used, to suggest the lowest stratum of economic attainment, with all of its accompanying problems. No discussion of the working poor is adequate without a discussion of their employers, so they also appear in these pages—entrepreneurs and managers who profit from cheap labor or who struggle to keep their businesses alive. In addition, this journey encounters teachers, physicians, and other professionals who try to make a difference. Although I have not sought to be demographically representative, most of the working poor in this book are women, as are most of them in the country at large. Unmarried with children, they are frequently burdened with low incomes and high needs among the youngsters they raise. A majority of those I write about are American citizens, but some are immigrants, both legal and illegal, whose labor is essential to the country’s growth and comfort.


pages: 406 words: 113,841

The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives by Sasha Abramsky

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2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, bank run, big-box store, collective bargaining, deindustrialization, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, ghettoisation, Gini coefficient, housing crisis, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, indoor plumbing, job automation, Mark Zuckerberg, Maui Hawaii, microcredit, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, payday loans, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Potemkin village, profit motive, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, upwardly mobile, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population, Works Progress Administration

Contents Acknowledgments PROLOGUEA Scandal in the Making PART ONE: THE VOICES OF POVERTY CHAPTER ONEPoverty in the Land of the Plutocrats CHAPTER TWOBlame Games CHAPTER THREEAn American Dilemma CHAPTER FOURThe Fragile Safety Net CHAPTER FIVEThe Wrong Side of the Tracks CHAPTER SIXStuck in Reverse PART TWO: BUILDING A NEW AND BETTER HOUSE INTRODUCTIONWhy Now? CHAPTER ONEShoring Up the Safety Net CHAPTER TWOBreaking the Cycle of Poverty CHAPTER THREEBoosting Economic Security for the Working Poor CODAAttention Must Be Paid Note on Sources and Book Structure Notes Index Acknowledgments The American Way of Poverty is a book with many benefactors and champions. I wish I could say that I woke up one morning with the concept fully formed in my mind, but I didn’t. Rather, there were an array of themes that I was exploring in my journalism and a slew of economic and political issues that, in the years surrounding the 2008 economic collapse, I found to be increasingly fascinating.

“Chicken bouillon plus rice tastes like chicken rice soup,” she said, and shrugged. “Of course, there’s no chicken in it.” And then there were the pantry denizens escaping domestic violence who had run up against draconian cuts to the shelter system. One client, Wallace recalled, was a woman in her late forties, about to enter a shelter. “We got a request to provide her food because she has to bring her own food to the shelter. The programs that assist the working poor and the poor are in dire straits.” Variations on the stories from Appalachian Pennsylvania could be encountered in cities and regions across America. After all, an economic free-fall of the kind that the United States underwent after the housing market collapse and then the broader financial meltdown leaves carnage in its wake. For those born into poverty, the hardship is magnified. For millions of others who thought of themselves as upwardly mobile, with middle-class aspirations and middle-class spending patterns, the crisis flung them down the economic ladder, replacing a precarious fiscal stability with a continuous struggle to survive.

Millions more are not listed as unemployed because they have long ago stopped looking for work; they are more ambiguously defined as being “jobless.” Unable to claim unemployment insurance, they live entirely on savings, on the largesse of friends and family, or on charity. Yet this isn’t a story only about those without work. In fact, America’s scandalous poverty numbers also include a stunning number of people who actually have jobs. They are author David Shipler’s “working poor,” men and women who work long hours, often at physically grueling labor, yet routinely find they can’t make ends meet, can’t save money, and can’t get ahead in the current economy. At the bottom of that economy, income volatility is peculiarly high; casual laborers and hourly employees routinely see their hours cut, their wages reduced, or their jobs eliminated during downturns. Oftentimes, their crises are magnified by homelessness, addiction, and mental illness and by involvement with the criminal justice system—from the early 1970s through the early 2000s, America built up the biggest incarceration system in the world, a situation that I discuss in the second half of the book when exploring ways to meaningfully intervene against modern-day poverty.


pages: 267 words: 79,905

Creating Unequal Futures?: Rethinking Poverty, Inequality and Disadvantage by Ruth Fincher, Peter Saunders

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barriers to entry, ending welfare as we know it, financial independence, full employment, Gini coefficient, income inequality, income per capita, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, marginal employment, minimum wage unemployment, New Urbanism, open economy, pink-collar, positional goods, purchasing power parity, shareholder value, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, urban planning, urban renewal, very high income, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population

The idea that government transfers are able to offset inequalities in the labour market is central to the current debate. It implies that Australia can ‘deregulate’ its labour market and yet not develop a working poor comparable to the United States (see especially the BCA 1999). How soundly based are these arguments? THE WORKING POOR AND LOW-WAGE HOUSEHOLDS Does Australia already have a ‘working poor’? In his overview of income poverty since the 1970s, Anthony King observed: Signs of the emergence of a group of working poor have been a repeated feature of recent poverty estimates and are in marked contrast to the situation in the early 1970s when employment was a virtual guarantee against poverty. (King 1998, p. 100) Research by Buchanan and Watson (1997) and Eardley (1998) suggests that the working poor is still a minor presence in the economic landscape. It is, however, a group whose numbers are growing and whose presence could mushroom if extensive labour market deregulation were to occur.

Turning to relative wages, even if a large reduction occurred here, there is no guarantee that a large number of new jobs would be created because of ‘displacement’ effects. Employers would simply substitute ‘subsidised’ workers (those on the lower pay) for ‘unsubsidised workers’. On the other hand, a large reduction in relative wages would lead to a major decline in living standards among the low-paid workforce and an increase in the size of the ‘working poor’ in Australia. In recognition of the problems of the ‘working poor’, the Five Economists have also suggested an earned income tax credit (EITC) scheme to compensate low-paid workers for their wage cuts. The American experience of the EITC suggests that earned tax credits are a successful response to the problem of welfare poverty traps and may warrant further examination (Ellwood 1999; Burtless 1998a and 1998b; Hout 1997). Earned tax credits are not, however, a suitable partner for low-wage jobs since they compound many of the problems to be found in the low-wage sector.

Unemployment is evidently concentrating, both within households and within localities. The proportion of households in which no adult holds a job, or in which a single parent is without work, has grown, as has the average duration of unemployment (Norris and Wooden 1995). These concerns have been echoed in a recent paper by Gregory (1999) which highlights a polarisation of families with dependent children into ‘work rich’ and ‘work poor’, and argues that around half of all Australian children can now expect to spend as much as four or five years in a family without (paid) work, and an average of over eight years in a family without an employed adult male (Gregory 1999, p. 14). In his important analysis in Chapter 4, Peter Travers considers the significance for young people of their parents’ unemployment or precarious employment, and their own unemployment when they are of working age, for the complex processes of marginalisation they experience.


pages: 332 words: 89,668

Two Nations, Indivisible: A History of Inequality in America: A History of Inequality in America by Jamie Bronstein

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, big-box store, blue-collar work, Branko Milanovic, British Empire, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Community Supported Agriculture, corporate personhood, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, desegregation, Donald Trump, ending welfare as we know it, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, Gini coefficient, income inequality, interchangeable parts, invisible hand, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, labor-force participation, land reform, land tenure, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, minimum wage unemployment, moral hazard, mortgage debt, New Urbanism, non-tariff barriers, obamacare, occupational segregation, Occupy movement, oil shock, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price discrimination, race to the bottom, rent control, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, Simon Kuznets, single-payer health, strikebreaker, too big to fail, trade route, transcontinental railway, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, trickle-down economics, universal basic income, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, wage slave, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, working poor, Works Progress Administration

But they celebrated without taking into account whether or not other programs, like the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit and SCHIP, helped to offset welfare, or whether the Internet-related economic boom of the late 1990s (with real per capital GDP up 25 percent and 20 million new jobs) would have addressed unemployment through economic growth anyway. The new programs also offered insufficient support to people with mental illnesses and substance abuse problems that hampered their ability to get jobs.49 Clinton’s administration had greater success in addressing inequality caused by low wages. Americans had been distinguishing between the unworthy poor and the worthy, working poor since the era of the Great Society. During the Clinton administration some questioned the existence of the category “the working poor.” For example, the economist Bradley Schiller denied that people could work full time and still head poor families, showing little understanding that contingent workers are not in control of their schedules, yet often have to maintain open availability, and that one can work less than full time but still too many hours to have the sort of availability that permits a second job.50 Clinton’s administration combatted working poverty by expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, acting on the premise that that no family with a fully employed household head should be living beneath the poverty line.51 The administration also managed to increase the minimum wage, although only through a bargain with Republicans that resulted in tax cuts for small businesses.52 Health care costs, and the costs of untreated illnesses, were major sources of inequality.

The New York Times in 2005 ran a series of articles on class, pointing out for its readership that, contrary to popular belief, the United States is not the most upwardly mobile country in the world.9 A number of recent books question the notion that deregulation, budget cuts to safety nets, free trade promotion, and privatization have promoted growth to benefit all.10 Despite its length and serious subject matter, economist Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2014) was widely read and reviewed. Historian Steven Fraser’s Age of Acquiescence (2015) compared the modern American public unfavorably with Americans in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, who were not afraid to call out class warfare against the working poor when they saw it.11 Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich’s documentary Inequality for All (2013) reached a wide audience, with an accessible message: the prosperity of the United States hinges on the middle class having an income to spend. After all, a multimillionaire can only drive one car at a time, wear one change of clothing at a time, sleep on one or two pillows at a time. Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders made economic inequality one of the cornerstones of his unexpectedly popular campaign: “Unchecked growth—especially when 99 percent of all new income goes to the top 1 percent—is absurd … Where we’ve got to move is not growth for the sake of growth, but we’ve got to move to a society that provides a high quality of life for our people.”

They traveled more than 2,000 miles before one of their leaders absconded with their entire treasury.112 Coxeyites in Oregon also attempted to steal a train; Attorney General Richard Olney foiled their plans by using federal troops to protect the trains because the transcontinental lines were in federal receivership.113 Coxey’s own Massillon, Ohio, contingent of only a few hundred protesters reached the nation’s capitol in May 1894, singing songs set to the tune of popular folk songs: There’s a deep and growing murmur Going up through all the land From millions who are suffering Beneath Oppression’s hand No charity, but justice Do the working poor demand And justice they will gain.114 While Attorney General Olney filed injunctions to keep Coxey’s Army from important buildings, these protests showed that, pushed far enough by inequality, the American poor could take direct action. Coxey himself lived until 1951, long enough to claim that his demands had been the basis for Roosevelt’s New Deal. The marches of the Coxeyites occurred simultaneously with a nationwide boycott of Pullman cars by railroad workers, in sympathy with workers at the Pullman factory.


pages: 236 words: 67,953

Brave New World of Work by Ulrich Beck

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affirmative action, Asian financial crisis, Berlin Wall, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, full employment, future of work, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, income inequality, informal economy, job automation, knowledge worker, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, low skilled workers, McJob, means of production, mini-job, postnationalism / post nation state, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, rising living standards, Silicon Valley, working poor, working-age population

For it increases the supply of flexible temporary labour and weakens the individual's position in the grey economy, resulting in a further loss of income. ‘If there are no mechanisms to limit cost-cutting competition among the suppliers of labour, a danger arises of self-reinforcing processes of impoverishment.’62 And this arises as a result of work. Work and poverty, which used to be mutually exclusive, are now combined in the shape of the working poor. Unemployment, non-work, grey work Unemployed people have a lot of time on their hands and are financially very insecure. But paradoxically, their receipt of unemployment benefit obliges them to do nothing. They might almost be compared to thirsty people who have to promise not to drink one drop of extra water, because they are officially given one glass a day to moisten their parched throat.

But this is a transition, and as long as it lasts it will be painful to many people – especially to men, who cannot get used to the fact that the rigid idea of a lifetime career opportunity will no longer mean much in the future.63 But the downward elevator effect into the world of job insecurity does not affect everyone equally. As in the past, it is true internationally that insecure and temporary forms of employment are increasing faster among women than among men. Women make up by far the larger part of the working poor, and for them in particular the systemic change that is opening up a grey area between work and non-work takes place as a descent into poverty. Nor does the growing number of men confronted with insecure and fragmented working lives result in any positive easing of the gender conflict. Indeed, in so far as the reign of the short term also undermines relations of partnership, love, marriage, parenthood and family, men suffer as much as women – and public life too dies out.

Underemployment and multi-employment are often two sides of the same coin: there can be no question of an eight-hour day. Leisure time is a foreign word, social life – ‘vacations’ – an endemic problem. Anyone who cannot be reached anytime and anywhere is running a risk. Such ‘individual responsibility’ lifts a burden from the public and corporate coffers and makes the individual the ‘architect of his or her own fortune’. The working poor. The jobs of ‘low-skilled’ and ‘unskilled’ workers are directly threatened by globalization. For they can be replaced either by automation or by the supply of labour from other countries. In the end, this group can keep its head above water only by entering into several employment situations at once. They therefore experience what many others fear: freedom makes you poor! If the informal sector, in expanding, is not accompanied by public money for all, it can turn into a ghetto for the poor.


pages: 399 words: 116,828

When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor by William Julius Wilson

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affirmative action, citizen journalism, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, declining real wages, deindustrialization, deliberate practice, desegregation, Donald Trump, edge city, ending welfare as we know it, full employment, George Gilder, ghettoisation, glass ceiling, income inequality, informal economy, labor-force participation, labour market flexibility, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, manufacturing employment, new economy, New Urbanism, pink-collar, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, school choice, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Chicago School, upwardly mobile, urban decay, urban renewal, War on Poverty, working poor, working-age population, Works Progress Administration

When speaking of social isolation, therefore, a distinction should be made between those families who deliberately isolate themselves from other families in dangerous neighborhoods and those who lack contact or sustained interaction with institutions, families, and individuals that represent mainstream society. As I pointed out earlier, the most impoverished inner-city neighborhoods have experienced a decrease in the proportion of working- and middle-class families, thereby increasing the social isolation of the remaining residents in these neighborhoods from the more advantaged members of society. Data from the UPFLS reveal that the non-working poor in the inner city experience greater social isolation in this sense of the term than do the working poor. Nonworking poor black men and women “were consistently less likely to participate in local institutions and have mainstream friends [that is, friends who are working, have some college education, and are married] than people in other classes” and ethnic groups. However, there are noticeable gender differences in the structure of interpersonal relations among the nonworking poor blacks in the inner-city neighborhoods of Chicago.

Graduated job ladders would provide rewards to workers who succeed on the job, “but wages would always be lower than [that which] an equally successful worker would receive in the private sector.” These wages would be supplemented with the expanded earned income tax credit and other wage supplements (including a federal child care subsidy in the form of a refundable income tax credit for the working poor and refundable state tax credits for the working poor). The Danziger and Gottschalk proposal obviously would not provide a comfortable standard of living for the workers forced to take public service jobs. Such jobs are minimal and are “offered as a safely net to poor persons who want to work but are left out of the private labor market.” However, they maintain that their proposal is an improvement over the current system, “which offers a minimum wage if you find a job, but leaves millions of poor persons searching for work and many others poor even though they have jobs.”

Indeed, crime was identified as a major problem by 66 percent of the residents in each neighborhood. Drug abuse was cited as a major problem by as many as 86 percent of the adult residents in Oakland and 79 percent of those in Woodlawn. Although high-jobless neighborhoods also feature concentrated poverty, high rates of neighborhood poverty are less likely to trigger problems of social organization if the residents are working. This was the case in previous years when the working poor stood out in areas like Bronzeville. Today, the nonworking poor predominate in the highly segregated and impoverished neighborhoods. The rise of new poverty neighborhoods represents a movement away from what the historian Allan Spear has called an institutional ghetto—whose structure and activities parallel those of the larger society, as portrayed in Drake and Cayton’s description of Bronzeville—toward a jobless ghetto, which features a severe lack of basic opportunities and resources, and inadequate social controls.


pages: 221 words: 68,880

Bikenomics: How Bicycling Can Save the Economy (Bicycle) by Elly Blue

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2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, active transport: walking or cycling, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, big-box store, car-free, hydraulic fracturing, if you build it, they will come, Jane Jacobs, job automation, Loma Prieta earthquake, medical residency, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, ride hailing / ride sharing, science of happiness, the built environment, urban renewal, women in the workforce, working poor, young professional

These average increases are not necessarily experienced equally—for many, these basic costs have gone up at the same time as their income has gone down. National Housing Conference and Center for Housing Policy, “Losing Ground: Housing and Transportation Costs Outpacing Incomes,” 2012. 24 The working poor spend more on both housing and commuting; homeowners living in poverty spend on average 25% of their income on housing, compared with 15% among the non poor. Renters spend 32% of their income on housing, compared with 20% among the non-poor. Brookings Institute, “Commuting to opportunity: The working Poor and Commuting in the United States,” 2008 25 The first paved bike path in Oregon was privately funded, with local wheelmen kicking in $1 each to pave the road to The White House, a bar in southwest Portland. Terry, J, “Portland Enjoys a Golden Age of Cycling—A Century Ago,” The Oregonian.

In 2009, people at every income level spent more on transportation than they did on food.8 Among households that made under $70,000, nearly 20% of their annual spending went to transportation (though even with incentives that year to buy new cars, including the huge federal Cash for Clunkers9 program, people were clearly economizing—far less was spent overall than in the year before). And the working poor seemed to have it the worst that year—65% drove a car to work and reported spending between 8% and 9% of their income on gas alone.10 For further perspective, the poverty line in the U.S. in 2011 was calculated at $10,830 for a single person a year. This measure is based on the cost of food; a cost which has gone down over the last century even as other expenses, particularly transportation and housing, have gone up significantly.

The event was a morning-long conference on the topic of providing subsidized cars to low-income families. Car ownership was seen as a path to employment, especially for low-income single mothers, and as a viable alternative to subsidizing public transportation. They made some good points. When you’re poor, you are often geographically isolated and lack good access to jobs. Transit systems in many cities don’t well serve the needs of the working poor, and most have cut back service even from where it was a decade ago. Low income people often resort to predatory loans in order to get a car. And there is a real correlation between employment and car ownership. In many cases, it’s the best of the bad options available. My sympathy for this case was dismantled piece by piece over the course of the morning. The speakers were a mixed bag, as was the audience, but it was clear that the lower and working classes were not represented in that room—and any mention of anecdotes from the experiences of the poor were met by derisive chuckles.


pages: 300 words: 65,976

The Gospel of Food: Everything You Think You Know About Food Is Wrong by Barry Glassner

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Gary Taubes, haute cuisine, income inequality, meta analysis, meta-analysis, New Urbanism, placebo effect, profit motive, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Saturday Night Live, stem cell, urban sprawl, working poor

Hasia Diner, Hungering for America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001), chap. 4. 5. Mark Warbis, “Suit Says Albertson’s Forces Unpaid Work,” Associated Press, April 22, 1997; “Supermarket Strike Averted,” East Bay Business Times, January 24, 2005. 6. See also Egger, pp. 107–8; “A Profile of the Working Poor,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 2005. 7. Jianghong Liu, Adrian Raine, et al., “Malnutrition at Age 3 Years and Externalizing Behavior Problems at Ages 8, 11, and 17 Years,” American Journal of Psychiatry 161 (2004): 2005–13; David Shipler, The Working Poor (New York: Knopf, 2004), chap. 8; Irwin H. Rosenberg et al., “Statement on the Link Between Nutrition and Cognitive Development in Children,” Center on Hunger and Poverty, Brandeis University, 1998. 8. Roy Rivenburg, “Scaling Food Pyramid Makes One Guinea Pig a Lesser Man,” Los Angeles Times, February 19, 2005. 9.

Forney was president and CEO of the Chicago Stock Exchange prior to taking over America’s Second Harvest, and before that, of an information technologies firm, so he knows plenty about labor issues, and if he wants to look into a donor company’s labor record, he certainly is in a position to do so. Furthermore, he had acknowledged earlier in our interview that low-paid workers routinely show up in food lines. Many of the people America’s Second Harvest assists “have to make decisions between rent and food and medicine, or food and housing, or food and utilities,” Forney said. “Those are the decisions that working poor people have to make, and unfortunately, that means that we’re seeing a lot more people.” Each of the several leaders of hunger-relief agencies I consulted commented on the absurdity (immorality, some called it) of a wage system in which people who work forty or fifty hours a week cannot afford basic food and shelter for themselves and their children. About 3 million Americans who work full-time have incomes below the poverty level.

Talwar, chap. 8 (contains Hagans’s story and similar examples). Motes’s story appears on Burger King’s Web site, www.bk.com. 48. Kroc, p. 111 (contains quote). Cost information is from Kroc, p. 178; Burger King’s and McDonald’s Web sites; www.entrepreneur.com; and “McDonald’s Makes Franchising Sizzle,” BusinessWeek, June 15, 1968, pp. 102–3. 49. Talwar, chap. 8. 50. Talwar (quote is from p. 2). 51. Quote is from Talwar, p. 2. See also David Shipler, The Working Poor (New York: Knopf, 2004), p. 19. 52. Schlosser, Fast Food Nation, pp. 75–83, 265. 53. Recycling quote is from Donna Fenn, “Veggie-Burger Kings,” Inc. (November 2001): 44. 54. McDonald’s quote is from the company’s Web site; Anderson is quoted in Josef Woodard, “Her Private Happy Meal,” Los Angeles Times, January 27, 2002. When one of my graduate students at the University of Southern California, Steve Zafirau, monitored online discussion groups for McDonald’s workers and interviewed employees at a McDonald’s restaurant where he himself worked, he found a full spectrum of reactions to working under the Golden Arches.

Global Financial Crisis by Noah Berlatsky

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, asset-backed security, banking crisis, Bretton Woods, capital controls, Celtic Tiger, centre right, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, deindustrialization, Doha Development Round, energy security, eurozone crisis, financial innovation, Food sovereignty, George Akerlof, Gordon Gekko, housing crisis, illegal immigration, income inequality, market bubble, market fundamentalism, moral hazard, new economy, Northern Rock, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, South China Sea, structural adjustment programs, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transfer pricing, working poor

The country that has been integrating itself in global capitalist markets in the last decades is once again seeing the ugliest side of capitalism, as the stock markets have dropped over a stunning 10 percent since the beginning of the month and the GDP [gross domestic product] growth forecast for the next couple of years has been slashed. The crisis finds the Israeli society in worse shape than it was during the last recession, that of 2000–2003: currently about a quarter of Israeli citizens live below the official poverty line, among whom the percentage of minority groups, such as Israeli Arabs and Orthodox Jews, is extremely high. A large part of the Israeli poor population are defined as “working poor,” meaning people who are employed and yet do not earn a minimum living wage, a phenomenon which is usually regarded as a symptom of the crumbling of the middle classes. The Financial Crisis Will Hurt Israelis Despite the fact that many governments around the world, from Europe to Mexico, are intending to increase spending in order to combat the oncoming recession, the Israeli government has already declared that it will keep a balanced budget 122 Effects of the Global Financial Crisis on Wealthier Nations and that, to do so, further cuts in social spending will be necessary.

Speakers at the meeting point out that growth in the region has halted and that poverty and middle-class hardship are likely to increase. The center also suggests that while some nations in Latin America have pursued responsible economic policies, others such as Nicaragua and Venezuela have not and may now experience instability. Despite possible turmoil, speakers note, the region is much more politically stable overall than in the past. As you read, consider the following questions: 1. According to Rebeca Grynspan, how many working poor people are there likely to be in Latin America in 2009? 2. According to Arturo Porzecanski, which countries are part of the “responsible left and right”? 3. When was the last military coup in Latin America, according to Jorge I. Domínguez? Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, “The Global Financial Crisis: Implications for Latin America,” A summary of an event hosted by the Latin American Program, Harvard University’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies and the Council of the Latin Americas/Americas Society at Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on Febuary 5, 2009.

The middle class is also suffering, and a large population goes back and forth above and below the poverty line. The International Labour Organization estimates that the number of people living in “work poverty”—those active in the labor market but earning an income below the poverty line established by the World Bank—will rise from 6.8 percent in 2007 to 8.7 percent in 2009, constituting 7 million working poor. An additional 4 million people will lose their jobs in 2009 if growth rates, as projected, are only around 1 percent. Grynspan argued for a larger system of social protection to prevent huge reversals of the gains in reducing poverty in recent years. Programs should emphasize women and young people, who are twice as likely to be unemployed, while infrastructure investment should include small and community-based projects, not just largescale ones.


pages: 187 words: 55,801

The New Division of Labor: How Computers Are Creating the Next Job Market by Frank Levy, Richard J. Murnane

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Atul Gawande, call centre, computer age, correlation does not imply causation, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deskilling, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, hypertext link, index card, job automation, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, pattern recognition, profit motive, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, speech recognition, talking drums, telemarketer, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, working poor

Had the rest of the economy remained unchanged, the declining importance of blue-collar and clerical jobs might have resulted in the rising 4 CHAPTER 1 unemployment feared by the Ad Hoc Committee. But computers are Janus-faced, helping to create jobs even as they destroy jobs. As computers have helped channel economic growth, two quite different types of jobs have increased in number, jobs that pay very different wages. Jobs held by the working poor—janitors, cafeteria workers, security guards— have grown in relative importance.3 But the greater job growth has taken place in the upper part of the pay distribution—managers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, technicians. Three facts about these latter jobs stand out: they pay well, they require extensive skills, and most people in these jobs rely on computers to increase their productivity.

At any moment in time, the boundary 6 CHAPTER 1 marking human advantage over computers largely defines the area of useful human work.5 This boundary shifts as computer scientists expand what computers can do, but as we will see, it continues to move in the same direction, increasing the importance of expert thinking and complex communication as the domains of well-paid human work. What is true about today’s rising skill requirements will be even more true tomorrow. Who will have the skills to do the good jobs in an economy filled with computers? Those who do not will be at the bottom of an increasingly unequal income distribution—the working poor. The disappearance of clerical and blue-collar jobs from the lower middle of the pay distribution illustrates this pattern of limited job options. People with sufficient workplace skills can move from these jobs into one of the expanding sets of higher-wage jobs. People who lack the right skills drop down to compete for unskilled work at declining wages. This dynamic, repeated in many workplaces, has contributed to the extraordinary growth over the past twenty-five years in the earnings gap between college graduates and high school graduates.

Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (New York: Modern Library, 1994; orig. 1776). Smith used the term to describe the increased efficiency that came when a particular job—making a straight pin, in his example—was divided into a series of narrow tasks—making the heads of pins, making the stems, sharpening the points—with each task assigned to a specialized worker. 3. On the increase in the number of the working poor, see Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (New York: Owl Books, 2001). 4. One of a limited number of exceptions was the mechanical calculator, which could perform basic arithmetic. 5. Strictly speaking, the determining factor is not humans’ absolute advantage but humans’ comparative advantage. We discuss this issue in chapter 3. 6. Jeremy Rifkin, The End of Work: The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the Post-Market Era (New York: Putnam, 1995), xvii. 7.


pages: 468 words: 123,823

A People's History of Poverty in America by Stephen Pimpare

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affirmative action, British Empire, car-free, clean water, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, dumpster diving, East Village, Frederick Winslow Taylor, George Gilder, hiring and firing, Howard Zinn, illegal immigration, impulse control, income inequality, index card, Jane Jacobs, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Naomi Klein, New Urbanism, payday loans, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, union organizing, urban renewal, War on Poverty, white flight, working poor, Works Progress Administration

I have a family to support—I need a real job.16 One former welfare recipient, a Native American woman, said it this way: I want to give my kids someone to look up to. People should work if they can. I was embarrassed being on welfare. People think you’re lazy. I wanted to better my future. I don’t want to depend on my family. I’m an independent woman.17 But the desire for work does not necessarily translate into the ability to work: poor Americans often have less education and fewer skills, which limits their options to jobs with low pay, few benefits, and little security.18 Such jobs seldom pay enough to cover child care. Poor women are twice as likely as those with incomes above 200 percent of the poverty line to have health problems, and about half of all women on welfare report having poor physical or mental health (other studies suggest that about one in four women with experience of welfare had problems with their mental health).

There have to be some mothers in the neighborhood who are going to do this, or none of the mothers, even the ones who want to work, are going to be able to work.17 As Katherine Newman attests:It takes time to monitor public space. Mothers on welfare often shoulder the burden for working mothers who simply cannot be around enough to exercise vigilance. They provide an adult presence in the parks and on the sidewalks where it is most needed. Without these stay-at-home moms in the neighborhood, many a working-poor parent would have no choice but to force the kids to stay at home all day.18 This is the point that urbanist Jane Jacobs has made about the importance of a watchful eyes and mutual policing for a healthy, safe neighborhood. 19 And there’s this interesting observation by one journalist writing about recipients in Washington, D.C.:Although neither mother not daughter talked about it directly, there was another difference between wages and a welfare check.

Official data will not get us far in evaluating or understanding the lived experience of poor Americans, which is why I have chosen not to privilege these measures in this book. Poverty over the Life Course There is another problem with most poverty data. Official rates are snapshots: they seek to count how many people are poor at any one point in time. But Americans move in and out of poverty over the course of their lives—the line between working, working poor, and poor can be very thin indeed. Many families are poor one year, not poor (at least officially so) the next, and then poor again the following year. One harsh winter, a fire, an epidemic or illness (cholera, smallpox, and yellow fever swept through the ghettoes in the past; today poor households face AIDS, diabetes, asthma, tuberculosis, or gun violence), divorce, the death or incarceration of the main breadwinner, an injury or disability, or the sudden loss of a job—these can push a family from just getting by into dire crisis.12 Thus, it would seem useful also to ask how many Americans are ever poor.


pages: 269 words: 104,430

Carjacked: The Culture of the Automobile and Its Effect on Our Lives by Catherine Lutz, Anne Lutz Fernandez

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barriers to entry, car-free, carbon footprint, collateralized debt obligation, failed state, feminist movement, fudge factor, Gordon Gekko, housing crisis, illegal immigration, income inequality, inventory management, market design, market fundamentalism, mortgage tax deduction, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, New Urbanism, oil shock, peak oil, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, ride hailing / ride sharing, Thorstein Veblen, traffic fines, Unsafe at Any Speed, urban planning, white flight, women in the workforce, working poor, Zipcar

While Crash’s Anthony is right—there remains a stigma to riding the bus in most cases—that shame could and should be transformed into pride in being environmentally responsible citizens. The ultimate goal should be to create more equality of opportunity without making additional car-dependence part of the solution. THE WORKING POOR: ONE PAYCHECK AWAY FROM CARLESS One step up from these poorest households cut off from jobs, health care, and reasonably priced goods are the working poor or near poor who, by 106 Carjacked rough estimate, include about 50 million Americans. These are individuals with low-wage jobs without benefits and families with two minimumor low-wage earners. The near poor are those who, as Katherine Newman, an expert on poverty and mobility, has said, are “one paycheck, one lost job, one divorce or one sick child away from falling below the poverty line.”7 They are one car repair or car crash away from poverty as well.

However small those fees were at first, the cost of the tickets and of renewing her insurance were insurmountable on her paychecks. She gave her car to her sister. Things just got worse, though: the initial $50 ticket for the missing plate had swollen to $325. With the other fine, the new license and registration fees, it would have cost over $1,000 to get Amy back in a car, and that’s before even buying one. As with many of the working poor, a tax refund was the only thing that T H E C AT C H : T H E R I C H G E T R I C H E R 107 counted as savings, and she eventually had one large enough to show up in court that day. Amy should get a “going green” award for her use of public transit throughout that period (her husband, too: he carpooled with his boss or rode a bike to his job). Luckily she lived in a city with what counts as reasonably good bus service.

And of course, the company could repossess and resell the car if she missed a payment.11 Poor and working families are more likely to own older cars that guzzle gas and oil and have higher maintenance costs. Drive through any poor urban neighborhood in America and you will find a striking number of auto repair and body shops working on the old, unreliable cars that have “trickled down” to these neighborhoods. Behind these official shops are more informal but not always reliable networks: one working-poor Baltimore man, Dwayne, described his typical struggles with an older car. To afford the repairs his auto needed to get back on the road, he took it to the backyard garage of a neighbor with mechanic skills. Two weeks later, he was still badgering the neighbor to get to work on his car and scrambling for rides to work. In the current economic climate, things are getting worse. At one Massachusetts auto repair shop, the owner pointed to a car parked outside in his lot that belonged to a young woman: “It’s been here for a couple of weeks now.


pages: 304 words: 88,773

The Ghost Map: A Street, an Epidemic and the Hidden Power of Urban Networks. by Steven Johnson

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call centre, clean water, correlation does not imply causation, Dean Kamen, double helix, edge city, germ theory of disease, Google Earth, Jane Jacobs, John Nash: game theory, John Snow's cholera map, lone genius, Louis Pasteur, megacity, mutually assured destruction, New Urbanism, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, peak oil, side project, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, trade route, unbiased observer, working poor

By the time Marx got to Soho, the neighborhood had turned itself into the kind of classic mixed-use, economically diverse neighborhood that today’s “new urbanists” celebrate as the bedrock of successful cities: two-to-four-story residential buildings with storefronts at nearly every address, interlaced with the occasional larger commercial space. (Unlike the typical new urbanist environment, however, Soho also had its share of industry: slaughterhouses, manufacturing plants, tripe boilers.) The neighborhood’s residents were poor, almost destitute, by the standards of today’s industrialized nations, though by Victorian standards they were a mix of the working poor and the entrepreneurial middle class. (By mud-lark standards, of course, they were loaded.) But Soho was something of an anomaly in the otherwise prosperous West End of the city: an island of working poverty and foul-smelling industry surrounded by the opulent townhouses of Mayfair and Kensington. This economic discontinuity is still encoded in the physical layout of the streets around Soho.

He had encountered the gossip that had been circulating in the past day, folk wisdom that would eventually find its way into the papers in the coming weeks: the residents of upper floors were dying at a more dramatic rate than those living on ground or parlor floors. There was a socioeconomic edge to this contention, one that reverses the traditional upstairs/downstairs division of labor: in Soho at the time, the bottom floors were more likely to be occupied by owners, with the upper floors rented out to the working poor. An increased death rate in the upper floors would suggest a fatal vulnerability in the constitution or sanitary habits of the poor. The notion, in its crude and haphazard way, was a version of Snow’s tale of two buildings in Horsleydown: put two groups of people in close proximity, and if one group turns out to be significantly more vulnerable than the other, then some additional variable must be at work.

Cities often began as an attempt to ward off outside threats—fortified by walls, protected by guards—but as they grew in size, they developed their own, internal dangers: disease, crime, fire, along with the “soft” dangers of moral decline, as many believed. Death was omnipresent, particularly for the working class. One study of mortality rates from 1842 had found that the average “gentleman” died at forty-five, while the average tradesman died in his mid-twenties. The laboring classes fared even worse: in Bethnal Green, the average life expectancy for the working poor was sixteen years. These numbers are so shockingly low because life was especially deadly for young children. The 1842 study found that 62 percent of all recorded deaths were of children under five. And yet despite this alarming mortality rate, the population was expanding at an extraordinary clip. Both the burial grounds and the streets were filling up with children. That contradictory reality explains, in part, the centrality of children in the Victorian novel, particularly in Dickens.


pages: 357 words: 95,986

Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work by Nick Srnicek, Alex Williams

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, air freight, algorithmic trading, anti-work, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, battle of ideas, blockchain, Bretton Woods, call centre, capital controls, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, centre right, collective bargaining, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, deskilling, Doha Development Round, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ferguson, Missouri, financial independence, food miles, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, housing crisis, income inequality, industrial robot, informal economy, intermodal, Internet Archive, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, late capitalism, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, market design, Martin Wolf, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, Mont Pelerin Society, neoliberal agenda, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, patent troll, pattern recognition, post scarcity, postnationalism / post nation state, precariat, price stability, profit motive, quantitative easing, reshoring, Richard Florida, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Slavoj Žižek, social web, stakhanovite, Steve Jobs, surplus humans, the built environment, The Chicago School, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, wages for housework, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population

One of the most difficult problems in implementing a UBI and building a post-work society will be overcoming the pervasive pressure to submit to the work ethic.123 Indeed, the failure of the United States’ earlier attempt to implement a basic income was primarily because it challenged accepted notions about the work ethic of the poor and unemployed.124 Rather than seeing unemployment as the result of a deficient individual work ethic, the UBI proposal recognised it as a structural problem. Yet the language that framed the proposal maintained strict divisions between those who were working and those who were on welfare, despite the plan effacing such a distinction. The working poor ended up rejecting the plan out of a fear of being stigmatised as a welfare recipient. Racial biases reinforced this resistance, since welfare was seen as a black issue, and whites were loath to be associated with it. And the lack of a class identification between the working poor and unemployed – the surplus population – meant there was no social basis for a meaningful movement in favour of a basic income.125 Overcoming the work ethic will be equally central to any future attempts at building a post-work world. As we saw in Chapter 3, neoliberalism has established a set of incentives that compel us to act and identify ourselves as competitive subjects.

William Julius Wilson, When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor (New York: Vintage Books, 1997), pp. 29–31. 34.Michael McIntyre, ‘Race, Surplus Population, and the Marxist Theory of Imperialism’, Antipode 43:5 (2011), p. 1500–2. 35.These draw broadly upon the divisions Marx drew between the floating/reserve army, latent and stagnant, but are here offered as an updating of his historical example. 36.Gary Fields, Working Hard, Working Poor: A Global Journey (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), p. 46. 37.This is what Kalyan Sanyal describes as ‘need economies’. See Sanyal, Rethinking Capitalist Development. 38.The area of ‘vulnerable employment’ now accounts for 48 per cent of global employment – five times higher than pre-crisis levels. This number is also thought to underestimate the amount of vulnerably employed, given its informal, off-the-books nature.

Mike Davis, Planet of Slums (London: Verso, 2006), p. 176; Friedrich Schneider, Outside the State: The Shadow Economy and the Shadow Economy Labour Force, Working Paper, 2014, pdf available at econ.jku.at, p. 20. 97.UN-Habitat, The Challenge of Slums: Global Report on Human Settlements 2003 (Nairobi: UN-Habitat, 2003), at mirror.unhabitat.org, p. 46. 98.Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time (Boston, MA: Beacon, 2001), p. 41. 99.Jan Breman, ‘Introduction: The Great Transformation in the Setting of Asia’, in Outcast Labour in Asia: Circulation and Informalization of the Workforce at the Bottom of the Economy (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 8–9; Nicholas Kaldor, Strategic Factors in Economic Development (Ithaca, NY: New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations, 1967). 100.Jan Breman, ‘A Bogus Concept?’, New Left Review II/84 (November–December 2013), p. 137. 101.Sukti Dasgupta and Ajit Singh, Manufacturing, Services and Premature Deindustrialization in Developing Countries: A Kaldorian Analysis, Working Paper Series, World Institute for Development Economics Research, 2006, at ideas.repec.org, p. 6; Breman, ‘Introduction’, p. 2; Fields, Working Hard, Working Poor, p. 58; Davis, Planet of Slums, p. 15. 102.Davis, Planet of Slums, p. 175; Breman, ‘Introduction’, pp. 3–8; George Ciccariello-Maher, We Created Chávez: A People’s History of the Venezuelan Revolution (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013), Chapter 9. 103.Sassen, Expulsions, Chapter 2. 104.Sanyal, Rethinking Capitalist Development, p. 69. 105.Davis, Planet of Slums, pp. 181–2. 106.Rather than a 30–40 per cent manufacturing share of total employment, the numbers are closer to 15–20 per cent, and manufacturing now begins to decline as a share of GDP at per capita levels of around $3,000, rather than $10,000.


pages: 283 words: 73,093

Social Democratic America by Lane Kenworthy

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affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, barriers to entry, Celtic Tiger, centre right, clean water, collective bargaining, corporate governance, David Brooks, desegregation, Edward Glaeser, full employment, Gini coefficient, hiring and firing, Home mortgage interest deduction, illegal immigration, income inequality, invisible hand, labor-force participation, manufacturing employment, market bubble, minimum wage unemployment, new economy, postindustrial economy, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, school choice, shareholder value, sharing economy, Skype, Steve Jobs, too big to fail, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, union organizing, universal basic income, War on Poverty, working poor, zero day

Cognitive Inequality during the Summer Months and the School Year.” American Sociological Review 69: 613–635. Drutman, Lee. 2012. “Why Money Still Matters.” The Monkey Cage, November 14. Duncan, Greg J. and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, eds. 1999. Consequences of Growing Up Poor. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Duncan, Greg J., Aletha C. Huston, and Thomas S. Weisner. 2007. Higher Ground: New Hope for the Working Poor and Their Children. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Duncan, Greg J. and Richard J. Murnane, eds. 2011. Whither Opportunity? Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children’s Life Chances. New York: Russell Sage Foundation and Spencer Foundation. Duncan, Greg J., Kathleen M. Ziol-Guest, and Ariel Kalil. 2010. “Early-Childhood Poverty and Adult Attainment, Behavior, and Health.” Child Development 81: 306–325.

Kalleberg, Arne. 2011. Good Jobs, Bad Jobs. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Katz, Lawrence F. 1998. “Wage Subsidies for the Disadvantaged.” Pp. 21–53 in Generating Jobs: How to Increase Demand for Less-Skilled Workers. Edited by Richard B. Freeman and Peter Gottschalk. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Kaus, Mickey. 1992. The End of Equality. New York: Basic Books. Kemmerling, Achim. 2009. Taxing the Working Poor. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar. Kenworthy, Lane. 1995. In Search of National Economic Success. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. ———. 2004. Egalitarian Capitalism. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. ———. 2006. “Institutional Coherence and Macroeconomic Performance.” Socio-Economic Review 4: 69–91. ———. 2008a. Jobs with Equality. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ———. 2008b. “Why Embrace Economic Change?”

Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Marmor, Theodore R., Jerry L. Mashaw, and Philip L. Harvey. 1990. America’s Misunderstood Welfare State. New York: Basic Books. Marx, Ive, Lina Salanauskaite, and Gerlinde Verbist. 2012. “The Paradox of Redistribution Revisited.” Unpublished paper. Marx, Ive and Gerlinde Verbist. 2008. “Combating In-Work Poverty in Europe: the Policy Options Assessed.” Pp. 273–292 in The Working Poor in Europe. Edited by Hans-Jürgen Andreß and Henning Lohmann. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar. Mayer, Susan E. 1999. What Money Can’t Buy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Mayer, Susan E. and Christopher Jencks. 1993. “Recent Trends in Economic Inequality in the United States: Income versus Expenditures versus Material Well-being.” Pp. 121–203 in Poverty and Prosperity in the USA in the Late Twentieth Century.


pages: 345 words: 92,849

Equal Is Unfair: America's Misguided Fight Against Income Inequality by Don Watkins, Yaron Brook

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3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Apple II, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, blue-collar work, business process, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, collective bargaining, colonial exploitation, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Brooks, deskilling, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, financial deregulation, immigration reform, income inequality, indoor plumbing, inventory management, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Jony Ive, laissez-faire capitalism, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, Naomi Klein, new economy, obamacare, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, profit motive, rent control, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, The Spirit Level, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Uber for X, urban renewal, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, working poor

Much more often, respondents claimed illness, retirement, family responsibilities, or going to school as reasons.”60 There are strong reasons to think that the decline in work among poor Americans has not happened despite the efforts of anti-poverty programs, but in significant part because of them. Anti-poverty programs haven’t just been unsuccessful at leading more poor people to join the labor force—they’ve encouraged many to stay out of the labor force. We’ll look at the data in a moment, but it’s worth noting that this is a view shared by a lot of low-income workers. In her study of Harlem’s working poor, No Shame in My Game, Princeton sociologist Katherine S. Newman quotes several fast-food workers who believe that welfare undermines the work ethic. Here’s one young worker, Ianna: I’m not knocking welfare, but I know people that are on it that can get up and work. There’s nothing wrong with them. And they just choose not to. . . . They don’t really need to be on [welfare]. They just want it because they can get away with it.

Emma Woolley, “How Much Do Plumbers Make?,” Career Bear, April 17, 2012, http://careerbear.com/plumber/article/how-much-do-plumbers-make (accessed May 20, 2015). 39. Katherine S. Newman. Interview by Russ Roberts, “Newman on Low-Wage Workers,” EconTalk, March 8, 2010, http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2010/03/newman_on_low-w.html (accessed May 20, 2015). 40. Katherine S. Newman, No Shame in My Game: The Working Poor in the Inner City (New York: Vintage, 2000), chapter 5. 41. Jason DeParle, American Dream (New York: Penguin, 2004), p. 79. 42. Miles Corwin, And Still We Rise (New York: Harper Perennial, 2001), pp. 36–37. 43. What explains the decline of opportunity-nurturing values is a difficult question. It isn’t poverty per se: poverty was far worse in 1960 than today, both in absolute and relative terms, but as political scientist Charles Murray, among others, has shown, most poor Americans back then shared the same opportunity-promoting values and behaviors as their wealthier counterparts.

Steve Large, “UC Davis Economics Professor: There Is No American Dream,” CBS Sacramento, November 26, 2014, http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2014/11/26/uc-davis-economics-professor-there-is-no-american-dream/ (accessed April 28, 2015). 46. Elias Isquith, “Paul Ryan’s ‘Blame the Victim’ Disease: How He Epitomizes a Horrible New Consensus,” Salon.com, July 26, 2014, http://www.salon.com/2014/07/26/paul_ryans_blame_the_victim_disease_how_he_epitomizes_a_horrible_new_consensus/ (accessed April 28, 2015). 47. Interview with Don Watkins, May 2015. 48. Newman, No Shame in My Game: The Working Poor in the Inner City, chapter 4. 49. Liam Murphy and Thomas Nagel, The Myth of Ownership (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 120. 50. Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, The Spirit Level (New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2009), p. 157. 51. Quoted in Joe Gelonesi, “Is Having a Loving Family an Unfair Advantage?,” ABC.com, May 1, 2015, http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/philosopherszone/new-family-values/6437058 (accessed May 20, 2015). 52.


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How the Other Half Banks: Exclusion, Exploitation, and the Threat to Democracy by Mehrsa Baradaran

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access to a mobile phone, affirmative action, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, barriers to entry, British Empire, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, cashless society, credit crunch, David Graeber, disintermediation, diversification, failed state, fiat currency, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, housing crisis, income inequality, Internet Archive, invisible hand, Kickstarter, M-Pesa, McMansion, microcredit, mobile money, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, Own Your Own Home, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, price discrimination, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, savings glut, the built environment, the payments system, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, union organizing, white flight, working poor

Only about 5 percent of the total deposits was used to loan on mortgages (legislation allowed up to 10 percent),78 and when they did loan mortgages, they required the borrower to provide up to 60 percent of the purchase price. The savings bank would not cure poverty, but it would give the poor a place to build capital. At the time, commercial banks actively repelled the poor. With typical hours of operation between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. (when everyone but the aristocrats was working), their doors were literally closed to the working poor. But it was more explicit than that. One Chicago banker described his disinterest in small deposits: “The bank with which I am connected not only does not invite savings deposits but imposes a prohibitory charge upon all accounts which average less than $300 for the express purpose of driving them away.”79 Massachusetts was the first state to pass legislation, creating the Provident Institution for Savings in Boston in 1814.80 The legislation was specifically designed to ensure that these banks stayed focused on their mission of helping the poor.

.… I urge favorable action by Congress on the important recommendations of the Postmaster-General for the establishment of United States postal savings depositories.30 The advocates of post office savings banks were not just trying to expand savings banks across the country; they were interested in providing a state-supported institution. In 1882, Congressman Edward Lacey said, “Private enterprise alone does not, and cannot, in this respect, meet the necessities of the industrious poor in any country, and least of all in the United States.”31 The point was that “the working poor … would be more inclined to deposit earnings in the Post Office, a public institution, than in the local savings bank run by sanctimonious clergymen and philanthropists.”32 The post office, with its rich history and public mission, proved the obvious choice for providing this service. With branches in communities where no bank and certainly, no savings bank, would go, the post office could potentially do with savings what it had with information—democratize banking.

He is laboring under a serious misapprehension.”64 The Boston Globe stated that “it is easy enough for anybody to find a savings bank; the trouble is to find the savings to put in it.”65 Others just stated that the reason rural dwellers were not saving in banks was because of the “ignorance of the common people” or that “the inhabitants of remote rural districts are not so well posted in the world’s wicked ways as those who have the opportunity of perusing the daily papers.”66 In other words, rural dwellers were too poor and too stupid to bank. But much like today’s banks, the private banks of that time were out of reach to most of the working poor. These banks were “not open enough of the time, nor at the most convenient hours for working people, nor for long-continued periods; they are not situated at all the convenient points.” These private institutions, Butler claimed, “do not care to deal with small sums” and were “not sufficiently adapted to the convenience of our population, nor have they either the incentive of philanthropy or of gain to induce them to become sufficiently so.”67 Savings banks simply weren’t reaching the lower strata of income.


pages: 278 words: 82,069

Meltdown: How Greed and Corruption Shattered Our Financial System and How We Can Recover by Katrina Vanden Heuvel, William Greider

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Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, Bretton Woods, capital controls, carried interest, central bank independence, centre right, collateralized debt obligation, conceptual framework, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Exxon Valdez, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, fixed income, floating exchange rates, full employment, housing crisis, Howard Zinn, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, kremlinology, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market bubble, market fundamentalism, McMansion, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, new economy, offshore financial centre, payday loans, pets.com, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price stability, pushing on a string, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, rent control, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, sovereign wealth fund, structural adjustment programs, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, union organizing, wage slave, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, working poor, Y2K

Known as a pragmatic and decisive leader, Paulson will likely be more proactive than Snow, whose sole job essentially was traipsing up to Congress once a year and urging lawmakers to raise the U.S. debt cap by another tril lion dollars so we wouldn’t default on our interest payments to China. Bush’s economic legacy is a weak dollar (who wants to invest in a country teetering on the brink of default?) and tax cuts for the super-wealthy that have created an outrageous deficit and debt. And that legacy benefits men like Paulson at the expense of middle-class Americans and the working poor. It will be a stretch for him to argue for prudent budgeting, while facing the country’s highest national debt ever, without cutting social programs to get there. This shaky economic legacy also makes Paulson’s possible appointment more challenging and hence more potentially dangerous than Rubin’s. He must rally citizens into believing their individual economic condition is better than it is.

The housing boom also spawned the now infamous subprime mortgage—a scheme devised by Main Street realtors and Wall Street bankers to finance home buying with loans that let the borrower buy in with little money down but carried high interest rates. The expensive payments would be made later by refinancing the mortgage as prices continued to rise. These subprimes were sold to middle-class strivers upgrading to McMansions as well as to the working poor. The increased demand pushed housing prices further into the stratosphere—until, inevitably, they fell back to earth. When the subprime borrowers could no longer make their payments, foreclosure signs went up, lowering the value of other houses in the neighborhood. The refinancing spigot shut off, retail sales sputtered and by January the economy was shedding jobs. But it is not the squeeze on homeowners that is giving our central bankers nightmares.

Borrowers were steered into predatory mortgage loans with grossly escalating interest rates that they could not afford. They still can’t. The pain of homeowners has now spread throughout the economy. We must challenge plans that bail out the rich, put out the poor and put down the middle class. We can’t just bail out Wall Street and ignore Main Street. The bailout must be bottom up, not just top down. The poor—the unemployed poor, the working poor and the fixed-income poor—must benefit from the investment of their tax dollars. Any “solution” or remedy must be judged by how it affects “the least of these.” The oversight committees and the overseers must come off the payroll of Wall Street. They cannot eat from the same trough and retain any credibility as regulators. If the owners pay the referees and umpires, the integrity of the game will be corrupted, leaving all outcomes suspect.


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Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich

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business process, full employment, housing crisis, income inequality, McMansion, place-making, telemarketer, union organizing, wage slave, women in the workforce, working poor, zero day

When someone works for less pay than she can live on—when, for example, she goes hungry so that you can eat more cheaply and conveniently—then she has made a great sacrifice for you, she has made you a gift of some part of her abilities, her health, and her life. The “working poor,” as they are approvingly termed, are in fact the major philanthropists of our society. They neglect their own children so that the children of others will be cared for; they live in substandard housing so that other homes will be shiny and perfect; they endure privation so that inflation will be low and stock prices high. To be a member of the working poor is to be an anonymous donor, a nameless benefactor, to everyone else. As Gail, one of my restaurant coworkers put it, “you give and you give.” Someday, of course—and I will make no predictions as to exactly when—they are bound to tire of getting so little in return and to demand to be paid what they're worth.

Is there help for the hardworking poor? Yes, but it takes a determined and not too terribly poor person to find it. On a Thursday after work, I drive to the Mobil station across the street from The Maids and call the Prebles Street Resource Center, which is listed in the phone book as a source of free meals and all-around help. I get a recorded message saying that Prebles Street closes at 3:00 P.M.—so much for the working poor!--but to try 774-HELP after that. There I wait on hold for four minutes before someone picks up. I tell him I am new to the area and employed but need some immediate food aid or cash assistance. Why do I need money if I'm employed, he wants to know—didn't I bring any money with me? It got used up on housing, I tell him, which was more expensive than I'd expected. Well, why didn't I check out the rents before I moved here, then?


pages: 209 words: 80,086

The Global Auction: The Broken Promises of Education, Jobs, and Incomes by Phillip Brown, Hugh Lauder, David Ashton

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affirmative action, barriers to entry, Branko Milanovic, BRICs, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, collective bargaining, corporate governance, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, deskilling, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, future of work, glass ceiling, global supply chain, immigration reform, income inequality, industrial robot, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labour market flexibility, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, market bubble, market design, neoliberal agenda, new economy, pensions crisis, post-industrial society, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, QWERTY keyboard, race to the bottom, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, stem cell, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, trade liberalization, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, winner-take-all economy, working poor

Hirsch, The Social Limits to Growth, 6; Phillip Brown, “The Opportunity Trap: Education and Employment in a Global Economy,” European Educational Research Journal, 2, no. 1 (2003): 142–180; revised and abridged as “The Opportunity Trap,” in H. Lauder et al. (eds.), Education, Globalization and Social Change (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006). 11. Raymond Boudon, Education, Opportunity and Social Inequality (New York: Wiley, 1973), 6. 12. David K. Shipler, The Working Poor: Invisible in America (New York: Vintage Books, 2005). 13. Ivar Berg, Education and Jobs: The Great Training Robbery (New York: Penguin, 1970). 14. Randall Collins, Four Sociological Traditions (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 146; Credential Society: An Historical Sociology of Education and Stratification (New York: Academic Press, 1979). 15. Tom Van Riper, Most Expensive Private High Schools, December 11, 2006. http:// www.forbes.com 16.

They “draw up the rules of the game, rig the odds in their favor and disown their losses” because when things got difficult they persuaded governments to socialize the private debt of individuals and companies while executives of failed companies walked away with private fortunes. If the same principles were applied to tackling poverty in America, it could be abolished tomorrow. See Simon Caulkin, “Stock Exchange: A Casino Where the Rich Can’t Lose,” The Observer, October 5, 2008; James K.Galbraith, The Predator State (New York: Free Press, 2008). 32. Jeremy Rifkin, The End of Work (New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 1996), 267. 33. The Working Poor Families Project, Still Working Hard, Still Falling Short (2006). http://www.workingpoorfamilies.org/still_working.html 34. See Brown and Lauder, Capitalism and Social Progress. Notes to Pages 161–164 187 This page intentionally left blank Index Page numbers in bold indicate figures. A. T. Kearney, 109 Abernathy, William, 105, 178n8 Bell, Daniel, 18 Bernstein, Jared, 122, 180n25 ABN AMRO, 42 Aboulafia, Richard, 103 best practice, 8, 30, 55 bidding wars, 99, 104, 183–84n22 Accenture Consulting, 76, 174–75n34 Ackroyd, Stephen, 85 Blackstone Group Greater China, 43, 180n25 acquisitive learning, 145 Alcatel, 42 American Dream, 1–3, 13–14, 27, 97, 132, 134–35, 147, 164 Blinder, Alan, 109, 152, 180n17 blue-collar worker, 16, 81, 84 body nations, 20, 26–27, 99, 113, 147 Boeing, 103 Anell, Barbro, 68 Boubakeur, Nadjet, 132 antitrust law, 160 arbitraging, 103–5.

See also high-skill, low-wage workforce hourly wages, 117, 118 income inequalities, 124–25 industrial policy, lack of, 158 industrial revolutions, 21 Wilensky, Harold, 80 Williamson, Peter, 43, 57–58 Wilson, Timothy, 68 The Winner-Take-All Society, 122 IT revolution, 127 knowledge wars, 45–48 winner-takes-all, 11, 123, 160, 165n7 win-win scenario, 20, 111, 152–53 National Institute on Drug Abuse, 146 opportunity trap, 137 R&D (research and development), 44, 45 World Bank, 59, 130, 149 The World Is Flat, 66 World Trade Organization (WTO), 41 STEM subjects studies, 37–38, 39, 153 trade imbalance, 108–9 World University Rankings, 95 WTO (World Trade Organization), 41, 52 war for talent, 86 working poor, 163 universities. See colleges and universities 198 wage inequalities, 59–60 Wall Street, 111, 148 war for talent, 9, 83–90, 93–97, 148, 176n8, Young, Michael, 133, 182n3 value chain, 52, 54–56, 58, 98, 108–10, 128 Zeng, Ming, 43, 57–58 zero-sum game, 22 venture capital, 114–15 vertical integration, 103 Zhou, Eve, 45 ZTE, 42 Index


pages: 683 words: 203,624

The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens' London by Judith Flanders

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anti-work, centre right, Corn Laws, John Snow's cholera map, Ralph Waldo Emerson, traveling salesman, urban sprawl, working poor

Once the bells stopped, the only shops that remained open were the cookshops, which baked the meat and vegetables brought to them in their owners’ dishes; these would be ready for collection when the other shops reopened after church. Whitecross Street market, another Sunday market, was much larger. Near Old Street, towards the Barbican, it opened at 7 a.m. on Sundays, with sellers including butchers, bakers, grocers, provision dealers, linen drapers, hosiers, milliners, furniture brokers, ironmongers, hardware and trinket shops, leather sellers and curriers. The working poor arrived first, but by nine the market was filling with the ‘hungry, meagre, and unwashed’. Many men spruced themselves up while their wives shopped. ‘Sunday morning is always an exceedingly busy time in a barber’s shop in a working-class neighbourhood,’ as men had their weekly shave, or the ‘swells’ who were going out for the day came in ‘to have their hair brushed and “done up”’. In Nicholas Nickleby, the barber in Soho is considered ‘a highly genteel establishment – quite first-rate in fact’, and yet the accompanying illustration makes plain that the ‘shop’ was nothing more than the front room of an ordinary house, as so many still were.

After the morning round, milkmaids walked the streets selling to passers-by, before returning for teatime and supper trades. One walked four miles to and from her dairy: after a 5.30 start she trudged her routes until 7 p.m., earning 9s a week and her meals. The next sellers were the watercress girls, followed by the costermongers, then the fishmongers’, the butchers’ and the bakers’ boys to take the daily orders. The cress girls and the costers wore the standard street-dress of the working poor. Early in the century, for the men, this was breeches, thereafter replaced by cord trousers, with shirts and waistcoats or smocks, sometimes a jacket, a cloth cap and always a silk kingsman neckerchief – a coster had to be very hard up not to have one. The girls wore cotton dresses, usually pinned up out of the mud, frequently with two aprons, a coloured one covered by a white one, with a shawl, a silk neckerchief if it was affordable, and a black velvet or straw bonnet, or, if they carried their goods on their heads, a folded handkerchief.

In a series of views of London, which Rowlandson illustrated between 1808 and 1810, the caption to a picture of the Westminster Workhouse, with its happy, well-fed paupers, reads: ‘The establishment of a permanent and certain provision for the aged and the helpless, not of occasional bounty, but of uncontrovertible [sic] right, and the anxious care which has watched...over every abuse or neglect in the execution of them, may be placed in competition with the greatest of our national achievements.’ Workhouses were shelter for the very aged or the ill; the healthy and working poor who could not make ends meet received ‘outdoor relief’ of both money and food, supplemented sometimes by clothes, shoes and assistance in finding apprenticeships for their children. By the 1830s, however, increasing urbanism, population and inequality of income, creaking infrastructure and the rise in evangelical morality helped to create a view that the poor were poor not because of misfortune, or because wages were too low, but because they were drunken and lazy, probably immoral and dissolute, and no doubt rogues and thieves to boot.


pages: 709 words: 191,147

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg

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back-to-the-land, British Empire, California gold rush, colonial rule, Copley Medal, desegregation, Donald Trump, feminist movement, full employment, indoor plumbing, invisible hand, joint-stock company, land reform, land tenure, New Urbanism, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Republic of Letters, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, trade route, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, War on Poverty, working poor, Works Progress Administration

The children of “wandering beggars,” having been “kept from idleness, and made able by their own honest and easy labor,” would grow up responsibly, “without surcharging others.” Children who escaped pauperism, no longer burdens on the state, might reenter the workforce as honest laborers. The poor fry sent overseas would now be “better bred up,” making the lot of the English people better off, and the working poor more industrious. It all sounded perfectly logical and realizable.16 Seeing the indigent as wastrels, as the dregs of society, was certainly nothing new. The English had waged a war against the poor, especially vagrants and vagabonds, for generations. A series of laws in the fourteenth century led to a concerted campaign to root out this wretched “mother of all vice.” By the sixteenth century, harsh laws and punishments were fixed in place.

Despite his literary skills, training as a law clerk and watchmaker, the un-Franklinesque Moraley seemed to migrate in circles and never up the social ladder. There was no guarantee that restlessness ensured social mobility.15 Poverty was increasingly common as the eighteenth century wore on. Philadelphia had its economic slumps, brutally cold winter weather, and shortages of wood that caused the poor nearly to freeze to death. In 1784, one man who was part of the working poor in the city wrote to the local newspaper that he had six children, and though he “strove in all his power,” he could not support them. Hard work by itself was not the magic balm of economic self-sufficiency, nor was Franklin correct that big families were always a boon. He was even wrong about his tabulations on American birthrates. Infant mortality in Philadelphia was surprisingly high, and comparable to English rates, proving that Franklin’s prediction of a healthy and happy population was more rhetorical than it was demographic fact.16 The quintessential self-made man was not self-made.

But with his broad swipes at royalty, he obscured other forms of injustice. He too loosely clothed the language of class in the garb of continental races and commercial impulses. Indians and slaves are marginalized in his grand vision of a new world order. Neither did he allow the ignoble waste people to make any appearance in Common Sense; the vast numbers of convict laborers, servants, apprentices, working poor, and families living in miserable wilderness cabins are all absent from his prose. For Paine, the crucial issue for Americans in 1776 was not whether but how soon a new and independent regime would advance toward its destiny as first among nations. He assumed that the mighty forces of commerce and continental expansion would eliminate idleness and correct imbalances. There was nothing wrong with cultivating Anglo-American commercial instincts and sustaining peaceful transnational trade alliances with Great Britain.


pages: 372 words: 152

The End of Work by Jeremy Rifkin

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banking crisis, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, blue-collar work, cashless society, collective bargaining, computer age, deskilling, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, employer provided health coverage, Erik Brynjolfsson, full employment, future of work, general-purpose programming language, George Gilder, global village, hiring and firing, informal economy, interchangeable parts, invention of the telegraph, Jacques de Vaucanson, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, land reform, low skilled workers, means of production, new economy, New Urbanism, pink-collar, post-industrial society, Productivity paradox, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, strikebreaker, technoutopianism, Thorstein Veblen, Toyota Production System, trade route, trickle-down economics, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population, Works Progress Administration

In the Netherlands, the conditions governing disability benefits have been tightened up in the hope of saving more than $2 billion a year in public spendingP Some European officials, such as European Union (EU) Commissioner Padraig Flynn, are urging caution in the debate over lowering the social net. He warns that "you're going to see more low-wage jobs being created ... and more part-time work." In both cases, says Flynn, "the key is to have a satisfactory level of social protection ... so that you're not creating working poor and increased levels of poverty."28 The lowering of the social net, at a time when growing numbers of workers are being displaced by new technologies and management restructuring, is increasing tensions throughout Europe. In March 1994, tens of thousands of students took to the streets in cities across France to protest a government decree lowering the minimum wage for young people. With one out of four French youth already unemployed, the government is worried that increasing political unrest could lead to a repeat of the kind of violent protests that shook France in 1968, paralyzing the government.

Their very existence, amidst growing squalor and despair, raises troubling questions about the high-tech future that awaits us in the coming century. Historian Paul Kennedy asks whether countries like India can "take the strain of creating world competitive, high-tech enclaves ... in the midst of hundreds of millions of their impoverished countrymen." Noting the growing disparity between the new symbolic analyst class and the declining middle and working poor in countries like the United States, Kennedy asks whether developing countries like India might fare even more poorly in the new high-tech world. "Given the even greater gap in income and lifestyles that would occur in India," says Kennedy, "how comfortable would it be to have islands of prosperity in a sea of poverty?"42 Kennedy's concerns become even more compelling in light of the rising number of workers projected to enter the labor force in developing countries in the years ahead.

The Reagan forces realized, early on, the potential symbolic and emotional power of third-sector images and used them to their advantage, building a Republican mandate in the 1980s. In both the Reagan and Bush White House, third-sector themes were continually manipulated in a cynical effort to mask a free-market agenda. "Returning the government to the people" became a convenient euphemism to push for deregulation of industry, fewer corporate taxes, and cutbacks in social services and entitlement programs for the working poor and those trapped below the poverty line. In the end, the third sector was seriously compromised and undermined by the very political forces that professed to be its champions and advocates. To avoid a similar occurrence in the future, it is necessary to understand both the disarming ways the Reagan people were able to manipulate third-sector images and the responses they evoked from Democrats and progressive forces.


pages: 401 words: 112,784

Hard Times: The Divisive Toll of the Economic Slump by Tom Clark, Anthony Heath

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, British Empire, Carmen Reinhart, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, debt deflation, deindustrialization, Etonian, eurozone crisis, falling living standards, full employment, Gini coefficient, hiring and firing, income inequality, interest rate swap, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, low skilled workers, mortgage debt, new economy, Northern Rock, obamacare, oil shock, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, quantitative easing, Ronald Reagan, science of happiness, statistical model, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, unconventional monetary instruments, War on Poverty, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, working poor

Using regression analysis on UK data, the respected labour market experts Paul Gregg and Stephen Machin find that whereas ‘a doubling of unemployment at any point in the period between 1986 and 2002’ would have driven down wages by 7%, in more recent years the same proportional rise would ‘push typical pay down by 12%’.10 That amounts to a serious intensification of hard times – as experienced not by the traditional jobless victims, but by people who have remained in employment. This nasty spillover from redundancy notices onto workers who kept their jobs is most marked at the bottom of the scale – and in the US it is stark. The Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps track of America's working poor, defined as those who spend the bulk of the year in the labour force, but who nonetheless live below the poverty line: the 2010 tally of 10.5 million was the highest since records began, in 1987.11 One study concluded: ‘during … the Great Recession, the bottom of the US earnings distribution has fallen dramatically … In terms of earnings, the bottom 20 percent of the US population has never done so poorly, relative to the median, during the whole postwar period.’12 The only reason this did not produce an immediate surge in inequality in family incomes, the same paper notes, was rising government redistribution; redistribution that reflects such moves as the extension in unemployment compensation that we reported on in Chapter 2.

It is striking that the most necessary, predictable and cheapest of all the utilities should be the one that worries him most. In his own estimation at least, however, his troubles are less to do with being unemployed as such, and more to do with being desperately poor: ‘Losing a job is nothing, compared to what I'm going through right now, because I am on the breadline.’ The anxiety of the workless was, perhaps, somewhat more marked in our interviews, but there was little difference between them and the working poor in the sorts of things that stirred fear – those dramatic words about homelessness and being haunted by broken fridges came from case studies of people in work. All this suggests that serious anxiety may be gripping the more weather-beaten sections of the workforce. The next question is whether there is any sign of that in the hard data. David Blanchflower and David Bell, the same economists who devised the UK ‘underemployment’ index examined in the previous chapter, have directly explored the psychological toll on those working Britons who are bearing the most severe brunt: people forced to work part time.

As the retrenchment of private industry in the initial recession was slowly replaced by the public retrenchment of the Coalition's cuts between 2011 and 2013, our analysis of hundreds of thousands of YouGov market research interviews suggests that, while the financial mood of the nation stabilised, the public's feelings about family, friends and community continued to darken.55 And, in the case of people like ‘Winston’, the link between such pessimism and the stance of the public authorities is not hard to grasp. Whereas he used to ‘cycle into London twice a week … [to] go see my son’ (whom he otherwise sees only at weekends), his workfare obligations – and his terror of breaching them – now mean that he cannot make the trip. A wider slice of the population could soon experience such workfare-type requirements, as policy adjusts to the reality that much benefit spending now goes to the working poor. Changes in the pipeline could extend such obligations from the unemployed proper to the underemployed and the low-paid: the government has taken powers to allow it to extend a sanctions regime to the tax credits of poor working families, so that their payments can also be docked if their personal efforts to increase their hours of work or their rate of pay are deemed inadequate. The greatest single threat to the ties of family and community life is, however, the cutting-back of support for costly housing – support previously available to low-paid workers, as well as the unemployed.


pages: 444 words: 138,781

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

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affirmative action, Cass Sunstein, crack epidemic, Credit Default Swap, deindustrialization, desegregation, dumpster diving, ending welfare as we know it, ghettoisation, glass ceiling, housing crisis, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, late fees, New Urbanism, payday loans, price discrimination, profit motive, rent control, statistical model, superstar cities, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, thinkpad, upwardly mobile, working poor, young professional

Instead landlords rooted for the workers because higher wages would allow them to collect higher rents. History repeated itself 100 years later, when wage gains that workers had made through labor strikes were quickly absorbed by rising rents. In the interwar years, the industrial job market expanded, but the housing market, especially for blacks, did not, allowing landlords to recoup workers’ income gains. Today, if evictions are lowest each February, it is because many members of the city’s working poor dedicate some or all of their Earned Income Tax Credit to pay back rent. In many cases, this annual benefit is as much a boost to landlords as to low-income working families.44 In fixating almost exclusively on what poor people and their communities lack—good jobs, a strong safety net, role models—we have neglected the critical ways that exploitation contributes to the persistence of poverty.

The shame of rejection not only can pressure people to accept undesirable circumstances today; it can also discourage them from striving for something better tomorrow. On the experience of rejection when job hunting for entry-level work, see Philippe Bourgois, In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995), chapter 4; Katherine Newman, No Shame in My Game: The Working Poor in the Inner City (New York: Vintage, 1999), chapter 3. 11. Some months later, Betty received a letter from Tobin threatening eviction for boarding Larraine. Larraine responded by paying Tobin what he said she owed in back rent and court costs. That amount was twice what the court records said Larraine owed. This caused Larraine to fall so far behind with Eagle Moving that she lost everything she had stored with them.

Applying matching techniques as well as discrete hazard models to the Milwaukee Area Renters Study data set with Carl Gershenson, I found low-wage workers who involuntarily lost their homes to be significantly more likely to lose their jobs. When we examined the effects of forced removal for renters with relatively stable work histories and those with fairly unstable employment, we found forced removal to be an actuator of job loss for both groups. Matthew Desmond and Carl Gershenson, “Housing and Employment Insecurity Among the Working Poor,” Social Problems, forthcoming. 2. Consider Tina’s story. A single mother of three, Tina worked part-time for a landscaping company, entering data and making customer-service calls. After serving her an eviction notice, Tobin began calling Tina’s work and threatening to carry out the eviction unless she paid him $600. (Tina claimed to owe only $100.) Fighting the eviction, Tina attended several court hearings, sometimes missing work to do so.


pages: 289 words: 99,936

Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age by Virginia Eubanks

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affirmative action, Berlin Wall, call centre, cognitive dissonance, desegregation, Fall of the Berlin Wall, future of work, game design, global village, index card, informal economy, invisible hand, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, labour market flexibility, low-wage service sector, microcredit, new economy, post-industrial society, race to the bottom, rent control, Silicon Valley, South of Market, San Francisco, telemarketer, Thomas L Friedman, trickle-down economics, union organizing, urban planning, web application, white flight, women in the workforce, working poor

A family with two children and two full-time earners, both working at minimum-wage jobs, will make $29,000 a year before taxes, too much to qualify for federal assistance available to those below the poverty line ($22,050 for a family of four) but too little to be able to afford health care, child care, or savings for education or emergencies. If growth in the low-wage service sector continues to be a primary feature of the information economy, too many full-time workers will remain working poor. As Annette Bernhardt and Christine Owens argued in their 2009 Nation article, “Rebuilding a Good Jobs Economy,” we are presented with a unique opportunity in the current global financial crisis. They argue that deep and growing inequality is the biggest challenge for America’s economic recovery: while a handful of people prosper and workers are more productive than ever, a decreasing share of corporate profits goes to wages, and ben- Conclusion 163 efits are shrinking.

I mostly use the term “poor and working-class” to describe women in the YWCA community. Though some members of the community would bristle at being described as “poor,” as they see themselves as resourceful women with a rich array of skills and powers, many other members of the community took on the label “poor” or “working-class” as a political identity and marker of solidarity. In my experience, all poor people work, either for wages or as unpaid careworkers. Thus, I find “working poor” redundant, and do not use the term. While many scholars and policymakers use the phrase “low-income,” to avoid the stigmatized connotations of “poor,” I find it does not adequately describe the struggles that many poor and working-class people face—which stem only partially from the level of their income. Two sources that have clarified my thinking about the language we use in the United States to describe exploited classes of workers are Betsy Leondar-Wright’s wonderfully insightful Class Matters: Cross-Class Alliance Building for Middle-Class Activists (New Society Publishers, 2005) and the work of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (<http://www.economichumanrights.org>), which defines poverty as the inability to fully realize your economic human rights, such as food, housing, health care, education, communication, and a living-wage job.

In Medical Research for Hire: The Political Economy of Pharmaceutical Clinical Trials (2009), Jill A. Fisher makes a similar point about the relationship between the pharmaceutical clinical trials industry and its “volunteer” research subjects. The industry responds in part to the decreasing availability of medical insurance for many Americans, and clinical trials are often the only kind of care available to the working poor in the United States, who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to pay for private insurance when they are not covered by an employer. This is often the case for women, whose employment is more commonly contingent and temporary, and therefore less likely to qualify them for health insurance. The nature and extent of the research subject’s ability to “consent” in this situation are questionable. 10.


pages: 284 words: 92,387

The Democracy Project: A History, a Crisis, a Movement by David Graeber

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Bretton Woods, British Empire, corporate personhood, David Graeber, deindustrialization, dumpster diving, East Village, feminist movement, financial innovation, George Gilder, Lao Tzu, late fees, Occupy movement, payday loans, planetary scale, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ralph Nader, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, seigniorage, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, unpaid internship, We are the 99%, working poor

.‖ This leads to the third key question: QUESTION 3 Why would a protest by educated but indebted youth strike such a chord across working-class America—in a way that it almost certainly would not have in 1967, or even 1990? Some of it, perhaps, lies in the fact that the lines between students and workers have somewhat blurred. Most students turn to paid employment at least at some point in their college careers. Furthermore, while the number of Americans entering college has grown considerably over the last twenty years, the number of graduates remains about the same; as a result, the ranks of the working poor are now increasingly filled with dropouts who couldn’t afford to finish their degrees, still paying for those years they did attend, usually still dreaming of someday returning. Or who still carry on as best they can, juggling part-time jobs and part-time classes.8 When I wrote the story in The Guardian, the discussion section was full of the usual dismissive comments: these were a bunch of pampered children living off someone else’s dime.

As a result student loan debt continues to balloon at a giddy rate, the total amount owed having long since overtaken total credit card debt and other forms of debt as well: TOTAL DEBT BALANCE AND ITS COMPOSITION Mortgage 72% HE Revolving 5% Auto Loan 6% Credit Card 6% Student Loan 8% Other 3% *2011Q3 Total: 11.656 Trillion Aside from students, the other group stuck in the debt trap is the working poor—above all working women and people of color—who continue to see huge chunks of their already stagnating earnings culled directly by the financial services industry. They are often called the “subprimers,” since they are those most likely to have signed up for (or been tricked into) subprime mortgages. Having fallen victim to subprime mortgages with exploding adjustable rates, they are now faced with being harassed by collectors, having their cars repossessed, and, most pernicious of all, having to resort to payday loans for emergency expenses, such as those related to health care, since these are the Americans least likely to have meaningful health benefits.

(Pew Research Center, “Is College Worth It?” May 16, 2011) 9. A dramatic case is Stockton, California, which declared bankruptcy in early 2012. The city announced it intended to find the revenue to pay its creditors through massively increasing “code enforcement”: essentially, through parking tickets, and fines for unkempt lawns or not removing graffiti quickly enough; such penalties will inevitably fall disproportionally on the working poor. See “Stockton Largest U.S. City Going Bankrupt,” Daily News, June 26, 2012. 10. “Parsing the Data and Ideology of the We Are 99% Tumblr,” http://​rorty​bomb.​wordpress.​com/​2011/​10/​09/​parsing-​the-​data-​and-​ideology-​of-​the-​we-​are-​99-​tumblr/. 11. See, for example, http://​lhote.​blogspot.​com/​2011/​10/​solidarity-​first-​then-​fear-​for-​this.​html, http://​attempter.​wordpress.​com/​2011/​10/​12/​underlying-​ideology-​of-​the-​99/, and the accompanying comment section. 12.


pages: 265 words: 15,515

Nomad Citizenship: Free-Market Communism and the Slow-Motion General Strike by Eugene W. Holland

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capital controls, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, complexity theory, deskilling, Firefox, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, informal economy, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, means of production, microcredit, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Naomi Klein, New Urbanism, peak oil, price mechanism, Richard Stallman, Ronald Coase, slashdot, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Wisdom of Crowds, transaction costs, Upton Sinclair, urban renewal, wage slave, working poor

“In the history of primitive ac­ cumulation,” Marx says, all revolutions are epoch-making that act as levers for the capital class in course of formation; but, above all, those moments when great masses of men are suddenly and forcibly torn from their means of subsistence, and hurled as free and “unattached” proletarians on the labor-market.55 Hence what the title of the first chapter of part VIII calls the “secret” of so-called primitive accumulation is that it really designates the ruthless des­ titution of the working poor, not the stockpiling of wealth in liquid form: The capitalist system presupposes the complete separation of the laborers from all property in the means by which they can realize their labor. . . .The process, therefore, that clears the way for the capitalist system, can be none other than the process which takes away from the laborer the possession of his means of production. . . . The so-called primitive accumulation, therefore, is nothing else than the historical process of divorcing the producer from the means of production.56 Indeed, classical political economy was often surprisingly forthright about the conditions required for working people to submit to wage labor (and hence capitalism), as Perelman has shown in his detailed study of “clas­ sical political economy and the secret of primitive accumulation” (as his subtitle has it).57 He quotes one German government minister who ac­ knowledged that when all land has passed into private ownership . . . and capital exerts [its] compulsion on liberated or free workers . . . the command of the slave owner has been replaced by the contract between worker and employer, a contract which is free in form but not really in substance.

Whereas the major accounts in Marx and Marxism (of the capitalist system as a functional totality; of its simple reproduction) take the existence of capital as a given, or derive it from exchange-value in a self-contained (or “latently contained”) dialectical progression, the minor accounts in Marx treat the contingent historical emergence and ongoing reproduction of capitalism as a function of the initially violent yet equally ongoing dispossession of the working poor. Such is the open “secret” of so-called primitive accumulation. This second theoretical displacement is clearly related to the first. There the question of who has the phallus and attempts to possess it was displaced by the problem of overcoming the effects of enforced separation from the Mother as source of the means of life and enjoyment. Here the question of the accumulation of capital and attempts to repossess or expropriate it gets displaced by the problem of overcoming the enforced separation from Mother Earth as source of the means of life and enjoyment.

Originally, by contrast, the fact that instruments and necessaries were on hand in the amounts which made it possible for living labor to realize itself not only as necessary, but also as surplus labor—this appeared alien to living labor itself, appeared as an act of capital.95 The entire process within which productive labor functions to produce surplus-value therefore requires a second cycle of production-consumption-realization-investment-production to constitute itself as such and thereafter reproduce itself on an ever-expanding scale.96 And M arx’s criti­ cal insight into the role of labor in the constitution and recurrent valori­ zation of capital depends on understanding the process in its entirety, as a multicycle system. Lest we get misled by M arx’s invocation of the “self-positing and selfrealization of exchange-value” once it circulates as capital in such a multi­ cycle system, we should remember the so-called secret of primitive accumu­ lation: that despite appearances and terminology, primitive accumulation is fundamentally about the forcible dispossession of the working poor and their ensuing consignment to the status of wage slaves. In making this point about the relative importance of money and labor to the forma­ tion of capital, in one of the few passages in the early chapters of Capital, volume 1 (chapter 6) that refers explicitly to history, Marx insists that the historical conditions of [capital’s] existence are by no means given with the mere circulation of money and commodities.


pages: 209 words: 89,619

The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class by Guy Standing

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8-hour work day, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, call centre, Cass Sunstein, centre right, collective bargaining, corporate governance, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, deskilling, fear of failure, full employment, hiring and firing, Honoré de Balzac, housing crisis, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, land reform, libertarian paternalism, low skilled workers, lump of labour, marginal employment, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, mini-job, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, nudge unit, pensions crisis, placebo effect, post-industrial society, precariat, presumed consent, quantitative easing, remote working, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, science of happiness, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, Tobin tax, transaction costs, universal basic income, unpaid internship, winner-take-all economy, working poor, working-age population, young professional

This is close to the Marxian idea of a lumpenproletariat and is not what will be meant in this book. In Japan, the term has been used as synonymous with ‘the working poor’, although it evolved as a distinctive term as it became associated with the Japanese May Day movement and so-called ‘freeter unions’, made up of young activists demanding better working and living conditions (Ueno, 2007; Obinger, 2009). Japan has produced a group of young workers known as ‘freeters’ – a name peculiarly combining ‘free’ and Arbeiter, German for worker – who have been pushed into a work style of casual labour. It is not right to equate the precariat with the working poor or with just insecure employment, although these dimensions are correlated with it. The precariousness also implies a lack of a secure work-based identity, whereas workers in some low-income jobs may be building a career.

National Equality Panel (2010), An Anatomy of Economic Inequality in the UK: Report of the National Equality Panel, London: Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion and the Government Equalities Office. Needleman, S. (2009), ‘Starting Fresh with an Unpaid Internship’, Wall Street Journal, 16 July, p. D1. Nink, M. (2009), ‘It’s Always about the Boss’, Gallup Management Journal, 25 November. Obinger, J. (2009), ‘Working on the Margins: Japan’s Precariat and Working Poor’, Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies, 25 February. OECD (2010a), International Migration Outlook 2010, Paris: OECD. OECD (2010b), A Profile of Immigrant Populations in the 21st Century: Data from OECD Countries, Paris: OECD. Paine, T. ([1795] 2005), Common Sense and Other Writings, New York: Barnes & Noble, pp. 321–45. Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (2010), Fast and Fair?


pages: 320 words: 86,372

Mythology of Work: How Capitalism Persists Despite Itself by Peter Fleming

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1960s counterculture, anti-work, call centre, clockwatching, corporate social responsibility, David Graeber, Etonian, future of work, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, illegal immigration, late capitalism, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market fundamentalism, means of production, neoliberal agenda, Parkinson's law, post-industrial society, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative easing, Results Only Work Environment, shareholder value, The Chicago School, transaction costs, working poor

We saw this most clearly in the United States and the United Kingdom when public funds (derived from income tax) were used to bail out the banks following the 2008 crisis. This instance of welfare to the rich is not an exception but the norm. For example, in the United States, tax breaks for the top 5 per cent of income earners have placed a huge burden on the remaining 95 per cent, and have, in effect, entailed an unprecedented transfer of wealth from the working poor to the rich. Lazzarato explains this in relation to the 2010 Bush–Obama law that extends the tax cuts to those making more than $250,000. The income bracket represents only 5% of the population … in exchange for peanuts for the unemployed, the rich received $315 billion over two years. To have an idea of the handout, one should remember that the US government investment in the economy came to $800 billion in 2008.

This business then half-heartedly delivers a substandard service at such extortionate prices that our worker must rack up a credit card debt in order to arrive at the office on time. There is only one winner. Welcome to neoliberal Britain. According to Meek, when Thatcher came to power in 1979, the top rate of tax was 83 per cent and the basic rate 33 per cent. Now they are 45 per cent and 20 per cent respectively. But it is the flat taxes that really put the boot into the working poor. In 1979 value-added tax (or VAT, whereby everybody pays the same rate regardless of income) was 8 per cent. Now it is 20 per cent, which disproportionately sucks money away from working people. Meek goes even further. In addition to VAT, there are others, and they are onerous; they just aren’t called taxes, though they should be – private taxes. A tax is generally thought of as something that only a government can levy, but this is a semantic distortion that favors the free market belief system.

The proliferation of shitty jobs allows the neoliberal state to claim that unemployment is dropping, when it is in fact simply being carved-up and hived out in precarious roles that pay almost nothing. Governmental economic ideology is primarily guided by class politics, with the social construction of ‘work’ being a central factor for garnering legitimacy and justifying false scarcity. For example, it is largely state governance structures that has allowed the 2008 financial crisis to become a veritable boon to the rich as it sucks the life out of the working poor. It was recently noted that ‘the 400 wealthiest Americans are worth a record $2.02 trillion (£1.4tn), up from $1.7tn in 2012, a collective fortune slightly bigger than Russia’s economy’ (The Guardian, 2013). Indeed, the old Marxist debates in the 1970s about whether or not the state was semi-autonomous from capital look quaint and naive today. When considering the present nature of work, I would go so far as to say that a critique of the state form is perhaps more pertinent than that of any other institution presently regulating our lives, including the multinational firm.


pages: 162 words: 51,473

The Accidental Theorist: And Other Dispatches From the Dismal Science by Paul Krugman

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Bonfire of the Vanities, Bretton Woods, clean water, collective bargaining, declining real wages, floating exchange rates, full employment, George Akerlof, George Gilder, Home mortgage interest deduction, income inequality, indoor plumbing, informal economy, invisible hand, knowledge economy, life extension, lump of labour, new economy, Nick Leeson, paradox of thrift, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, rent control, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, trade route, very high income, working poor

But if you add up all the numbers, the total comes to 370,000. That is less than one worker in 300—a tiny blip in the number of workers who lose or change jobs every year, even in the healthiest economy. And the great majority of downsized workers do find new jobs. Although most end up making less in their new jobs than they did before, only a fraction experience the much-publicized plunge from comfortable middle class to working poor. No wonder Stiglitz found that the destruction of good jobs by greedy corporations is just not an important part of what is happening to the American worker. The point is that Reich’s style of economics—which relies on anecdotes rather than statistics, slogans rather than serious analysis—cannot do justice to the diversity and sheer size of this vast nation. In America anything that can happen, does: Strangers kidnap children; mathematicians become terrorists; executives find themselves flipping hamburgers.

Should we, as some in the administration wanted, focus our attention on preserving the jobs of well-paid employees at big corporations? Should we pressure those companies to stop announcing layoffs? Should we use the tax system to penalize companies that fire workers and reward those that do not? Or, instead, should we fight tooth and nail to preserve and extend programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit that help the working poor? It is disingenuous to say we should do both: Money is scarce and so is political capital. If we focus on small problems that make headlines, we will ignore bigger problems that don’t. So let’s give Joe Stiglitz some credit. No doubt his political masters allowed him to downsize the issue of downsizing at least partly because they believed that good news reelects presidents. Sometimes, however, an economic analysis that is politically convenient also happens to be the honest truth.


pages: 196 words: 53,627

Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders by Jason L. Riley

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affirmative action, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, declining real wages, deindustrialization, desegregation, guest worker program, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, labor-force participation, labour market flexibility, low skilled workers, lump of labour, open borders, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, school choice, Silicon Valley, trade liberalization, War on Poverty, working poor, working-age population

Normally, it’s liberals who traffic in class-envy statistics, fretting about “income inequality,” “stagnant wages,” “rising poverty,” “the disappearing middle class,” and the plight of the “working poor.” A 2004 BusinessWeek story was typical of this thinking. It noted that “one in four workers earns $18,800 a year or less,” and went on to prescribe the usual left-wing remedies, including higher minimum wages and more unions. But free-market conservatives know that such income data is misleading. A third of those people are part-time workers and another third are under twenty-five. That leaves us with one-third of one-fourth—or roughly 8 percent of this subgroup—who are actually “working poor” in any long-term sense. Poverty is transient for the overwhelming majority of Americans, so a snapshot of who’s in the bottom fifth of income earners at any one point in time doesn’t tell you much.


pages: 215 words: 56,215

The Second Intelligent Species: How Humans Will Become as Irrelevant as Cockroaches by Marshall Brain

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Amazon Web Services, clean water, cloud computing, computer vision, en.wikipedia.org, full employment, income inequality, job automation, knowledge worker, mutually assured destruction, Occupy movement, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Stephen Hawking, working poor

But current workers are making less, retired workers are living longer, and the number of people retiring is immense. We will find ourselves in a situation where we have no way to support the growing elderly population. As medical science finds ways for people to live longer and longer, we as a society find ourselves wishing that the elderly would actually die sooner. That is dysfunctional. The working poor represent another area of dysfunction. We have a large segment of the American population - tens of millions of people - who are playing by the rules. They are working hard. Many of them are working two or three jobs - they are some of the hardest working people in our economy. Yet they cannot make ends meet because wages are so low. We have trouble raising minimum wage because of a polarized political climate.

Should we significantly increase the minimum wage so that people working in minimum wage jobs can actually make a living? Probably, but it is unlikely to happen. And most minimum wage workers will still become unemployed as robots arrive. Should we reduce the work week, say to 30 hours per week (then 20, then 10), to decrease unemployment and increase leisure time? It would be outstanding if we could make this decision as a society, but all indicators today point in the opposite direction. The working poor are making so little money that they are having to work 60 hours a week in two or three jobs. Many salaried employees are compelled to work far more than 40 hours per week. We would have to reverse a number of trends to move our society to a 30 hour work week, and corporations will resist these changes every step of the way. Should we dramatically increase the welfare and unemployment systems to accommodate all of the workers displaced by robots?


pages: 306 words: 78,893

After the New Economy: The Binge . . . And the Hangover That Won't Go Away by Doug Henwood

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, affirmative action, Asian financial crisis, barriers to entry, borderless world, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, capital controls, corporate governance, correlation coefficient, credit crunch, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, deskilling, ending welfare as we know it, feminist movement, full employment, gender pay gap, George Gilder, glass ceiling, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, half of the world's population has never made a phone call, income inequality, indoor plumbing, Internet Archive, job satisfaction, joint-stock company, Kevin Kelly, labor-force participation, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, manufacturing employment, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, Naomi Klein, new economy, occupational segregation, pets.com, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, statistical model, structural adjustment programs, Telecommunications Act of 1996, telemarketer, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, total factor productivity, union organizing, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, working poor, Y2K

."^^ The poverty rate among such workers is admittedly low—only around 3%—but these are the best-positioned workers in the labor force, and the poverty line is a pretty undemanding benchmark. As the report's subtide said, "America's Full-Time Working Poor Reap Limited Gains in the New Economy." Inclusion of "the New Economy" isn't just PR spin; as the report points out, "an increase in the relative share of low-skill employment is one characteristic of this 'New Economy...,'" though "low-pay" is more relevant to the analysis than "low-skill."That's not what most New Economy rhetoric emphasized, of course, but the bubble's sales force never deployed much of rigorous evidence. Apologists were quick to point out that the Conference Board's report didn't include the beneficial effects of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which has boosted the incomes of the working poor dramatically: in 1998, almost 20 miUion returns claimed the EITC, and $32 billion was paid to those who filed them (Herman 2000).That works out to an average of $1,600 per return, which is a lot better than nothing, but which amounts to just $4.38 a day.


pages: 212 words: 80,393

Getting By: Estates, Class and Culture in Austerity Britain by Lisa McKenzie

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British Empire, call centre, credit crunch, delayed gratification, falling living standards, full employment, income inequality, low skilled workers, New Urbanism, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, unpaid internship, urban renewal, working poor

After several serious outbreaks of cholera in the St Mary’s ward, an area to the east of the city, known as the Clay Field, was used to bury the hundreds who died in the outbreak, but was also taken into the city boundary to house the proletariat workers and their families. This area was at the edge of the city and was very close to the Lace Market, and is now known as St Ann’s, but originally it was called New Town because it was built and thought of as a new town within the city. New Town had been specifically built for the working poor, consisting of very basic workers’ cottages, the largest number of public houses in the city, a bakers, a butchers, a marketplace and ‘allotments’. The allotments started life as a green space situated between two of the three steep hills in the area. The workers were ‘allotted’ a slice of land where they could grow their own produce and continue their traditions of the rural life they had left behind.

Wacquant argues that the ‘ghetto’ acts like a social condom, a way of allowing intercourse but without ever having to touch ‘those who are unclean’; but it also acts as a screen to balance out some of the negative effects of ‘inner-city’ life (2008, p 2). Within the ‘ghetto’ the stigmatising effects of low pay and poor living conditions and class racism can be offset to some extent through the buffer of community and local culture. New Town in Nottingham, and then, when it later became St Ann’s, was a place where the working poor lived, raised their families, engaged in their own cultural pursuits, and had little interaction except through work in other parts of the city. The labour of the residents within New Town/St Ann’s was vital to the wealth and the economy of Nottingham. Nevertheless, I would not go so far as to say that it was a ghetto within that period of time. Even though St Ann’s, as it is known today, is often referred to as a ‘ghetto’, I believe that this is still an inaccurate definition, as there is high unemployment in the neighbourhood, and St Ann’s has the highest number of Incapacity Benefit and Income Support claimants in the city (ONS, 2010).


pages: 237 words: 64,411

Humans Need Not Apply: A Guide to Wealth and Work in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Jerry Kaplan

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Amazon Web Services, asset allocation, autonomous vehicles, bank run, bitcoin, Brian Krebs, buy low sell high, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, combinatorial explosion, computer vision, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, estate planning, Flash crash, Gini coefficient, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, haute couture, hiring and firing, income inequality, index card, industrial robot, invention of agriculture, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Loebner Prize, Mark Zuckerberg, mortgage debt, natural language processing, Own Your Own Home, pattern recognition, Satoshi Nakamoto, school choice, Schrödinger's Cat, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, software as a service, The Chicago School, Turing test, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce, working poor, Works Progress Administration

Recognizing this risk, one of my most successful and accomplished friends, a star partner at a top-tier venture capital firm, segregates his day-to-day living expenses from his enormous wealth, which he consciously ignores by leaving its management to others. He prefers to live a relatively modest, though comfortable, lifestyle.15 But enough about the rich. Let’s look at the other side of this coin—the myriad of talented people who work hard yet struggle all their lives for simple things that the elite take for granted. It’s easy to display statistics and charts showing just how difficult life is for the working poor, much less the nonworking poor. But somehow these tools don’t capture the real gravity of their circumstances. So instead, I’ve selected a single individual—typical in many ways—to profile, in the hope that his story will convey these struggles more graphically. Emmie Nastor is the perfect employee. I know, because I hired him. In 2009, I was running a small Internet game company called Winster.com.

See income; salaries Wall Street, 51–53, 57–58, 95 Walmart, 139–40, 142–43 average revenue per employee, 139, 177 employee numbers, 116 warehouses, 101–2, 134–35 box unloading, 39 chaotic storage tracking, 135, 144 Waterloo, battle of (1815), 58 water quality, 168 Watson (IBM AI computer program), 26, 31, 36, 39, 150, 198 Watson Research Lab (IBM), 19 wealth, 3, 12, 109–19, 127, 132 from assets ownership, 14–15, 174–76 benefits of, 165–66 civic responsibility and, 58 disparities in, 164–65, 169–70, 176, 180–87 distribution of, 186 factors in creating, 12 fairer distribution of, 86–87 Forbes ranking of, 109, 113 HFT program transfer of, 57, 91 lifestyle embodiments of, 57, 109, 110–11, 112, 114 luxury item sales and, 117–18, 165–66 philanthropy and, 58, 113, 118–19 power from, 114–15 reinvestment vs. spending of, 117 super-wealthy and, 11, 111–13, 116–19, 118–19, 164–65 synthetic intellects’ accumulation of, 91–92 top 1 percent holders of, 11, 111–13 worker median salary and, 116 websites: advertising sale of space on, 64–72 electronic surveillance of visits to, 9, 64–75 individually targeted ads, 64–75 user identifier, 65, 66 WebTV, 127 weeding, 144 Weisel, Thom, 115 welfare recipients, 170 Wellington, Duke of, 58 Wellpoint, 150 wide-area high-bandwidth wireless communication, 126–27 wildfire extinguishers, 44 Winster.com, 119, 122–23, 124 wireless communications, 45 words, shifted meanings of, 191–92, 198, 203 workforce. See labor market working poor, 119–21 working women, 172 work-life balance, 171 workplace, 48 robot danger potential, 37–38 WPA (Works Progress Administration), 170 Yahoo, 67 Yeats, William Butler, 48 Zandi, Mark, 117 Zuckerberg, Mark, 223n15


pages: 208 words: 67,582

What About Me?: The Struggle for Identity in a Market-Based Society by Paul Verhaeghe

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Berlin Wall, call centre, cognitive dissonance, deskilling, epigenetics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, income inequality, invisible hand, jimmy wales, job satisfaction, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Louis Pasteur, market fundamentalism, Milgram experiment, new economy, post-industrial society, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, stem cell, The Spirit Level, ultimatum game, working poor

13 Those statistics appear in a somewhat different light once you know that since the neo-liberal Hartz reforms (2003–2005), German jobseekers have been forced to take virtually any job offered to them, collective labour agreements aren’t enforced in half of Germany’s companies, and the other half are increasingly staffed by temps who have little or no protection and often earn 30–40 per cent less than the staff on fixed contracts working alongside them. The result is that one in five working Germans (almost seven million in 2008) receive a net hourly wage of four to six euros, forcing many people to take on two jobs. The reduction in unemployment is matched by an almost equal increase in the number of working poor. According to official EU figures, poverty in Germany increased from 12.5 per cent in 2005 to 15.5 per cent in 2009. Between 2000 and 2009, real wages shrank by 4.5 per cent, causing social inequality to soar. By way of comparison: in the same period, Belgian wages increased by 7.4 per cent, roughly keeping pace with the cost of living.14 The news article celebrating the German model was followed shortly afterwards by a corresponding debate on the Belgian figures.

The system creates an underclass who regard themselves as failures, are ashamed, and seek to draw as little attention to themselves as possible. The old silent majority has now become an invisible majority of isolated groups who try to hide their difficult situation from the outside world. This also has the effect of undermining solidarity just when it is most sorely needed. Wallraff believes that these working poor will soon become a self-perpetuating problem because their children are so disadvantaged. In a society of this kind, there can be no question of a meritocracy for these youngsters.15 From Wallraff, we can move on to the impact on individuals of the misconception that to measure is to know. Figure-driven evaluation and performance interviews are lethal to job satisfaction, motivation, loyalty, and identification with an enterprise.


pages: 235 words: 62,862

Utopia for Realists: The Case for a Universal Basic Income, Open Borders, and a 15-Hour Workweek by Rutger Bregman

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autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Bartolomé de las Casas, Berlin Wall, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, Branko Milanovic, cognitive dissonance, computer age, conceptual framework, credit crunch, David Graeber, Diane Coyle, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, full employment, George Gilder, happiness index / gross national happiness, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, income inequality, invention of gunpowder, James Watt: steam engine, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, low skilled workers, means of production, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, minimum wage unemployment, Mont Pelerin Society, Nathan Meyer Rothschild: antibiotics, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, precariat, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Skype, stem cell, Steven Pinker, telemarketer, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, wage slave, War on Poverty, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, wikimedia commons, women in the workforce, working poor, World Values Survey

Where his basic income plan had initially made almost no provision to compel people to work, he now began stressing the importance of gainful employment. And whereas the basic income debate under President Johnson had begun when experts signaled unemployment as becoming endemic, Nixon now spoke of joblessness as a “choice.” He deplored the rise of big government, even though his plan would distribute cash assistance to some 13 million more Americans (90% of them working poor). “Nixon was proposing a new kind of social provision to the American public,” writes the historian Brian Steensland, “but he did not offer them a new conceptual framework through which to understand it.”4 Indeed, Nixon steeped his progressive ideas in conservative rhetoric. What, we may well ask, was the president doing? There is a brief anecdote that explains it. On August 7 of that same year, Nixon told Moynihan that he’d been reading biographies of the British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli and the statesman Lord Randolph Churchill (the father of Winston).

On August 7 of that same year, Nixon told Moynihan that he’d been reading biographies of the British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli and the statesman Lord Randolph Churchill (the father of Winston). “Tory men and liberal policies,” Nixon remarked, “are what have changed the world.”5 The president wanted to make history. He saw himself presented with the rare, historic chance to cast out the old system, raise up millions of working poor, and win a decisive victory in the War on Poverty. In short, Nixon saw basic income as the ultimate marriage of conservative and progressive politics. All he had to do was convince the House and Senate. To put his fellow Republicans at ease and manage concerns over the Speenhamland precedent, Nixon decided to attach an additional proviso to his bill. Basic income beneficiaries without a job would have to register with the Department of Labor.


pages: 423 words: 149,033

The fortune at the bottom of the pyramid by C. K. Prahalad

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barriers to entry, business process, call centre, cashless society, clean water, collective bargaining, corporate social responsibility, deskilling, disintermediation, farmers can use mobile phones to check market prices, financial intermediation, Hernando de Soto, hiring and firing, income inequality, late fees, Mahatma Gandhi, market fragmentation, microcredit, new economy, profit motive, purchasing power parity, rent-seeking, shareholder value, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, time value of money, transaction costs, working poor

For those poor in India who had lost their limbs, continuing to earn a livelihood was the biggest concern. In the absence of an efficient social security system, being able to work was essential for their survival. It necessitated a prosthesis that supported their work and lifestyles. Jaipur Foot’s design process emphasized the activities listed in Table 4, which are commonly practiced by India’s working poor. Step 2: Overcoming Constraints However, the technical demands were not the only demands by the creators of the Jaipur Foot. In addition, they faced the constraints listed in Table 5. Jaipur Foot: Challenging Convention 251 Table 4 Considerations in the Jaipur Foot Design Process Activity Squatting Sitting cross-legged Walking on uneven ground Barefoot walking Mechanical Requirement Need for dorsiflexion Need for transverse rotation of the foot Need for inversion and eversion in the foot so that varying terrain is not transmitted to stump Cosmetically similar to natural foot Table 5 Constraints of Development for the Jaipur Foot Constraints Poverty Closed economy Work lifestyle Limited trained manpower Implication The vast majority of local amputees were poor.

Community Outreach: Providing Access BMVSS The designers of the Jaipur Foot quickly discovered that designing a prosthesis that could withstand the rigorous use of India’s poor was only the beginning. The next challenge was to construct an organization and operating system which could make the Jaipur Foot available to as many amputees as possible. The expectation was that nearly all prospective amputees would fall below the poverty line. Subsequently, Jaipur Foot’s custodians focused their attention on the financial and social needs of India’s working poor. Their efforts eventually took the form of the nonprofit society BMVSS, generally referred to as “the Society.” BMVSS was established in March 1975 by Mr. D. R. Mehta. In the first seven years after the development of the Jaipur Foot in 1968, hardly 50 limbs were fitted. In the first year after the formation of the society, 59 limbs were fitted. Now, the number of limbs fitted every year approaches 16,000.

Currently, she works for a management consulting firm in New York focusing on strategy and operations. William LaJoie William LaJoie is from Denver, Colorado, and his primary interests are the underlying factors that drive exponential growth. After obtaining his BA in English literature from the University of Notre Dame, he spent two years volunteering at the Working Boys’ Center, a school for the working poor, in Quito, Ecuador, teaching in the elementary school, high school, and adult literacy program. After returning to the United States, William worked as a Program Manager for LinkShare Corporation, a provider of Internet-based affiliate solutions, where his clients included Dell and Ford. In 2004, William will earn his MBA from the University of Michigan Business School, where he has combined his interest in Marketing, Technology, and Emerging Economies.


pages: 357 words: 99,684

Why It's Still Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions by Paul Mason

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back-to-the-land, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, capital controls, centre right, citizen journalism, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, floating exchange rates, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, ghettoisation, illegal immigration, informal economy, land tenure, low skilled workers, means of production, megacity, Mohammed Bouazizi, Naomi Klein, Network effects, New Journalism, Occupy movement, price stability, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, rising living standards, short selling, Slavoj Žižek, Stewart Brand, strikebreaker, union organizing, We are the 99%, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, Winter of Discontent, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population, young professional

This is what the automobile stupor and the bluegrass music and the Glenn Beck monologues numb you to as you speed along America’s highways. Those vintage motel signs, which summon up the era of Elvis and full employment, are in reality flagstaffs for the hidden homeless. They are right next to you, on every highway in America. And, just like in the 1930s, there is a president in the White House elected on a platform of hope, radicalism and concern for the working poor. And like in the 1930s, Congress is determined to stop him—insofar as he has not stopped himself. As I leave Albuquerque the landscape becomes drier. The spectacular red canyon walls of the Mogollón Rim dwarf the mobile homes of the Pueblo nation, whose land this once was. There are no Native American shacks in Steinbeck, and no red canyons; no giant cacti, no endless days of blue sky, no vast gulches and ravines.

Although the name of this movement was not in any dictionary, it threatened ‘to bring the world face to face with the greatest crisis of modern civilization—perhaps of any civilization’.4 The name of this movement was ‘syndicalism’: a new kind of unskilled trade-unionism that sparked an upsurge of strikes, unionization drives and sit-ins across Europe, the Americas and the Pacific between 1909 and 1913. It had no leaders and no centralized programme, but it inspired a global fight-back by the working poor and a general feeling of defiance aimed at the rich, the media and conservative religions. Syndicalism was also a mass cultural movement, creating free social spaces such as secular schools, from Barcelona to Buenos Aires; an Oxbridge college run by workers in the UK; popular community centres in Italy—and, through the ‘Wobblies’, a whole underground network of camps and canteens for America’s itinerant workers.

The Future of Money by Bernard Lietaer

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agricultural Revolution, banks create money, barriers to entry, Bretton Woods, clean water, complexity theory, dematerialisation, discounted cash flows, diversification, fiat currency, financial deregulation, financial innovation, floating exchange rates, full employment, George Gilder, German hyperinflation, global reserve currency, Golden Gate Park, Howard Rheingold, informal economy, invention of the telephone, invention of writing, Lao Tzu, Mahatma Gandhi, means of production, microcredit, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Norbert Wiener, North Sea oil, offshore financial centre, pattern recognition, post-industrial society, price stability, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, seigniorage, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, the market place, the payments system, trade route, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, working poor

The cost of living went up during that time by 64%, almost double that amount. The average rent for a twobedroom unit increased by 110% over the same time period, while rent for a vacant studio increased by a whopping 288%. This explains why 20% of the homeless families have at least one parent with a fulltime job. In short, the fastest-rising component of the homeless is the families of the 'working poor' of yesteryear. San Francisco is in no way a strange anomaly. Because the US Department of Education funds a project tracking schooling problems of homeless children in San Francisco Bay Area experienced by homeless children, it has prepared a report for the US Congress identifying the different ages of homeless children. Here again, only eligible recipients are counted, which means these children still have to be 'in the system' enough to actually try to go to school.

It is also clear that the full potential for cross-fertilisation between Time Dollar systems and local businesses has barely been tapped, and would provide important benefits to both sides (see sidebar). By the year 2000, more than 300 townships and social service programmes have started Time Dollar systems, most of them in Anglo-Saxon countries. 2. Ithaca HOURS Ithaca is a small university town with a population of about 27,000 in state New York. It is not a rich town. It has, for example, the high percentage of 'working poor' in the state of New York (people who are employed, but whose income is so low that they still remain eligible for stamps). Paul Glover, a local community activist, felt that the proximity of NewYork City kept diverting the community energy into the vastness of the city. He decided to do something about this problem. In November of 1991, he launched a complementary currency designed to encourage people to spend their money and time in the community.


pages: 124 words: 39,011

Beyond Outrage: Expanded Edition: What Has Gone Wrong With Our Economy and Our Democracy, and How to Fix It by Robert B. Reich

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2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, affirmative action, banking crisis, carried interest, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, desegregation, full employment, Home mortgage interest deduction, job automation, Mahatma Gandhi, minimum wage unemployment, new economy, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, race to the bottom, Ronald Reagan, single-payer health, special drawing rights, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, women in the workforce, working poor

Middle- and lower-income Americans are shelling out larger portions of their sinking incomes in payroll taxes, sales taxes, and property taxes than they did thirty years ago. The Social Security payroll tax continues to climb as a share of total government tax revenues. Yet the payroll tax is regressive, applying only to yearly income under $110,100 (the ceiling in 2012). That means it takes a far bigger bite out of the pay of the middle class and the working poor than out of the rich. Sales taxes at the state and local levels are soaring, along with property taxes and tolls on highways, bridges, and tunnels. These also take bigger percentage bites out of the incomes of average Americans than they do out of those of the rich. What are the super-rich and big corporations doing with all their savings? They’ve put significant sums into Treasury bills—essentially loans to the U.S. government—which have proven to be good and safe investments, particularly during these last few tumultuous years.


pages: 128 words: 38,187

The New Prophets of Capital by Nicole Aschoff

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3D printing, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Bretton Woods, clean water, collective bargaining, crony capitalism, feminist movement, follow your passion, Food sovereignty, glass ceiling, global supply chain, global value chain, helicopter parent, hiring and firing, income inequality, Khan Academy, late capitalism, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, performance metric, profit motive, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, school vouchers, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Slavoj Žižek, structural adjustment programs, Thomas L Friedman, Tim Cook: Apple, urban renewal, women in the workforce, working poor

In the corporate world, job openings elicit hundreds of résumés, and when foreign automakers open plants in the US South tens of thousands apply. A third of households have negative wealth or no assets, and three-fourths have less than six months’ income in savings. One in three people say that if they lost their job they wouldn’t be able to make their mortgage or rent payment within one month.5 While the working poor grew used to crushed dreams a long time ago, the emotional toll of the recent crisis on the middle class is stark. The New York Times recently reported that the US middle class is no longer the most affluent in the world: even economic self-help guru Suze Orman tells older middle-class people that they’ll need to work until at least age seventy and “live below their means” if they’re going to make enough to support themselves through their retirement.


pages: 598 words: 172,137

Who Stole the American Dream? by Hedrick Smith

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airline deregulation, anti-communist, asset allocation, banking crisis, Bonfire of the Vanities, British Empire, business process, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Brooks, Deng Xiaoping, desegregation, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, family office, full employment, global supply chain, Gordon Gekko, guest worker program, hiring and firing, housing crisis, Howard Zinn, income inequality, index fund, informal economy, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, laissez-faire capitalism, late fees, Long Term Capital Management, low cost carrier, manufacturing employment, market fundamentalism, Maui Hawaii, mortgage debt, new economy, Occupy movement, Own Your Own Home, Peter Thiel, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Renaissance Technologies, reshoring, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Spirit Level, too big to fail, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, union organizing, Unsafe at Any Speed, Vanguard fund, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, working poor, Y2K

Perhaps most surprising for Nixon, given his philosophical sympathies for business interests, was his proposal for a tax bill that hit high-end taxpayers and helped low-wage workers. Moving to bring budgets more into balance, Nixon called in 1969 for repeal of the business investment tax credit granted by Democrat John F. Kennedy, thus raising corporate taxes by nearly $3 billion. His package also included an increase in the capital gains tax rate; restrictions on the use of tax shelters by the wealthy; and a new “low-income allowance” that removed two million of the working poor from the tax rolls. As Ed Dale wrote in The New Republic, the Nixon tax package was “far and away the most ‘anti-rich’ tax reform proposal ever [sic] proposed by a Republican President in the 56 years of the existence of the income tax.” Business Mobilizes In this political climate, Lewis Powell’s corporate manifesto hit a responsive chord. Business sprang to life politically. After having kept government at arm’s length, the business community massively expanded its physical presence in the nation’s capital.

In the 1970s, the Federal Reserve reported that chief executives at 102 major companies were paid $1.2 million on average, adjusted for inflation, or roughly 40 times an average full-time worker’s pay. But by the early 2000s, CEOs at big companies had enjoyed such a meteoric rise that their average compensation topped $9 million a year, or 367 times the pay of the average worker. At Wal-Mart, which bills itself as the friend of the struggling middle class and the working poor, former CEO Lee Scott was paid $17.5 million in 2005, or roughly 900 times the average pay and benefits of the typical Wal-Mart worker. With America’s changing political climate and the rising influence of pro-business conservatism, CEOs went from being under fire in the 1960s and 1970s, as Lewis Powell observed, to being lionized as superstars in the 1990s and 2000s, supposedly entitling them to pay on a par with Hollywood celebrities and star athletes.

With the Senate filibuster rule working for Republicans, they refused to extend Bush’s tax cuts for the middle class unless Obama agreed to extend Bush’s tax cuts for the rich, including a 35 percent cap on the estate tax rate and a tax exemption for estates worth $10 million for couples instead of the old pre-Bush rate of 55 percent on estates larger than $3 million. To break the gridlock, Obama had to accept estate tax cuts for the rich. Those two policies—the failure of an increasingly polarized Congress to help the working poor and lower middle class by indexing the minimum wage to inflation and congressional approval of ever more generous estate tax cuts for the super-rich—have contributed to the great economic divide in America today. They illustrate the economic costs of polarized politics. “The fight over estate tax repeal seems uniquely symbolic of the skewed class politics of the New Gilded Age …,” commented Princeton University political economist Larry Bartels.


pages: 903 words: 235,753

The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty by Benjamin H. Bratton

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1960s counterculture, 3D printing, 4chan, Ada Lovelace, additive manufacturing, airport security, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, Celebration, Florida, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, connected car, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, dark matter, David Graeber, deglobalization, dematerialisation, disintermediation, distributed generation, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, ethereum blockchain, facts on the ground, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, Georg Cantor, gig economy, global supply chain, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Guggenheim Bilbao, High speed trading, Hyperloop, illegal immigration, industrial robot, information retrieval, intermodal, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jacob Appelbaum, Jaron Lanier, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Khan Academy, linked data, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, McMansion, means of production, megacity, megastructure, Menlo Park, Minecraft, Monroe Doctrine, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, peak oil, performance metric, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, phenotype, place-making, planetary scale, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, reserve currency, RFID, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, semantic web, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Slavoj Žižek, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, software studies, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spectrum auction, Startup school, statistical arbitrage, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, Superbowl ad, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, TaskRabbit, the built environment, The Chicago School, the scientific method, Torches of Freedom, transaction costs, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, urban planning, Vernor Vinge, Washington Consensus, web application, WikiLeaks, working poor, Y Combinator

Jameson continues, “This dialectical character of the new reality Wal-Mart represents is also very much the source of the ambivalence universally felt about this business operation, whose capacity to reduce inflation and to hold down or even lower prices and to make life affordable for the poorest Americans is also the very source of their poverty and the prime mover in the dissolution of American industrial productivity and the irrevocable destruction of the American small town.” In other words Walmart's relentless synthetic pricing and production megastructure allows the working poor to afford a diverse collection of commodities from roughly 11,000 stores in twenty-seven countries, but at the expense of keeping them poor. Walmart is known to pay wages so low that many full-time employees may receive regular government assistance just to survive, effectively treating marginal labor costs as an externality and outsourcing them to the state as just another manipulated supplier, and all the while realizing global net profits of over $17 billion.

See cars: driverless personal rapid transit (PRT) systems, 282 personhood, 173–175, 271, 439n65 persuasive interfaces, 224, 430n65 pervasive computing, 113, 172, 301–302 petroglyphs, 309 phone-car interface, 280 physicalization of abstraction, 29, 33 physical-to-virtual binary opposition, 19 Pinochet, Augusto, 59, 385n25 piracy, 380n15 pirate radio, 244–245 placebo interfaces, 224 placefulness, 16, 29, 155 place-making, 84, 149–150, 310 planetary computational economy, 92 planetary data infrastructure, 267 planetary photography, 150, 300, 354 planetary-scale computation architecture, 5, 197 assignment claimed by, 122 cartographic imperative of, 191 client-side versus server-side critique, 356–357 climactic impact of, 92–93, 96 design and, 192, 356 divides crossed, 27–28 ecological governance convergence, 98 economic geography, effect on, 199 elements of, 5 emergence of, 3, 13, 55 energy footprint, 82–83, 92–96, 106–107, 113, 140–141, 258–260, 303–304 forms taken, 4–5 future of, 351, 356 Google's occupation of, 34–40 governance and, 27 jurisdictions, 357 limits to growth, 93–94 at microlevel of the object, 191–192 neoliberalism and, 21 physical world, relation to, 358 political geography and, 6, 11 real project of, 404n11 space of, 34–40, 303 technologies’ alignment into, 4–5 urban design for, 160 Planetary Skin Institute, 88–90, 92, 97–98, 106, 180, 336, 392n42, 452n67 planetary supersurfaces, 188–189 planetary visualization, 452n69 Planet of the Apes, 182 planetology, comparative, 300–302, 333, 353, 360 plan of action, 43, 342 platform architecture, ideal, 49–50 platform-as-state, 7–8, 42, 48–50, 120–123, 140, 295, 315–316, 319, 327, 335, 341 platform-based robotics, 138–139 platform cities, 183–189 platform design, 44, 48, 51 platform economics network value, 159 platform surplus value, 48, 137, 159, 309, 374 User platform value, 309, 375–376 User surplus, 48 value versus price, indexing of, 336 platforms accidents of, 51 authority, 57 autonomy, 136, 282, 339 centralization versus decentralization, 48 characteristics of, 47–51, 214 City layer, designs for, 177 competition between, 50 component standardization, 47–48 control-decontrol paradox in, 46 decision-making, 44, 341–342 defined, 42, 328, 374, 383n4 diagrams ensnaring actors in, 44 economically sustainable, 48 etymology, 43 exchange value, 51 functions of, 19, 41, 119, 328, 342 future of, 117, 141–145, 244, 295, 315–316 genealogy of, 42 generic universality, 49 geography, 110–112 governing, 109, 119, 143 identity, 42 information mediated, 46 institutional forms, 44 introduction, 41–46 logic, 19, 44, 314 mechanics, 44–51 model-to-real correlation, 387n33 network effects, 48 neutrality, 44 origins, 46 overview of, 41–46 physicality and tactility of, 129–130 platform of platforms, 332–333 platform-within-a-platform principle, 284 plots in, 44 as remedy and poison, 5, 133 robotics, shift to, 362 service infrastructures, 116 as stacks, 7–8, 42–43 standardization, 44–46 theory, 41, 47 wars, 110, 123–125, 295 platform sovereignty activist stance on, 312 architectural surface interfaciality in, 166–167 City layer infrastructures role in, 151–153 constitutional violence of, 155 deciding exceptions in, 21 decision-making, 32–33, 44 defined, 374 derivation of, 37 design, 87–88 emergence of, 33, 152 grid programmability providing, 38 guarantees, 151 of nonhuman User, 273 overview of, 51 paradoxes of, 37 principle of, 36 productive accidents of, 37 reversibility, 22, 152–153 states, 339 urban envelopes, 159, 258 platform surplus value, 38, 48, 137, 159, 309, 374 platform totalities, 297 plot, 43–44 Plug-In City (Archigram), 179 pluralism, 302–303 polis, segmentation of, 241 political, the, 6, 30, 379n10 political agency, 173–175, 250, 258 political-geographic order, 26, 56 political identity of the User, 260, 347 political machine, stack as, 55–58 political philosophy, 20 political rights of the User, 285 political subjectivity, 21, 136, 152, 258, 260, 268 political technology, territory as, 335 political theology, 105, 236, 243, 297, 426n46 politico-theological geographies, 242, 248, 320–322 politics agonistic logics of, 180, 247 architectural, 166–167 interfacial, 244–246 of Internet of Things, 204 norms of, 39 Schmittian, spatial dimension of, 381n24 of ubiquitous computing, 203 “Politics of the Envelope, The” (Zaera-Polo), 166 Pontecorvo, Gillo, 244 poor doors, 311 pop futurist media, 432n71 Popper, Karl, 459n19 popular ecology movement, 86 Portzamparc, Christian de, 311 postage stamps, 194 postal identity, 193–196, 206 postal system, 132, 153–154, 195 post-Anthropocenic geopolitics, 285 post-Anthropocenic User, 264 Postel, John, 319 post-Fordism, 231 posthumanism, 275 post-human User, 285, 287–288 “Postscript on Societies of Control” (Deleuze), 157–158 Pourparlers (Deleuze), 147 Pouzin, Louis, 41 poverty ending, 303, 443n23 interiority/exteriority of, 311–312 politics of, 312, 444n30 of working poor, 331 power architecture symbolizing, 325 cultural legitimacy of exercise of, 424n41 of extralegal violence, 317 monopolizing, 308–309 shifts in, 233, 312–313 power-knowledge asymmetries, 454n75 power of brand, 128, 130 “Powers of Ten” (Eames and Eames), 52 power tools, 438n59 preagricultural societies, 149 presence, 205 Price, Cedric, 179, 201 Princeton Radio Project, 254 Prism, 9, 121, 320 privacy axiomatization of individual, 409n42 biopolitics of, 159, 360 cost of, 136, 285, 445n37 expectations of, 346 meta-metadata recursivity for, 287 right to, 270, 285 sacralization through encryption, 347 privacy markets, 285, 445n37 private human User, dissolution of, 289 private versus public space, 159 production labor.

., 385n25 Wilsonian globalism, 32 Witmore, Michael, 199 workampers, 111 workforce agricultural, 307–308 Amazon's, 186, 307, 443n19 Apple's, 186–187 automation and dehumanization of, 254, 285, 307–308, 344 Facebook's, 185 factory cities, 130–131, 179, 189 fulfillment centers, 111, 186, 443n19 Google's, 184–185 outsourced and re-outsourced, 111 poverty, 331 programmer lifestyle, 184 third-world countries, 443n23, 449n52 unemployed, 307 working poor, 331 world city as, 151 digital simulation of, 363–364 end of, 359 interfaces, 149 “World, The” (Perec), 75 world-making/world-erasure projects, 91–92, 267 World Trade Center, 321 Writers against Mass Surveillance, 293 Yanukovych, Viktor, 347 Young, Neil, 412n69 Yugoslavian civil war, 23 Zaera-Polo, Alejandro, 166–167, 175 Zee Town, Facebook, 185 zero-sum economics, 336 zettaflop computing, 102 Žižek, Slavoj, 241, 426n46, 427n51 zombie jurisdictions, 296 zone of habitation, 22 Zuckerberg, Mark, 185


pages: 462 words: 150,129

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley

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23andMe, agricultural Revolution, air freight, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, colonial exploitation, colonial rule, Corn Laws, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic dividend, demographic transition, double entry bookkeeping, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, falling living standards, feminist movement, financial innovation, Flynn Effect, food miles, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Hans Rosling, happiness index / gross national happiness, haute cuisine, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, income per capita, Indoor air pollution, informal economy, invention of agriculture, invisible hand, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John Nash: game theory, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Kula ring, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, Northern Rock, nuclear winter, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, packet switching, patent troll, Pax Mongolica, Peter Thiel, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Productivity paradox, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, rising living standards, Silicon Valley, spice trade, spinning jenny, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supervolcano, technological singularity, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, transaction costs, ultimatum game, upwardly mobile, urban sprawl, Vernor Vinge, wage slave, working poor, working-age population, Y2K, Yogi Berra

(A man in the same ‘mating-primed’ condition will want to spend more on conspicuous luxuries, or on heroic acts.) That Charles Darwin’s wealthy spinster aunt Sarah Wedgwood’s funding of the anti-slavery movement (she was the movement’s biggest donor) may have a hint of unconscious sexual motives, is a charming surprise. But it does not detract from the good she did, or from the fact that commerce paid for that good. This applies among the poor as well as the rich. The working poor give a much higher proportion of their income to good causes than the rich do, and crucially they give three times as much as people on welfare do. As Michael Shermer comments, ‘Poverty is not a barrier to charity, but welfare is.’ Those of libertarian bent often prove more generous than those of a socialist persuasion: where the socialist feels that it is government’s job to look after the poor using taxes, libertarians think it is their duty.

The timing of this jeremiad was, in retrospect, hilarious. Not only technology, but living standards themselves, had begun their extraordinary break-out, their two centuries of unprecedented explosion. For the first time people’s life expectancy was rapidly rising, child mortality rapidly falling, purchasing power burgeoning and options expanding. The rise of living standards over the next few decades would be especially marked among the unskilled working poor. British working-class real earnings were about to double in thirty years, an unprecedented occurrence. All across the world countries were looking enviously at Britain and saying ‘I want some of that.’ But for the reactionary, Tory, nostalgic Robert Southey, the future could only get worse. He would have been at home in the modern environmental movement, lamenting world trade, tutting at consumerism, despairing of technology, longing to return to the golden age of Merrie England when people ate their local, organic veg, danced round their maypoles, sheared their own sheep and did not clog up the airports on the way to their ghastly package holidays.


pages: 497 words: 143,175

Pivotal Decade: How the United States Traded Factories for Finance in the Seventies by Judith Stein

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1960s counterculture, affirmative action, airline deregulation, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, capital controls, centre right, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, desegregation, energy security, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, feminist movement, financial deregulation, floating exchange rates, full employment, income inequality, income per capita, intermodal, invisible hand, knowledge worker, laissez-faire capitalism, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, market bubble, Martin Wolf, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, open economy, payday loans, post-industrial society, post-oil, price mechanism, price stability, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, reserve currency, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Simon Kuznets, strikebreaker, trade liberalization, union organizing, urban planning, urban renewal, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, working poor, Yom Kippur War

When the House and Senate versions were reconciled in conference and representatives were faced with the final budget choice of cutting back on capital gains reductions or on middle income tax relief, the representatives chose the latter. As a result of the Revenue Act of 1978, the middle class share of the tax burden increased, and, with rising social security taxes in 1979 and inflation, its tax bill actually increased. The Democratic congress fueled the fires of the tax revolt of 1978.94 The only real winners, Schultze declared, were the “working poor and the very wealthy.” And, he added, “from the standpoint of investment stimulation, the capital gains cut is relatively wasteful and from an income distribution standpoint it is regressive.”95 Carter briefly considered vetoing the bill. But the macroeconomic need for a tax cut for 1979 and the popularity of tax reductions made such a course economically and politically difficult. A veto would allow Carter to propose a better tax cut, embodying anti-inflation principles.

Gingrich had offered a budget that would produce balance by 2002. It eliminated the Department of Commerce and more than one hundred federal programs. It converted Medicaid into a block grant, in essence turning over the health care of the poor to the states. It cut the growth of Medicare. Despite the radical surgery, Gingrich included $227 billion in tax cuts, achieved partly by reducing the Earned Income Tax Credit, thus raising taxes for the working poor. Believing that the accommodating Clinton would yield, the speaker overplayed his hand when the president did not and government shut down. Surprising everyone, Clinton had the public with him. By early January the Republicans capitulated, which ended the Gingrich Revolution. Nevertheless, the GOP forced Clinton to accept a seven-year goal to balance the budget and, by implication, erased the significance of Clinton’s own efforts in 1993.


pages: 543 words: 147,357

Them And Us: Politics, Greed And Inequality - Why We Need A Fair Society by Will Hutton

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Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, capital controls, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, centre right, choice architecture, cloud computing, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, Corn Laws, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, debt deflation, decarbonisation, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of DNA, discovery of the americas, discrete time, diversification, double helix, Edward Glaeser, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial intermediation, first-past-the-post, floating exchange rates, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, full employment, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, Growth in a Time of Debt, Hyman Minsky, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, income inequality, inflation targeting, interest rate swap, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labour market flexibility, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Pasteur, low-wage service sector, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, open economy, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price discrimination, private sector deleveraging, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, railway mania, random walk, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Rory Sutherland, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, Skype, South Sea Bubble, Steve Jobs, The Market for Lemons, the market place, The Myth of the Rational Market, the payments system, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, unpaid internship, value at risk, Washington Consensus, working poor, éminence grise

The great success of the National Health Service is that it is a universal health service, and in 2001 Labour easily won the argument for raising national insurance contributions on the basis that this would create an improved health service for all. But such arguments were never even attempted on a range of other issues. Consider the approach to children. Working families’ tax credits included a component to help pay for children; middle-class families, on the other hand, were given tax relief on childcare vouchers. In effect Labour built a two-tier system in which the working poor were targeted for special assistance. Instead of building a world in which child-rearing is seen as something that everybody faces together, New Labour created a segmented universe of ‘them’ and ‘us’. Worse, those in receipt of targeted benefit became stigmatised. Those earning slightly more resented not receiving the benefit; those who did receive it knew that it marked them out as poor. As Tim Horton and James Gregory point out, this undermines citizenship and the belief that anybody might be the victim of brute bad luck.9 When it came to such massive questions as the need for social housing, there was absolutely no universal or even majority sentiment in favour of building homes for those who were culturally seen as the undeserving poor.

The Ones Without Principles Are’, Quarterly Journal of Economics 116: 901–32. 12 Michael Faulkender and Jun Yang (2001) ‘Inside the Black Box: The Role and Composition of Compensation Peer Groups’, Journal of Financial Economics 96 (2): 257–70; Tom Diprete, Greg Eirich and Matthew Pittinsky, ‘Compensation Benchmarking, Leap Frogs and the Surge in Executive Pay’, forthcoming in the American Journal of Sociology. 13 Melvin Lerner (1980) The Belief in a Just World: A Fundamental Delusion, Plenum. 14 Graeme Cooke and Kate Lawton (2008) ‘Working out of Poverty: A Study of the Low-Paid and the “Working Poor”’, report, IPPR. 15 Mark Hetherington (2004) Why Trust Matters: Declining Political Trust and the Demise of American Liberalism, Princeton University Press. 16 Adam Smith (1776) An Enquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Book 5, chapter 2. 17 Allan Lind, Carol Kulik, Maureen Ambrose and Maria de Vera Park (1993) ‘Individual and Corporate Dispute Resolution: Using Procedural Fairness as a Decision Heuristic’, Administrative Science Quarterly 38: 224–51. 18 Bruno Bettelheim (1943) ‘Individual and Mass Behaviour in Extreme Situations’ Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 38: 417–52. 19 Matthias Benz and Bruno Frey (2004) ‘Being Independent Raises Happiness at Work’, Swedish Economic Policy Review 11: 95–134. 20 Bruno Frey and Alois Stutzer (2001) ‘Beyond Bentham – Measuring Procedural Utility’, CESifo Working Paper No. 492. 21 Tom Tyler (1997) ‘Procedural Fairness and Compliance with the Law’, Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics 133 (2/2): 219–40 at 231. 22 For an even-handed discussion, see Michael Trebilcock (1994) The Limits of Freedom of Contract, Harvard University Press. 23 Donald W.


pages: 459 words: 123,220

Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis by Robert D. Putnam

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correlation does not imply causation, deindustrialization, demographic transition, desegregation, ending welfare as we know it, epigenetics, full employment, George Akerlof, helicopter parent, impulse control, income inequality, index card, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, Occupy movement, Ralph Waldo Emerson, randomized controlled trial, school choice, Socratic dialogue, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the built environment, upwardly mobile, Walter Mischel, white flight, working poor

Originally conceived by conservative economist Milton Friedman and expanded by administrations of both parties during the last quarter century, this program is widely regarded as a reasonably efficient way of increasing the disposal income of poor parents who are working, and it has become one of the largest antipoverty programs in America (after food stamps and Medicaid). On the other hand, this program only helps the working poor, so it doesn’t reach the poorest of poor kids. • Expand the modest existing child tax credit (as advocated by Tea Party favorite Senator Mike Lee [R., Utah]), but make the credit fully refundable, so that it can benefit children in families too poor to owe any federal taxes at all, thus reaching the poorest kids. • Protect long-standing antipoverty programs, like food stamps, housing vouchers, and child care support.

., “Investing in What Works for America’s Communities: Essays on People, Place and Purpose,” report by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and Low Income Investment Fund, 2012, accessed October 12, 2014, http://www.frbsf.org/community-development/files/investing-in-what-works.pdf; Tracey Ross and Erik Stedman, “A Renewed Promise: How Promise Zones Can Help Reshape the Federal Place-Based Agenda,” report of the Center for American Progress, May 2014, accessed October 12, 2014, http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/poverty/report/2014/05/20/90026/a-renewed-promise/. 68. Patrick Sharkey, “Neighborhoods, Cities, and Economic Mobility” (paper prepared for the Boston Federal Reserve conference on Inequality of Economic Opportunity, Boston, October 17–18, 2014), and sources cited there. Greg J. Duncan, Aletha C. Huston, and Thomas S. Weisner, Higher Ground: New Hope for the Working Poor and Their Children (New York: Russell Sage, 2009); Johannes Bos et al., “New Hope for People with Low Incomes: Two-Year Results of a Program to Reduce Poverty and Reform Welfare” (New York: MDRC, 1999); Aletha C. Huston et al., “New Hope for Families and Children: Five-Year Results of a Program to Reduce Poverty and Reform Welfare,” Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation, 2003; Aletha C.


pages: 501 words: 134,867

A Line in the Tar Sands: Struggles for Environmental Justice by Tony Weis, Joshua Kahn Russell

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Bakken shale, bilateral investment treaty, call centre, carbon footprint, clean water, colonial exploitation, conceptual framework, corporate social responsibility, decarbonisation, Deep Water Horizon, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, energy transition, Exxon Valdez, failed state, global village, guest worker program, happiness index / gross national happiness, hydraulic fracturing, immigration reform, investor state dispute settlement, invisible hand, LNG terminal, market fundamentalism, means of production, Naomi Klein, new economy, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, profit maximization, race to the bottom, smart grid, special economic zone, working poor

See Enbridge’s Environmental, Health and Safety and Corporate Social Responsibility Reports: csr.enbridge.com. 5. Statistics regarding the number of recent immigrants in Toronto census tracts are available from Stuart Thompson of York University. See Anna Mehler Paperny, “Interactive Map: Explore the data behind Toronto’s working poor,” The Globe and Mail, February 10, 2012, www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/interactive-map-explore-the-data-behind-torontos-working-poor/article545650/. 6. For the purposes of this chapter, the term “two-spirit” is used to refer to Indigenous people who embrace the fluid, non-linear, and interrelated nature of all aspects of their identity, including their gender, sexuality, community, culture, and spirituality. 7. Native Youth Sexual Health Network, “Native Youth Sexual Health Network statement in support of 4th Annual Tar Sands Healing Walk,” www.nativeyouthsexualhealth.com/tarsandshealingwalk.pdf. 8.


pages: 504 words: 143,303

Why We Can't Afford the Rich by Andrew Sayer

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, Albert Einstein, asset-backed security, banking crisis, banks create money, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, capital controls, carbon footprint, collective bargaining, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, decarbonisation, declining real wages, deglobalization, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, demand response, don't be evil, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, en.wikipedia.org, Etonian, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, high net worth, income inequality, investor state dispute settlement, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, job automation, Julian Assange, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, moral hazard, mortgage debt, neoliberal agenda, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, patent troll, payday loans, Plutocrats, plutocrats, predatory finance, price stability, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, universal basic income, unpaid internship, upwardly mobile, Washington Consensus, Winter of Discontent, working poor, Yom Kippur War

So they are contributing as well as receiving; indeed, many are just getting deferred earned income. Maybe we should call it an entitlement rather than a ‘benefit’, which suggests an act of charity. • Typically, the unemployed are in and out of work as short-term jobs become available, rather than unemployed permanently. And thanks to declining real wages since 2008, the numbers of ‘the working poor’ have risen, substantially exceeding the out-of-work poor.11 • Many are unable to work because of debilitating illnesses or serious impairments. In the UK the current ConDem coalition has waged a shocking campaign against the sick and disabled, attempting to force people who are in no condition to work to find work or face benefit cuts. • Many do important unpaid work caring for others. There’s more to work than employment, and more to wealth than money.


pages: 464 words: 127,283

Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia by Anthony M. Townsend

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1960s counterculture, 4chan, A Pattern Language, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, anti-communist, Apple II, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Burning Man, business process, call centre, carbon footprint, charter city, chief data officer, clean water, cleantech, cloud computing, computer age, congestion charging, connected car, crack epidemic, crowdsourcing, DARPA: Urban Challenge, data acquisition, Deng Xiaoping, East Village, Edward Glaeser, game design, garden city movement, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Gilder, ghettoisation, global supply chain, Grace Hopper, Haight Ashbury, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, interchangeable parts, Internet Archive, Internet of things, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jane Jacobs, jitney, John Snow's cholera map, Khan Academy, Kibera, knowledge worker, load shedding, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, mobile money, mutually assured destruction, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, openstreetmap, packet switching, patent troll, place-making, planetary scale, popular electronics, RFC: Request For Comment, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Gordon, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, social software, social web, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, technoutopianism, Ted Kaczynski, telepresence, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, too big to fail, trade route, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush, working poor, working-age population, X Prize, Y2K, zero day, Zipcar

In the slums of the developing world’s megacities, where those responsibilities were hardly acknowledged to begin with, crowdsourced alternatives may allow governments to free themselves from the obligation to equalize services in the future. As fashionable as it has become in the developed world, crowdsourcing is highly regressive. It presumes a surplus of volunteer time and energy. For the working poor, every second of every day is devoted to basic survival. The withdrawal of any government services would remove a critical base of support for these extremely vulnerable communities. For engineers and technologists, the intractability of these dilemmas is deeply uncomfortable. Information technology has remarkable power to help the poor help themselves, but to date its greatest impact has been to lure them off their farms to squatter cities where they now wait to see if they’ll be permitted to grow rich too.

As she explained it to me, “The difference with transit data is that developers are maintaining and improving the apps rather than abandoning them. Users are willing to pay for transit apps and continually suggest new features to developers to make them better, and transit agencies keep releasing new and improved data sets.”22 Investing in transit apps is also good public policy. They’re highly inclusive and the benefits accrue to the working poor who depend on public transportation the most. For a working mom struggling to balance childcare and a long commute, knowing the arrival time of the next bus is a huge help. And as apps make transit easier to use, they might help tempt drivers out of their cars and onto buses and trains, where they can be distracted by their online lives more safely and productively even as they cut their carbon emissions.

Investment: A History by Norton Reamer, Jesse Downing

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Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, asset allocation, backtesting, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Brownian motion, buttonwood tree, California gold rush, capital asset pricing model, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, colonial rule, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, debt deflation, discounted cash flows, diversified portfolio, equity premium, estate planning, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, family office, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial innovation, fixed income, Gordon Gekko, Henri Poincaré, high net worth, index fund, interest rate swap, invention of the telegraph, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, land tenure, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, Louis Bachelier, margin call, means of production, Menlo Park, merger arbitrage, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Network effects, new economy, Nick Leeson, Own Your Own Home, pension reform, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, random walk, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Sand Hill Road, Sharpe ratio, short selling, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, spinning jenny, statistical arbitrage, technology bubble, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, time value of money, too big to fail, transaction costs, underbanked, Vanguard fund, working poor, yield curve

NEW INVESTMENTS The democratization of investment required the emergence of new investment vehicles that for the first time sought to meet the needs of the nonelite individual for financial security, accumulation, and management. Life insurance and savings accounts are two of the earliest and simplest vehicles. The development of life insurance includes comical legal strategies, actuarial mathematics, and ethical reactions to the very notion of betting on death. Savings accounts have an equally intriguing history—from the savings societies that were crucial for many working poor to the development of commercial banks that facilitate the transactions that propel the economy, and through the 1970s banking crisis, which required governmental intervention. Then there are the more complex, and often more risky, investments in the form of separate investment accounts and mutual funds. These vehicles are not prestructured and often have more ambitious capital appreciation goals and therefore must accept more exposure to losses as well.

Over time, more public equities have been held by insurance companies (growing at a 5 percent annual clip from 2000 to 2010).41 The establishment of insurance companies as investment vehicles is directly linked to the vast expansion of individuals who are participating in life insurance, savings, and investment activities. Savings Accounts Chapter 3 discussed evidence of life-cycle savings by female servants in the context of retirement. Here, the analysis broadens to the history of savings vehicles. Savings societies allowed the previously underbanked (most notably, the working poor) to access the benefits of a depository institution, and they grew in prominence in the early nineteenth century. The Philadelphia Saving Fund Society was the first American mutual savings bank, commencing its dealings in 1816. The first chartered US mutual savings bank was the Provident Institution for Savings in Boston, which began serving the public that same year. The number of savings banks grew rapidly, numbering just 10 in 1820 and growing to 637 by 1910, with total deposits growing from $1 million in 1820 to $3 billion by 1910.


pages: 258 words: 63,367

Making the Future: The Unipolar Imperial Moment by Noam Chomsky

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Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital controls, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate personhood, deindustrialization, energy security, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, Frank Gehry, full employment, Howard Zinn, Joseph Schumpeter, kremlinology, Long Term Capital Management, market fundamentalism, Mikhail Gorbachev, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, precariat, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, structural adjustment programs, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, uranium enrichment, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks, working poor

The United States effectively has a one-party system, the business party, with two factions, Republicans and Democrats. There are differences between them. In his study Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age, Larry M. Bartels shows that during the past six decades “real incomes of middle-class families have grown twice as fast under Democrats as they have under Republicans, while the real incomes of working-poor families have grown six times as fast under Democrats as they have under Republicans.” Differences can be detected in the current election as well. Voters should consider them, but without illusions about the political parties, and with the recognition that consistently over the centuries, progressive legislation and social welfare have been won by popular struggles, not gifts from above. Those struggles follow a cycle of success and setback.


pages: 184 words: 53,625

Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age by Steven Johnson

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airport security, algorithmic trading, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, dark matter, Dava Sobel, David Brooks, future of journalism, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, HyperCard, Jane Jacobs, John Gruber, John Harrison: Longitude, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, lone genius, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, Occupy movement, packet switching, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, pre–internet, RAND corporation, risk tolerance, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social graph, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Tim Cook: Apple, urban planning, WikiLeaks, working poor, X Prize

In the American tradition, the word “progress” has long been embedded in one of the country’s most durable political labels, dating back to the Progressive movement, which peaked a century ago with Teddy Roosevelt’s failed presidential bid under the banner of the Progressive Party—to this day the most successful third-party challenge to the presidency since the modern two-party system consolidated in the middle of the nineteenth century. The original Progressives were inspired by two emerging developments. They shared a newfound belief in the importance of social justice for women and the working poor, embodied in the suffrage movement and the muckraking journalism that exposed the horrors of many industrial workplaces. And they shared a belief in a new kind of institution: the crusading Big Government that could use its power to combat the excesses of the capitalist oligarchs, by breaking up the monopolies, by supporting unions, by regulating conditions on the factory floor, and through other novel interventions.


pages: 300 words: 78,475

Third World America: How Our Politicians Are Abandoning the Middle Class and Betraying the American Dream by Arianna Huffington

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American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, call centre, carried interest, citizen journalism, clean water, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, David Brooks, extreme commuting, Exxon Valdez, full employment, greed is good, housing crisis, immigration reform, invisible hand, knowledge economy, laissez-faire capitalism, late fees, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, medical bankruptcy, microcredit, new economy, New Journalism, offshore financial centre, Ponzi scheme, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, single-payer health, smart grid, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, winner-take-all economy, working poor, Works Progress Administration

They knew that this great democratic experiment would be defined not by breeding or religion or language, but by a unifying idea—“All men are created equal”—and by an ideal: the good of the many outweighs the good of the few. E pluribus unum. Out of many, one. In the infancy of our nation, Tocqueville saw the power of this idea and its centrality to the American experiment. He traveled across America before the industrial revolution transformed the country. Once it did, manufacturing jobs helped turn the working poor into middle-class Americans, liberating them from the shackles of a hand-to-mouth existence and moving them closer to enjoying a “general equality of condition.” So, is America still a nation where its citizens enjoy a “general equality of condition”? Are we still promoting “the welfare of the greatest possible number”? It’s hard to imagine a modern Tocqueville taking in the grand sweep of our current political and economic landscape—with its shrinking middle class, disappearing jobs, growing economic disparity, banking oligarchy, and public policy sold to the highest bidder—and reaching the same conclusions.


pages: 267 words: 71,123

End This Depression Now! by Paul Krugman

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airline deregulation, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Bretton Woods, capital asset pricing model, Carmen Reinhart, centre right, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, currency manipulation / currency intervention, debt deflation, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, full employment, German hyperinflation, Gordon Gekko, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, inflation targeting, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, moral hazard, mortgage debt, paradox of thrift, price stability, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Upton Sinclair, We are the 99%, working poor, Works Progress Administration

The CBO divides spending into a number of categories; I’ve broken out two of these categories, “income security” and Medicaid, and compared them with everything else. For each category I’ve compared the rate of growth in spending from 2000 to 2007—that is, between two periods of more or less full employment, under a conservative Republican administration—with the growth from 2007 to 2011, amid economic crisis. Now, “income security” is mainly unemployment benefits, food stamps, and the earned-income tax credit, which helps the working poor. That is, it consists of programs that help poor or near-poor Americans, and which you’d expect to spend more if the number of Americans in financial distress rises. Meanwhile, Medicaid is also a means-tested program to help the poor and near-poor, so it also should spend more if the nation is experiencing hard times. What we can see right away from the figure is that all of the acceleration in spending growth can be attributed to programs that were basically emergency aid to those suffering distress from the recession.


pages: 233 words: 64,479

The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife by Marc Freedman

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airport security, Berlin Wall, David Brooks, follow your passion, illegal immigration, Isaac Newton, McMansion, RAND corporation, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, transcontinental railway, working poor, working-age population

Trained initially in free clinics caring for the poor and linked to teaching hospitals, he went on to become a primary-care doctor as well as an adjunct faculty member at the well-regarded University of California–San Francisco (UCSF) Medical School. A few years earlier, while still engaged in his private practice, Schwartz started volunteering at night at Samaritan House, a local agency serving the disadvantaged. He began seeing working poor patients, those who made too much money to qualify for publicly funded medical care yet not enough to pay for health insurance. He examined them on Samaritan House’s conference room table, in the makeshift doctor’s office he set up in that room. As word got around about the service and the line out the door wound down the street, Schwartz moved from one night a week to two. As demand grew further, he enlisted his friend Walter Gaines, another physician, to help out.


pages: 238 words: 68,914

Where Does It Hurt?: An Entrepreneur's Guide to Fixing Health Care by Jonathan Bush, Stephen Baker

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Atul Gawande, barriers to entry, Clayton Christensen, informal economy, inventory management, job automation, knowledge economy, obamacare, personalized medicine, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, web application, women in the workforce, working poor

In the early 2000s, Milstein had worked with Unite Here, the union representing hotel and casino workers in Las Vegas. The union had a contract that put aside funds for benefits. Year after year the rank and file were promised that any savings from this fund would underwrite pay hikes. This sounded fine. But as you can imagine, all potential savings were swallowed up by ballooning health care costs. Pay was stuck at an average of $13 per hour. Union members were working poor and getting poorer. Unlike most Americans, they could see in lurid detail how exploding health care costs were emptying their pockets. So in 2003, the union contracted with Milstein. “I told them,” Milstein says, “that doctors are like cars. Some give you forty miles per gallon on health insurance fuel. Some give you ten. We’re going to take the bad ones out of the network.” In short, Milstein was going to shop on behalf of the workers.


pages: 232 words: 77,956

Private Island: Why Britain Now Belongs to Someone Else by James Meek

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Berlin Wall, business continuity plan, call centre, clean water, Deng Xiaoping, Etonian, HESCO bastion, housing crisis, illegal immigration, Martin Wolf, medical bankruptcy, Mikhail Gorbachev, post-industrial society, pre–internet, price mechanism, risk tolerance, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Skype, sovereign wealth fund, Washington Consensus, working poor

In the end, she came round, and made the policy her own. But the gap where the economic rationale for privatising council houses should be becomes a window through which it becomes possible to see beyond the individual privatisations to the meta-privatisation, and its one indisputable success: that it put more money into the hands of a small number of the very wealthiest people, at the expense of the elderly, the sick, the jobless and the working poor. What do we think we know about taxes since the Thatcher revolution? Government spending has been cut, we know that. Income tax is lower than it used to be, we know that. And we might remember that the one time Margaret Thatcher tried to change the principle of progressive taxation, where the amount of tax you pay depends on your income, to a flat fee, where everyone pays the same – when the Conservatives tried to introduce the infamous ‘poll tax’ on council services – it was the catalyst for her downfall.


pages: 283 words: 81,163

How Capitalism Saved America: The Untold History of Our Country, From the Pilgrims to the Present by Thomas J. Dilorenzo

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banking crisis, British Empire, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, financial deregulation, Fractional reserve banking, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, laissez-faire capitalism, means of production, medical malpractice, Menlo Park, minimum wage unemployment, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, profit maximization, profit motive, Ralph Nader, rent control, rent-seeking, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, statistical model, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transcontinental railway, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, working poor, Works Progress Administration

This improvement in well being . . . is a tendency resulting from the interplay of forces which can freely produce their effects only under capitalism. —Ludwig von Mises, Human Action (1998 ed.) ONE OF the most pervasive—and pernicious—myths about capitalism is that capitalists have always exploited the working class. To anticapitalist myth makers, the industrial revolution was a horror that subjected the American working class to nightmarish working conditions while a relative few capitalists became wealthy on the backs of the working poor, and that subjugation has only continued. But the historical record of capitalism in America—and in every other country where it has been practiced—reveals something quite different: capitalism has continually improved the lot of the working class. To be sure, the advent of capitalism—and factory production—created working conditions that seem unpleasant or even deplorable by today’s standards, but it is important to understand that they were a significant improvement over the conditions the working class had previously endured.


pages: 232

Planet of Slums by Mike Davis

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barriers to entry, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, British Empire, Brownian motion, centre right, clean water, conceptual framework, crony capitalism, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, edge city, European colonialism, failed state, Gini coefficient, Hernando de Soto, housing crisis, illegal immigration, income inequality, informal economy, Internet Archive, jitney, Kibera, labor-force participation, land reform, land tenure, low-wage service sector, mandelbrot fractal, market bubble, megacity, microcredit, New Urbanism, Ponzi scheme, RAND corporation, rent control, structural adjustment programs, surplus humans, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, working poor

One of the most telling pictures of this sector is the sight of the "gentlemanly" owner of a garbage shop, sitting in his well-ironed clothes by his gleaming motorcycle, amidst the piles of waste that the rag-pickers have painfully sorted out for him to profit from. Rags to riches, indeed! 26 /Fourth -j/and this is a corollary of the previous two points — informality ensures extreme abuse of women and children. Again, it is Breman, in his magisterial study of the working poor in India, who drags the skeleton out of the closet: "Out of public view, it is usually the weakest and smallest shoulders that have to bear the heaviest burdens of informalization. The image of shared poverty does not do justice to the inequality w th which this form of existence, too, is permeated within the sphere of the household."27 {Fifth, w contrast to the wishful thinking of bootstrap ideologues, the informal sector - as observed by Frederic Thomas in Kolkata generates joEs not by elaborating new_divisionsjDfJafepr,.. but by fragmenting existing work, and thus subdividing incomes: 25 Breman, The Labouring Poor, pp. 4, 9, 154, 196. 26 Jan Breman and Arvind Das, Down and Out: Labouring Under Global Capitalism, New Delhi 2000, p 56. 27 Breman, The Labouring Poor, p. 231. ... three or four persons dividing a task which could be as well done by one, market women sitting for hours in front of litde piles of fruit or vegetables, barbers and shoeshiners squatting on the sidewalk all day to ' serve only a handful of customers, young boys dodging in and out of traffic selling tissues, wiping car windows, hawking magazines or cigarettes individually, construction workers waiting each morning, often in vain, in the hope of going out on a job.28 The surpluses of labor transformed into informal "entrepreneurs" are often astonishing.


pages: 252 words: 72,473

Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy by Cathy O'Neil

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Bernie Madoff, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, call centre, carried interest, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crowdsourcing, Emanuel Derman, housing crisis, illegal immigration, Internet of things, late fees, medical bankruptcy, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, new economy, obamacare, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, price discrimination, quantitative hedge fund, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, Sharpe ratio, statistical model, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, working poor

So is it any surprise that newcomers to the finance industry would choose the freer and unregulated route? Innovation, after all, hinges on the freedom to experiment. And with petabytes of behavioral data at their fingertips and virtually no oversight, opportunities for the creation of new business models are vast. Multiple companies, for example, are working to replace payday lenders. These banks of last resort cater to the working poor, tiding them over from one paycheck to the next and charging exorbitant interest rates. After twenty-two weeks, a $500 loan could cost $1,500. So if an efficient newcomer could find new ways to rate risk, then pluck creditworthy candidates from this desperate pool of people, it could charge them slightly lower interest and still make a mountain of money. That was Douglas Merrill’s idea. A former chief operating officer at Google, Merrill believed that he could use Big Data to calculate risk and offer payday loans at a discount.


pages: 262 words: 66,800

Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future by Johan Norberg

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agricultural Revolution, anti-communist, availability heuristic, Bartolomé de las Casas, Berlin Wall, British Empire, business climate, clean water, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, demographic transition, desegregation, Donald Trump, Flynn Effect, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, Haber-Bosch Process, Hans Island, Hans Rosling, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, John Snow's cholera map, Kibera, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, more computing power than Apollo, moveable type in China, Naomi Klein, open economy, place-making, Rosa Parks, special economic zone, Steven Pinker, telerobotics, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transatlantic slave trade, very high income, working poor, Xiaogang Anhui farmers

If the poor got a raise, they would leave the job and end up in the alehouse, according to many thinkers of the time. The Scottish economist Adam Smith, the arch-enemy of the Mercantilists, thought that this was wrong, arguing that higher wages could in fact make people work more and that ‘no society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.’7 The ideas of Smith and other Enlightenment thinkers developed a growing respect for the hard-working poor. By then, the Industrial Revolution was taking off in Europe, starting in England, a country where government control of the economy had been scaled back and the élites did not try to resist new technologies like they did in other places. A new openness to experiments and technological applications of scientific discoveries improved production methods that had stayed almost the same for a thousand years.

Rethinking Money: How New Currencies Turn Scarcity Into Prosperity by Bernard Lietaer, Jacqui Dunne

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3D printing, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, BRICs, business climate, business process, butterfly effect, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, clockwork universe, collapse of Lehman Brothers, complexity theory, conceptual framework, credit crunch, discounted cash flows, en.wikipedia.org, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fear of failure, fiat currency, financial innovation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, German hyperinflation, happiness index / gross national happiness, job satisfaction, Marshall McLuhan, microcredit, mobile money, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, more computing power than Apollo, new economy, Occupy movement, price stability, reserve currency, Silicon Valley, the payments system, too big to fail, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, urban decay, War on Poverty, working poor

Essentially this would make bank-debt money illegal and government instead would issue a new currency. While this reform would eliminate the risk of bank crashes and sovereign debt crises, there would still be monetary crises.3 These stark statistics don’t begin to tell the personal and individual stories of struggle and hardship. The extraordinary chasm that has emerged between the superwealthy and the expanding ranks of the working poor is demonstrated by the fact that the combined assets of the family that owns Wal-Mart equal those of America’s bottom 150 million people.4 4 INTRODUCTION All of this begs the question, “Why do we not examine our money system?” Throughout the history of our world, with all its wars, political upheavals, and periods of civil unrest, and with the emergence of political models including capitalism, socialism, and communism in all their variations and adaptations, still the money system was left unexamined.


pages: 725 words: 221,514

Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber

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Admiral Zheng, anti-communist, back-to-the-land, banks create money, Bretton Woods, British Empire, carried interest, cashless society, central bank independence, colonial rule, corporate governance, David Graeber, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, double entry bookkeeping, financial innovation, full employment, George Gilder, informal economy, invention of writing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, means of production, microcredit, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, oil shock, payday loans, place-making, Ponzi scheme, price stability, profit motive, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, seigniorage, short selling, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, tulip mania, upwardly mobile, urban decay, working poor

Employers had a final expedient: wait for the money to show up, and in the meantime, don’t pay anything—leaving their employees to get by with only what they could scrounge from their shop floors, or what their families could finagle in outside employment, receive in charity, preserve in savings pools with friends and families, or, when all else failed, acquire on credit from the loan sharks and pawnbrokers who rapidly came to be seen as the perennial scourge of the working poor. The situation became such that, by the nineteenth century, any time a fire destroyed a London pawnshop, working-class neighborhoods would brace for the wave of domestic violence that would inevitably ensue when many a wife was forced to confess that she’d long since secretly hocked her husband’s Sunday suit.104 We are, nowadays, used to associating factories eighteen months in arrears for wages with a nation in economic free-fall, such as occurred during the collapse of the Soviet Union; but owing to the hard-money policies of the British government, who were always concerned above all to ensure that their paper money didn’t float away in another speculative bubble, in the early days of industrial capitalism, such a situation was in no way unusual.

One of the guiding principles of Thatcherism and Reaganism alike was that economic reforms would never gain widespread support unless ordinary working people could at least aspire to owning their own homes; to this was added, by the 1990s and 2000s, endless mortgage-refinancing schemes that treated houses, whose value it was assumed would only rise, “like ATMs”—as the popular catchphrase had it, though it turns out, in retrospect, it was really more like credit cards. Then there was the proliferation of actual credit cards, juggled against one another. Here, for many, “buying a piece of capitalism” slithered undetectably into something indistinguishable from those familiar scourges of the working poor: the loan shark and the pawnbroker. It did not help here that in 1980, U.S. federal usury laws, which had previously limited interest to between 7 and 10 percent, were eliminated by act of Congress. Just as the United States had managed to largely get rid of the problem of political corruption by making the bribery of legislators effectively legal (it was redefined as “lobbying”), so the problem of loan-sharking was brushed aside by making real interest rates of 25 percent, 50 percent, or even in some cases (for instance for payday loans) 120 percent annually, once typical only of organized crime, perfectly legal—and therefore, enforceable no longer by just hired goons and the sort of people who place mutilated animals on their victims’ doorsteps, but by judges, lawyers, bailiffs, and police.25 Any number of names have been coined to describe the new dispensation, from the “democratization of finance” to the “financialization of everyday life.”26 Outside the United States, it came to be known as “neoliberalism.”


pages: 593 words: 189,857

Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises by Timothy F. Geithner

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, asset-backed security, Atul Gawande, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Buckminster Fuller, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Brooks, Doomsday Book, eurozone crisis, financial innovation, Flash crash, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, implied volatility, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, McMansion, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Nate Silver, Northern Rock, obamacare, paradox of thrift, pets.com, price stability, profit maximization, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, Saturday Night Live, savings glut, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, The Great Moderation, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Tobin tax, too big to fail, working poor

In return, Senate Republicans would be willing to extend unemployment benefits and some of the expiring Recovery Act tax cuts, but only if they were not “refundable,” which meant low-income taxpayers would no longer benefit. “We can’t accept that,” I said. “If they want to argue that we can’t raise taxes in a weak economy, then nobody’s taxes should go up.” I thought we should be willing to swallow two more years of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, but not if we had to add to the burden of the middle class and the working poor. After the meeting, Axelrod thanked me for saying what others were thinking. Over the next couple of days, McConnell agreed to most of what we wanted, although he insisted on keeping the egregious estate tax cuts for multimillionaires. We also engineered a clever switch conjured up by Gene Sperling, replacing the Making Work Pay tax cut for most of the American workforce—which Republicans hated because it was part of President Obama’s stimulus—with a one-year payroll tax cut.

While far from optimal, the deal did some good things and avoided disaster. We preserved the Bush tax cuts for families earning up to $450,000 a year but restored the higher Clinton-era rates above that, raising about $600 billion in new revenue and making the tax code more progressive. We also extended unemployment benefits, along with many of the Recovery Act’s tax credits, including relief for the working poor and college students. Senate Republicans would not agree to any additional stimulus, and the deal only delayed the dreaded sequester for two months; it did not even address the debt limit. But it was a truly bipartisan agreement, and at 2 a.m. on January 1, the Senate overwhelmingly approved it, 89–8. Eric Cantor immediately announced he would oppose the deal, and two-thirds of the House Republican caucus followed his lead.


pages: 662 words: 180,546

Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown by Philip Mirowski

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Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, barriers to entry, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, Brownian motion, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, constrained optimization, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, dark matter, David Brooks, David Graeber, debt deflation, deindustrialization, Edward Glaeser, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, facts on the ground, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Flash crash, full employment, George Akerlof, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Hernando de Soto, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, income inequality, incomplete markets, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, joint-stock company, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, l'esprit de l'escalier, labor-force participation, liquidity trap, loose coupling, manufacturing employment, market clearing, market design, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, Nash equilibrium, night-watchman state, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shock, payday loans, Ponzi scheme, precariat, prediction markets, price mechanism, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, random walk, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, school choice, sealed-bid auction, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, Steven Levy, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the map is not the territory, The Myth of the Rational Market, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thorstein Veblen, Tobin tax, too big to fail, transaction costs, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, working poor

As of 2008, there were more payday lender outlets in the United States than there were McDonald’s and Burger King restaurants combined, with turnover that dwarfed casinos, the other major poverty vampire operation.73 What is astounding about such operations is that they are no longer treated as reviled bottom-feeders by both the media and politicians, but rather as exemplary of the types of legitimate businesses that provide opportunity and salvation in the current contraction. Given the vast hollowing out of the income distribution, it makes sense that the working poor constituted one of the only substantial customer segments that left any room for expansion: Jared Davis [CEO of Check ’n Go] . . . pulls in around $20 million a year making loans of $300 or $400 or $500 a year to the working poor but he had brought his brother into the business and it was his father’s money that had gotten him started. “I don’t consider myself wealthy,” he tells me . . . There were photos around his office of him shaking hands with George W. Bush and John McCain and behind his desk hung stylish black-and-whites of his young children blown up so large that they were distracting.


pages: 558 words: 168,179

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer

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affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, anti-communist, Bakken shale, bank run, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, centre right, clean water, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, collective bargaining, crony capitalism, David Brooks, desegregation, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, energy security, estate planning, Fall of the Berlin Wall, George Gilder, housing crisis, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, invisible hand, job automation, low skilled workers, market fundamentalism, Mont Pelerin Society, More Guns, Less Crime, Nate Silver, New Journalism, obamacare, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ralph Nader, Renaissance Technologies, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, school choice, school vouchers, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Chicago School, the scientific method, University of East Anglia, Unsafe at Any Speed, War on Poverty, working poor

This was no slip of the tongue. Romney was expressing what The Wall Street Journal described as the “new orthodoxy” within the Republican Party. In a new twist on the old conservative argument against government aid for the poor, it denigrated nearly half the country as what the Journal called “Lucky Duckies” freeloading off the rich. This startling theory held that because many members of the middle class and working poor received targeted tax credits, such as the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit, which reduced their income taxes to zero, they were “a nation of moochers,” as the title of a book written by a fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute put it. Behind the theory were several nonprofit organizations tied to the Kochs and other wealthy ideologues, including the Heritage Foundation and AEI.

Carter, who specialized in southern history at the University of South Carolina, noted that when friends around the country asked if things in North Carolina were as bad as they looked from the outside, he was forced to answer, “No, it’s worse—a lot worse.” Republicans claimed their new policies allowed residents to “keep more of their hard-earned money.” But according to a fact-checking analysis by the Associated Press, the working poor were in line to pay more while the wealthiest gained the most. The North Carolina Budget and Tax Center scored the changes and found that 75 percent of the savings would go to the top 5 percent of taxpayers. The legislature eliminated the earned-income tax credit for low-income workers. It also repealed North Carolina’s estate tax, a move that was projected to cost the state $300 million in its first five years.


pages: 287 words: 86,919

Protocol: how control exists after decentralization by Alexander R. Galloway

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Ada Lovelace, airport security, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, Bretton Woods, computer age, Craig Reynolds: boids flock, discovery of DNA, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Grace Hopper, Hacker Ethic, informal economy, John Conway, Kevin Kelly, late capitalism, linear programming, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, mutually assured destruction, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, phenotype, post-industrial society, profit motive, QWERTY keyboard, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Stallman, semantic web, SETI@home, stem cell, Steve Crocker, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, telerobotics, the market place, theory of mind, urban planning, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Review, working poor

In many ways market economies represent a dramatic leap forward in the history of mankind, for they represent a higher degree of individual freedom over previous social forms (e.g., feudalism). But at the same time market economies bring into existence high levels of social inequality. Berners-Lee’s “currency used for trade” is clearly not accessible in equal measures for all parties involved, and his “rules for fair trading” have historically been less than fair, subjugating vast populations of the working poor, immigrants, women, and workers in developing countries, to name a few examples. Thus the same types of critiques that can be levied against so-called successful social realities such as market economies (or even liberalism, or civil society, or the bourgeois class itself) can be levied against protocol. As critics we must first ask ourselves: Do we want the Web to function like a market economy?


pages: 372 words: 107,587

The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality by Richard Heinberg

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3D printing, agricultural Revolution, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, banks create money, Bretton Woods, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, dematerialisation, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, Elliott wave, en.wikipedia.org, energy transition, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Gini coefficient, global village, happiness index / gross national happiness, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, income inequality, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Kenneth Rogoff, late fees, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, naked short selling, Naomi Klein, Negawatt, new economy, Nixon shock, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, post-oil, price stability, private military company, quantitative easing, reserve currency, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, short selling, special drawing rights, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trade liberalization, tulip mania, working poor

In an economic crisis, women are more likely than men to be impoverished, and more seriously. Elderly women are the poorest and most vulnerable people in the US, and their lives are not likely to be improved by peak oil. Women are more likely to be single parents, a job that will come with a whole host of new difficulties post peak. They are more likely than men to work minimum wage jobs, to be exploited at work.... Poor women are more likely to be victims of violence, to have unplanned children, to be trapped in poverty from which they can’t arise. In a period of economic crisis, where everyone is desperate for work, women will be even more vulnerable than usual, and we are already more vulnerable than men. “Creating a sustainable future requires that women who don’t want to have children, or not yet, or not many, be able to cease doing so.


pages: 387 words: 110,820

Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture by Ellen Ruppel Shell

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barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, cognitive dissonance, computer age, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, deskilling, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, fear of failure, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frederick Winslow Taylor, George Akerlof, global supply chain, global village, greed is good, Howard Zinn, income inequality, interchangeable parts, inventory management, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Joseph Schumpeter, Just-in-time delivery, knowledge economy, loss aversion, market design, means of production, mental accounting, Ponzi scheme, price anchoring, price discrimination, race to the bottom, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, side project, Steve Jobs, The Market for Lemons, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, trade liberalization, traveling salesman, ultimatum game, Victor Gruen, washing machines reduced drudgery, working poor, yield management

But others, such as journalist Jonathon Bloom who is writing a book on food waste, put the figure even higher, at 40 percent. Check out Bloom’s excellent blog: http://wastedfood.com. 160 raised the minimum wage to $7.25 over two years: U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Standards Administration, Wage and Hour Division, online at http://www.dol.gov/esa/whd/flsa. 160 minimum wage of 1960: Adam Cohen, “After 75 Years, the Working Poor Still Struggle for a Fair Wage,” New York Times, June 17, 2008. 160 and crushing homelessness: David Levinson, The Encyclopedia of Homelessness (Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications, 2004), 83. 161 the final major reform of the New Deal: Jerold L. Waltman, The Politics of the Minimum Wage (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2000), 28. 161 “ever adopted here or any other country”: A bit of hyperbole offered during one of Roosevelt’s customary “fireside chats,” June 24, 1938.


pages: 321 words: 85,267

Suburban Nation by Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Jeff Speck

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A Pattern Language, big-box store, car-free, Celebration, Florida, City Beautiful movement, desegregation, edge city, Frank Gehry, housing crisis, if you build it, they will come, income inequality, intermodal, Jane Jacobs, jitney, McMansion, New Urbanism, place-making, price mechanism, profit motive, Ralph Nader, Seaside, Florida, Silicon Valley, skinny streets, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Great Good Place, transit-oriented development, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, white flight, working poor, Works Progress Administration

Of greater concern to the urban poor has been the gradual disappearance of many of the jobs that the working classes rely upon for survival. Corporate flight to the metropolitan fringe would be less damaging if adequate public transportation existed to bring the urban poor to and from exurban jobs. Unfortunately, most new jobs in the suburbs are accessible only to people with cars, and automobile ownership is a hurdle that the would-be working poor are often unable to surmount. While waiting for a taxi recently in the outskirts of Washington, we saw a black hotel worker likewise trying to hail a cab. After watching several pass him by, we hailed the next taxi, invited him to ride along, and then learned that he spends $25 a day on the only form of transit available to his suburban minimum-wage job. The inaccessibility of suburban work has become such a dominant factor in the cycle of poverty that it was recognized as a key policy issue in the Clinton Administration’s welfare reform proposals, which asked Congress for $600 million to fund welfare-related transport programs.br One oft-suggested solution to this predicament is governmentsupplied job-chasing vans, but these have inflexible schedules and often involve multiple-hour commutes, since the suburban employers are too dispersed to be reached by mass transit.


pages: 308 words: 98,729

Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash by Elizabeth Royte

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clean water, Maui Hawaii, Parkinson's law, RAND corporation, Silicon Valley, thinkpad, upwardly mobile, working poor

My head swirled with arguments regarding hot versus cold composting, the questionable value of newspaper in compost, whether or not kitchen grease was welcome, and with methods for stemming nitrogen loss, upping carbon-to-nitrogen ratios, suppressing weed seeds and pathogens, nurturing disease-suppressing microbes, avoiding exposure to the elements, and achieving the proper ratio of wet to dry materials. It seemed so much simpler to throw our food waste to the pigs, the way our urban forebears and our country cousins did. As late as 1892, a hundred thousand pigs roamed New York City’s streets, feasting on scraps tossed out doors and windows by the working poor, who relied on these animals to convert waste into edible protein. The pigs weren’t docile: they were wild animals that defecated on sidewalks, copulated in public, and injured and occasionally killed children, according to historian Ted Steinberg in Natural History magazine. Crusading mayors occasionally passed antipig ordinances, starting in the 1810s, but they didn’t stick. Riots to free captive swine (potential pork roasts) broke out in 1825, 1826, 1830, and 1832.


pages: 364 words: 99,613

Servant Economy: Where America's Elite Is Sending the Middle Class by Jeff Faux

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back-to-the-land, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, call centre, centre right, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, full employment, hiring and firing, Howard Zinn, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, indoor plumbing, informal economy, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, lake wobegon effect, Long Term Capital Management, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, McMansion, medical malpractice, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, new economy, oil shock, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price mechanism, price stability, private military company, Ralph Nader, reserve currency, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, South China Sea, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Thomas L Friedman, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trade route, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, union organizing, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, War on Poverty, We are the 99%, working poor, Yogi Berra, Yom Kippur War

“He spoke frequently to many, many different players and kept his finger on the pulse of the situation.”33 The job of chairing the Federal Reserve of New York would hardly go to someone who was not close to the financial sector. Geithner’s two predecessors left to work for investment banking firms, and his successor came from Goldman-Sachs. Some of the actors in this tragic story could reasonably claim stupidity and/or ignorance. The working poor were assured that they could afford a home of their own by the real estate agent and the mortgage broker, and if they had any lingering doubts, they would be assured by the confidence of two presidents of the United States and the chairmen of the Federal Reserve Bank. But as one moves up the ladder of responsibility, the stupidity defense fades quickly. As Barbara Tuchman noted, folly among the elite is rarely ignorance or stupidity.


pages: 537 words: 99,778

Dreaming in Public: Building the Occupy Movement by Amy Lang, Daniel Lang/levitsky

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Bay Area Rapid Transit, bonus culture, British Empire, clean water, cognitive dissonance, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate personhood, crowdsourcing, David Graeber, deindustrialization, facts on the ground, glass ceiling, housing crisis, Kibera, late capitalism, Naomi Klein, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Port of Oakland, Rosa Parks, Saturday Night Live, Slavoj Žižek, structural adjustment programs, the medium is the message, too big to fail, trade liberalization, union organizing, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, War on Poverty, We are Anonymous. We are Legion, We are the 99%, white flight, working poor

Atlanta’s BeltLine project is a greenwashed gentrification project, a massive publicly financed real-estate scam that steals 10-figure property-tax revenues from schools and city services over the next 20 years to build upscale yuppie residences and shopping, and pay corporate welfare to favored banksters and lawyers. Atlanta also has a mass transit system that is forced to pay its own way with no help from the state. Although mostly black Fulton and DeKalb counties paid for its multibillion-dollar infrastructure over a generation, its further development is being dictated by business interests openly hostile to the transit needs of Atlanta’s working poor. Gentrification isn’t just the scourge of black urban communities nationwide. It’s the core ‘economic development’ model for urban America. If occupying public spaces with human bodies is a tactic that works for white hipsters in the middle of town, why can’t it work elsewhere, with them AND with us? Why can’t it work with the abandoned and foreclosed properties in our neighborhoods? Why can’t it work with our public transit system?

44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith

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Murano, Venice glass, working poor

Domenica waved to one or two people whom she recognised and then turned to address Pat, her voice lowered. “Now this is interesting,” she said. “This is a very interesting audience. There are some people here who are just itching to have their portraits painted. They come to everything that the gallery organises. They sit through every lecture, without fail. They give large donations. All for the sake of immortality in oils. And the sad thing is – it never works. Poor dears. They just aren’t of sufficient public interest. Fascinating to themselves and their friends, but not of sufficient public interest.” Domenica smiled wickedly. “There was a very embarrassing incident some years ago. Somebody – and I really can’t name him – had a portrait of himself painted and offered it to the gallery. This put them in a terrible spot. The painting could just have been lost, so to speak, which would have been a solution of sorts, I suppose, but galleries can’t just lose paintings – that’s not what they’re meant to do.


pages: 353 words: 97,352

The Importance of Being Seven by Alexander McCall Smith

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double entry bookkeeping, Malacca Straits, working poor

First there had been Bruce, the narcissistic surveyor with whom she had shared a flat in Scotland Street. He had at first infuriated her, and then she had found herself being strangely drawn to him. Fortunately she had wrenched herself free – just in time – as some moths manage to escape the candle flame at the very last moment. Then there had been Matthew, for whom she had felt considerable fondness, but with whom she felt ultimately there was just insufficient chemistry to make it work. Poor Matthew, with his distressed-oatmeal sweater and his Macgregor tartan boxer shorts. She still thought that those were a bit of a cheek, given that Matthew had nothing to do with the Clan Macgregor; but she had bitten her tongue on that, as Matthew seemed to have so little in his life, and one should not begrudge somebody like that a bit of colour, even if only in their boxer shorts. Matthew had gone off to get married, which had pleased Pat.


pages: 346 words: 102,625

Early Retirement Extreme by Jacob Lund Fisker

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8-hour work day, active transport: walking or cycling, barriers to entry, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, delayed gratification, discounted cash flows, diversification, don't be evil, dumpster diving, financial independence, game design, index fund, invention of the steam engine, inventory management, loose coupling, market bubble, McMansion, passive income, peak oil, place-making, Ponzi scheme, psychological pricing, the scientific method, time value of money, transaction costs, wage slave, working poor

(3) Also I found that the "quadrants" in Economic degrees of freedom are similar to the Cashflow Quadrant book by Robert Kiyosaki even as they were inspired by the types described in Maccoby's earlier book The Gamesman and the arrangement itself (the dimensions) comes from Charles Perrow's Normal Accident Theory. It's also possible to identify the "working man" with the working class or the working poor, the "salaryman" with the middle class, the "businessman" with the capitalist class, and the "Renaissance man" with the creative class in modern sociology. In feudal Japan, the four types were the gentry (samurai), farmers, artisans, and merchants. Richard Bartle's Players to Suit MUDs is an interesting paper analyzing the four different types of computer game players--killers, socializers, explorers, and achievers--classified according to their preference for acting with or acting on other players or the game world, respectively.


pages: 361 words: 81,068

The Internet Is Not the Answer by Andrew Keen

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3D printing, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Airbnb, AltaVista, Andrew Keen, augmented reality, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Black Swan, Burning Man, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collective bargaining, Colonization of Mars, computer age, connected car, cuban missile crisis, David Brooks, disintermediation, Downton Abbey, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Gehry, Frederick Winslow Taylor, frictionless, full employment, future of work, gig economy, global village, Google bus, Google Glasses, Hacker Ethic, happiness index / gross national happiness, income inequality, index card, informal economy, information trail, Innovator's Dilemma, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, Lean Startup, libertarian paternalism, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, move fast and break things, Nate Silver, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, nonsequential writing, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, packet switching, PageRank, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Potemkin village, precariat, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, smart cities, Snapchat, social web, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, TaskRabbit, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, the medium is the message, Thomas L Friedman, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber for X, urban planning, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, working poor, Y Combinator

Cowan underlines the “stunning truth” that wages for men, over the last forty years, have fallen by 28%.78 He describes the divide in what he calls this new “hyper-meritocracy” as being between “billionaires” like the Battery member Sean Parker and the homeless “beggars” on the streets of San Francisco, and sees an economy in which “10 to 15 percent of the citizenry is extremely wealthy and has fantastically comfortable and stimulating lives.”79 Supporting many of Frank and Cook’s theses in their Winner-Take-All Society, Cowen suggests that the network lends itself to a superstar economy of “charismatic” teachers, lawyers, doctors, and other “prodigies” who will have feudal retinues of followers working for them.80 But, Cowen reassures us, there will be lots of jobs for “maids, chauffeurs and gardeners” who can “serve” wealthy entrepreneurs like his fellow chess enthusiast Peter Thiel. The feudal aspect of this new economy isn’t just metaphorical. The Chapman University geographer Joel Kotkin has broken down what he calls this “new feudalism” into different classes, including “oligarch” billionaires like Thiel and Uber’s Travis Kalanick, the “clerisy” of media commentators like Kevin Kelly, the “new serfs” of the working poor and the unemployed, and the “yeomanry” of the old “private sector middle class,” the professionals and skilled workers in towns like Rochester who are victims of the new winner-take-all networked economy.81 The respected MIT economists Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, who are cautiously optimistic about what they call “the brilliant technologies” of “the Second Machine Age,” acknowledge that our networked society is creating a world of “stars and superstars” in a “winner-take-all” economy.


pages: 371 words: 110,641

On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City by Alice Goffman

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ghettoisation, informal economy, payday loans, traffic fines, unemployed young men, working poor

But more and more, my notes began to concern Mike and his friends over on 6th Street—people who sometimes overlapped with Aisha’s group of friends and family, and sometimes didn’t. There were probably a number of reasons why I began spending more of my time with Mike and his friends, beyond the need to demonstrate that I wasn’t molesting teenage girls. For one, I had been reading All Our Kin,5 Making Ends Meet,6 and No Shame in My Game,7 and had learned a lot about the lives of working poor people and women struggling on welfare. I wasn’t sure how much my notes about Aisha and her family and friends could add to what these books had already said. Mike and his friends, on the other hand, were a mystery. They sort of had jobs, but they also seemed to have income that they didn’t speak about. They were getting arrested and coming home on bail and visiting their probation officers.


pages: 262 words: 83,548

The End of Growth by Jeff Rubin

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Ayatollah Khomeini, Bakken shale, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, decarbonisation, deglobalization, energy security, eurozone crisis, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, flex fuel, full employment, ghettoisation, global supply chain, Hans Island, happiness index / gross national happiness, housing crisis, hydraulic fracturing, illegal immigration, income per capita, Jane Jacobs, labour mobility, McMansion, Monroe Doctrine, moral hazard, new economy, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, uranium enrichment, urban planning, urban sprawl, women in the workforce, working poor, Yom Kippur War

Fort McMurray’s economy boomed past its potential growth rate, which pushed the cost of living beyond that of cities ten times its size. A zero percent vacancy rate in the city’s rental market meant that transplanted workers, if they could find a room, were forced to pay triple what they would in Calgary, Vancouver or Toronto. Some new arrivals were even desperate enough to pay top dollar to rent out garage space from locals. Despite high wages, the numbers of the city’s working poor swelled, as did the number of squatters living in the surrounding woods. In Fort McMurray, the insidious effects of inflation meant that some workers who relocated to take advantage of a seemingly can’t-lose opportunity actually wound up in a situation that was economically untenable. Regardless of where you are in the world, when prices start rising faster than incomes, all those people working hard to get ahead are actually getting poorer.


pages: 375 words: 105,067

Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry by Helaine Olen

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asset allocation, Bernie Madoff, Cass Sunstein, Credit Default Swap, David Brooks, delayed gratification, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, Elliott wave, en.wikipedia.org, estate planning, financial innovation, Flash crash, game design, greed is good, high net worth, impulse control, income inequality, index fund, London Whale, Mark Zuckerberg, mortgage debt, oil shock, payday loans, pension reform, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, random walk, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, too big to fail, transaction costs, Unsafe at Any Speed, upwardly mobile, Vanguard fund, wage slave, women in the workforce, working poor, éminence grise

“Even if you were at the lower end, if the rich are getting richer than you, it’s still going up for you too… They were thinking ‘I’m going to be so much better off than I could imagine based on my salary and it will happen automatically because stocks will always go up.’” And when people like Quinn warned them about potential hazards, these optimistic investors turned a deaf ear. In 2001, Quinn inveighed against President George W. Bush’s tax cut package as “a contemptible piece of consumer fraud,” noting that the working poor would not see a penny extra as a result of the deficit busting plan. But people either didn’t care or chose not to listen. When she wrote a piece for Newsweek in 2002 suggesting some relatively minor fixes to make to 401(k) accounts, which were already emerging as a source of trouble for many people (for reasons ranging from choosing the wrong investments to not putting enough money in them to make a real difference), the letters to the editor in response to her critique were scathing.


pages: 318 words: 92,257

Floating City: A Rogue Sociologist Lost and Found in New York's Underground Economy by Sudhir Venkatesh

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East Village, illegal immigration, side project, Silicon Valley, the scientific method, urban renewal, working poor

Black neighborhoods were turning white, Greenpoint was going from Polish to Latino, Mexican day laborers were living side by side with young white artists, and suburban whites were now moving back to cities in droves. A minority since the early 1970s, whites now made up 77 percent of all Manhattan apartment buyers, and the homes they purchased were often rehabbed rental units that once housed minorities and the working poor. The city was gentrifying at a pace that had not been seen in decades. The laborers were relegated to the outer boroughs. And with gentrification, New York was becoming a city of sharp contrasts. As Sassen wrote pointedly, 90 percent of the highest-paid professionals arriving in the new New York City were white and their conspicuous consumption and service needs were spawning entire industries, which were mostly staffed by minorities coming from distant homes.


pages: 278 words: 88,711

The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century by George Friedman

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banking crisis, British Empire, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, illegal immigration, immigration reform, invisible hand, megastructure, Monroe Doctrine, pink-collar, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, working poor

So the first step toward solving the crisis will be limiting immigration, a massive and traumatizing reversal that will cause a crisis, just as the shift toward attracting and increasing immigration had fifty years before. Once immigration has been halted, the United States will have to manage the economic imbalance caused by its population surplus. Layoffs and unemployment will strike disproportionately at the working poor—and particularly the Mexican population in the borderlands. Serious foreign policy issues will then arise. Add to this picture soaring energy prices, and all of the catalysts for the crisis of the 2080s are in place. MEXICO'S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Mexico's economy is currently ranked fifteenth in the world. Since its economic meltdown in 1994, it has recovered dramatically. Mexico's per capita GDP, measured in terms of purchasing power, is a little over $12,000 a year, which makes it the wealthiest major country in Latin America, and places Mexico in the ranks of developed, if not advanced, economies.


pages: 377 words: 110,427

The Boy Who Could Change the World: The Writings of Aaron Swartz by Aaron Swartz, Lawrence Lessig

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affirmative action, Alfred Russel Wallace, Benjamin Mako Hill, bitcoin, Bonfire of the Vanities, Brewster Kahle, Cass Sunstein, deliberate practice, Donald Trump, failed state, fear of failure, Firefox, full employment, Howard Zinn, index card, invisible hand, John Gruber, Lean Startup, More Guns, Less Crime, post scarcity, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, semantic web, single-payer health, SpamAssassin, SPARQL, telemarketer, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the scientific method, Toyota Production System, unbiased observer, wage slave, Washington Consensus, web application, WikiLeaks, working poor

In more recent years, Barbara Ehrenreich went undercover for Harper’s as a maid, a waiter, a Wal-Mart employee, and a nursing home assistant. She argued that such “unskilled” jobs were much harder than the white-collar work she was used to and found that even working by herself, eating little, and living in pitiful conditions, she still was unable to make ends meet. The result was the bestselling book Nickel and Dimed, which led to a resurgence of interest in the conditions of the “working poor.” Food Lion Fallout But, outside of Harper’s, undercover reporting has largely dried up in recent years, and many point to the Food Lion case as the reason. In 1992, ABC’s PrimeTime Live sent reporters undercover at the Food Lion grocery store to investigate claims of unsanitary food handling practices. The reporters falsified their resumes (“I really miss working in a grocery store. . . .


pages: 252 words: 13,581

Cape Town After Apartheid: Crime and Governance in the Divided City by Tony Roshan Samara

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conceptual framework, deglobalization, ghettoisation, global village, illegal immigration, late capitalism, neoliberal agenda, New Urbanism, structural adjustment programs, unemployed young men, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, Washington Consensus, working poor

The Cape Flats war is therefore an important period in the evolution of security operations and structures in the city, representing a bridge between the counterinsurgency campaigns of the apartheid era and the war on crime of today. On the surface, the involvement of the military in crime fighting and the militaristic nature of policing in the late 1990s are understandable. The political violence associated with the transition, much of which has since been confirmed as linked to state-directed provocation, was just beginning to subside. Crime and violence, however, continued to plague working-poor and middle-class areas and fed into the emergence of PAGAD as a community response to perceived police apathy, ineffectiveness, and even complicity with gangsterism on the Flats. Emerging from working- and middle-class coloured communities in the mid-1990s, PAGAD was, importantly, a response not just to high crime rates but also to perceived deficiencies in the state’s ability and willingness to protect vulnerable communities during a tumultuous period in the city.


pages: 422 words: 89,770

Death of the Liberal Class by Chris Hedges

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1960s counterculture, Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, call centre, clean water, collective bargaining, Columbine, corporate governance, deindustrialization, desegregation, Donald Trump, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, hive mind, housing crisis, Howard Zinn, illegal immigration, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Lao Tzu, post scarcity, profit motive, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, strikebreaker, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Tobin tax, union organizing, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, WikiLeaks, working poor, Works Progress Administration

Progressive politics had enjoyed an upsurge before the war, bringing on a golden era of American journalism and social reform, but that was now ended. Progressivism would flicker to life again in the 1930s with the Great Depression and then be crushed in the next war. Progressives in World War I shifted from the role of social critics to that of propagandists. They did this seamlessly. The crusades undertaken for the working poor in mill towns and urban slums were transformed into an abstract crusade to remake the world through violence, a war to end all wars. Addams acidly pointed out that “it is hard for some of us to understand upon what experience this pathetic belief in the regenerative results of war could be founded; but the world had become filled with fine phrases and this one, which afforded comfort to many a young soldier, was taken up and endlessly repeated with an entire absence of critical spirit.”


pages: 281 words: 86,657

The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City by Alan Ehrenhalt

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anti-communist, big-box store, British Empire, crack epidemic, David Brooks, deindustrialization, Edward Glaeser, Frank Gehry, haute cuisine, Honoré de Balzac, housing crisis, illegal immigration, Jane Jacobs, manufacturing employment, McMansion, New Urbanism, postindustrial economy, Richard Florida, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, too big to fail, transit-oriented development, upwardly mobile, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, walkable city, white flight, working poor, young professional

Wells walked the neighborhood often and described it as “a great mysterious movement of unaccountable beings.” D. H. Lawrence found it more ominous still: “some hoary massive underworld, a hoary ponderous inferno, where traffic flows through the rigid grey streets like the rivers of hell through their banks of dry rocky ash.” Turn-of-the-century London was not unique in placing its affluent on one side of the divide and reserving another for immigrants and the working poor. What was unique about London was the rapid expansion of suburbs for the lower middle class, generated almost entirely by rail transportation. The Cheap Trains Act of 1883 required the railroads to build “workmen’s trains.” Although it took a while, they built enormous numbers of them: More than six thousand of these trains were running by 1904. That was the year the Times of London wrote that “the habit of living at a distance from the scene of work has spread from the merchant and the clerk to the artisan.


pages: 322 words: 88,197

Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson

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Ada Lovelace, Alfred Russel Wallace, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Book of Ingenious Devices, Buckminster Fuller, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, colonial exploitation, computer age, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Drosophila, Fellow of the Royal Society, game design, global village, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, HyperCard, invention of air conditioning, invention of the printing press, invention of the telegraph, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Landlord's Game, lone genius, megacity, Minecraft, Murano, Venice glass, music of the spheres, Necker cube, New Urbanism, Oculus Rift, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, pattern recognition, pets.com, placebo effect, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, profit motive, QWERTY keyboard, Ray Oldenburg, spice trade, spinning jenny, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, talking drums, the built environment, The Great Good Place, the scientific method, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, trade route, Turing machine, Turing test, Upton Sinclair, urban planning, Victor Gruen, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, white flight, Whole Earth Catalog, working poor, Wunderkammern

The idea lives on today as a legacy of Romantics like Wordsworth, but it can be traced back even further, to the curiosity shops and coffeehouses of the Enlightenment collector. — Like the temples of illusion and department stores that would follow them, coffeehouses were environments where social classes converged: poets, lords, stock speculators, actors, gossips, entrepreneurs, scientists—all found a seat in the shared environment of the coffeehouse. It was not, to be sure, an environment that welcomed women or the working poor. (Most establishments charged a penny for admission, easily affordable to the middle class, but just dear enough to discourage common laborers.) But by the standards of the eighteenth century, it was, almost certainly, the most egalitarian room that modern Europeans had ever experienced. As early as 1665, a pamphlet on the new coffeehouse culture observed, in verse: “It reason seems that liberty / Of speech and words should be allow’d / Where men of differing judgements croud, / And that’s a Coffee-house, for where / Should men discourse so free as there?”


pages: 261 words: 86,905

How to Speak Money: What the Money People Say--And What It Really Means by John Lanchester

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asset allocation, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bitcoin, Black Swan, blood diamonds, Bretton Woods, BRICs, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, Dava Sobel, David Graeber, disintermediation, double entry bookkeeping, en.wikipedia.org, estate planning, financial innovation, Flash crash, forward guidance, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, high net worth, High speed trading, hindsight bias, income inequality, inflation targeting, interest rate swap, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Kodak vs Instagram, liquidity trap, London Interbank Offered Rate, London Whale, loss aversion, margin call, McJob, means of production, microcredit, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, neoliberal agenda, New Urbanism, Nick Leeson, Nikolai Kondratiev, Nixon shock, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open economy, paradox of thrift, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, purchasing power parity, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, random walk, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, security theater, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, six sigma, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, working poor, yield curve

Judgments of what’s right and wrong are left out. This can make the language seem abrasive, even shocking, to people who habitually speak a different kind of discourse. Since much of the language of public life has an implied moral and political load, this makes money-speak very distinctive. “Welfare scroungers” has a different spin from “benefit claimants,” who don’t sound at all the same as “the working poor,” even if these are all the same people, and the benefit they’re claiming is called “job seeker’s allowance,” where once it was known as “unemployment benefit” in an attempt to provide a heavy nudge (and to placate right-wing headline writers). Your “asylum seeker” is my “refugee”; your “entitlements” are my “pensions.” Aristotle was right when he said that man is a political animal; our language is one of the most political things about us.


pages: 338 words: 92,465

Reskilling America: Learning to Labor in the Twenty-First Century by Katherine S. Newman, Hella Winston

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blue-collar work, collective bargaining, deindustrialization, desegregation, factory automation, interchangeable parts, invisible hand, job-hopping, knowledge economy, low skilled workers, performance metric, reshoring, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, two tier labour market, union organizing, upwardly mobile, War on Poverty, Wolfgang Streeck, working poor

(with Elisabeth Jacobs) The Missing Class (with Victor Tan Chen) Chutes and Ladders Rampage (with Cybelle Fox, David Harding, Jal Mehta, and Wendy Roth) A Different Shade of Gray No Shame in My Game Declining Fortunes Falling from Grace Law and Economic Organization ALSO BY HELLA WINSTON Unchosen About the Authors KATHERINE S. NEWMAN is the author of twelve books on topics ranging from urban poverty to middle-class economic insecurity to school violence. Her No Shame in My Game: The Working Poor in the Inner City received the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award and the Sidney Hillman Foundation Book Award. Newman, who has held senior teaching and administrative positions at Johns Hopkins, Harvard, and Princeton, is currently Provost and Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. You can sign up for email updates here. HELLA WINSTON, a sociologist and investigative journalist, is the author of Unchosen: The Hidden Lives of Hasidic Rebels.


pages: 519 words: 104,396

Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (And How to Take Advantage of It) by William Poundstone

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availability heuristic, Cass Sunstein, collective bargaining, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, Donald Trump, East Village, en.wikipedia.org, endowment effect, equal pay for equal work, experimental economics, experimental subject, feminist movement, game design, German hyperinflation, Henri Poincaré, high net worth, index card, invisible hand, John von Neumann, laissez-faire capitalism, loss aversion, market bubble, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Nash equilibrium, new economy, payday loans, Potemkin village, price anchoring, price discrimination, psychological pricing, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, random walk, RFID, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, rolodex, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, ultimatum game, working poor

It’s not hard to understand why this makes dealers anxious to close a deal. Forty-seven Pricing Gender A group including Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir conducted a particularly ambitious experiment in the fall of 2003. They got permission from a large consumer lender in South Africa to test a grab bag of psychological tricks in its junk-mail pitches for loans. The lender was offering the equivalent of American payday loans—short-term cash for the working poor, at loan shark rates. The lender sent letters offering a special interest rate to 53,194 past customers. Among other factors, Mullainathan and Shafir’s team tested the effect of having a photograph in the mailing. They found stock photos of pleasant, smiling faces and put them in the lower right corner of the letter, near the signature. This implicitly suggested that the person depicted was a bank employee, maybe the one who had written the letter.

The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape by James Howard Kunstler

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A Pattern Language, blue-collar work, California gold rush, car-free, City Beautiful movement, corporate governance, Donald Trump, financial independence, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frank Gehry, germ theory of disease, indoor plumbing, jitney, land tenure, means of production, megastructure, Menlo Park, new economy, oil shock, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, postindustrial economy, Potemkin village, Ronald Reagan, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Whole Earth Review, working poor, Works Progress Administration

Stilgoe mentions an indoor dairy in Brooklyn housing 500 cows who never saw the light of day and were fed on distillery slops.8 The wealthy lived very close to downtown on streets of fashion. The poor were not a permanent class of subsidized indigents but rather working people who made less money. As factories multiplied, and the streets where they stood became less desirable places to live, older, single-family houses were bought by enterprising landlords and chopped up into warrens for the poor. But a great many more of the working poor lived among middle-class families, in rented rooms, apart­ ments, basements, and in back-alley dwellings scattered fairly evenly throughout the city. In the first phase of industrialism, the dimensions of city life re­ mained at a human scale. While the canal system and then the railroads vastly improved the transport of goods between towns and cities, the movement of anything bulky within the city itself was still arduous.


pages: 489 words: 111,305

How the World Works by Noam Chomsky, Arthur Naiman, David Barsamian

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affirmative action, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business climate, capital controls, clean water, corporate governance, deindustrialization, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, glass ceiling, Howard Zinn, income inequality, interchangeable parts, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, labour market flexibility, land reform, Monroe Doctrine, offshore financial centre, Plutocrats, plutocrats, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, single-payer health, strikebreaker, Telecommunications Act of 1996, transfer pricing, union organizing, War on Poverty, working poor

There’s no way to deal with these issues by violent force, even if you think that that’s morally legitimate. Guns in the hands of American citizens are not going to make the country more benign. They’re going to make it more brutal, ruthless and destructive. So while one can recognize the motivation that lies behind some of the opposition to gun control, I think it’s sadly misguided. Becoming a Third World country A recent Census Bureau report stated that there’s been a 50% increase in the working poor—that is, people who have jobs but are still below the poverty level. That’s part of the Third-Worldization of the society. It’s not just unemployment, but also wage reduction. Real wages have been declining since the late 1960s. Since 1987, they’ve even been declining for college-educated people, which was a striking shift. There’s supposed to be a recovery going on, and it’s true that a kind of recovery is going on.


pages: 366 words: 117,875

Arrival City by Doug Saunders

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agricultural Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Branko Milanovic, call centre, credit crunch, Deng Xiaoping, desegregation, ghettoisation, Gini coefficient, guest worker program, Hernando de Soto, Honoré de Balzac, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, Kibera, land reform, land tenure, low skilled workers, megacity, microcredit, new economy, pensions crisis, place-making, price mechanism, rent control, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban sprawl, white flight, working poor, working-age population

By that time, between a quarter and a third of the British middle class and an eighth of the higher professional and managerial classes comprised people who had been born in the lower classes, most of whom had presumably used the arrival cities of London and Manchester as their gateways to advancement—a higher level of mobility, by Miles’s measurement, than existed at the end of the twentieth century. There were limits to this mobility. While a majority of poor people entering the city were able to rise within a generation from unskilled working-poor status to the far more comfortable and stable skilled-worker or tradesman status, only 5 percent of working-class men at the beginning of the twentieth century were able to obtain middle-class status.§ Much of this has to do with property ownership. In nineteenth-century Europe, it was almost unthinkable for even the most elevated members of the working class to purchase the land beneath their feet.


pages: 365 words: 120,105

Why Do I Love These People?: Understanding, Surviving, and Creating Your Own Family by Po Bronson

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Asperger Syndrome, estate planning, South of Market, San Francisco, working poor, young professional

Momma's just so unhappy, I don't know what to do. I need a break. Pray for Mommy. Please pray for Mommy.” In the backseat, Jarralynne prayed. If there was a bottom, that was it. But this happened more than once. This scene recurred maybe four times a year, up until Jarralynne was about ten years old. Karen would come out of those harrowing decision points outside Shawn Acres with some determination. Karen was the working poor, which meant she was jealous of those on food stamps, who at least had something to eat. So she'd get creative. She would dress herself up real nice, drag the kids to a restaurant, and announce, “Oh my God, the check didn't show up! But it'll be here tomorrow. The kids gotta eat, though.” If that didn't work, Karen would tell her girls to go up to a nice lady somewhere and ask her to “be my godmother.”


pages: 363 words: 123,076

The Gang That Wouldn't Write Straight: Wolfe, Thompson, Didion, Capote, and the New Journalism Revolution by Marc Weingarten

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1960s counterculture, Bonfire of the Vanities, British Empire, citizen journalism, cognitive dissonance, Donner party, East Village, Haight Ashbury, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, Menlo Park, New Journalism, non-fiction novel, pre–internet, rent control, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Stewart Brand, upwardly mobile, working poor

Orwell abandoned the middle-class appurtenances of London life and booked himself into a common lodging house in the same East End slum where Jack London had done his research for The People of the Abyss. In frail health from his Burmese experience, and suffering from an infected foot, Orwell nonetheless plunged into the maelstrom with dedicated mind and spirit. Orwell’s experiences, which he was eventually to recount in his 1931 book Down and Out in Paris and London, transpired over a longer period of time than Jack London’s (in all, Orwell’s life as a member of the working poor spanned three years). Unlike London, who booked another room in comfortable lodgings in order to maintain a “port of refuge … into which I could run now and again to assure myself that good clothes and cleanliness still existed,” Orwell allowed himself no such safe harbor. When his paltry savings ran out, he scrounged around for whatever work he could find, with fitful results. He fraternized with tramps and manual workers and joined up with them in the search for sustainable work.


pages: 532 words: 155,470

One Less Car: Bicycling and the Politics of Automobility by Zack Furness, Zachary Mooradian Furness

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active transport: walking or cycling, affirmative action, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, back-to-the-land, Build a better mousetrap, Burning Man, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, colonial rule, conceptual framework, dumpster diving, Enrique Peñalosa, European colonialism, feminist movement, ghettoisation, Golden Gate Park, interchangeable parts, intermodal, Internet Archive, Jane Jacobs, market fundamentalism, means of production, Naomi Klein, New Urbanism, peak oil, place-making, post scarcity, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, sustainable-tourism, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Thomas L Friedman, Thorstein Veblen, urban planning, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, working poor, Yom Kippur War

These collaborations certainly do not guarantee a collective struggle for unity and social justice, but the attention many community bicycle organizations pay to the dynamics of race, class, and gender is a necessary step in the right direction. Race, Class, and Bicycling Transportation and access to transportation resources are both intricately connected to race and class.11 african americans and the urban working poor, for example, suffer from a lack of transportation options not unlike their disproportionately poor access to affordable housing and other basic daily goods and services, such as neighborhood grocery stores.12 Consequently, community bicycle organizations that intentionally facilitate programs to assist the poor and communities of color not only provide a rare service in a profit-based economy—access to free services, learned volunteers, and the use of tools and resources that would otherwise be unavailable or prohibitively expensive—but also are engaged (whether explicitly or implicitly) with intersecting issues of race, class, and transportation.


pages: 376 words: 118,542

Free to Choose: A Personal Statement by Milton Friedman, Rose D. Friedman

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affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, air freight, back-to-the-land, bank run, banking crisis, Corn Laws, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, German hyperinflation, invisible hand, labour mobility, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, price stability, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, rent control, road to serfdom, school vouchers, Simon Kuznets, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, union organizing, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, urban renewal, War on Poverty, working poor, Works Progress Administration

The country is increasingly divided into two classes of citizens, one receiving relief and the other paying for it. Those on relief have little incentive to earn income. Relief payments vary widely from one part of the country to another, which encourages migration from the South and the rural areas to the North, and particularly to urban centers. Persons who are or have been on relief are treated differently from those who have not been on relief (the so-called working poor) though both may be on the same economic level. Public anger is repeatedly stirred by widespread corruption and cheating, well-publicized reports of welfare "queens" driving around in Cadillacs bought with multiple relief checks. As complaints about welfare programs have mounted, so have the number of programs to be complained about. There is a ragbag of well over 100 federal programs that have been enacted to help the poor.


pages: 464 words: 116,945

Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism by David Harvey

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business climate, California gold rush, call centre, central bank independence, clean water, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, colonial rule, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, falling living standards, fiat currency, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Food sovereignty, Frank Gehry, future of work, global reserve currency, Guggenheim Bilbao, income inequality, informal economy, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Just-in-time delivery, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, microcredit, new economy, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, peak oil, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, reserve currency, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, short selling, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, wages for housework, Wall-E, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population

It has been suggested, on the other hand, that grossly lopsided distributions might spell trouble not only because of the social instability and unrest they may provoke (a fear the IMF and the Davos conferences of the global capitalist elites frequently invoke), but because the historical evidence suggests gross inequalities might be a harbinger of a macroeconomic crisis to come. This is so because the contradictory unity between production and realisation becomes far harder to keep in balance when realisation depends on the vagaries and discretionary habits of wealthy people as opposed to the solid and reliable non-discretionary demands of the working poor. The last time the USA experienced equivalent levels of inequality to those now prevailing was the 1920s and this clearly played an important role in fomenting if not triggering the depression of the 1930s. The situation today seems broadly comparable. Can we hope to get out of the current stagnation without radically reordering distributional arrangements? Consider some recent trends in distribution.


pages: 565 words: 151,129

The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism by Jeremy Rifkin

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, autonomous vehicles, back-to-the-land, big-box store, bioinformatics, bitcoin, business process, Chris Urmson, clean water, cleantech, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, Community Supported Agriculture, computer vision, crowdsourcing, demographic transition, distributed generation, en.wikipedia.org, Frederick Winslow Taylor, global supply chain, global village, Hacker Ethic, industrial robot, informal economy, intermodal, Internet of things, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, labour mobility, Mahatma Gandhi, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, natural language processing, new economy, New Urbanism, nuclear winter, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer lending, personalized medicine, phenotype, planetary scale, price discrimination, profit motive, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Stallman, risk/return, Ronald Coase, search inside the book, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, social web, software as a service, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, the built environment, The Nature of the Firm, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, transaction costs, urban planning, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, WikiLeaks, working poor, Zipcar

The overseas colonies, in turn, were prevented from producing finished goods and restricted to producing cheap raw materials for export back to the host countries, and then forced to buy the finished manufactured goods from the home country at a higher price. Mercantilist policies favored merchant exporters but hurt domestic manufacturers in the host countries as well as in the colonies. Moreover, restricting the volume of domestic products that could be produced for the home market in order to keep export prices artificially high worked not only to the disadvantage of the domestic manufacturers, but also the rising middle class and urban working poor, who had to contend with higher prices for domestic goods. Opposition to mercantilist policies in Europe and the colonies continued to mount, leading the 13 American colonies to break with England in 1776, followed by the French Revolution, which initiated the overthrow of that nation’s monarchy in 1789. These two great defining moments in political history were as much about the struggle to secure private property through free trade in open markets as they were about securing political freedom and democratic representation.


pages: 522 words: 144,511

Sugar: A Bittersweet History by Elizabeth Abbott

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agricultural Revolution, Bartolomé de las Casas, British Empire, flex fuel, land tenure, Mason jar, Ralph Waldo Emerson, spinning jenny, strikebreaker, trade liberalization, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, women in the workforce, working poor

Like tobacco, for centuries a luxury of the rich, sugar became “the general solace of all classes,” especially “the emerging proletarian classes, who found sugar and kindred drug foods profound consolations in the mines and in the factories.”96 A case in point is an eighteenth-century washerwoman, “a queasy and ragged creature who came into a shop with two children … asked for a pennyworth of tea and a half-pennyworth of sugar, and said she could not live without drinking it every day.”97 By 1750, “Sugar, the inseparable Companion of Tea, came to be in the Possession of the very poorest Housewife”98—remember Gladys? Sugar as consolation—the ultimate comfort food—gave it a psychological dimension that transcended taste and caloric force. The wage-earning worker’s ability to buy this previously unattainable luxury connected the “will to work and the will to consume.” The working poor could now aspire to pamper themselves as the rich had long done. One way working-class families did this was through the ritual of high tea, a modest new meal that was rather different from low tea. High tea was served on the high table in the dining room, not on low tables next to sofas and chairs in the drawing room. And high tea became the family supper, prepared after working parents arrived home.


pages: 493 words: 145,326

Fire and Steam: A New History of the Railways in Britain by Christian Wolmar

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, Beeching cuts, carbon footprint, collective bargaining, computer age, Corn Laws, cross-subsidies, financial independence, hiring and firing, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, railway mania, rising living standards, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, strikebreaker, union organizing, upwardly mobile, working poor, yield management

Despite the arrival of surgeons summoned by Stephenson, Huskisson died in considerable pain at 9 p.m. The festivities continued largely as planned, including the banquet at the Adelphi Hotel, although the band was cancelled out of respect for poor Huskisson. There had been no doubt that the ceremonies should start and end at Liverpool where the enthusiasm for the railway appeared unalloyed. The quality of life of the working poor was perhaps a trifle better there, and the crowds were wholeheartedly enthusiastic about the new invention, whereas in Manchester contemporary observers noted that the procession was watched ‘with looks of sullen or insolent indifference’.31 Indeed, the welcome in east Lancashire was far from warm. Despite the accident, the organizers had decided that it was prudent to continue the procession across the bridge at the river Irwell, with its huge Doric columns, and terminate at Manchester station, rather than disappoint the thousands lining the path of the railway.


pages: 590 words: 153,208

Wealth and Poverty: A New Edition for the Twenty-First Century by George Gilder

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affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, capital controls, cleantech, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, equal pay for equal work, floating exchange rates, full employment, George Gilder, Home mortgage interest deduction, Howard Zinn, income inequality, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job-hopping, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, medical malpractice, minimum wage unemployment, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, non-fiction novel, North Sea oil, paradox of thrift, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post-industrial society, price stability, Ralph Nader, rent control, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, skunkworks, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, volatility arbitrage, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population, yield curve

Year by year, the ante is raised: first a high-school diploma, then a special test, then a further degree, finally a grant of virtual tenure for the “qualified,” all with the effect of downplaying performance on the job and exalting effort on the test, all with the effect of protecting any schooled but shiftless members of the middle class from the competition of unschooled but aggressively hard-working poor people. In short, this system depreciates the assets of diligence, determination, and drive to get ahead, which have launched other groups into the middle class and above, and which every close study has shown to be most important to productivity; and it exalts the assets of the advantaged classes—schooling, testing, computing—that are often irrelevant to productivity in most jobs. One result, as Herbert Beinstock of the Department of Labor said, is that “we are in the process of creating a first-job barrier in this country.”10 This barrier ensures that ever larger portions of any unemployment in the American economy will be concentrated on the unacademic: chiefly high school dropouts and especially black high school dropouts.


pages: 414 words: 119,116

The Health Gap: The Challenge of an Unequal World by Michael Marmot

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active transport: walking or cycling, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Atul Gawande, Bonfire of the Vanities, Broken windows theory, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, Celtic Tiger, centre right, clean water, congestion charging, correlation does not imply causation, Doha Development Round, epigenetics, financial independence, future of work, Gini coefficient, Growth in a Time of Debt, illegal immigration, income inequality, Indoor air pollution, Kenneth Rogoff, Kibera, labour market flexibility, lump of labour, Mahatma Gandhi, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, New Urbanism, obamacare, paradox of thrift, race to the bottom, Rana Plaza, RAND corporation, road to serfdom, Simon Kuznets, Socratic dialogue, structural adjustment programs, the built environment, The Spirit Level, trickle-down economics, urban planning, Washington Consensus, Winter of Discontent, working poor

You won’t have forgotten that I am concerned with the gradient, as well as with poverty. The fortunes of the middle groups are therefore also of concern. The US is getting richer but the benefit is going overwhelmingly to the richest 10 per cent. As Figure 6.2 shows, not much of it reaches the bottom 80 per cent. Simplifying and summarising, there are three ways to address low incomes of people of working age: improve the incomes of the working poor, get more people into work, and improve the incomes of people who for whatever reason are unable to work. Each of these is likely to reduce health inequalities. Before we move from conditions in the workplace to employment conditions, we should ask an important question: is it work or the worker that is damaging health? I argued in the previous two chapters on early life and education that it was not genes that determined the quality of early child development and educational achievement, but the nature of the social environment.


pages: 422 words: 131,666

Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take It Back by Douglas Rushkoff

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affirmative action, Amazon Mechanical Turk, banks create money, big-box store, Bretton Woods, car-free, colonial exploitation, Community Supported Agriculture, complexity theory, computer age, corporate governance, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, death of newspapers, don't be evil, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, easy for humans, difficult for computers, financial innovation, Firefox, full employment, global village, Google Earth, greed is good, Howard Rheingold, income per capita, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, John Nash: game theory, joint-stock company, Kevin Kelly, laissez-faire capitalism, loss aversion, market bubble, market design, Marshall McLuhan, Milgram experiment, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, peak oil, place-making, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, price stability, principal–agent problem, private military company, profit maximization, profit motive, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, RFID, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, short selling, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, social software, Steve Jobs, Telecommunications Act of 1996, telemarketer, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, trade route, trickle-down economics, union organizing, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush, Victor Gruen, white flight, working poor, Works Progress Administration, Y2K, young professional

They were inspired to find a way to facilitate loans to small-business owners in the developing world and began developing the concept of an Internet-based fund where socially minded individuals could loan directly to these deserving entrepreneurs. They spent the next year researching and creating a business plan to make Kiva a reality. In 2005, Kiva.org launched as the world’s first micro-lending website for the working poor, empowering individuals to lend to entrepreneurs across the globe. By combining micro-finance with the Internet, Kiva created a global community of people connected through lending. Today, anyone with an email address can create a Kiva account, and anyone who can make payments using a credit card or PayPal account can be a Kiva Lender. With as little as twenty-five dollars, users can make a huge difference.

Year 501 by Noam Chomsky

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anti-communist, Bartolomé de las Casas, Berlin Wall, Bolshevik threat, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital controls, colonial rule, corporate governance, cuban missile crisis, declining real wages, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, European colonialism, experimental subject, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Howard Zinn, invisible hand, land reform, land tenure, means of production, Monroe Doctrine, non-tariff barriers, offshore financial centre, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Simon Kuznets, strikebreaker, structural adjustment programs, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, trickle-down economics, union organizing, War on Poverty, working poor

After a meeting of high-level officials of the donor countries, “World Bank officials say openly” that “they will back away from” their promises once again. Even “once-generous donors such as Sweden” are cutting back, while “less generous countries, such as the UK and US,...are expected to cut still further” their minuscule contributions. A meeting of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) meanwhile concluded that “Structural adjustment imposed by the World Bank and [IMF] have brought disaster to the working poor of as many as 100 countries,” forced “to open their markets to a flood of cheap imports” while the rich refuse “to abandon their subsidies, quotas and high tariffs.” The result is “‘brutal’ suppression of wages and living standards” and elimination of social programs, the effects increasing as the programs are implemented over the past decade or more.47 The institutions of “the new ruling class,” which now “run large parts of the developing world and eastern Europe,” “encourage” their clients to follow “the right kind of reform policy,” Morgan continues.


pages: 437 words: 115,594

The Great Surge: The Ascent of the Developing World by Steven Radelet

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Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Asian financial crisis, bank run, Berlin Wall, Branko Milanovic, business climate, business process, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, colonial rule, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Doha Development Round, Erik Brynjolfsson, European colonialism, F. W. de Klerk, failed state, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, income inequality, income per capita, invention of the steam engine, James Watt: steam engine, John Snow's cholera map, Joseph Schumpeter, land reform, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, oil shock, out of africa, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, randomized controlled trial, Robert Gordon, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Simon Kuznets, South China Sea, special economic zone, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade route, women in the workforce, working poor

But it’s extremely demanding even for the most fit; consequently, few people can do it for more than four days a week—and that is only if the rickshaw is available. Many drivers try to find other work as street cooks or garbage collectors or construction workers. Other members of the household will try to take on work cleaning homes, sewing, or picking rags—if they can find the work—or taking in boarders. Because there are so few opportunities for steady work, poor families often need multiple sources of small amounts of income to get by. Standard economics teaches the benefits of specialization—greater skill, speed, quality, and efficiency—but for the extreme poor, these gains are outweighed by the risks of not being able to find full-time specialized work or by being too dependent on the weather or the vagaries of the markets. They don’t specialize, because they need to make use of what otherwise would be wasted time—selling dosa, even if they are the best in town, can occupy you for only so many hours in the morning.6 Farmers have lots of downtime between planting and harvest.


pages: 565 words: 164,405

A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World by William J. Bernstein

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Admiral Zheng, asset allocation, bank run, Benoit Mandelbrot, British Empire, call centre, clean water, Columbian Exchange, Corn Laws, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Doha Development Round, domestication of the camel, double entry bookkeeping, Eratosthenes, financial innovation, Gini coefficient, ice-free Arctic, imperial preference, income inequality, intermodal, James Hargreaves, John Harrison: Longitude, Khyber Pass, low skilled workers, non-tariff barriers, placebo effect, Port of Oakland, refrigerator car, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, spice trade, spinning jenny, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, upwardly mobile, working poor

The corn laws, he wrote, impeded the purchase of foreign grain and forced England to waste its precious labor in less productive farmwork. This benefited no one except the landowning aristocracy. Ricardo's pamphlet convinced few. His more influential Principles did not appear in print until 1817, and he himself did not enter Parliament until 1819. The thought of German, Polish, and Danish warehouses bulging with cheap grain incited England's working poor. In the end the mob proved more influential than the forces of rational discourse, but not in the direction intended. In March 1815, anti-Corn Law rioters raged through London's streets and broke into the houses of the bill's supporters, including those of Lord Castlereagh, the notoriously repressive foreign minister, and Frederick Robinson, who had introduced the bill. In the aftermath of the French wars, starving workers rioted for free trade, just as today more comfortable workers riot against it.


pages: 437 words: 113,173

Age of Discovery: Navigating the Risks and Rewards of Our New Renaissance by Ian Goldin, Chris Kutarna

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2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, bitcoin, Bonfire of the Vanities, clean water, collective bargaining, Colonization of Mars, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Dava Sobel, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, double helix, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, experimental economics, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial innovation, full employment, Galaxy Zoo, global supply chain, Hyperloop, immigration reform, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, information retrieval, intermodal, Internet of things, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, labour market flexibility, low cost carrier, low skilled workers, Lyft, Malacca Straits, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral hazard, Network effects, New Urbanism, non-tariff barriers, Occupy movement, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, open economy, Panamax, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, post-Panamax, profit motive, rent-seeking, reshoring, Robert Gordon, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart grid, Snapchat, special economic zone, spice trade, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stuxnet, TaskRabbit, too big to fail, trade liberalization, trade route, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, uranium enrichment, We are the 99%, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, working poor, working-age population, zero day

The “insurance” (credit derivatives) that firms purchased to hedge against default turned out to be inadequate. The consequences were stupendously bad. By 2009, the financial crisis had already tallied up losses of $4.1 trillion, across every market in the world.45 Roughly 50 million people lost their jobs worldwide; among those who managed to stay employed, a quarter-billion fell into the ranks of the “working poor.”46 In Africa, it is estimated that 30,000–50,000 children died—from starvation—as a direct result of the global economic downturn that followed.47 By now, this story has been told so many times—in interviews, editorials, books and Hollywood-produced documentaries and dramas—that the main lessons easily get blurred in the back-and-forth blame-casting. But viewed through the Renaissance lens, the take-aways come back into focus.48 Complexity limits our foresight The first lesson is how rising complexity makes risks within the financial system harder to see.


pages: 505 words: 127,542

If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Happy? by Raj Raghunathan

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Broken windows theory, business process, cognitive dissonance, deliberate practice, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, fundamental attribution error, job satisfaction, Mahatma Gandhi, market clearing, meta analysis, meta-analysis, new economy, Phillip Zimbardo, placebo effect, science of happiness, Skype, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Thorstein Veblen, Tony Hsieh, working poor, Zipcar

Such a turn of events is, of course, extremely unlikely, because a significant proportion of the world’s population is caught up in the struggle to meet basic needs and will therefore take up any job that pays the bills. But let’s ignore this fact for now. If few people were willing to take up menial-but-critical jobs, then the most likely consequence—which follows from a simple supply-demand logic—would be this: those willing to take up the menial-but-critical jobs would command higher wages. This wouldn’t be such a bad thing for at least two reasons. First, higher wages for the working poor would improve the lot of those at the “bottom of the pyramid.” Second, assuming the operation of free-market forces, opportunistic entrepreneurs would step in to figure out alternative ways to meet the demand for menial-but-critical jobs. Specifically, after perhaps a brief period of chaos, machines and robots would take the place of humans currently doing these jobs. Such a turn of events would, again, be welcome, as it would not only improve the average levels of employee satisfaction, but would also help the economy evolve in new and exciting directions.


pages: 1,205 words: 308,891

Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World by Deirdre N. McCloskey

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Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, BRICs, British Empire, butterfly effect, Carmen Reinhart, clockwork universe, computer age, Corn Laws, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Donald Trump, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, European colonialism, experimental economics, financial innovation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, George Akerlof, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, greed is good, Howard Zinn, income per capita, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of air conditioning, invention of writing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John Snow's cholera map, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, means of production, Naomi Klein, New Economic Geography, New Urbanism, purchasing power parity, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, Scramble for Africa, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Simon Kuznets, Slavoj Žižek, spinning jenny, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, total factor productivity, transaction costs, tulip mania, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, urban renewal, V2 rocket, very high income, working poor, World Values Survey, Yogi Berra

In this book we specialize in widely believed explanations that don’t work very well. One widely believed explanation is thrift. The word “thrift” in English is still used as late as John Bunyan to mean simply “wealth” or “profit,” deriving from the verb “thrive” as “gift” from “give” and “drift” from “drive” (the derivation was still vibrant in 1785 to a scholarly poet like William Cowper, who laments the working poor in The Task [17 ; Book IV], “With all this thrift they thrive not”). But its sense 3 in the Oxford English Dictionary is our modern one, dating significantly from the sixteenth century: “so I will if none of my sons be thrifty” (1526); “food is never found to be so pleasant . . . as when . . . thrift has pinched afore” (1553). The modern “thrift,” sense 3, can be viewed as a mix of the cardinal virtues of temperance and of prudence in things economic.


pages: 392 words: 122,282

Generation Kill by Evan Wright

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Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Columbine, friendly fire, oil shale / tar sands, working poor

The Hispanics in the platoon refer to the white guys as “cracker-ass fucks,” the whites refer to them as “muds” and to Spanish as “dirty spic talk,” and they are the best of friends. Person, the aspiring rock star who serves as the driver and radio operator for Colbert’s team, is among those whose feelings about the Corps seem almost conflicted. From Nevada, Missouri, a small town where “NASCAR is sort of like a state religion,” he was proudly raised working-poor by his mother. “We lived in a trailer for a few years on my grandpa’s farm, and I’d get one pair of shoes a year from Wal-Mart.” Person was a pudgy kid in high school, didn’t play sports, was on the debate team and played any musical instrument—from guitar to saxophone to piano—he could get his hands on. Becoming a Marine was a 180-degree turn for him. “I’d planned to go to Vanderbilt on a scholarship and study philosophy,” he says.


pages: 692 words: 127,032

Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America by Shawn Lawrence Otto

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affirmative action, Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Berlin Wall, Brownian motion, carbon footprint, Cepheid variable, clean water, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, cosmological constant, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Dean Kamen, desegregation, double helix, energy security, Exxon Valdez, fudge factor, ghettoisation, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, informal economy, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur, mutually assured destruction, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, shareholder value, sharing economy, smart grid, Solar eclipse in 1919, stem cell, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, University of East Anglia, War on Poverty, white flight, Winter of Discontent, working poor

Perhaps its so-called objectivity was really a smoke screen to hide its attempt to exploit and hang on to power. This view was enthusiastically embraced by the largely left-leaning academics in the humanities at many universities, who had found themselves being deposed by science in the battle of the two cultures. They found common cause with political activists representing feminism, environmentalism, African Americans, Native Americans, the working poor, humanism, the peace movement, gay rights, animal rights, antinuclear activists, and other disempowered groups. Science came to be seen as the province of a hawkish, probusiness political-right power structure—polluting, uncaring, greedy, mechanistic, sexist, racist, imperialistic, oppressive, and not to be trusted. KUHNIANISM In 1962, this broad ambivalence toward science crystallized with the publication of American philosopher Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.


pages: 540 words: 168,921

The Relentless Revolution: A History of Capitalism by Joyce Appleby

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1919 Motor Transport Corps convoy, agricultural Revolution, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, Bartolomé de las Casas, Bernie Madoff, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, call centre, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Columbian Exchange, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, Doha Development Round, double entry bookkeeping, epigenetics, equal pay for equal work, European colonialism, facts on the ground, failed state, Firefox, Ford paid five dollars a day, Francisco Pizarro, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, Gordon Gekko, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, Hernando de Soto, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, informal economy, interchangeable parts, interest rate swap, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, land reform, Livingstone, I presume, Long Term Capital Management, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Wolf, moral hazard, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, profit motive, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, refrigerator car, Ronald Reagan, Scramble for Africa, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, special economic zone, spice trade, spinning jenny, strikebreaker, the built environment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thorstein Veblen, total factor productivity, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, union organizing, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, urban renewal, War on Poverty, working poor, Works Progress Administration, Yogi Berra, Yom Kippur War

Thomas Robert Malthus’s popular theory about population growth taught that poverty was the inescapable lot of the mass of men and women. Breaking through this penumbra of resignation has not proved easy. Almost two centuries ago the English radical William Cobbett denounced the cruelty of jobs that kept sober and industrious workers fully employed but did not pay them enough to feed their families. Cobbett’s working poor have now attracted the attention of today’s activists who have succeeded in getting more than a hundred cities in the United States to pass living wage ordinances for their employees and those working for firms with municipal contracts. Amartya Sen, like Yunus, was born in what has become Bangladesh, but he emigrated to India after the partition of 1947. Sen has spent his adult life teaching at Cambridge, Oxford, and now Harvard.


pages: 879 words: 233,093

The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis by Jeremy Rifkin

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agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, back-to-the-land, British Empire, carbon footprint, collaborative economy, death of newspapers, delayed gratification, distributed generation, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, feminist movement, global village, hydrogen economy, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, interchangeable parts, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, labour mobility, Mahatma Gandhi, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, out of africa, Peace of Westphalia, peak oil, planetary scale, Simon Kuznets, Skype, smart grid, smart meter, supply-chain management, surplus humans, the medium is the message, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, transaction costs, upwardly mobile, uranium enrichment, working poor, World Values Survey

While the increase in foreign trade helped expand the home market for manufactured goods, the restrictions that governments like Britain eventually placed on the volume of domestic production that could be produced in order to keep export prices artificially high worked to the disadvantage of the manufacturers.69 The young capitalist class preferred open markets and free trade, believing that it was the best way to increase output, optimize their margins, and improve their profits. The peasantry, the urban working poor, and the rising middle class all felt the sting of higher prices on domestic products. They also suffered under the burden of increased taxes to finance government spending on armies, weaponry, and wars. By the late eighteenth century, the breach between the emerging capitalist class and the monarchies was irreversible. On June 17, 1789, deputies of the third estate defied King Louis XVI by establishing their own National Assembly and demanding a French constitution.


pages: 686 words: 201,972

Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol by Iain Gately

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barriers to entry, British Empire, California gold rush, delayed gratification, Deng Xiaoping, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Fellow of the Royal Society, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Haight Ashbury, Hernando de Soto, imperial preference, invisible hand, joint-stock company, Louis Pasteur, megacity, music of the spheres, Peace of Westphalia, refrigerator car, Ronald Reagan, South Sea Bubble, spice trade, strikebreaker, the scientific method, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, traveling salesman, Upton Sinclair, V2 rocket, working poor

While the French aristocracy were taking the art of dining to new heights in their palaces, the traiteurs, or cook shops, of the city sold plain fare, and the wine served in its traditional cabarets and taverns was “very thin.” Cheap weak wine was likewise the standard fare at a new class of watering holes—guinguettes—that had been established on the outskirts of the town to avoid the heavy Parisian sales taxes. These were large utilitarian places, which offered dancing as well as drinking, and which were patronized by the working poor. Perhaps the only places in Paris where a stranger might get a decent glass of wine were its cafés, whose numbers had multiplied considerably since the now-venerable Procope had introduced coffee to the French capital. These had since assumed a role akin to the coffee shops in London, and served as forums where intellectuals gathered to discuss the news and matters that the royal censors prevented from appearing in print.

Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, Ella Morton

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anti-communist, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, centre right, colonial rule, Colonization of Mars, cosmic microwave background, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, double helix, East Village, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Frank Gehry, germ theory of disease, Golden Gate Park, Google Earth, Haight Ashbury, horn antenna, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, index card, Jacques de Vaucanson, Kowloon Walled City, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, mutually assured destruction, phenotype, Pluto: dwarf planet, Ronald Reagan, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, Tunguska event, urban sprawl, Vesna Vulović, wikimedia commons, working poor

(Just to make sure this point is crystal clear, the small section that his dad worked on is painted with the words “Jim started the castle, not his father, Willard.”) Bishop sees his castle as a symbol of American freedom. Signs surrounding the building tell of the local government’s unsuccessful attempts to regulate his work. “They tried but failed to oppress and control my God-given talent to hand-build this great monument to hard-working poor people,” one reads (in part—it’s a long sign). Bishop plans to keep building until he is no longer physically able. When visiting, you may see him carrying stones or making an impromptu speech from one of the towers—he is known to unleash his political views on visitors at high volume. 1529 Claremont Avenue, Pueblo. Admission to the castle is free—funding for ongoing construction comes from gift shop sales and donations.


pages: 777 words: 186,993

Imagining India by Nandan Nilekani

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affirmative action, BRICs, British Empire, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, clean water, colonial rule, corporate governance, cuban missile crisis, deindustrialization, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, distributed generation, farmers can use mobile phones to check market prices, full employment, ghettoisation, glass ceiling, global supply chain, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, informal economy, joint-stock company, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, land reform, LNG terminal, load shedding, Mahatma Gandhi, market fragmentation, Mikhail Gorbachev, Network effects, new economy, New Urbanism, open economy, pension reform, Potemkin village, price mechanism, race to the bottom, rent control, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, Silicon Valley, smart grid, special economic zone, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, unemployed young men, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population

One of the biggest challenges he says that we face in Indian education is that everyone but the poorest and most illiterate parents have abandoned our government schools. “The parents that still place children in such schools,” he says, “don’t really know what a good education is.” Unfortunately, institutional reform in a country is usually the outcome of pressure from the middle and educated classes. The opinions of the working poor get underrepresented in public debates due to their illiteracy, and their lack of access to information also limits them when it comes to comparing good and bad systems and demanding reform. The middle class often has both numbers and public voice in their favor, and their participation in India’s state education systems was critical in maintaining education and teaching standards. But the language policy introduced in India’s government schools had middle-class and educated parents fleeing the premises.


pages: 782 words: 245,875

The Power Makers by Maury Klein

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Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Augustin-Louis Cauchy, British Empire, business climate, invention of radio, invention of the telegraph, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Louis Pasteur, luminiferous ether, margin call, Menlo Park, price stability, railway mania, the scientific method, trade route, transcontinental railway, working poor

Convinced of the need to design a foolproof lamp, he tried to create an impenetrable one. “The mechanism was locked together like a Chinese puzzle,” he recalled, “and difficult to get apart. It was entirely devoid of screws.” Still the determined customer could get at it. One man complained that a lamp was defective. “Why I’ve had that lamp all to pieces four times,” he protested, “and still it won’t work.” Poor installation by men inadequately trained for the job led to short circuits, grounds, and other accidents. On one occasion Brush journeyed fifteen hundred miles to solve a problem by removing a simple staple tack from the bottom of a dynamo, where it short-circuited a magnet.52 During the early years of his company, Brush operated as what he called a “ ‘one-man’ laboratory.” He had no assistant and no equipment beyond a Wheatstone bridge and galvanometer.

Debtor Nation: The History of America in Red Ink (Politics and Society in Modern America) by Louis Hyman

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asset-backed security, bank run, barriers to entry, Bretton Woods, card file, central bank independence, computer age, corporate governance, credit crunch, declining real wages, deindustrialization, diversified portfolio, financial independence, financial innovation, Gini coefficient, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, income inequality, invisible hand, late fees, London Interbank Offered Rate, market fundamentalism, means of production, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, p-value, pattern recognition, profit maximization, profit motive, risk/return, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, statistical model, technology bubble, the built environment, transaction costs, union organizing, white flight, women in the workforce, working poor

Personal debt was no longer a private choice, but a structural imperative. For those who control and regulate these structures today, the choices remain as they always have—within limits. The state has the power to make markets and guide the profitable flow of capital, as has been shown throughout this book. When policymakers acknowledged this flow, their policy ambitions have been successful. In the 1920s, small loan reformers helped channel capital to the working poor, to give them cheaper, yet still expensive, access to credit. In the 1930s, federal policymakers channeled this capital to create the suburbs, surpassing even the most grandiose of tax-funded programs. In the 1960s, Great Society reformers created mortgage-backed securities that expanded the lending pool for American home owners. Yet, when policymakers sought to dam the river of capital, to push back against it, to pretend it was something other than the callous miracle it is, they have realized only failure.


pages: 2,020 words: 267,411

Lonely Planet Morocco (Travel Guide) by Lonely Planet, Paul Clammer, Paula Hardy

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air freight, Airbnb, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, illegal immigration, place-making, Skype, spice trade, sustainable-tourism, trade route, urban planning, urban sprawl, women in the workforce, working poor, young professional

Years of Lead Along with the growing gap between the rich and the poor and a mounting tax bill to cover Morocco’s military spending in the Western Sahara, King Hassan II’s suppression of dissent fuelled further resentment among his subjects. By the 1980s, the critics of the king included journalists, trade unionists, women’s-rights activists, Marxists, Islamists, Berbers advocating recognition of their culture and language, and the working poor – in other words, a broad cross-section of Moroccan society. Queen al-Kahina had one distinct advantage over the Umayyads: second sight. The downside? She foretold her own death at the hands of her enemy. The last straw for many came in 1981, when official Moroccan newspapers casually announced that the government had conceded to the International Monetary Fund to hike prices for staple foods.


pages: 926 words: 312,419

Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do by Studs Terkel

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call centre, card file, cuban missile crisis, Ford paid five dollars a day, half of the world's population has never made a phone call, job satisfaction, Ralph Nader, strikebreaker, traveling salesman, urban renewal, War on Poverty, working poor, Yogi Berra, zero day

They acted like they were very much better than we were, just because we worked in a factory. I felt that, without us, they’d be in a heck of a shape. (Laughs.) They wouldn’t have anything without us. How could we employ teachers if it wasn’t for the factory workers to manufacture the books? And briefcases, that’s luggage. (Laughs.) I can understand how the black and the Spanish-speaking people feel. Even as a farmer’s daughter, because we were just hard-working poor farmers, you were looked down upon by many people. Then to go into factory work, it’s the same thing. You’re looked down upon. You can even feel it in a store, if you’re in work clothes. The difference between being in work clothes going into a nice department store and going in your dress clothes. It is two entirely different feelings. People won’t treat you the same at all. I hope I don’t work many more years.


pages: 1,104 words: 302,176

The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War (The Princeton Economic History of the Western World) by Robert J. Gordon

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And they agree with Dranove that despite cost savings and no adverse impact on health, “managed care is not very popular.”123 The long evolution of managed care with all its complexity did not change the basic facts that the U.S. medical care system remained by far the most expensive in the world while providing only partial coverage. On the eve of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, better known as Obamacare, 16 percent of U.S. citizens lacked health coverage, higher than the 12 percent who had lacked insurance in 1987.124 The burden of lack of coverage has mostly, contrary to the popular narrative, fallen not on the unemployed or extremely poor, but instead on the working poor. Thanks to a steady decline in employment-based health insurance, by the early 2000s about 80 percent of the uninsured were working Americans who were neither poor enough to qualify for Medicaid nor in a position to bargain for a job with health benefits.125 Among those were citizens who needed and were willing to pay for insurance to cover a pre-existing condition but who were denied coverage because of that very condition.