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

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, fixed income, framing effect, Georg Cantor, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, haute couture, housing crisis, illegal immigration, income inequality, 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: 181 words: 50,196

The Rich and the Rest of Us by Tavis Smiley

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, back-to-the-land, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Buckminster Fuller, Corrections Corporation of America, Credit Default Swap, death of newspapers, deindustrialization, ending welfare as we know it, F. W. de Klerk, fixed income, full employment, housing crisis, Howard Zinn, income inequality, job automation, liberation theology, Mahatma Gandhi, mass incarceration, mega-rich, Nelson Mandela, new economy, obamacare, Occupy movement, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, traffic fines, trickle-down economics, War on Poverty, We are the 99%, white flight, women in the workforce, working poor

IU’s White Paper, “At Risk: America’s Poor During and After the Great Recession,” underscores how the recession has left behind the largest number of “long-term unemployed” since 1948. It concludes that the “well-being of low-income Americans, particularly the working poor, the near poor, and the new poor, are at substantial risk,” despite politicians’ and Wall Street’s declarations of an economic recovery.37 With the economic reality that real wages for the American working class have not increased for the past four decades, it is past time to challenge the distorted language and accompanying political rhetoric about the poor. We must move past Republican and Democratic versions of trickle-down economics—the belief that helping the rich and middle classes will magically improve the lot of the poor and working poor. Job growth has stalled so badly that several economists predict that, even if the economy rebounds, unemployment levels by the end of 2013 may return only to 2007 levels—around 4.6 percent, or almost 14 million people.

We want to pin the tail on any available donkey that will keep us from having to define poverty as “being unable to make a living because we can’t find a job.” LONG LIVE THE LIE For at least the past four decades, most Americans have been able to ignore the poor and deny the extent of poverty. Middle class people would disparage low-income people, low-income people would dog the working poor, and the working poor would beat down on the homeless poor—because we all want to feel like we have some sort of stature in life. Be it shame and blame or utter disdain, all these attitudes were justified by stereotypes, distortions, and lies about the poor. It took the Great Recession to make poverty a real threat to the American psyche. When folk who didn’t fit the stereotype started losing their businesses, jobs, and homes, and had to rely on government handouts, they took notice.

We are concerned about poverty in America because it has impacted our lives, our outreach, the missions we’ve embraced, and our roles as democratic thinkers. For my dear brother, Tavis, poverty is not an abstraction; it was the story of his childhood. He didn’t grow up associating poverty with Black ghettos, run-down barrios, or slums. Tavis, the oldest of ten kids, grew up in a Bunker Hill, Indiana, trailer park with mostly poor whites. His working-poor, struggling parents, Emory and Joyce Smiley, and his grandmother (Big Mama) ran a strict Pentecostal household in a space that wasn’t built for 13 people. When Tavis’s aunt was murdered, the Smiley home became the safety net for her four children. He still recalls the humiliation of going to school in hand-me-down clothes and shoes with cardboard stuffed in them to cover the holes in the soles.


pages: 299 words: 83,854

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

big-box store, blue-collar work, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, delayed gratification, financial deregulation, fixed income, illegal immigration, labor-force participation, late fees, London Interbank Offered Rate, low skilled workers, microcredit, mortgage debt, negative equity, 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: 406 words: 113,841

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

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Legislative Exchange Council, bank run, basic income, big-box store, collective bargaining, deindustrialization, fixed income, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, ghettoisation, Gini coefficient, housing crisis, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, indoor plumbing, job automation, Kickstarter, 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: 407 words: 136,138

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

always be closing, 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: 261 words: 78,884

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

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, business cycle, 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, mass incarceration, race to the bottom, randomized controlled trial, Ronald Reagan, The Future of Employment, 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: 267 words: 79,905

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

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, longitudinal study, 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, spread of share-ownership, 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: 772 words: 203,182

What Went Wrong: How the 1% Hijacked the American Middle Class . . . And What Other Countries Got Right by George R. Tyler

8-hour work day, active measures, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Black Swan, blood diamonds, blue-collar work, Bolshevik threat, bonus culture, British Empire, business cycle, business process, buy and hold, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, commoditize, corporate governance, corporate personhood, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Brooks, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Diane Coyle, disruptive innovation, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, eurozone crisis, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, George Akerlof, George Gilder, Gini coefficient, Gordon Gekko, hiring and firing, income inequality, invisible hand, job satisfaction, John Markoff, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, laissez-faire capitalism, lake wobegon effect, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, market clearing, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, minimum wage unemployment, mittelstand, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, Naomi Klein, Northern Rock, obamacare, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, pension reform, performance metric, pirate software, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, precariat, price stability, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, rent-seeking, reshoring, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transcontinental railway, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, tulip mania, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, women in the workforce, working poor, zero-sum game

Raising the minimum wage is also preferable to expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), an income-based welfare benefit program targeted at the working poor. Funded from general revenues administered through the federal tax system, the EITC can be carefully targeted, making it a cost-effective favorite among economists. However, unlike the minimum wage, it does not incentivize employers to upskill. In addition, it has limited coverage, because the working poor must file tax returns to obtain benefits. Moreover, it’s bureaucratic and expensive to operate. Its complexity further reduces its effectiveness: there are 50 pages of instructions for single mothers and others to follow when filing for the tax benefit.51 Finally, like food stamps and other support received by the working poor, the EITC is an opaque taxpayer subsidy to low-wage employers whose balance sheets in many instances are far stronger than those of taxpayers.

Has it performed any better in addressing the two other groups historically most disadvantaged by market economies—the working poor and school dropouts? The Working Poor Families unable to escape poverty despite working fulltime blight any economic system. Unlike most other rich democracies, America chooses not to provide those who work with a wage sufficient to avoid impoverishment. Indeed, its wage structure causes taxpayers to subsidize low-wage employers. Even working full-time, the American minimum wage does not lift a single parent and child above even the de minimus Orshansky threshold. In 2010, for example, a minimum wage paycheck for working the US average of 1,800 hours would have earned $2,000 less than the poverty level for a two-person family. How many working poor are there? BLS determined some 10.5 million working Americans lived below the official US poverty line in 2010.10 And, including the near poor, recall that MIT economist Osterman determined in August 2011 that nearly one in five working adults was mired in poverty-level jobs paying the minimum wage or little better.

Yates contractors comprise up to 60 percent of shop-floor employees in some sections of the plant and perform the same work as ordinary Nissan employees.18 The difference besides lower pay and benefits? While performing identical tasks, they’re the ones wearing brown, not Nissan blue or gray. This downward spiral in wages has caused many reliable employees with solid job skills, but without college educations, to fall from the middle class to the ranks of the working poor. As labor economist Harley Shaiken at the University of California, Berkeley noted, family incomes for many now hover around the eligibility level for food stamps.19 Eroding wages has made this cohort of working poor enormous, as described by MIT economist Paul Osterman in August 2011: “Last year, one in five American adults worked in jobs that paid poverty-level wages. Worker displacement contributes to the problem. People who are laid off from previous stable employment, if they are lucky enough to find work, take a median wage hit of over 20 percent.”20 The plight of today’s generation of Americans is defined by such wage compression.


pages: 332 words: 89,668

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

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, basic income, 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, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, mandatory minimum, mass incarceration, minimum wage unemployment, moral hazard, moral panic, 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, Sam Peltzman, 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: 435 words: 120,574

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Bernie Sanders, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, clean water, collective bargaining, Deep Water Horizon, desegregation, Donald Trump, ending welfare as we know it, equal pay for equal work, Exxon Valdez, feminist movement, full employment, greed is good, guest worker program, invisible hand, knowledge economy, McMansion, minimum wage unemployment, new economy, obamacare, oil shock, payday loans, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, Thorstein Veblen, urban sprawl, working poor, Yogi Berra

A primary family consists of the reference person (householder) and all people living in the household who are related to the reference person. Families are classified either as married-couple families or as those maintained by men or women without spouses present. Bureau of Labor Statistics, A Profile of the Working Poor, 2013 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor, 2015), http://www.bls.gov/opub/reports/cps/a-profile-of-the-working-poor-2013.pdf. For the racial composition of working-poor families, see Deborah Povich, Brandon Roberts, and Mark Mather, Low-Income Working Families: The Racial/Ethnic Divide (Working Poor Families Project and Population Reference Bureau, 2015), http://www.workingpoorfamilies.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/WPFP-2015-Report_Racial-Ethnic-Divide.pdf. 256the rest was payment for work According to the Congressional Budget Office, in 2011 (the latest available), households in the lowest quintile of income (adjusted for household size) received an average of $9,100 in government transfers (cash payments and in-kind benefits from social insurance and other government assistance programs from federal, state, and local governments); that amounts to about 37 percent of an average pre-tax income of $24,600.

PunditFact, January 28, 2015, http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2015/jan/28/terry-jeffrey/are-there-more-welfare-recipients-us-full-time-wor (based on Census and Bureau of Labor statistics). 256Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program recipients Ken Jacobs, Ian Perry, and Jenifer MacGillvary, “The High Public Cost of Low Wages,” April 13, 2015, under section entitled, “The High Cost of Low Wages,” http://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/the-high-public-cost-of-low-wages. 256All Earned Income Tax Credit recipients work Jason Furman, Betsey Stevenson, and Jim Stock, “The 2014 Economic Report of the President,” March 10, 2014, https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/03/10/2014-economic-report-president. 256among homecare workers, 48 percent did so Jacobs, Perry, and MacGillvary, “The High Public Cost of Low Wages.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics produces a yearly “profile of the working poor.” In 2013, the BLS found that 5.1 million families in the United States were living below the poverty level, despite having at least one member in the labor force for half the year or more. The “working-poor rate”—the ratio of the working poor to all individuals in the labor force for at least twenty-seven weeks—was 7.7 percent for families (which the BLS defines as a group of two or more people residing together who are related by birth, marriage, or adoption). The count of families used in their report includes only primary families.

Bureau of Labor Statistics. Current Employment Statistics [2014 data]. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor, 2014 (accessed September 2, 2014). http://stats.bls.gov/ces/#data. _______. Mass Layoff Statistics [2012 data]. Washington, D.C.: Department of Labor, 2012 (accessed March 13, 2014). http://www.bls.gov/mls. _______. A Profile of the Working Poor, 2013. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor, 2015. http://www.bls.gov/opub/reports/cps/a-profile-of-the-working-poor-2013.pdf. _______. “Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages [December 2014 estimates]” (accessed June 18, 2015). http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/dsrv?en. “Cancer Facts and Figures 2015.” American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@editorial/documents/document/acspc-044552.pdf. Cash, W.J. The Mind of the South.


pages: 320 words: 90,526

Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America by Alissa Quart

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Automated Insights, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, business intelligence, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, East Village, Elon Musk, full employment, future of work, gig economy, glass ceiling, haute couture, income inequality, Jaron Lanier, job automation, late capitalism, Lyft, minimum wage unemployment, moral panic, new economy, nuclear winter, obamacare, Ponzi scheme, post-work, precariat, price mechanism, rent control, ride hailing / ride sharing, school choice, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, surplus humans, TaskRabbit, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, union organizing, universal basic income, upwardly mobile, wages for housework, women in the workforce, working poor

Would they even be able to get the same fine education she’d gotten as a bright and dedicated young woman, vaulting into the Ivy League after growing up deeply religious and attending an equally devout college? Still a Bernie Sanders supporter a year after the election, Bellamy bristled at the memory of the 2016 primaries. She was now researching her new book project, “Jyeshtha, the Hindu God of Misfortune.” Misfortune was indeed a subject that for her would seem apropos for our times. THERE ARE BOTH SMALL AND LARGE REMEDIES FOR THE PLIGHT OF the hyper-educated working poor—those earning around $36,000 a year, with kids, and just getting by, only a few false moves away from the poverty line. For underpaid and often desperate adjunct instructors, one particular remedy is what I think of as “unusual unions.” The last five years have seen a rise of atypical union members, like adjuncts, despite the downturn in labor membership overall. And unions have started organizing precarious workers, from adjunct math professors to fast-food servers.

Unlike those who must put their children in extreme day care and the day-care workers who overwork to serve them, Blanca was both the most squeezed of parents and day-care providers—so pressed that she had to leave her son for a decade back home, where he grew up without her. Now Blanca had to make another hard choice: whether to pay the price of getting her son back by replacing his middle-class life in Paraguay with becoming part of the working poor in America. This hasn’t always been the only choice: as the Columbia University historian Alice Kessler-Harris, author of Women Have Always Worked, tells it, at the turn of the last century and at different points in the twentieth century, America was indeed a land of opportunity. Immigration was always difficult, but it could be a pathway to success. Now, says Kessler-Harris, there is less social mobility in the United States than in most industrialized countries.

Yet for all his efforts, his grades were mediocre, topping out at low Bs, and he had just received a 54 on a science test. Guido’s life itself resembled a linear equation, with determinate factors and indeterminate ones, Y and X variables, like in math class. The good determinate factors were his inherent physical grace and the love of his mother and grandmother. The bad determinate factors were the language barrier and living in near poverty in a fractured family. And the indeterminate factor was luck. When working-poor New Yorkers like Blanca and Guido seek spots at the city’s more desirable schools, they often must compete with middle-class New Yorkers. The competition isn’t set up to be even. So many challenges face those who are knocking on the door. There is a persistent failure in urban schools to find bilingual communicators, even in the most diverse cities. One definition of being middle-class is not only being adequately literate in English but knowing how to locate and access services in the language.


pages: 241 words: 75,417

The Last President of Europe: Emmanuel Macron's Race to Revive France and Save the World by William Drozdiak

Berlin Wall, bilateral investment treaty, Boeing 737 MAX, Boris Johnson, centre right, cloud computing, Donald Trump, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, reserve currency, Silicon Valley, Socratic dialogue, South China Sea, UNCLOS, working poor

France is one of the most highly taxed states in Europe because of hefty payroll levies that pay for the country’s generous health-care, education, and pension programs. But for those earning an average income of 1,700 euros (about $2,000) per month, it has become harder to make ends meet with the rising cost of basic necessities like food, shelter, and transport. Over the past fifteen years, the tax burden on French citizens has grown by 25 billion euros ($28 billion) a year, with a disproportionate share borne by the working poor. By the time of the Yellow Vest movement, the steady erosion of purchasing power for lower-middle-class families over the past decade had evolved, almost unnoticed by the government, into a genuine social emergency. Although many protesters said that they approved of the government’s ambition to do something about climate change, they objected to carrying so much of the fiscal burden, particularly when cosmopolitan elites were spared onerous taxes for traveling in planes, which pollute more than cars do.

During an eight-day tour of World War I battlefields ahead of the centennial anniversary marking the armistice that ended one of history’s most hideous wars, Macron confronted many resentful citizens across France, who complained that he was too remote from their everyday lives and did not seem to care or understand the true nature of their hardships. They, like him, were frustrated that the fruits of his reform efforts were so slow in coming. Even Macron’s wealthiest supporters accused him of being tone-deaf to the problems of the working poor. François Pinault, whose business empire includes the Gucci fashion house, told the newspaper Le Monde that “Macron doesn’t understand the little people. I’m afraid he’s leading France toward a system that leaves the least favored behind.”9 Matthieu Pigasse, a prominent financier who heads the Lazard investment bank in France, told the business newspaper Les Echos that Macron needed to show more empathy for the lower classes.

The anger and frustration showed the depth of resentment in the rural areas that had not thrived in recent years. The growing divide between rich and poor—the richest 20 percent of French people, according to the World Bank, now earn nearly five times as much as the bottom 20 percent—makes a mockery of French pretensions of “liberty, equality and fraternity.” That yawning divide, in turn, heightens the working poor’s disillusionment with Macron, who took office on a cloud of euphoria amid hopes for a resurgence in economic growth that would lift up the entire nation. “The system is in crisis,” said French political scientist Dominique Reynié. “It’s the provinces against Paris, the proud and contemptuous capital. Paris has never been so dissimilar from the rest of France. The fracture is very, very sharp.”18 A major study of the Yellow Vest movement published in March 2019 by the Institut Montaigne found that an overwhelming number of its ten thousand respondents cited economic vulnerability because of declining purchasing power as their main motivation for joining the protests.


pages: 236 words: 67,953

Brave New World of Work by Ulrich Beck

affirmative action, anti-globalists, Asian financial crisis, basic income, Berlin Wall, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, full employment, future of work, Gunnar Myrdal, 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, post-work, postnationalism / post nation state, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, rising living standards, Silicon Valley, working poor, working-age population, zero-sum game

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

affirmative action, business cycle, citizen journalism, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, declining real wages, deindustrialization, deliberate practice, desegregation, Donald Trump, edge city, ending welfare as we know it, fixed income, full employment, George Gilder, ghettoisation, glass ceiling, Gunnar Myrdal, income inequality, informal economy, jobless men, labor-force participation, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, manufacturing employment, mass immigration, 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.


The New Class War: Saving Democracy From the Metropolitan Elite by Michael Lind

affirmative action, anti-communist, basic income, Bernie Sanders, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, business cycle, capital controls, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, centre right, collective bargaining, commoditize, corporate governance, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, future of work, global supply chain, guest worker program, Haight Ashbury, illegal immigration, immigration reform, invisible hand, knowledge economy, liberal world order, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, means of production, moral panic, Nate Silver, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open borders, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, purchasing power parity, Ralph Nader, regulatory arbitrage, rent-seeking, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, trade liberalization, union organizing, universal basic income, upwardly mobile, WikiLeaks, Wolfgang Streeck, working poor

The gap between richest and poorest in New York City is comparable to that of Swaziland; Los Angeles and Chicago are slightly more egalitarian, comparable to the Dominican Republic and El Salvador.4 Meanwhile, in the vast areas of low-density, low-rise residential and commercial zones around and among the hierarchical hubs, a radically different society has evolved. In the national heartlands, apart from expensive rural resort areas, there are fewer rich households and therefore fewer working poor employed by the rich as servants and luxury service providers. In the US and Europe, the population of the heartlands is much more likely to be native-born and white. But the heartlands are becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, making the familiar equation of “urban” and “nonwhite” anachronistic. For example, most African Americans and Latinos in the US are neither poor nor urban but belong along with most white Americans to the suburban and exurban working class.5 Over time, the share of the heartland population that is nonwhite or mixed race is growing, as both nonwhite immigrants and native minority-group members are driven by rising real estate costs out of hub cities that have grown whiter and richer thanks to gentrification.

Overclass elites in urban hubs therefore can favor stringent environmental regulations at little cost to themselves. Heartland communities are more likely to be sensitive to the costs of environmental policies than hub city managers and professionals. What is more, the property-owning, working-class majorities of the heartlands are also likely to be more sensitive to environmental restrictions on what property owners can do with their property than the denizens of the hubs, where not only the working poor and the working class but also many professionals must rent because they cannot afford to own homes. And most working-class individuals in low-density regions rely on their personal cars or trucks for commuting, shopping, and recreation. The French yellow vest riots of the winter of 2018–19 illustrated the intersecting fault lines of class and place in environmental policy. Although France is responsible for only a negligible amount of global greenhouse gas emissions, in order to advertise France’s moral leadership in combating global warming, President Macron’s government raised taxes on diesel-fueled cars and trucks.

As split labor market theory would predict, the native working-class backlash has been greatest against particular groups of immigrants, nonwhite or white, who are viewed as competitors for jobs or welfare and public services. * * * — THE GEOGRAPHIC POLARIZATION that is evident in Western democracies, then, reflects the social divide among classes who live in different areas—college-educated overclasses and the disproportionately immigrant working poor in the high-density hubs and the mostly native, mostly white working classes in the low-density heartlands. Their differences over environmental policy, trade, immigration, and other issues reflect conflicting interests, values, lifestyles, and aspirations. Can today’s new class war, fought on all of these different fronts at once, give way to a new class peace? The history of the last century in the West provides some hope.


pages: 242 words: 73,728

Give People Money by Annie Lowrey

"Robert Solow", affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, airport security, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, deindustrialization, desegregation, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, ending welfare as we know it, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, full employment, gender pay gap, gig economy, Google Earth, Home mortgage interest deduction, income inequality, indoor plumbing, information asymmetry, Jaron Lanier, jitney, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, labor-force participation, late capitalism, Lyft, M-Pesa, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, mass incarceration, McMansion, Menlo Park, mobile money, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, obamacare, Peter Thiel, post scarcity, post-work, Potemkin village, precariat, randomized controlled trial, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan, Sam Altman, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, The Future of Employment, theory of mind, total factor productivity, Turing test, two tier labour market, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, universal basic income, uranium enrichment, War on Poverty, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, women in the workforce, working poor, World Values Survey, Y Combinator

Allegretto, Marc Doussard, Dave Graham-Squire, Ken Jacobs, Dan Thompson, and Jeremy Thompson, “Fast Food, Poverty Wages: The Public Cost of Low-Wage Jobs in the Fast-Food Industry” (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the UC Berkeley Labor Center, Oct. 15, 2013). 9.5 million people…remained below the poverty line: Center for Poverty Research, “Who Are the Working Poor in America?,” https://poverty.ucdavis.edu/​faq/​who-are-working-poor-america. the bottom half of earners: Thomas Piketty, Gabriel Zucman, and Emmanuel Saez, “Share of Income for the Top 1 and Bottom 50 percent of the Income Distribution,” raw data, World Wealth & Income Database, wid.world. The middle class is shrinking: Pew Research Center, “The American Middle Class Is Losing Ground: No Longer the Majority and Falling Behind Financially” (Washington, DC, Dec. 9, 2015).

The attending problems are financial, physical, and emotional. Luis and Josefa talked about the pressure and the stress of their uncertain schedules, and the strain of knowing their children were growing up deprived. At the end of her shift at Raising Cane’s, climbing into Luis’s car, one of the Ortiz daughters told me that she often did not eat dinner. “The smell of the chicken fills me up,” she said. The working poor, the precariat, the left behind: this is modern-day America. We no longer have a jobs crisis, with the economy recovering to something like full employment a decade after the start of the Great Recession. But we do have a good-jobs crisis, a more permanent, festering problem that started more than a generation ago. Work simply is not paying like it used to, leaving more and more families struggling to get by, relying on the government to lift them out of and away from poverty, feeling like the American Dream is unachievable—even before the robots come for all of our jobs.

“When I didn’t have a basic income, I’d accept a writing assignment for $50 even if it took me an entire week to research and write, because $50 is better than $0,” he argues. “Now that I have a basic income, I know my work has value. I know my time has value. I know I have value.” In Santens’s mind, a UBI is not a salve for a world of technological unemployment, or a powerful antipoverty measure, or a form of social dividend, or a way to boost the earnings of the working poor. Rather, it is all those things and more: a paradigmatic shift that would free people from having to do work that they did not want to do at all. A UBI would, in essence, lop off the bottom of the psychologist Abraham Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs,” where air, food, water, and shelter reside, with self-transcendence up at the other end. A UBI would give people the economic bandwidth to do what they wanted with their lives, he says.


pages: 221 words: 68,880

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

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, Boris Johnson, business cycle, car-free, hydraulic fracturing, if you build it, they will come, Induced demand, 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.


Work in the Future The Automation Revolution-Palgrave MacMillan (2019) by Robert Skidelsky Nan Craig

3D printing, Airbnb, algorithmic trading, Amazon Web Services, anti-work, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, basic income, business cycle, cloud computing, collective bargaining, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, data is the new oil, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, deskilling, disintermediation, Donald Trump, Erik Brynjolfsson, feminist movement, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, gig economy, global supply chain, income inequality, informal economy, Internet of things, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, Loebner Prize, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, moral panic, Network effects, new economy, off grid, pattern recognition, post-work, Ronald Coase, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Steve Jobs, strong AI, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, the market place, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Uber for X, uber lyft, universal basic income, wealth creators, working poor

Moreover, the average age at which French workers leave the labour market and retire remains among the lowest in the OECD zone (OECD 2017). Are the French citizens, and French dissatisfied people, spoilt citizens that fear the end of welfare improvement, or is dissatisfaction mainly an issue of composition effects (Murphy and Topel 2016; INSEE 2017)? We should go further in the investigation of the paradox. The second point is dissatisfaction with pay and low confidence in the future. France’s choice has been to reject the ‘working poor’ model. The minimum wage is among the highest of OECD countries. Over the last 55 years, it has increased faster than the inflation rate and faster than the average wage over the last 20 years. France has indeed a fairly redistributive policy that lowers income inequality and manages to have a rather low share of people below the poverty line. This leads to a wage compression that results from two distinct mechanisms.

For the upper part of the distribution, there is a decrease in the skill premium (Verdugo 2014). Yet, this generates dissatisfaction with pay, especially among those who invest in higher education and expect a good return from it (Artus 2017). The so-called talent drain in France builds on this unbalanced return on education and advancement. There is now also a growing concern about the momentum that the working poor model gains in France and about the costs of the fairly tight safety net used to buffer it. In fact, the polarisation of the labour market paves the way for a growing structural inequality. Jobs are concentrating at the two extremities: skilled and well-paid jobs in sophisticated sectors, and unskilled and/or deskilled low paid jobs in unsophisticated services. Yet, because low skill, low wage jobs must be created to increase the employment rate, this increase inevitably leads to an increase in income inequality (Artus 2017). 68 P.

The high level of employment protection should dampen anxieties, but it is quite the contrary. When asked about how confident they are in their ability to keep their job over the coming months, the French are amongst the most likely to say they are not very confident. For sure, unemployment in France is high and has remained so for more than three decades, yet it mainly hits the low skilled to a greater extent than in the US or the UK, due to the rejection of the working poor model. At the same time, unemployment benefits and unemployment compensation duration in France are among the highest in Europe. The combination of strict employment protection laws and generous unemployment insurance has backed a strong insider/ outsider duality in the labour market, with strong discrepancies between permanent jobs and temporary fixed term contract jobs (OECD 2017). One striking feature of that dualistic structure is the French model of ‘flexicurity’.


Off the Books by Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh

business climate, glass ceiling, hiring and firing, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, labor-force participation, low-wage service sector, new economy, refrigerator car, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, urban renewal, working poor, Y2K

Off the Books Off the Books The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS Cambridge, Massachusetts London, England 2006 To the barmen at Jimmy's Woodlawn Tap, for an ear and a pint, no questions asked Prologue In the early nineties, when I was a graduate student at the University of Chicago, I spent much of my time with families in the Robert Taylor Homes, a poor public housing development on the city's Southside, gathering research material for my dissertation. That research culminated in a book, American Project: The Rise and Fall of a Modern American Ghetto, that documented everyday living conditions in these high-rises, which are now being demolished in the effort to deconcentrate poverty and revitalize inner cities. Along the way, I was hanging out in the working-poor communities surrounding the housing development. These streets were the epitome of the ghetto—-that fabled place in American culture that countless journalists have lamented, almost as many academics have analyzed, and more than a few politicians have promised to fix. These neighborhoods conformed to, but also showed the gross oversimplification of, our stereotypes about the ghetto. They were predominantly African American, but they had a heady mix of homeowners, working- and middle-class residents, the down-and-out, and a few gentrifiers looking for a cheap brownstone to rehab.

Commercial corridors filled with low-income retail outlets—currency exchanges, liquor and "dollar" stores, fast-food chains—were slowly attracting the attention of real estate speculators who envisioned large shopping malls and who were resting their bets on rising incomes (or an influx of wealthier families). But in the early and mid nineties, much of Chicago's Southside was still primarily a working-poor black community. Families had been there for generations, living modestly and in a near-continuous state of economic vulnerability. I was drawn to a community of roughly ten square blocks in Chicago's Southside that I will call "Maquis Park" (most of the names for places and people in this book are pseudonyms). I was particularly interested in Chicago's rich African American history, and Maquis Park was a place where blacks developed much of their social and cultural traditions.

However, as we have seen, the underground economy manages to touch all households, whether as a direct source of income, as a place to acquire cheap goods and services, or as a part of the public theater. Thus, it is not so easy to separate the innocent from the perpetrator. The same person who despises the gang's drug trading may depend on a member of the household to bring money into the home by fixing cars off the books. Fixing cars is not equivalent to dealing drugs, but as Chicago's working poor entered the year 2000, the gang's advances were making very blurry the lines that divided shady traders from one another. When good and bad have become very relative terms, how do you solve your problems? Since the early twentieth century, kids growing up in cities have been tempted to join their local street gang. Until relatively recently, whether in white, black, Latino, or Asian neighborhoods, most gang members were adolescents and teens.


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

Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Gary Taubes, haute cuisine, income inequality, longitudinal study, meta analysis, meta-analysis, New Urbanism, placebo effect, profit motive, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Saturday Night Live, stem cell, twin studies, 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.


pages: 468 words: 123,823

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

"Robert Solow", 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, hedonic treadmill, hiring and firing, Howard Zinn, illegal immigration, impulse control, income inequality, index card, Jane Jacobs, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, mass incarceration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral panic, 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: 187 words: 55,801

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

Atul Gawande, business cycle, call centre, computer age, Computer Numeric Control, correlation does not imply causation, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deskilling, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Gunnar Myrdal, hypertext link, index card, information asymmetry, 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.


Global Financial Crisis by Noah Berlatsky

accounting loophole / creative accounting, asset-backed security, banking crisis, Bretton Woods, capital controls, Celtic Tiger, centre right, circulation of elites, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate raider, 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, God and Mammon, Gordon Gekko, housing crisis, illegal immigration, income inequality, market bubble, market fundamentalism, mass immigration, 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: 304 words: 88,773

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

call centre, clean water, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, Dean Kamen, digital map, double helix, edge city, germ theory of disease, global pandemic, Google Earth, Jane Jacobs, John Nash: game theory, John Snow's cholera map, lone genius, Louis Pasteur, mass immigration, 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

3D printing, additive manufacturing, air freight, algorithmic trading, anti-work, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, basic income, battle of ideas, blockchain, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, business cycle, 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, Kickstarter, late capitalism, liberation theology, Live Aid, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, market design, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, mass incarceration, 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, Paul Samuelson, Philip Mirowski, post scarcity, post-work, 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, The Future of Employment, 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: 269 words: 104,430

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

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: 307 words: 96,543

Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope by Nicholas D. Kristof, Sheryl Wudunn

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, basic income, Bernie Sanders, carried interest, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, David Brooks, Donald Trump, dumpster diving, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, epigenetics, full employment, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, impulse control, income inequality, Jeff Bezos, job automation, jobless men, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, low skilled workers, mandatory minimum, Martin Wolf, mass incarceration, Mikhail Gorbachev, offshore financial centre, randomized controlled trial, rent control, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Shai Danziger, single-payer health, Steven Pinker, The Spirit Level, universal basic income, upwardly mobile, Vanguard fund, War on Poverty, working poor

It’s all quite legal, because lobbyists won loopholes for real estate tycoons. The custodians in the buildings don’t have artful options like these to avoid paying taxes. Similarly, Amazon paid zero federal income tax in 2018 despite profits of $11.2 billion; indeed, it managed to get a $129 million “rebate” from taxes it didn’t pay. That’s an effective tax rate of negative 1 percent. Something is wrong with America’s tax structure when the working poor pay taxes so the federal government can make a payment to an e-commerce giant owned by the world’s richest man. Then there are the incentives for economic development awarded by states and local areas, often never made public. Oregon awarded Nike $2 billion for five hundred jobs, or $4 million per job. Meanwhile, Louisiana paid $15 million for each of fifteen jobs with Valero Energy.

“The United States invented antitrust and for decades has been the pioneer in its enforcement,” Luigi Zingales, a finance professor at the University of Chicago, noted. “Not anymore.” The wealthy have also fought to underfund and defang the Internal Revenue Service, so it doesn’t have the resources to audit or fight dubious deductions. Only about 6 percent of tax returns of those with income of more than $1 million are audited, along with 0.7 percent of business tax returns. Meanwhile, there is one group that the IRS scrutinizes rigorously: the working poor with incomes below $20,000 a year who receive the Earned Income Tax Credit. More than one-third of all tax audits are focused on that group struggling to make ends meet, even as the agency cuts back on audits of the wealthy—while the top 5 percent of taxpayers account for more than half of all underreported income. Overall, criminal prosecutions of tax cheats are now exceedingly rare, just one for every 385,000 households.

One of the strongest predictors of support for Trump in any county was the share of whites with just a high-school diploma or less. Friends in Yamhill often saw Trump as the outsider who would drain the swamp, bring back jobs in manufacturing and primary industries and restore a period when working-class lives were steadily getting better. Working-class voters are not uniformly conservative in their views. Polls show that they favor higher taxes on the rich, paid family leave and a higher minimum wage. But the working poor are disdainful of government benefits, even though they sometimes rely on them, partly because they often see firsthand how neighbors abuse those benefits; there’s far more anger at perceived welfare abuses than at larger subsidies for private jets. The resentment is more visceral when it is people around them who are bending rules and benefiting unfairly. Rev. Rhonda Kroeker in Yamhill shares some of that concern, and she, too, is sympathetic to Trump.


Magical Urbanism: Latinos Reinvent the US City by Mike Davis

affirmative action, Berlin Wall, business cycle, clean water, collective bargaining, deindustrialization, desegregation, edge city, illegal immigration, immigration reform, Internet Archive, invisible hand, job automation, longitudinal study, manufacturing employment, market bubble, mass immigration, new economy, occupational segregation, postnationalism / post nation state, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, strikebreaker, union organizing, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, War on Poverty, white flight, white picket fence, women in the workforce, working poor

The Latino educational crisis is rooted in a vicious family poverty and declining national school systems. leaving, based A commitment circle of to big city major study of the causes of Latino school- on interviews with 700 dropouts in San Antonio, EDUCATION GROUND ZERO 113 pointed to the "lack of bilingual and English as a Second Lan- guage programs, the concentration of Hispanics schools, lack of teacher preparation and panic students whole. can "^^^ testify, among in high-poverty low expectations teachers, administrators for His- and society as a In addition, as every inner-city high school counselor there are intense pressures on immigrants' teenage children (often the only citizens in the household) to supplement family incomes as soon as possible. Similarly, working poor pursue the child's classic many families of the strategy of subsidizing one education by sacrificing the schooling of others. Table 10 College Enrollment of 18- to 24- Year-Olds (Percent) Whites 1980 1990 20.8 35.9 Blacks 15.6 27.1 Asians 30.3 55.1 Latinos 14.2 22.9 Source: Marcelo Siles, Income Differentials in the Socio-Economic Development, JSRI US: Impact on Latino Working Paper No.

As Latinos begin to acquire majority power in the early 2000s (the retiring of the California Assembly Antonio Villaraigosa, Speaker already a de- is clared candidate for mayor), the scope for ameliorative politics will be largely defined by social investment decisions the 1980s and 1990s. Apart from jobs (and the force is made during service work- civil essentially frozen in place), the vital public resources for the working poor are education, healthcare and transit. In each instance, the future has been looted in advance. "Red Line" subway - one of the great public-works history - has devoured a generation's worth of Los Angeles's disasters in transit US investment while failing to build an extension to the Eastside and beggaring the bus system upon which most people of color depend. Like- wise the school board, faced with the nation's worst crisis of classroom space, has managed to build the most expensive high school in American history over a potentially explosive natural gas deposit that may preclude its dinary vote of no-confidence in trict new elected to bring in the construction. )^'^^ And, ever being used.

is Mayor Roosevelt Dorn effort to bring making every everyone into the program. Inglewood will not follow Compton. Latinos out of told Fears, "We're "^^^ One can only hope power has become Dorn a suicidal is sincere. Locking course for African- Americans. By the same token, Latino retaliation - dispossessing Blacks of their political capital - simply works to the advantage of Giuliani and other enemies of the unity, working poor. Black and Latino however imperiled, remains the fulcrum of all progressive political change. Building Black-Latino unity is also the main challenge con- fronting Antonio Villaraigosa, the retiring left-Democrat Speaker of the California Assembly, as he prepares to run for mayor of Los Angeles in 2001. His ability to revitalize rainbow politics, in a contest that will be the "main event" for Latinos everywhere, de- pends crucially on Los Angeles's dynamic union movement.


pages: 178 words: 47,457

A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby K. Payne

conceptual framework, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, impulse control, Isaac Newton, post scarcity, War on Poverty, working poor

"The Navajos on their reservation in Arizona are a good example of poverty surrounded by opulence, and of the `invisible poor.' Their circumstances demonstrate how the definition of poverty is relative to the situation." "The rise of the single-parent family has led to increased poverty among both adults and children." "Perhaps the most important factor in the increase of poverty during the 198os has been the steady decline in wage levels, so that we now have in America a group we call the working poor-people who do have jobs, who work hard, who try desperately to stay afloat as providers [for) families (sometimes men, sometimes women) but who earn such wretchedly low wages that they sink below the poverty line." Ibid. Seligman, Ben B. The Numbers of Poor. Penchef, Esther, Editor. Four Horsemen: Pollution, Poverty, Famine, Violence. San Francisco, CA: Canfield Press, 1971. P. 93. Dicks, Lee E.

This inaccurate mental model is fed by media reports that favor soap operas to conceptual stories and individual stories to trends and the broader influences. The public hears about a fictitious "welfare queen" but not comprehensive studies. What is needed is a thorough understanding of the research on poverty. STUDYING POVERTY RESEARCH TO FURTHER INFORM THE WORK OF AHA! PROCESS David Shipler, author of The Working Poor, says that in the United States we are confused about the causes of poverty and, as a result, are confused about what to do about poverty (Shipler, 2004). In the interest of a quick analysis of the research on poverty, we have organized the studies into the following four clusters: ? Behaviors of the individual z Human and social capital in the community A Exploitation r Political/economic structures For the last four decades discourse on poverty has been dominated by proponents of two areas of research: those who hold that the true cause of poverty is the behaviors of individuals and those who hold that the true cause of poverty is political/economic structures.

North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, a subsidiary of Learning Points Associates. http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/cityschl/ cityi_1a.htm Senge, Peter M. (1994). The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization. New York, NY: Currency Doubleday. Sharron, Howard, & Coulter, Martha. (1996). Changing Children's Minds: Feuerstein's Revolution in the Teaching of Intelligence. Birmingham, England: Imaginative Minds. Shipler, David K. (2004). The Working Poor: Invisible in America. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf. Sowell, Thomas. (1998). Race, Culture and Equality. Forbes. October 5. Sowell, Thomas. (1997). Migrations and Cultures: A World View. New York, NY: HarperCollins. Taylor-Ide, Daniel, & Taylor, Carl, E. (2002). Just and Lasting Change: When Communities Own Their Futures. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. Washburne, Chandler. (1958).


pages: 283 words: 73,093

Social Democratic America by Lane Kenworthy

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, barriers to entry, basic income, business cycle, Celtic Tiger, centre right, clean water, collective bargaining, corporate governance, David Brooks, desegregation, Edward Glaeser, endogenous growth, full employment, Gini coefficient, hiring and firing, Home mortgage interest deduction, illegal immigration, income inequality, invisible hand, Kenneth Arrow, 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.


Liberty's Dawn: A People's History of the Industrial Revolution by Emma Griffin

agricultural Revolution, Corn Laws, deskilling, equal pay for equal work, full employment, informal economy, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, labour mobility, spinning jenny, Thomas Malthus, trickle-down economics, University of East Anglia, urban sprawl, women in the workforce, working poor

Here is a collection of personal stories freely narrated by the ordinary men and women we wish to understand and it is worth emphasising the rarity of historical testimony of this kind. For all their shortcomings, the autobiographies offer the best way – indeed the only way – to examine the lives of working people during a critical epoch in world history. In looking at the encounter between industrialisation and the working poor, this book takes up a theme – that the industrial revolution degraded and exploited workers – that has exercised writers and thinkers since the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Not that there was anything new about poverty and exploitation. Toiling away for scant reward had been the lot of mankind since the dawn of time. Yet thinkers and intellectuals were, by and large, content to file away destitution as an ordinance from God, a fact so universal that it hardly called for serious investigation.

And here there is little to add beyond what has already been said. Until at least 1850, 4017.indd 54 25/01/13 8:21 PM m e n at w o r k 55 many of those who stayed faced an ongoing struggle to make ends meet: low wages, insufficient work, and positions or masters that they disliked yet could not leave. It is time to end this chapter; but this, perhaps, is where any attempt to understand the impact of the industrial revolution on the working poor ought to begin. Since the moment when commentators recognised that Britain was undergoing an irrevocable transformation, informed opinion has betrayed an unshakeable uneasiness that those at the bottom did not share equally in the advantages. Running like a thread through more than a century of historical analysis is the belief that the ordinary worker enjoyed a healthier, simpler and less frenetic life before the smoke and steam of the industrial revolution.

Their hasty marriage reveals the unspoken values and expectations that guided and governed the behaviour of the labouring poor. Looking at the processes by which working people went from ‘walking out’ to walking down the aisle illuminates aspects of working-­class culture that are usually hidden from view.2 It would be difficult to exaggerate the place of matchmaking, wooing, and walking out in the lives of the working poor. Some of the autobiographers admitted to spending much of their early adulthood falling in and out of love, making and breaking vows of fidelity, and generally devoting the best part of their attention to matters of the heart. Undoubtedly, emotional attachments and sexual intrigue brought interest and excitement to lives characterised above all by long hours of hard work. But courtship was not all fun and games.


pages: 626 words: 167,836

The Technology Trap: Capital, Labor, and Power in the Age of Automation by Carl Benedikt Frey

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bernie Sanders, Branko Milanovic, British Empire, business cycle, business process, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Clayton Christensen, collective bargaining, computer age, computer vision, Corn Laws, creative destruction, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, demographic transition, desegregation, deskilling, Donald Trump, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, factory automation, falling living standards, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, full employment, future of work, game design, Gini coefficient, Hyperloop, income inequality, income per capita, industrial cluster, industrial robot, intangible asset, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, invention of agriculture, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, invention of the wheel, Isaac Newton, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, job satisfaction, job-hopping, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, labour mobility, Loebner Prize, low skilled workers, Malcom McLean invented shipping containers, manufacturing employment, mass immigration, means of production, Menlo Park, minimum wage unemployment, natural language processing, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, oil shock, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, Pareto efficiency, pattern recognition, pink-collar, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, Renaissance Technologies, rent-seeking, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, social intelligence, speech recognition, spinning jenny, Stephen Hawking, The Future of Employment, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, trade route, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, Turing test, union organizing, universal basic income, washing machines reduced drudgery, wealth creators, women in the workforce, working poor, zero-sum game

Even when necessary, I believe it is still an evil. One reason that it is an evil is because energy, independence, industry, and self-reliance are undermined by it.”14 Why didn’t the working poor demand more redistribution? One reason is that the early democratization of America came with its own set of problems. In the succeeding decades, the party system that emerged had to gather support from a new group of poor and uneducated voters. The promise of a job or other personal favors turned out to be the most effective way of mobilizing them. Clientelism soon became widespread at virtually every level of government. The lucrative short-term benefits offered to the working poor meant that their long-term interests suffered. Because ordinary citizens got individual favors in return for political participation, it proved much harder to recruit them into the kind of working-class or socialist parties that popped up in Europe, where people demanded more redistribution, universal health care, and so on.15 Both the Republican and Democratic Parties gained support from working-class Americans by offering short-term benefits rather than long-term policy involvement.

.… The English middle classes prefer to ignore the distress of the workers and this is particularly true of the industrialists, who grow rich on the misery of the mass of wage earners.”2 The attitudes of laborers and the “middle sort” toward technological progress differed greatly.3 As David Landes writes, the middle and upper classes were convinced that they were living in the best of all possible worlds. To them, technology was a new revelation, and the factory system provided the evidence to justify their new religion of progress. But the working poor, “especially those groups by-passed or squeezed by machine industry … were undoubtedly of another mind.”4 While industrialists marveled at the rise of machines, workers often resisted their introduction and expressed their fear of unemployment in verses like the following one: Mechanics and poor labourers Are wandering up and down There is nothing now but poverty In country and in town; Machinery and steam power has The poor man’s hopes destroyed, Then pray behold the numbers of The suffering unemployed.5 The laboring poor surely had much to complain about.

As noted, the fact that the wages of men without college degrees have fallen over the course of three decades, in other words, suggest that they are faced with fewer alternative job options for which their skills are suitable. Together with Autor, in their pioneering 2004 book, The New Division of Labor, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane, two economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, were among the first to note this pattern: 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. 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.


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The Refusal of Work: The Theory and Practice of Resistance to Work by David Frayne

anti-work, basic income, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, call centre, clockwatching, David Graeber, deindustrialization, deskilling, future of work, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, McJob, means of production, moral panic, new economy, post-work, profit motive, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, unpaid internship, working poor, young professional

The same report found that in 2012 around 27% of female employees and around 15% of male employees were paid less than the UK living wage of £7.45 an hour. Significant numbers of people are also facing poverty because they are underemployed, seeking full-time work but only able to find part-time jobs. The 2013 JRF report estimated that, shortly before its publication, 1.4 million UK citizens were in this category (MacInnes et al, 2013). The working poor form a significant but largely overlooked proportion of the population in supposedly affluent societies, their experiences proving that work is not always a ticket out of poverty. Many of the working poor are employed through agencies or on a temporary basis, and may be insufficiently protected by employment legislation or trade unions. These workers are therefore likely to be excluded from the benefits of permanent employment contracts, such as paid holidays or sick leave. Such exclusions are a particular concern in the USA, where it is employers rather than the state who grant access to social insurances such as healthcare (Markova and McKay, 2008).

The variation between the figures from source to source (and also from year to year) is partly caused by the differences in the way that unemployment is measured.6 However, regardless of exactly how catastrophic the rate of unemployment might be, we can certainly agree that it is significant, enduring, and absolutely catastrophic for the individual. On top of this, the failure of the labour market to deliver an adequate supply of decent jobs to those who want them is producing all manner of new travesties. The high demand for jobs seriously weakens the power and inclinations of workers to stand up for issues like pay, rights, and job quality. In recent times, we have witnessed the relatively unmitigated rise of the working poor,7 and the zero-hours contract.8 For those attempting to insulate themselves from the shifting currents of the labour market by investing in education, the old guarantee that educational credentials ensure a future of secure, well-paid and interesting work is also being eroded. An extensive analysis by Philip Brown and colleagues suggests that a combination of factors – the rapid expansion of higher education, the globalisation of job competition, and the deskilling of work – are leading huge numbers of graduates into an ‘opportunity trap’, as they fail to find a home for their specialised skills in the labour market (Brown et al., 2011).9 Even if economic growth could manage to keep pace with the demand for jobs, what would be the environmental costs of continuing expansion?

, 71 Williams, Pharrell, ‘Happy’, 71 women, 206; claimed possibility of liberation through work, 115; double shift working by, 230; right to work, 22 work: as aesthetic creation, 18; as main centre of social life, 14; as means of income distribution, 225; as moral test, 192–9; as playlike activity, 31; as route to personal development, 98; as source of gratification, 30; as source of sociality, 137; as unreliable source of income, rights and security, 43, 46, 93; beginning of, 23–9; central in parliamentary politics, 15–16; compression and control in, 12–13; concept of, 9; critique of, 21, 23, 105–6 (in Marx, 32); definition of term, 17–22; disdained as symbol of necessity, 23; end of, 29–35; enjoyment and achievement in, 22; ethical status of, 2; future of, 41, 43; hidden expenses of, 178; in traditional society, 24; maldistribution of, 229; marks passage to adulthood, 14; morally loaded term, 18; perceived ethical superiority of, 5, 25; producing to consume, 179; re-evaluation of, 46, 105, 116; reinventing of term, 233; related to realm of necessity, 32; ritualistic quality of, 26; seen as a medicine, 105–17; spiritual costs of, 45, 48; term used in artistic circles, 18; transformed into source of pleasure, 31 see also domestic work; resistance to work; true work; and work dogma work and worklessness, inquiry into, 228 Work Capability Assessment (WCA), 104, 152, 153 work dogma, 1-–10, 190; dismantling of, 222, 227–37; re-evaluation of, 94; research intervention into, 231–2; resistance to, 230 work ethic, 5, 9, 23–9, 34, 80, 96, 98, 111, 113, 123, 124, 191, 233; fortification of, 102; reinforced in sociology, 106; rejection of, 154; resistance to, 97, 114, 207 work experience, gaining of, 136 work-centred ambitions, lack of, 196 work-centred nature of society, 14–17, 29, 41, 112, 117, 122, 209, 232; moving away from, 234; research into, 97; strains of, 229 work–life balance, 3, 5, 16, 68, 115, 217–18; a depoliticising notion, 219 worker-consumers, 92 workfare policies, 105 working conditions see conditions of work working for ourselves, 19–20, 185 working hours, 5; in the USA, 83; length of, 139; reduction of, 32, 36–7, 38, 82, 95, 117, 131, 155, 178, 220, 222, 226 (in Sweden, 224; without loss of income, 225); statistics for, 68 working less, 7, 29, 31, 37, 124, 187, 211; obstacles to, 117 working poor, 42 working tax credits, 101 working time, 14, 82–3; reduction of, 33, 223 worthwhile ethic, 233–4 writing, pleasure of, 194–5 X Xbox One console, 172–3, 177 Y yuppie lifestyle, disillusionment of, 114 Z Zawadzki, Bohan, 204 zero-hours contracts, 42


Basic Income: A Radical Proposal for a Free Society and a Sane Economy by Philippe van Parijs, Yannick Vanderborght

"Robert Solow", Airbnb, Albert Einstein, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, centre right, collective bargaining, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, declining real wages, diversified portfolio, Edward Snowden, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, full employment, future of work, George Akerlof, illegal immigration, income per capita, informal economy, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kickstarter, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, open borders, Paul Samuelson, pension reform, precariat, price mechanism, profit motive, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, road to serfdom, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, selection bias, sharing economy, sovereign wealth fund, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Tobin tax, universal basic income, urban planning, urban renewal, War on Poverty, working poor

Many claimants did not want to run the risk of owing money back at the end of the fiscal year.27 The advantage universal schemes possess in this reÂ�spect over means-Â�tested guaranteed income schemes easily generalizes to the comparison with refundable credit schemes targeted at workers with low earnings. Yet the main difference between a basic income or negative income tax and the EITC is obviously that the latter focuses exclusively on the working poor. This is no doubt why it enjoys a wider appeal than means-Â�tested public assistance. The operation of such schemes, as Jennifer Sykes and her colleagues put it, “shows that government programs aimed at assisting families do not need to be universal to avoid stigma, as long as they are associated with beÂ�havÂ�iors most Americans condone, such as work.”28 This key difference explains, for example, why the EITC has benefited from bipartisan support in the United States, and seems to remain one of the least controversial components of the American welfare state.

Similarly, in Germany, where negative income tax proposals have been made from the right and the left since the 1970s (Engels, Mitschke and Starkloff 1973, Mitschke 1985, Scharpf 1993, 1994), the structure in place since the 2005 “Hartz IV” reform (see chapter 7) is also one that facilitates the combination of benefits and low earnings, with a strengthened willingness-Â�to-Â�work test. About half of the 297 NO TES TO PAGES 163–165 recipients of the means-Â�tested minimum-Â�income scheme [Arbeitslosengeld IIâ•›] are “working poor.” 77. Â�Meade (1989: 37) argues that it is impossible to achieve an adequate social dividend with a proportional tax “simply Â�because the marginal rates of tax on increased earnings and profits combined with the assurance of the substantial unconditional income represented by the social dividend introduced an unacceptably large general disincentive for enterprising work and investment.” He therefore proposes a 60 Â�percent rate on the lower bracket and 45 Â�percent above instead of 50 Â�percent everywhere.

Shapiro, Carl, and Joseph Stiglitz. 1984. “Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device.” American Economic Review 74(3): 433–444. Shaviro, Daniel. 1997. “The Minimum Wage, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and Optimal Subsidy Policy.” The University of Chicago Law Review 64(2): 405–481. Sheahen, Allan. 2012. Basic Income Guarantee: Your Right to Economic Security. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Shipler, David K. 2004. The Working Poor: Invisible in AmerÂ�iÂ�ca. New York: Vintage Books. Shirky, Ckay. 2008. Â�Here Comes EveryÂ�body: The Power of OrganÂ�izing without OrganÂ�izations. New York: Penguin Books. Shulevitz, Judith. 2016. “It’s Payback Time for Â�Women.” New York Times, January 8. Simon, Herbert A. 1998. “Letter to BIEN on the Flat Tax and Our Common Patrimony.” Basic Income 29: 8. http://www╉.Â�basic income╉.Â�org╉/ Â�bien╉/Â�pdf╉/ Â�BI29╉.Â�pdf.


pages: 345 words: 92,849

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

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, creative destruction, 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, wealth creators, women in the workforce, working poor, zero-sum game

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

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, disruptive innovation, 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: 90 words: 27,452

No More Work: Why Full Employment Is a Bad Idea by James Livingston

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, business cycle, collective bargaining, delayed gratification, full employment, future of work, Internet of things, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, labor-force participation, late capitalism, liberal capitalism, obamacare, post-work, Project for a New American Century, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, surplus humans, The Future of Employment, union organizing, working poor

First, they were designed to replace welfare and to preserve the integrity of the family, which in the minds of most legislators, Democrats or Republicans, were the same thing. The big idea here was to abolish the perceived disincentives to marriage in the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program by making it easier for households and harder for single parents to acquire an adequate income. Second, the experiments and the legislation provided income supplements to the working poor, rather than grants or a baseline sum to everyone, or to people without jobs. The point—the result—of the experiments was to show that time on the job didn’t decline as income without work increased, not to discourage job-seeking or steady employment; the legislation of 1970 that called for income supplements, Nixon’s Family Assistance Program, took these findings for granted. Even George McGovern’s counterproposal, the famous manifesto of May 4, 1972 (published in the New York Review of Books), which would have given all Americans a minimum income grant, made the “loss of grant benefits [as family income rose] sufficiently gradual as not to discourage those on welfare from seeking a job.”

No, Nixon’s Family Assistance Program stalled in the Senate because liberals were suspicious of its supposed work requirements. On these grounds, for example, social workers, the most liberal of interest groups, became the most outspoken critics of the legislation. These work requirements were in fact minimal. But they were a necessary part of the ideological package Nixon was selling; for a substantial bloc of voters—not just the Chamber of Commerce—worried that the working poor would quit their jobs and loaf around all day if given the chance. A Gallup Poll in 1968, for example, showed that 58 percent of Americans opposed a guaranteed annual income of $3,200 to a family of four; the typical sentiment reported by this majority was “nobody should get something for nothing.” George Shultz, the secretary of the Treasury, addressed these issues in testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee in October 1969.


pages: 436 words: 98,538

The Upside of Inequality by Edward Conard

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, assortative mating, bank run, Berlin Wall, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, Climatic Research Unit, cloud computing, corporate governance, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, disruptive innovation, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Fall of the Berlin Wall, full employment, future of work, Gini coefficient, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, informal economy, information asymmetry, intangible asset, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of the telephone, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kodak vs Instagram, labor-force participation, liquidity trap, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, new economy, offshore financial centre, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, randomized controlled trial, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, selection bias, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, survivorship bias, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, total factor productivity, twin studies, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, University of East Anglia, upwardly mobile, War on Poverty, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population, zero-sum game

It’s true that trade with low-wage economies lowers the cost of goods more than the wages of domestic lower-skilled labor. Were that not the case, it would be cheaper to produce goods domestically, rather than import them. But middle- and working-class workers bear 100 percent of the burden of lower wages for only a portion of the benefits of lower-priced goods. The rich, retirees, and the non-working poor also enjoy the benefits of lower-priced goods but without suffering the cost of lower wages. So while international trade benefits everyone on average, because the costs are shared disproportionately, it slows middle- and working-class wage growth relative to the growth of everyone else’s income. Growing income inequality is a real phenomenon, but a misdiagnosis of its causes and consequences leads to policies that slow growth and damage an already slow-growing economy.

If trade with low-wage economies didn’t lower the cost of goods more than the wages of domestic lower-skilled labor, it would be cheaper to produce the goods with domestic labor. So trade makes everyone better off on average. Lesser-skilled workers, however, suffer the entire burden of lower wages but capture only a portion of the benefits from lower-priced offshore goods. Much of the benefit is captured by the rich, retirees, and the non-working poor, who enjoy lower-priced goods but without the cost of lower wages. As a result, trade lowers the relative incomes of the middle and working classes. An influx of low-skilled immigrants only adds to the strain on constrained resources. If risk-takers and properly trained talent fail to create jobs for low-skilled immigrants that are as productive as the jobs of the lesser-skilled, native-born workers on average, lower-wage immigrants working in less productive jobs will bid down wages, further lowering the relative incomes of the middle and working classes.

If, on average, displaced lesser-skilled U.S. workers can find work at high enough wages—that is, with a high enough marginal product of labor—the lower cost of imported goods may increase the value of their wages because their wages can purchase more. But while it’s true that trade with low-wage economies may lower prices more than wages, an economy like America’s buys products made with low-wage, lesser-skilled labor and sells products made with high-skilled labor—such as operating systems produced by Microsoft, Apple, and Google. Middle- and working-class workers bear the burden of lower wages while retirees, the non-working poor, and higher-skilled workers and their families—where 20 percent of the families earn 50 percent of the after-tax pay—share the benefits of lower-priced goods. The cost and benefits are not distributed proportionally. As such, trade will slow middle- and working-class wage growth relative to the rest of the economy. Christian Broda and John Romalis of the University of Chicago and David Weinstein of Columbia University, however, present evidence that the resulting lower prices of imported goods disproportionately benefit low-income households.


pages: 709 words: 191,147

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

A. Roger Ekirch, 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, mass immigration, New Urbanism, Norman Mailer, 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: 200 words: 72,182

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

business process, full employment, housing crisis, income inequality, McMansion, place-making, post-work, sexual politics, 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

active measures, affirmative action, barriers to entry, Branko Milanovic, BRICs, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, collective bargaining, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, deskilling, disruptive innovation, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, future of work, glass ceiling, global supply chain, immigration reform, income inequality, industrial cluster, industrial robot, intangible asset, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, market bubble, market design, neoliberal agenda, new economy, Paul Samuelson, pensions crisis, post-industrial society, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, QWERTY keyboard, race to the bottom, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, shared worldview, 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, zero-sum game

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: 401 words: 112,784

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

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, British Empire, business cycle, Carmen Reinhart, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, debt deflation, deindustrialization, Etonian, eurozone crisis, falling living standards, full employment, Gini coefficient, hedonic treadmill, 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, MITM: man-in-the-middle, mortgage debt, new economy, Northern Rock, obamacare, oil shock, plutocrats, Plutocrats, price stability, quantitative easing, Right to Buy, 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: 683 words: 203,624

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

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: 278 words: 82,069

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

Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, Bretton Woods, business cycle, buy and hold, capital controls, carried interest, central bank independence, centre right, collateralized debt obligation, conceptual framework, corporate governance, creative destruction, 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, information asymmetry, John Meriwether, kremlinology, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market bubble, market fundamentalism, McMansion, money market fund, 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.


pages: 320 words: 86,372

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

1960s counterculture, anti-work, call centre, clockwatching, commoditize, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, David Graeber, Etonian, future of work, G4S, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, illegal immigration, Kitchen Debate, late capitalism, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market fundamentalism, means of production, neoliberal agenda, Parkinson's law, post-industrial society, post-work, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative easing, Results Only Work Environment, shareholder value, social intelligence, The Chicago School, transaction costs, wealth creators, 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: 154 words: 47,880

The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It by Robert B. Reich

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, business cycle, clean water, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, cryptocurrency, Donald Trump, ending welfare as we know it, financial deregulation, Gordon Gekko, immigration reform, income inequality, Jeff Bezos, job automation, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, market fundamentalism, mass incarceration, mortgage debt, Occupy movement, Ponzi scheme, race to the bottom, Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, union organizing, women in the workforce, working poor, zero-sum game

Top corporate executives in America make far more money than their counterparts in other wealthy countries. Consequently, inequality is far wider in the United States than it is in any other advanced country, and the American middle class is no longer the world’s richest. Considering taxes and transfer payments, middle-class workers in Canada and much of Western Europe are better off than in the United States. The working poor in Western Europe earn more than do the working poor in America. Globalization or technology cannot account for these differences because all these nations face much the same international competition and deal with the same technological changes. The answer is to be found in the different organization of these countries’ political-economic systems. American corporations have no special allegiance to the United States and no responsibility for the well-being of Americans, yet they have overriding power over American politics.


pages: 372 words: 152

The End of Work by Jeremy Rifkin

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, Paul Samuelson, 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: 444 words: 138,781

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

affirmative action, Cass Sunstein, crack epidemic, Credit Default Swap, deindustrialization, desegregation, dumpster diving, ending welfare as we know it, fixed income, ghettoisation, glass ceiling, Gunnar Myrdal, housing crisis, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, jobless men, Kickstarter, late fees, mass incarceration, 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: 428 words: 134,832

Straphanger by Taras Grescoe

active transport: walking or cycling, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airport security, Albert Einstein, big-box store, bike sharing scheme, Boris Johnson, British Empire, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, City Beautiful movement, congestion charging, correlation does not imply causation, David Brooks, deindustrialization, East Village, edge city, Enrique Peñalosa, extreme commuting, financial deregulation, Frank Gehry, glass ceiling, Golden Gate Park, housing crisis, hydraulic fracturing, indoor plumbing, intermodal, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, jitney, Joan Didion, Kickstarter, Kitchen Debate, laissez-faire capitalism, Marshall McLuhan, mass immigration, McMansion, megacity, mortgage tax deduction, Network effects, New Urbanism, obamacare, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, Own Your Own Home, peak oil, pension reform, Peter Calthorpe, Ponzi scheme, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, sensible shoes, Silicon Valley, Skype, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the High Line, transit-oriented development, union organizing, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, walkable city, white flight, working poor, young professional, Zipcar

The “chariot of the poor” encouraged the creation of decent, walkable neighborhoods—places like Jackson Heights in far-flung Queens, conceived as a prototypical garden suburb (and later the lumpen Shangri-la of television, inhabited by the likes of Frank and Estelle Costanza). In the outer boroughs, virtually all new construction clustered within a quarter-mile of the tracks. By following the taproots of mass transit, the working poor were able to escape industrial squalor for greener pastures. Before the subway, over half of all New Yorkers lived in Manhattan; forty years later, only a quarter lived there, and Brooklyn had become the city’s most populous borough. While the subway reduced population density in Manhattan, it also intensified downtown commercial development. “The most spectacular consequence of the subway,” observed William Parsons, its chief engineer, “has been the skyscraper.”

By 1930, 94 percent of all dwellings in the city were suburban-style single-family houses, largely inhabited by the “middle-aged middle class from the Midwest”—who were also the world’s earliest and most enthusiastic adopters of the private automobile. As of the 2010 census, however, L.A. is a majority Latino city, and a further 20 percent of the population is African and Asian American. The city’s enormous population of working poor, many of whom live in car-dependent subdivisions built for past generations of migrants, is disproportionately dependent on transit. The money the city is about to spend on a new subway line, this argument goes, could buy working-class Angelenos a whole lot of buses. Ironically, it is a line of reasoning that puts the far-left Bus Riders’ Union in the same camp as libertarians who oppose “big-government”-built rail transit, and favor privately owned buses as the market-driven, and fittingly second-class, solution for those who can’t afford cars.

I didn’t see anything especially “lofty” about the planned extension of the Purple Line. Buses, it’s true, can be excellent forms of transit, especially when they run along dedicated rights-of-way, as they do on the Orange Line. (And as I would discover later in my travels, citywide rapid transit bus networks are providing superior service in developing-world metropolises.) But subways are permanent infrastructure that benefit the working poor and middle class alike—and unlike bus lines, which can be cut overnight when civic budgets get tight, rail transit lasts. No subway system in the world has ever permanently stopped running. Most Angelenos support the subway. In 2010, they ignored the Bus Riders’ Union position on Measure R, and voted 68 percent in favor of the transit-supporting sales tax. The man behind the push for better transit was Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles’s mayor since 2005, who is gambling that the “Subway to the Sea,” and eleven other transit projects, will become the initiatives that will define his mayoralty.


pages: 284 words: 92,387

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

Bretton Woods, British Empire, corporate personhood, David Graeber, deindustrialization, dumpster diving, East Village, feminist movement, financial innovation, George Gilder, John Markoff, 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: 209 words: 89,619

The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class by Guy Standing

8-hour work day, banking crisis, barriers to entry, basic income, 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, mass immigration, means of production, mini-job, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, nudge unit, old age dependency ratio, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, 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: 162 words: 51,473

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

"Robert Solow", Bonfire of the Vanities, Bretton Woods, business cycle, clean water, collective bargaining, computerized trading, corporate raider, declining real wages, floating exchange rates, full employment, George Akerlof, George Gilder, Home mortgage interest deduction, income inequality, indoor plumbing, informal economy, invisible hand, Kenneth Arrow, knowledge economy, life extension, new economy, Nick Leeson, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, plutocrats, Plutocrats, price stability, rent control, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, trade route, very high income, working poor, zero-sum game

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: 289 words: 99,936

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

affirmative action, Berlin Wall, call centre, cognitive dissonance, creative destruction, 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, low-wage service sector, microcredit, new economy, post-industrial society, race to the bottom, rent control, Shoshana Zuboff, 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: 289

Hustle and Gig: Struggling and Surviving in the Sharing Economy by Alexandrea J. Ravenelle

"side hustle", active transport: walking or cycling, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, barriers to entry, basic income, Broken windows theory, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, cashless society, Clayton Christensen, clean water, collaborative consumption, collective bargaining, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, disruptive innovation, Downton Abbey, East Village, Erik Brynjolfsson, full employment, future of work, gig economy, Howard Zinn, income inequality, informal economy, job automation, low skilled workers, Lyft, minimum wage unemployment, Mitch Kapor, Network effects, new economy, New Urbanism, obamacare, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, passive income, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer model, performance metric, precariat, rent control, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, strikebreaker, TaskRabbit, telemarketer, the payments system, Tim Cook: Apple, transaction costs, Travis Kalanick, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, ubercab, universal basic income, Upton Sinclair, urban planning, very high income, white flight, working poor, Zipcar

“The Low-Wage Recovery: Industry Employment and Wages Four Years into the Recovery.” New York: National Employment Law Project. Newcomer, Eric. 2017. “In Video, Uber CEO Argues with Driver over Falling Fares.” Bloomberg, February 28. Newcomer, Eric, and Olivia Zaleski. 2016. “Inside Uber’s Auto-Lease Machine, Where Almost Anyone Can Get a Car.” Bloomberg, May 31. Newman, Katherine S. 1999. No Shame in My Game: The Working Poor in the Inner City. New York: Knopf. Newton, Casey. 2013. “Tempting Fate: Can TaskRabbit Go from Side Gigs to Real Jobs?” The Verge, May 23. New York Communities for Change and Real Affordability for All. 2015. Airbnb in NYC: Housing Report. New York: New York Communities for Change and Real Affordability for All. New York Times. 1911. “Seek Ways to Lessen Factory Dangers.” March 26. ———. 1994.

“Detroit Police Arrest Suspect in Shooting Death of Uber Driver.” WXYZ.com, March 22. Shellenbarger, Sue. 2008. “Work at Home? Your Employer May Be Watching.” Wall Street Journal, July 30. Shepherd, Dean A., and J. Michael Haynie. 2011. “Venture Failure, Stigma and Impression Management: A Self-Verification, Self-Determination View.” Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal 5:178–97. Shipler, David. 2004. The Working Poor: Invisible in America. New York: Knopf. Shontell, Alyson. 2014. “All Hail the Uber Man! How Sharp-Elbowed Salesman Travis Kalanick Became Silicon Valley’s Newest Star.” Business Insider, January 11. Siegel, Reva B. 2003. “A Short History of Sexual Harassment.” In Directions in Sexual Harassment Law, ed. Catherine A. MacKinnon and Reva B. Siegel. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Siegler, M.G. 2011.

Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Zervas, Georgios, Davide Proserpio, and John W. Byers. 2015. “First Look at Online Reputation on Airbnb, Where Every Stay Is above Average.” Social Science Research Network, January 28. Zinn, Howard. 1999. A People’s History of the United States, 1492–Present. New York: HarperCollins. Zuberi, Dan. 2006. Differences That Matter: Social Policy and the Working Poor in the United States and Canada. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Zukin, Sharon. 2009. Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places. New York: Oxford University Press. Zumbrun, Josh. 2016. “Voter Discord Isn’t over Wages.” Wall Street Journal, August 7. Index Abundant Host, 46 acceptance rates, 1–2 access, 28fig. 2 accidental occupational liability policies, 110–11 Adshade, Marina, 127 advertisements: Airbnb, 44fig. 5; by Kitchensurfing, 57, 59; TaskRabbit, 100fig. 12; by Uber, 50, 51fig. 7 African-Americans: as Airbnb hosts, 35, 39; digital divide and, 193; discrimination against, 169, 193; economic issues of, 140; as Uber users, 35; wealth gap and, 195 age issues: age of chefs, 59; age of drivers, 53; age of hosts, 49; age of sharing economy workers, 62; age of TaskRabbits, 56; child labor, 65, 70, 224n12, 225n15; Schor on, 224n1; in textile industry, 67, 225n15 Airbnb: overview, 7, 21, 22; African-American hosts, 35–36, 39; background on, 43–49; bathroom use, 88; business use of, 182, 228n14; children and hosting, 12–13; choices, 168; commercial user crackdown, 20; communication issues, 63; Couchsurfing and, 9; cultural capital and, 165, 166–67; discrimination and, 170; as durable-assets-sharing sites, 27; economic impact of, 39; employee monitoring, 204; entrepreneurship and, 6, 164–66; flexibility, 168; high capital-barrier, 43, 43tab. 1, 166–68; for homeless people, 4; illegal rentals, 40, 41, 149–52; income potential, 19; Instant Book service, 170; interaction-free key transfers, 34; low pricing strategy, 231n8 (ch.7); marketing, 160; multilocation hosts, 40; participant recruitment and methodology, 42–43; Peers and, 72; promises of, 25; response rates, 81–82, 160; safety issues, 113–14; as sharing economy company, 26, 27–29; social interactions and, 33; striving workers and, 132; struggling workers and, 132; successful workers and, 19–21, 39–40, 131–32; trust and, 30; worker-client sexual interactions, 128–31 Airbnb hosts.


pages: 173 words: 53,564

Fair Shot: Rethinking Inequality and How We Earn by Chris Hughes

"side hustle", basic income, Donald Trump, effective altruism, Elon Musk, end world poverty, full employment, future of journalism, gig economy, high net worth, income inequality, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, job automation, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, Lyft, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, new economy, oil rush, payday loans, Peter Singer: altruism, Potemkin village, precariat, randomized controlled trial, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, TaskRabbit, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, traveling salesman, trickle-down economics, uber lyft, universal basic income, winner-take-all economy, working poor, working-age population, zero-sum game

While it’s true that addicts might spend an extra $500 on drugs, the solution to their challenge isn’t to keep them in poverty—it is better substance abuse programs to help them battle their addictions. A guaranteed income would also be a powerful antidote to homelessness. In fact, it could help prevent homelessness in the first place. A recent study examined what happens when you give a working poor person on the brink of homelessness a one-time $1,000 cash infusion. The recipients were 88 percent less likely to be homeless three months later, and 76 percent less likely after six months. “We found no evidence that this effect fades away,” the author of the report, James Sullivan from the University of Notre Dame, told Science magazine. A single period of homelessness costs taxpayers about $20,000 in homeless shelters, policing, health care, and other costs.

Retraction Watch, May 31, 2012. http://retractionwatch.com/2012/05/31/millennium-villages-project-forced-to-correct-lancet-paper-on-foreign-aid-as-leader-leaves-team/. Our World in Data. “Price Changes in Consumer Goods and Services in the USA, 1997–2017.” November 7, 2017. https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/price-changes-in-consumer-goods-and-services-in-the-usa-1997-2017. Oxfam America and Economic Policy Institute. “Few Rewards: An Agenda to Give America’s Working Poor A Raise.” 2016. https://www.oxfamamerica.org/static/media/files/Few_Rewards_Report_2016_web.pdf. Painter, Anthony, and Chris Thoung. “Creative Citizen, Creative State: The Principled and Pragmatic Case for a Universal Basic Income.” RSA, December 2015. https://www.thersa.org/globalassets/reports/rsa_basic_income_20151216.pdf. Pew Research Center. “Public Trust in Government, 1958-2017.”


pages: 215 words: 56,215

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

Amazon Web Services, basic income, clean water, cloud computing, computer vision, digital map, en.wikipedia.org, full employment, income inequality, job automation, knowledge worker, low earth orbit, 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: 196 words: 53,627

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

affirmative action, business cycle, creative destruction, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, declining real wages, deindustrialization, desegregation, guest worker program, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, labor-force participation, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, mass immigration, open borders, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, school choice, Silicon Valley, trade liberalization, War on Poverty, working poor, working-age population, zero-sum game

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: 169 words: 52,744

Big Capital: Who Is London For? by Anna Minton

Airbnb, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Boris Johnson, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, collateralized debt obligation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Donald Trump, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Frank Gehry, high net worth, housing crisis, illegal immigration, Kickstarter, land value tax, market design, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, payday loans, quantitative easing, rent control, Right to Buy, sovereign wealth fund, the built environment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, urban renewal, working poor

But it also impacts private tenants on housing benefit, who get pushed into shocking conditions in temporary accommodation, perhaps even as far out as Margate, which is becoming an unusual mix of priced-out London artists and creatives alongside a large homeless population in temporary accommodation. So from Kensington to Acton, from Acton to Forest Gate and from Forest Gate to the South Coast, individuals, couples and families – both the middle classes and the so-called ‘claimant cultures’ and working poor – are pushed out of London altogether. This is the ‘super prime crisis’, and it affects everyone. Very large injections of global capital into London’s safe haven, including corrupt money, have combined with quantitative easing, limited regulation, flexible employment and some of the lowest corporate tax rates in the world, to transform London in under a decade. INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE TENT The properties in the alpha parts of the city are in old and established areas of London, but the tens of thousands of luxury apartments in newly created districts are an equally important component of the housing crisis.

And while some will leave the city, others like Jan will put up with conditions which should be unacceptable, in order to keep their jobs and family ties. This means generation rent must pay through the nose to live in an increasingly hollowed out, sterile city which provides a playground for the rich in the centre, hipster gentrifying areas in the hinterlands and poor housing for cheap labour in our banlieues, in parts of Barking and Dagenham or Edmonton where the ‘working poor’ live.14 HOUSING AND MENTAL HEALTH It is a truism that moving house is the third most stressful life event. It’s rarely an easy experience even when the move is voluntary and wanted. But it’s incomparably worse when it involves being wrenched away from the support networks, daily routines and the sense of identity that comes with being able to call a place a home. Even the threat of having to move – ‘housing insecurity’ as it’s known – is a significant contributor to mental health problems.


pages: 519 words: 155,332

Tailspin: The People and Forces Behind America's Fifty-Year Fall--And Those Fighting to Reverse It by Steven Brill

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airport security, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, asset allocation, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Blythe Masters, Bretton Woods, business process, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, computerized trading, corporate governance, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, Credit Default Swap, currency manipulation / currency intervention, Donald Trump, ending welfare as we know it, failed state, financial deregulation, financial innovation, future of work, ghettoisation, Gordon Gekko, hiring and firing, Home mortgage interest deduction, immigration reform, income inequality, invention of radio, job automation, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, laissez-faire capitalism, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, obamacare, old-boy network, paper trading, performance metric, post-work, Potemkin village, Powell Memorandum, quantitative hedge fund, Ralph Nader, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Bork, Robert Gordon, Robert Mercer, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, telemarketer, too big to fail, trade liberalization, union organizing, Unsafe at Any Speed, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, working poor

His goal was to help establish the New York borough where he was raised (after being born in Taiwan) as a high-tech business incubator that might match the revitalization going on in neighboring Brooklyn. He promoted meetups for aspiring tech entrepreneurs, organized informal hackathons and training programs, and sponsored speakers programs. By 2012, he recalled, “I could see that the most productive opportunity was to focus on using technology to boost the 64 percent of New Yorkers who lack college degrees and are the poor and the working poor into the middle class.” He also was inspired by his military experience, where, he says, “some of the smartest, hardest-working people I’ve ever met were soldiers who didn’t graduate from college.” Through a network of high school and college friends and others he had met through various local civic and business organizations, Hsu recruited a handful of managers and volunteer coding teachers.

At the same time, because cash assistance was now so much less available, the $2.00-a-day economy that Edin and Shaefer wrote about became a reality for millions, including single mothers who, as the authors so vividly documented, spent their days trying to find jobs that would take them and their children off a relative’s couch or out of homeless shelters. Programs initiated by Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama to expand food stamps, school lunches, and Medicaid, to provide health care to lower-middle-class and poor children, and to give earned income tax credits to the working poor have been important factors in staving off still more poverty in an economy that is so tilted toward those at the top. Fifty-two percent of the nation’s fifty million public school students qualified for free or reduced-priced lunches in 2016, and 44.2 million Americans received food stamps. “We should not discount everything we’ve done,” said Edelman. “Were it not for all of these programs and for Social Security, America would have ninety million poor people, not forty-three million, but because of the changes in the structure of the economy, we’re stuck there, and it’s only going to get worse, unless we do more.”

While the unemployment rate that reached 10 percent in 2009 had come down sharply by 2017, the jobs that came back were typically lower-paying or part-time, and there were not enough to meet the needs of the more than seven million Americans who were still looking for work. Two thirds of Americans in one late 2016 poll agreed that “good jobs are difficult to find.” Much of the debate in recent years about poverty has included the term “working poor.”*2 As the number of working people using food stamps or requiring housing assistance indicates, millions of workers are poor or are on the verge of poverty. Millions more who have dropped out of the workforce out of frustration would welcome the training and the work that would make them un-poor. These are the people who depend on food stamps, rental assistance, unemployment insurance, and Medicaid, or the premium subsidies on the Obamacare health insurance exchanges.


pages: 667 words: 149,811

Economic Dignity by Gene Sperling

active measures, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bernie Sanders, Cass Sunstein, collective bargaining, corporate governance, David Brooks, desegregation, Detroit bankruptcy, Donald Trump, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, Elon Musk, employer provided health coverage, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ferguson, Missouri, full employment, gender pay gap, ghettoisation, gig economy, Gini coefficient, guest worker program, Gunnar Myrdal, housing crisis, income inequality, invisible hand, job automation, job satisfaction, labor-force participation, late fees, liberal world order, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, mass incarceration, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, minimum wage unemployment, obamacare, offshore financial centre, payday loans, price discrimination, profit motive, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, speech recognition, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Toyota Production System, traffic fines, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, union organizing, universal basic income, War on Poverty, working poor, young professional, zero-sum game

Paul Ryan’s Theory on Poverty Is Tricksy—and Wrong,” Slate, March 5, 2014, https://slate.com/business/2014/03/paul-ryan-war-on-poverty-federal-programs-are-not-a-poverty-trap.html; and “Read the House GOP’s Poverty Report,” Washington Post, March 2, 2014, http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/politics/read-the-house-gops-poverty-report/850/. 20. Sharon Parrott, “Rubio Proposal to Replace EITC Would Likely Come at Expense of Working-Poor Families with Children,” Off the Charts (blog), Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, January 9, 2014, https://www.cbpp.org/blog/rubio-proposal-to-replace-eitc-would-likely-come-at-expense-of-working-poor-families-with. 21. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in the United States, March 2018,” September 2018, 311, https://www.bls.gov/ncs/ebs/benefits/2018/employee-benefits-in-the-united-states-march-2018.pdf. 22. Pronita Gupta, “Senator Rubio’s Paid Leave Proposal Is a Threat to Economic Security,” CLASP (blog), August 6, 2018, https://www.clasp.org/blog/senator-rubios-paid-leave-proposal-threat-economic-security. 23.

Based on significant economic research, the EITC “may ultimately be judged one of the most successful labor market innovations in U.S. history,” according to leading anti-poverty scholar Hilary Hoynes.25 Infants born to mothers with the largest EITC increases had stronger improvements across various health measures, including fewer low-weight births and premature births. Mothers receiving the biggest EITC increases had significant improvements across health indicators such as reduced mental stress, compared with otherwise similarly situated women who were not eligible for the increases. Additionally, EITC increases are linked to better academic outcomes for elementary and middle-school students as well as higher college enrollment for children from working poor families. The overwhelming weight of the evidence, even if not unanimous, has found the EITC has positive labor market effects, including being the biggest factor in the major increase in employment for single mothers in the 1990s.26 Yet to lead to a true economic dignity wage, the EITC needs to take a bold step forward with what I call an “EITC for All” proposal.27 The EITC, together with the minimum wage, needs to create a guaranteed living wage that not only raises every working American above the poverty line but ensures the capacity to care for and enjoy family and to be a greater buffer for economic security for those in the middle class.

Kennedy, Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929–1945 (Oxford History of the United States, Volume IX) (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 267. 14. Dwight D. Eisenhower, “Special Message to the Congress Transmitting Proposed Changes in the Social Security Program,” Social Security Presidential Statements (August 1, 1953), accessed November 9, 2019, https://www.ssa.gov/history/ikestmts.html. 15. For Gingrich welfare comments, see Rob Wells, “Tax Bill Would Deny Key Benefit to Working Poor,” Associated Press, July 3, 1997. For “lucky duckies,” see “The Non-Taxpaying Class,” editorial, Wall Street Journal, November 20, 2002, https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB1037748678534174748; “Lucky Duckies Again,” editorial, Wall Street Journal, January 20, 2003; and “Even Luckier Duckies,” editorial, Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2003, https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB1037748678534174748. 16.


pages: 207 words: 59,298

The Gig Economy: A Critical Introduction by Jamie Woodcock, Mark Graham

Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, British Empire, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, collective bargaining, commoditize, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, David Graeber, deindustrialization, disintermediation, en.wikipedia.org, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, gig economy, global value chain, informal economy, information asymmetry, inventory management, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, knowledge economy, Lyft, mass immigration, means of production, Network effects, new economy, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, planetary scale, precariat, rent-seeking, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, TaskRabbit, The Future of Employment, transaction costs, Travis Kalanick, two-sided market, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, union organizing, women in the workforce, working poor, young professional

These kinds of work involved a ‘link’ between the work relationship (i.e. between the buyers and sellers of time) and the ‘wider risk-sharing role of the welfare or social state’, which came to prominence by the middle of the twentieth century (Fudge, 2017: 379). This meant that the risks of work were increasingly mitigated through social agreements, particularly with social security nets that could cushion workers from some negative outcomes, such as lack of work, poor working conditions or illness and accidents. Of course, referring to ‘the standard employment relationship’ carries with it the implication that this is somehow the ‘normal’ state of affairs. It then follows that precarious work should be understood as a break from this norm, as an attack that newly undermines long-standing conditions and benefits. Precarious work, however, has a much longer history than the standard employment relationship.

Penetration rates are lower in the rest of the world, with the ITU reporting that it is now 44.7 per cent for men and 37.5 per cent for women in the ‘developing world’.3 We are also in the midst of a ‘mobile revolution’ in many countries. The availability of cheap (<$20) smartphones and pay-as-you-go mobile plans have made the mobile phone an essential piece of technology to communities from Brazil to Burundi to Bangladesh. Urban regions of low- and middle-income countries are characterized by even higher levels of connectivity, and many of the working poor in cities as varied as Cairo, Bangkok, Nairobi and Rio all find ways of connecting. As alluded to above, this connectivity for most people in low-, middle- and high-income countries is no longer confined to desktop machines plugged into a wall. A decade ago, internet access tended to be something limited to the home or the office, with many people still using dial-up modems. Today, the mobile phone is the device that most people use to connect.


pages: 531 words: 161,785

Alcohol: A History by Rod Phillips

clean water, conceptual framework, European colonialism, financial independence, invention of the printing press, Kickstarter, large denomination, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral panic, New Urbanism, profit motive, trade route, women in the workforce, working poor

There is a strong suggestion of water-drinking in the allegation, during the Black Death, that Jews had poisoned wells in order to cause the fatal outbreaks of the plague.21 In parts of Germany and France, Jews were killed in order to eliminate the supposed source of the problem. The episode speaks not only to the virulence of anti-Semitism in medieval Europe but also to both the continuing suspicion and consumption of water. Jews, we might note, were not accused of poisoning barrels of beer or wine. For the most part, the diets of the homeless, the transient, and even the stable working poor are lost to us, but there is occasional, if uneven, evidence for the strata above them. In the village of Montaillou, in the foothills of the Pyrenees, peasants drank wine as part of the daily diet. The 250 inhabitants supported a wine-seller who made rounds of the houses selling wine brought by mule from Tarascon and Pamiers; but shepherds drank only sour wine and some milk on a daily basis, and good wine was reserved for festive occasions.22 Farther east and north, in wine-producing Lorraine, wine was consumed in households as grand as that of the Duke of Lorraine and as modest as those of peasants who made it for their own consumption.

The stress on the particular evils of women’s drinking echoed a contemporary reassertion of the belief that women were destined by nature to be mothers and that they bore particular responsibilities toward their families. Excessive drinking by women was not only deplorable but unnatural. But affordable gin must have been attractive to many of London’s workers as a pleasant experience in a life that offered few. Many of the working poor were recent migrants from the country, used to drinking festivities reined in by informal social mechanisms that were either absent from or less effective in the urban environment. It is believable that the better-off interpreted any widespread public intoxication as evidence of social disorder and collapse. The critical point might well have been the public character of working-class drinking; laws have historically penalized public drunkenness rather than domestic intoxication.

But during the eighteenth century, in England at least, upper-class commentators began to draw a distinction between drunkenness by the wealthy and by the poor. This class-specific distinction marked a shift away from the undifferentiated condemnation of drunkenness as sinful and as a first step on a life of immorality and crime. By the mid-eighteenth century, elite drunkenness was more likely to be seen as a private vice that had no social consequences (and which society and the law might therefore overlook), while heavy drinking by the working poor (the very poor and the indigent could not afford to drink alcohol, let alone drink enough to get drunk) was associated with crime and social disorder.18 This perspective emerged from a vigorous debate, coinciding with the so-called gin-craze in the first half of the 1700s, about the legal consequences of drunkenness. There was some recognition of, if little sympathy for, the conditions that might drive people to drink.


pages: 265 words: 15,515

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

business cycle, capital controls, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, complexity theory, continuation of politics by other means, 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: 208 words: 67,582

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

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, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, post-industrial society, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, Stanford prison experiment, 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: 237 words: 64,411

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

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Amazon Web Services, asset allocation, autonomous vehicles, bank run, bitcoin, Bob Noyce, Brian Krebs, business cycle, 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, information asymmetry, invention of agriculture, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, 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, The Future of Employment, 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: 235 words: 62,862

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

autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Bartolomé de las Casas, basic income, 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, George Santayana, 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 Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, 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, Paul Samuelson, 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 Future of Employment, 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: 306 words: 78,893

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

"Robert Solow", accounting loophole / creative accounting, affirmative action, Asian financial crisis, barriers to entry, borderless world, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, business cycle, capital controls, corporate governance, corporate raider, 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, intangible asset, 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, post-work, 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, zero-sum game

."^^ 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: 279 words: 76,796

The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives by Lisa Servon

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, basic income, Build a better mousetrap, business cycle, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, employer provided health coverage, financial exclusion, financial independence, financial innovation, gender pay gap, George Akerlof, gig economy, income inequality, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, Joseph Schumpeter, late fees, Lyft, M-Pesa, medical bankruptcy, microcredit, Occupy movement, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, precariat, Ralph Nader, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, sharing economy, too big to fail, transaction costs, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, universal basic income, Unsafe at Any Speed, We are the 99%, white flight, working poor, Zipcar

Though my work began in a poor neighborhood in the South Bronx, I quickly realized that the problem was more widespread than I had thought. I discovered that chronic financial insecurity is growing among the middle class. In his book The Great Risk Shift, Jacob Hacker writes that “economic insecurity is not a problem faced by a small vulnerable segment of the population. It is a problem faced by a wide swath of Americans . . . Problems once confined to the working poor . . . have crept up the income ladder to become an increasingly normal part of middle-class life.” A recent study conducted by the Center for Financial Services Innovation found that 57 percent of Americans—138 million people—are struggling financially, more than double the number of adults the FDIC categorized as unbanked or underbanked in its most recent survey. I also learned that categorizing people as banked or unbanked seems largely irrelevant outside the financial-services industry.

Our culture places so much pressure on us to be able to make it on our own. But the odds are stacked against all of us now, in ways they’ve never been before. It’s time to demand a change. It’s been two years since Ariane, my fellow Check Center teller, left for a better job at a veterinarian’s office. The regular hours and better pay meant that life was more predictable, but Ariane aimed higher. She wanted to leave the working poor and join the middle class—the “old” middle class, in which a college degree and a regular paycheck purchased financial security. So she paid off her payday loans, what Suze Orman would call “bad debt,” and took out student loans, considered “good debt” because she was investing in herself, in order to go to college full-time. Ariane is almost finished with her associate’s degree and will enroll in a four-year college as soon as she graduates.


pages: 256 words: 79,075

Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain by James Bloodworth

Airbnb, Berlin Wall, call centre, clockwatching, collective bargaining, congestion charging, credit crunch, deindustrialization, Fall of the Berlin Wall, gig economy, Jeff Bezos, low skilled workers, Network effects, new economy, North Sea oil, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, payday loans, post-work, profit motive, race to the bottom, reshoring, Silicon Valley, Travis Kalanick, Uber for X, working poor, working-age population

One of the paradoxes of the fall of the Berlin Wall is that, while it represented a revolutionary liberation of human beings from under the yoke of totalitarianism, it also resulted in the unshackling of a particularly virulent strain of capitalism. A pessimist might even argue that the social democratic gains of the twentieth century depended to some extent on the existence of a class of semi-slaves toiling away behind an ‘iron curtain’. Once people had liberated themselves from the power of the commissars, capitalist countries could once again risk antagonising the working poor with little fear of communist subversion. But we also live in the world we do today because of conscious choices made by our own politicians. There exists a discernible thread running right the way from the Welsh Valleys and the men and women I met there to the dingy warehouses, private care homes, call centres and the fleet of Uber drivers who, as I write this, swarm around the West End of London searching desperately for riders.

.: These Poor Hands 23, 149, 190 courier firms 211, 215, 217, 223, 236, 244–7, 250, 256, 257 Cwm, Wales 147, 148, 187, 190, 195, 196, 197 Cwmbran, Wales 143 Daily Express 124–5 Daily Mail 66, 134, 188 Dan (bicycle courier) 248, 249 Dangerfield, George 72 Davies, Idris 148–9 Gwalia Deserta (Wasteland of Wales) 148 ‘The Angry Summer’ 174 debt 62, 69, 146, 151, 153 Deliveroo 215, 217, 223, 250, 256, 257 democratic socialists 192 Department for Work and Pensions 133 Dickens, Charles 29, 205, 210, 249; Hard Times 138–9 Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) 88–90, 109–10, 214 Dorothy (housemate of JB) 203, 204–5 DriveNow 217 Dropit 217 Eastern Europe, migrant workers from 11, 13, 15, 21, 24, 26–7, 30, 32, 33, 34, 45, 57, 61–2, 75, 114–16, 128–9, 154, 203–4, 260–1 see also under individual nation name Ebbw Vale, Wales 147, 149, 154; legacy of de-industrialisation in 187–200 Elborough, Travis 93 emergency housing 96 employment agencies 1, 16, 19, 20, 23, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 56, 65–6, 70, 72, 73, 82, 86, 127, 130, 158, 189, 194 see also under individual agency name Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) 248 employment contracts/classification: Amazon 19–20, 53, 58 care sector 87–8, 107–8, 116 Uber 214–15, 222, 229–35, 243, 245, 250–2, 257 zero-hours see zero-hours contracts employment tribunals 38, 229–30, 243–4 English seaside, debauchery and 92–3 Enterprise Rent-A-Car 214 ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) programmes 115–16 European Economic Community (EEC) 195 European Referendum (2016) 61, 195–6 Evening Standard 208, 241 Express & Star 59–60 Fabian Society 109 Farrar, James 229–31, 232, 233, 234, 236, 238, 240, 241–2, 250, 254, 255–6 Fellows of the Academies of Management 17 Fernie, Sue 182 financial crisis (2008) 1, 2, 45, 125, 195, 209 Flash (former miner) 165–8, 170, 171–2, 174, 175, 176–8, 179, 188, 196 Fleet News 246 Foot, Michael 149 football 56, 58, 92, 94, 97, 98, 126, 135, 169 fruit picking 61 FTSE 123, 262 Gag Mag 122 Gallagher, Patrick 246 Gary (homeless man, Blackpool) 96–104, 105 Gaz (Gag Mag seller, Blackpool) 122 GDP 146 General Election (2015) 109 General Strike (1926) 148, 149, 173 gentrification 219 Geoff (former miner) 189, 190, 191, 193 ‘gig’ economy 2, 208–10, 217–18, 232, 236, 242, 243–4, 248, 249–50, 252, 257 see also Uber Gissing, George: New Grub Street 64 GMB union 36 grammar schools 261 Guardian 5, 235 Hamstead Colliery, Great Barr 169 Hazel (home carer) 110–11, 114, 115, 116, 117, 119 Heller, Joseph: Catch-22 235–6 Hemel Hempstead 54, 70 Henley, William Ernest: ‘England, My England’ vii Hoggart, Richard: The Uses of Literacy 45 home care worker (domiciliary care worker): Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks 88–90, 109–10 employment contracts 87–8, 107–8, 116, 118, 120 length of home care visits 108–9, 110 local authority budget cuts and 107–10 MAR (Medication Administration Record) sheets 114, 115 migrant workers as 114–16 negligent 86–7 privatisation of social care and 106–8, 109 recruitment 82–4 ‘shadowing’ process 88, 109–10 societal view of 106 staffing crisis 85–6, 119 suicide rate among 100 typical day/workload 110–14, 118 unions and 88 view job as vocation 86–7 wages/pay 107–8, 117, 118–19, 159 Home Instead 119 homelessness 95–105, 138, 187, 208 hostels 95, 96, 101, 102 housing/accommodation: Amazon workers, Rugeley 20–2, 24–6 Blackpool 80, 124, 137–8 buy-to-let housing market 24 emergency housing 96 homelessness and 95, 96, 101, 102, 137–8 hostels 95, 96, 101, 102 inability to buy 62 landlords and 12, 21, 24, 39, 67, 69, 95–6, 137–8, 164, 204, 206, 258 London 203–8 migrant workers and 20–2, 24–6, 197–8 social housing 62, 206 Swansea 124, 150 housing benefit 96, 137–8, 248 immigration 26–7, 61, 115–16, 128–9, 144, 193, 197–9, 236, 259–61 see also migrant workers indeed.co.uk 83–4 independent contractors 209, 248, 251–2 Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) 230, 257 inequality 18, 73, 123, 125, 207–8, 226, 238, 262, 263 inflation 2, 122 job centres 19, 96, 133–6, 139–40, 156, 158 Joe (housemate of JB) 22 John Lewis 23, 83 Joseph Rowntree Foundation 70, 159 June (call centre employee) 181–2, 183, 184 Kalanick, Travis 215, 228, 229, 233, 235 Kelly, Kath 66 Khan, Sadiq 256 Koestler, Arthur: The God that Failed 228 Labour Party 7, 57, 59, 61, 109, 144, 149, 150, 173, 174 Ladbroke Road, Notting Hill, London 219 Lamb, Norman 109 Lancashire Evening Post 104–5 landlords, private 12, 21, 24, 39, 67, 69, 95–6, 137–8, 164, 204, 206, 258 Lea Hall Colliery, Staffordshire 31–2, 54, 55, 56, 57 Lea Hall Miners’ Social Club, Staffordshire 55, 56, 74 Len (step-grandfather of JB) 143–4 Lili (London) 203–4 living wage 1, 85, 160, 246 Lloyd George, David 172 loan sharks 151, 156 local councils 104–5, 164 London 201–57 accommodation/housing in 65, 203–8, 218 gentrification in 219 ‘gig’ economy in 208–57, 263 homelessness in 95 migrant labour in 205–6, 213, 239 wealth divide in 207–8, 238 London Congestion Charge 254 London Courier Emergency Fund (LCEF) 247 London Metropolitan Police 90 London, Jack 205 low-skilled jobs, UK economy creation of 153 Lydia (Amazon employee) 70 Macmillan, Harold 3 manufacturing jobs, disappearance of 59, 139 Marine Colliery, Cwm, Wales 190 Mayhew, Henry 4, 205 McDonald’s 52, 68, 83 Merkel, Angela 196 Metcalf, David 182 middle-class 6, 39, 51, 67, 68, 69, 72–3, 74, 75, 149, 178, 205, 258, 259, 260, 262, 263 migrant labour: Amazon use of 11, 12, 13, 15, 20, 21, 22–7, 30, 32, 33, 34, 44, 45, 46, 51, 53, 57, 61–2, 65, 71–5, 258, 260–1 care home workers 114–16 ‘gig’ economy and 203–6, 213, 239 restaurant workers 154 retail sector and 128–9 Miliband, Ed 109 mining see coal mining Miners’ Federation of Great Britain (MFGB) 173 Miners’ Strike (1984–5) 3, 174–7 minimum wage 1, 7, 55, 62, 84, 107, 108, 118, 135, 155, 159, 173, 189–90, 209, 212, 235, 236, 245, 250, 262 Morecambe, Lancashire 137–8 Morgan family 156–8 Morgan, Huw: How Green Was My Valley 147 Moyer-Lee, Jason 257 National Coal Board (NCB) 54, 170, 171 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) 108 National Union of Miners (NUM) 174, 176 New York Times 222 NHS (National Health Service) 106, 108, 247 Nirmal (Amazon employee) 45–6, 51 Norbert (Amazon employee) 71–5 nostalgia 3, 60, 93–4, 216 Nottingham 2, 151–2 objectivism 228 oil crisis (1973) 122–3 Oliver, Jamie 154 Orwell, George 56, 169 Palmer, William 29 pay see wages and under individual job title and employer name payday loans 156 PayPal 216 Pimlico Plumbers 251–2 platform capitalism 215 PMP Recruitment 19, 189–90 Poland, migrant workers from 128–9, 130, 135, 197–8 ‘poor, the’ 145 Port Talbot, Wales 166, 176, 190, 196 ‘post-truth’ discourse 199 ‘post-work’ world 165 poverty: Blackpool and 132, 137 class and 4 darkness and 96 diet/weight and 137 ease of slipping into 5 Eastern Europe and 26 monthly salary and 156 as a moral failing 188–9 press treatment of 66–7 time and 67 working poor living in 194 Preston, Lancashire 100, 105, 138–9 private school system 123 progressive thought 262 Public Accounts Committee (PAC) 107 Putin, Vladimir 71 Rand, Ayn 228–9, 235, 236; The Fountainhead 228, 229 recession (2008) 1, 45, 104, 121, 125, 156 ‘regeneration’ 55, 60–1, 146 rent-to-own 157–8 retirement, working in 58–9 Reve, Gerard: The Evenings 160 Robin (Cwm) 196, 197 Rochelle (home care worker) 117–19 Romania, migrant workers from 11, 12, 13, 15, 20, 21, 22–7, 32, 44, 46, 51, 53, 61, 65, 71–5, 203, 206, 258 Ron (former miner) 170, 195 Royal London 59 Royal London pub, Wolverhampton 71 Royal Mail 151 Rugeley, Staffordshire 28–35 Amazon distribution centre in 11–76, 79, 86, 119, 127, 128, 159, 258 decline of coal mining industry in 31–2, 54–6, 57, 169 disappearance of manufacturing jobs from 54–63 high street 28–35 immigration and 30–4, 193–4 Tesco and 58–9, 62–3 Scargill, Arthur 175 scientific management theories 17 Scotland Yard 90 self-employment: ’gig’ economy and 214–15, 222, 229–30, 234, 243–4, 245, 246, 249, 250–1 increase in numbers of workers 2, 209 ‘independent contractors’ and 209, 248, 251–2 Selwyn (former miner) 175, 178, 179, 263–4 Senghenydd, Glamorgan pit explosion (1913) 169–70 Shelter 104 Shirebrook Colliery, Derbyshire 55 Shu, William 250 Silicon Valley, California 210, 232 Sillitoe, Alan: Saturday Night and Sunday Morning 2, 3, 94 Sky Sports News 126 social democracy 3, 263 social housing 62, 206 socialism 7, 56, 131, 144, 148, 149, 173 social mobility 58, 199, 261 South Wales Miners’ Museum, Afan Argoed 166, 196 South Wales Valleys 141–200 accommodation in 150, 197 Amazon in 145–6 beauty of 148 call centre jobs in 153–64, 180–6 coal industry and 143–4, 147–9, 165–79, 180, 188, 189, 190–1, 193, 195, 196 immigration and 197–9 JB’s family history and 143–4 legacy of de-industrialisation in 187–200 nostalgia and 147 radical history of 149–50 see also under individual place name ‘spice’ 95 Sports Direct 55 squatting 96, 99 steel industry 176, 180, 188, 189, 190, 196–7 Steven (housemate of JB) 124, 126, 127–31 Stoke-on-Trent 58–9 suicide 99–100 Sunday Times 175 ‘Best Companies to Work For’ 154 Rich List 125 Swansea, Wales 145–6, 150–2, 154–64, 176, 178, 197, 205 Tata Steel 190 tax 65, 69, 70, 118, 146, 158, 159, 163, 164, 212, 229, 244, 246, 248, 251, 255 Taylor, Frederick W.: The Principles of Scientific Management 17 Tesco 35, 57, 58–9, 62–3 Thatcher, Margaret 122, 123, 146, 174–5, 193, 207, 263–4 Thorn Automation 57 Thorn EMI 59 trade unions: Amazon and 36 B&M and 130, 131 call centres and 160, 181, 184–5, 186 care sector and 88 coal industry decline and 55–6, 173, 174, 263–4 decline of 2, 3, 35 ‘gig’ economy and 230, 257, 261 objectivism and 228 oil crisis (1973) and 122 Thatcher and 123, 174, 193, 263–4 Wales and 144, 149 see also under individual union name Trades Union Congress (TUC) 173 transgender people 40–1 Transline Group 19, 20, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 43, 65–6, 86 Transport for London (TFL) 211, 212–13, 214, 233, 254, 256 Tredegar Workmen’s Medical Aid Society 247 Trefil, Wales 149 Trump, Donald 7 Uber 207, 211–57 ‘account status’ 221 clocking in at 218 corporation tax and 229 customers 221, 222, 226–7, 237–41, 244, 257 driver costs/expenses 214, 217, 233, 241, 246, 253–5 driver employment classification/contract 214–15, 222, 229–35, 243, 245, 250–2, 257 driver hours 221, 226, 230, 232, 233, 236, 246, 253, 255 driver numbers 211–13, 233–5 driver wages/pay 212, 218, 221, 229–30, 235, 236, 237, 240, 241, 244, 246, 252–5 employment tribunal against (2016) 229–34 flexibility of working for 213–14, 218, 230–3, 248, 250–1 James Farrar and see Farrar, James migrant labour and 213, 236 ‘Onboarding’ class 224–5, 238, 241, 256 opposition to 215–17 philosophy of 228–9, 235, 236 psychological inducements for drivers 222–3 rating system 225–7, 232, 238, 239, 243, 253 rejecting/accepting jobs 221–2, 224–5 ride process 219–21 surge pricing 237, 238, 253 TFL and 211, 212–13, 214, 233, 254, 256 Travis Kalanick and see Kalanick, Travis UberEATS 256 UberPOOL 225, 240–2, 253, 255–6 UberX 212, 225, 240, 241, 255 VAT and 229 vehicle requirements 214 unemployment 2, 32, 36, 62, 121–3, 132, 138, 148, 157, 172, 178, 179, 189–95, 199, 218 Unison 88, 108 Unite 55, 160 United Private Hire Drivers 230, 257 university education 3, 6, 61, 62, 123, 150–1, 152, 153–4 USDAW 130–1 Vettesse, Tony 138 Vicky (care sector supervisor) 86, 87 Wade, Alan 121, 123–4 wages: Amazon 18, 19, 37–9, 42–3, 65–6, 68, 69, 70, 159 call centre 155–6, 158–60, 164, 180 care sector 107–8, 117, 118–19, 159 living wage 1, 85, 160, 246 minimum wage 1, 7, 55, 62, 84, 107, 108, 118, 135, 155, 159, 173, 189–90, 209, 212, 235, 236, 245, 250, 262 Uber 212, 218, 221, 229–30, 235, 236, 237, 240, 241, 244, 246, 252–5 wage stagnation 2 see also under individual employer, job and sector name Wealth and Assets Survey 207–8 wealth inequality 18, 73, 123, 125, 207–8, 238 Wells, H.


Adam Smith: Father of Economics by Jesse Norman

"Robert Solow", active measures, Andrei Shleifer, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, British Empire, Broken windows theory, business cycle, business process, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, centre right, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, colonial exploitation, Corn Laws, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial intermediation, frictionless, frictionless market, future of work, George Akerlof, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, incomplete markets, information asymmetry, intangible asset, invention of the telescope, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jean Tirole, John Nash: game theory, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, lateral thinking, loss aversion, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, money market fund, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, moral panic, Naomi Klein, negative equity, Network effects, new economy, non-tariff barriers, Northern Rock, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, Philip Mirowski, price mechanism, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, random walk, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, scientific worldview, seigniorage, Socratic dialogue, South Sea Bubble, special economic zone, speech recognition, Steven Pinker, The Chicago School, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Nature of the Firm, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, time value of money, transaction costs, transfer pricing, Veblen good, Vilfredo Pareto, Washington Consensus, working poor, zero-sum game

Specific commercial initiatives should be funded by specific taxes, or even by ‘temporary monopolies’ granting the exclusive right to trade a commodity for a limited period. More generally, investment on infrastructure such as roads, canals and bridges should where possible be paid for by charges on those who use them, to inhibit frivolous or economically irrelevant schemes from being built. But, Smith suggests, unlike the societies of hunters or shepherds, commercial society also places particular strain on the working poor. ‘No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the greater part of the members are poor and miserable. It is but equity, besides, that they who feed, clothe and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labour as to be themselves tolerably well fed, clothed, and lodged.’ Their well-being is to be judged not by income alone, but also in relative terms, by the capacity to lead a life that is decent and respectable in the eyes of others: ‘Under necessaries therefore, I comprehend, not only those things which nature, but those things which the established rules of decency have rendered necessary to the lowest rank of people.’

The Essay was more than simply a warning, however; it was a pioneering attempt to link what is recognizably proto-economic modelling to policy-making. For Malthus, a keen student of Adam Smith, the prediction served to invalidate radical and utopian ideas of the perfectibility of man, while also pointing to economic factors and policy measures that could limit population growth. Yes, population growth might lead to subsistence wages, pressure on the working poor and economic volatility; but public policies on later marriage and education, among other things, could soften and shape its effects. Crucially, Malthus deliberately narrowed the scope of his analysis. He treated human beings in his theory as though they were simply subject to two fundamental drives. One was self-interest, but the other was not apparently economic at all: sexual passion. In his account these drives overwhelmed the dictates of reason, making other human attributes irrelevant to the basic analysis, though not to its remedies.

(Marçal), 218 Wilkes, John, 40 William and Mary, 11–12, 31 wisdom of crowds, 246, 248 Wolf, Martin, 259 Wollstonecraft, Mary, 220 women education of, 219–220 in Greek mythology, 214 households and, 216–217 Lectures on Jurisprudence on, 219 nature and, 214 rational economic man and, 213–214, 217 science and, 214–215 Smith, A., on, 217–220 The Theory of Moral Sentiments on, 218 The Wealth of Nations on, 219 Wollstonecraft on, 220 words, 42 working poor, 117 Wren, Christopher, 96–97


pages: 212 words: 80,393

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

British Empire, call centre, credit crunch, delayed gratification, falling living standards, financial exclusion, full employment, income inequality, low skilled workers, moral panic, Nelson Mandela, 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: 362 words: 83,464

The New Class Conflict by Joel Kotkin

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Bob Noyce, California gold rush, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, creative destruction, crony capitalism, David Graeber, deindustrialization, don't be evil, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, energy security, falling living standards, future of work, Gini coefficient, Google bus, housing crisis, income inequality, informal economy, Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, labor-force participation, low-wage service sector, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, mass affluent, McJob, McMansion, medical bankruptcy, Nate Silver, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, obamacare, offshore financial centre, Paul Buchheit, payday loans, Peter Calthorpe, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-industrial society, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, rent-seeking, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, Richard Florida, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban sprawl, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, working poor, young professional

Already a large portion—almost one-third of the public, according to Pew—considers themselves “lower” class as opposed to middle class, up from barely one-quarter in 2008.48 Indeed as the Yeomanry have struggled, the lower parts of the economic spectrum have expanded. In the five years following the Great Recession, the percentage of people living in poverty rose to 15 percent, the highest level in 20 years, although it was significantly higher in 1960. Equally troubling, the ability of less-skilled workers to break into high-wage work has slowed, trapping many in a kind of permanent status as working poor. Increasingly these workers are older and better educated than low-wage workers in the past. Some 43 percent of non-college-educated whites now complain they are downwardly mobile.49 Particularly hard hit are many minorities, notably African Americans and Latinos, whose income has also dropped more than most and whose unemployment has remained stubbornly higher. Despite the election of the nation’s first African American president, in itself a considerable achievement, the gap between Anglo incomes on the one side and those of blacks and Hispanics has doubled since the recession.

Dylan Matthews, “Poverty in the 50 Years since ‘the Other America,’ in Five Charts,” Wonkblog (blog), Washington Post, July 11, 2012, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/07/11/poverty-in-the-50-years-since-the-other-america-in-five-charts. 89. Robert Samuelson, “How We Won—and Lost—the War on Poverty,” Real Clear Politics, January 13, 2014, http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2014/01/13/how_we_won_--_and_lost_--_the_war_on_poverty_121197.html. 90. David Shipler, The Working Poor: Invisible in America (New York: Vintage, 2004), pp, 6–7. Chapter 5: Geography of Inequality 1. Encyclopæedia Britannica Online, s.v. “Vidal de La Blache, Paul,” http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/627886/Paul-Vidal-de-La-Blache. 2. William Bogart, Don’t Call It Sprawl: Metropolitan Structure in the 21st Century (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2006), p. 10. 3. Samuel H. Williamson and Louis P.


pages: 307 words: 82,680

A Pelican Introduction: Basic Income by Guy Standing

bank run, basic income, Bernie Sanders, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, Black Swan, Boris Johnson, British Empire, centre right, collective bargaining, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial intermediation, full employment, future of work, gig economy, Gunnar Myrdal, housing crisis, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, intangible asset, job automation, job satisfaction, Joi Ito, labour market flexibility, land value tax, libertarian paternalism, low skilled workers, lump of labour, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, mass incarceration, moral hazard, Nelson Mandela, offshore financial centre, open economy, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Paul Samuelson, plutocrats, Plutocrats, precariat, quantitative easing, randomized controlled trial, rent control, rent-seeking, Sam Altman, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, Stephen Hawking, The Future of Employment, universal basic income, Wolfgang Streeck, women in the workforce, working poor, Y Combinator, Zipcar

What might be called the third wave came in the 1960s, predominantly in the United States, at a time of rising concern over ‘structural’ and ‘technological’ unemployment. This was famously associated with the 1972 proposal by President Richard Nixon for a Family Assistance Plan, a form of negative income tax. He refused to use the term ‘guaranteed annual income’, and it would be an exaggeration to see Nixon as a convert to the basic income cause. He believed in supporting ‘the working poor’, by which was meant those in low-paid jobs, ignoring the many forms of unpaid work. Nevertheless, the measure was an advance in the basic income direction. It passed in the House of Representatives but died in the Senate, despite overwhelming support in public opinion polls. Ironically, the reform was killed by Democrats, some on the specious grounds that the proposed amount was not enough.

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (2016), ‘Chart book: TANF at 20’, cbbb.org, 5 August. 8. G. Standing (2014), A Precariat Charter: From Denizens to Citizens. London: Bloomsbury. 9. M. Tanner and C. Hughes (2013), ‘The work versus welfare trade-off: 2013’, Cato Institute White Paper, cato.org, 19 August. http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/the_work_versus_welfare_trade-off_2013_wp.pdf. 10. R. Berthoud (2007), Work-Rich and Work-Poor: Three Decades of Change. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation. 11. J. Drèze and A. Sen (2014), An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. This argument can be dealt with through the provision of food buffer stocks, which could be released when prices rise due to temporary shortages. The danger is that they act as disincentives to local farm production. 12.


pages: 365 words: 88,125

23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang

"Robert Solow", affirmative action, Asian financial crisis, bank run, banking crisis, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, borderless world, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, colonial rule, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, deskilling, ending welfare as we know it, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, full employment, German hyperinflation, Gini coefficient, hiring and firing, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, income per capita, invisible hand, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, market fundamentalism, means of production, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, microcredit, Myron Scholes, North Sea oil, offshore financial centre, old-boy network, post-industrial society, price stability, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, rent control, shareholder value, short selling, Skype, structural adjustment programs, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Tobin tax, Toyota Production System, trade liberalization, trickle-down economics, women in the workforce, working poor, zero-sum game

The ‘pill’ and other contraceptives have had a powerful impact on female education and labour market participation by allowing women to control the timing and the frequency of their childbirths. And there are non-technological causes. Even with the same household technologies, countries can have quite different female labour market participation ratios and different occupation structures, depending on things like social conventions regarding the acceptability of middle-class women working (poor women have always worked), tax incentives for paid work and child rearing, and the affordability of childcare. Having said all this, however, it is still true that, without the washing machine (and other labour-saving household technologies), the scale of change in the role of women in society and in family dynamics would not have been nearly as dramatic. The washing machine beats the internet Compared to the changes brought about by the washing machine (and company), the impact of the internet, which many think has totally changed the world, has not been as fundamental – at least so far.

Like all other institutions, it has its upsides and downsides. Especially if it is based on targeted, rather than universal, programmes (as in the US), it can stigmatize welfare recipients. The welfare state raises people’s ‘reservation wages’ and deters them from taking low-paying jobs with poor working conditions, although whether this is a bad thing is a matter of opinion (personally I think the existence of a large number of ‘working poor’, as in the US, is as much of a problem as the generally higher unemployment rates we see in Europe). However, if it is well designed, with a view to giving workers a second chance, as it is in Scandinavian countries, it can encourage economic growth by making people be more open to changes and thus making industrial restructuring easier. We can drive our cars fast only because we have brakes.


pages: 423 words: 149,033

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

barriers to entry, business cycle, 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, information asymmetry, 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, wealth creators, 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: 668 words: 159,523

Coffeeland: One Man's Dark Empire and the Making of Our Favorite Drug by Augustine Sedgewick

affirmative action, Alfred Russel Wallace, British Empire, business cycle, California gold rush, collective bargaining, European colonialism, family office, Fellow of the Royal Society, Food sovereignty, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Honoré de Balzac, imperial preference, Joan Didion, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, land reform, land tenure, Louis Pasteur, mass immigration, Monroe Doctrine, Philip Mirowski, race to the bottom, refrigerator car, the scientific method, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, trade route, wage slave, women in the workforce, working poor, zero-sum game

One of the representatives was a quiet, serious, dark-skinned thirty-five-year-old whom Mármol had met at the People’s University, Agustín Farabundo Martí, whom everyone called “El Negro.” Martí’s complexion disguised his family wealth.6 His father, though born poor, had amassed two farms comprising nearly five square miles of land in the coastal highlands. Yet as a young man Martí rejected the landlord’s life and began to fight against capitalism and imperialism, and for the cause of the working poor. At the time he was chosen to embed with Sandino in Nicaragua, Martí was hanging around the People’s University after leaving, through some combination of choice and expulsion, El Salvador’s national university, where he had studied law. The end of Martí’s career as a law student in good standing came in February 1920, when he was arrested as part of a group planning a demonstration against the Guatemalan dictatorship across the border.

His first recommendation was that part of the customs revenue should be “set aside to pay the armed forces of the country for the months of November and December and if possible create a reserve sufficient to take care of a part of January. This has been suggested to the President who assures me that it will be done.” If the army was paid, “tranquility” might be maintained, labor costs might remain low, and the loan might just be repaid.39 Arturo Araujo had won the presidential election with strong support from the working poor, including agricultural workers mobilized by his vision of social harmony. So it came as something of a surprise to his supporters when, within weeks of his taking office at the beginning of March 1931, and within days of his emphasizing the importance of “peace and order” for productivity, Araujo too started using violence to achieve order, sending the National Guard to break up demonstrations and hold the coffee economy in place.40 He even pushed through a law that gave the police and the army expanded power to put down public protests by force.41 The repression undercut whatever hope there had been for reform and pushed the expanded Salvadoran left toward politics by other means

* * * — THE POLITICS of the Salvadoran left in the twenties and thirties has sometimes been dismissed, even by the most sympathetic historians, as a “reductionist Marxist-Leninist” strain of communism.34 This dismissal underestimates the extent to which Farabundo Martí, Miguel Mármol, and the people they led found a remedy to fit their predicament. Just as James Hill brought parts of Manchester to the Santa Ana Volcano, so too did the people who opposed the dictatorship of coffee. Their politics had also been developed in part in Manchester, and had also been shaped by the idea of energy. By the time Friedrich Engels left Manchester in 1844, he was no longer fixated simply on the lives of the working poor. Instead he wanted to understand the relationship between the poverty he witnessed in the city’s slums and the wealth created in its factories. At the heart of the larger economic puzzle was the question of how his own family’s wealth was connected to the “condition of the working class” he had described.35 On the way home to Germany, Engels stopped in Paris to visit an acquaintance, Karl Marx.


pages: 98 words: 27,609

The American Dream Is Not Dead: (But Populism Could Kill It) by Michael R. Strain

Bernie Sanders, business cycle, centre right, creative destruction, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, feminist movement, full employment, gig economy, Gini coefficient, income inequality, job automation, labor-force participation, market clearing, market fundamentalism, new economy, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, social intelligence, Steven Pinker, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, upwardly mobile, working poor

Policy should encourage entrepreneurship and economic dynamism, advance free trade and the efficiencies and productivity gains (and thus wage gains) it brings over time, increase high-skilled immigration, and put the national debt on a downward trajectory by reforming middle-class entitlement programs. Economic opportunity and earned success are critical to the American Dream, so public policy should work aggressively to increase labor force participation. More generous earnings subsidies can pull more people into the workforce and can lift the incomes of the working poor and working class. Relocation assistance targeted to long-term unemployed workers in struggling local labor markets can offer those workers a hand up to better employment opportunities. Work-based learning programs, like apprenticeship programs, can build skills and increase wages by allowing market forces, rather than government bureaucrats, to determine which skills are taught to apprentices and can provide apprentices with marketable credentials.


pages: 721 words: 238,678

Fall Out: A Year of Political Mayhem by Tim Shipman

banking crisis, Beeching cuts, Bernie Sanders, Boris Johnson, centre right, Clapham omnibus, Corn Laws, corporate governance, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, drone strike, Etonian, eurozone crisis, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, iterative process, John Bercow, Kickstarter, kremlinology, land value tax, mutually assured destruction, Neil Kinnock, new economy, non-tariff barriers, offshore financial centre, open borders, quantitative easing, Ronald Reagan, Snapchat, working poor

That allowed them to turn Brexit into just one more domestic political issue. A Corbyn aide said, ‘For the leadership, it’s not about the process, it’s about different visions for the future. The government has the low-wage, low-growth economy, we’ve got the high-wage, high-growth, high-investment, high-skill economy with an interventionist state.’ Labour warned that a chaotic – or sometimes ‘shambolic’ – Brexit would hurt the working poor. They demanded a ‘Brexit that works for Britain and puts jobs, living standards and the economy first’. Even as the leadership coup was still raging, John McDonnell gave a speech on 1 July laying out five Labour principles for Brexit. He called for existing workers’ rights to be protected; for UK businesses to have the freedom to trade with the EU and EU businesses with the UK; for protection of residency rights for EU citizens living in the UK, and for UK citizens elsewhere in Europe; for the UK to stay part of the European Investment Bank; and for UK financial services to keep their access to the EU.

When he got the job, George Osborne delighted in telling friends, ‘If you think I’m dry on the economy, you should see this guy.’ Hammond lacked Osborne’s sure touch with political tactics. Unlike Osborne, who made tackling the deficit a common-sense issue, Hammond talked about ‘austerity’ as if it was a virtue in itself. In the run-up to the autumn statement, Hammond refused to fund schemes designed to attract the ‘just about managing’ working poor – JAMs in Whitehall speak – who Team May had identified as their target audience. ‘Philip made it very clear that every pound in spending would have to be accounted for with cuts,’ said one ally. Distracted by Brexit, Hammond’s quiet victory over Timothy was little noticed but it fuelled the chiefs’ view that the chancellor was an impediment to May achieving the goals she had set herself that first day in Downing Street.

Six days before the election, Corbyn gave an interview to the music magazine the NME hinting that he might write off student debts altogether, something that would have cost £100 billion: ‘I don’t see why those that had the historical misfortune to be at university during the £9,000 period should be burdened excessively compared to those that went before or those that come after. I will deal with it.’ Several frontbenchers went further, claiming on Twitter that the debts would be scrapped, a position from which Corbyn distanced himself after the election. While tuition fees inspired an army of students to rally to Corbyn’s flag, there was also concern among many that the manifesto had little to say about the most crucial public policy area for the working poor – the Tory policy of freezing benefits. Corbyn’s opposition to the freeze had been one of the issues which propelled him to the leadership in 2015. Debbie Abrahams, the shadow work and pensions secretary, wanted the cuts reversed and help given to the so-called WASPI women, those in their fifties whose retirement planning had been thrown into turmoil by rises in the state pension age. But McDonnell’s insistence on costing the manifesto meant he was not willing to pledge to reverse them – though it is not clear that Corbyn fully understood this.


pages: 598 words: 172,137

Who Stole the American Dream? by Hedrick Smith

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbus A320, airline deregulation, anti-communist, asset allocation, banking crisis, Bonfire of the Vanities, British Empire, business cycle, business process, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, commoditize, 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, industrial cluster, informal economy, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kitchen Debate, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, laissez-faire capitalism, late fees, Long Term Capital Management, low cost airline, low cost carrier, manufacturing employment, market fundamentalism, Maui Hawaii, mega-rich, MITM: man-in-the-middle, mortgage debt, negative equity, new economy, Occupy movement, Own Your Own Home, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, Ponzi scheme, Powell Memorandum, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Renaissance Technologies, reshoring, rising living standards, Robert Bork, 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: 578 words: 168,350

Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies by Geoffrey West

Alfred Russel Wallace, Anton Chekhov, Benoit Mandelbrot, Black Swan, British Empire, butterfly effect, carbon footprint, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, clean water, complexity theory, computer age, conceptual framework, continuous integration, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, dark matter, Deng Xiaoping, double helix, Edward Glaeser, endogenous growth, Ernest Rutherford, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Frank Gehry, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, Guggenheim Bilbao, housing crisis, Index librorum prohibitorum, invention of agriculture, invention of the telephone, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, laissez-faire capitalism, life extension, Mahatma Gandhi, mandelbrot fractal, Marchetti’s constant, Masdar, megacity, Murano, Venice glass, Murray Gell-Mann, New Urbanism, Peter Thiel, profit motive, publish or perish, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Florida, Silicon Valley, smart cities, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, too big to fail, transaction costs, urban planning, urban renewal, Vernor Vinge, Vilfredo Pareto, Von Neumann architecture, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, wikimedia commons, working poor

To quote the American architect and urban planner Andrés Duany: “In 1860, the capital city of Washington, with a population of 60,000, had unlighted streets, open sewers, and pigs roaming about its principal avenues. This condition was worse than the worst of our current cities. There is hope.” I cannot resist inserting a small personal note when writing about the rise of Victorian megacities and the plight of the “working poor.” Although I was born in a rural area of England, the county of Somerset, I have family roots in the East End of London and by a strange twist of fate ended up attending the last several years of my high school there. The East End is a product of the rapid expansion of London during the nineteenth century and became one of the poorest, most overcrowded areas of the city and, consequently, a breeding ground for disease and crime.

His argument was that the population “multiplies geometrically,” meaning that it increases at an exponential rate, whereas the ability to grow and supply food increases only “arithmetically,” meaning that it increases at a much slower linear rate, so the size of the population will eventually outstrip the food supply, leading to catastrophic collapse. Malthus concluded that in order to avoid such a catastrophe and ensure a sustainable population, some form of population control was needed. This would either arise through “natural” causes such as an increase in disease, starvation, and war or, more preferably, by changing social behavior, particularly that of the working poor, whose reproductive rates he perceived as the apparent cause of the problem. Being a devout Christian he didn’t much like the idea of contraception and preferred the concept of moral restraint such as abstinence, delayed marriages, and restricting marriage for those in dire poverty or with health or mental defects. Sound familiar? Given his deeply felt religious and moral beliefs, it’s highly debatable whether Malthus would have been an enthusiastic supporter of mass sterilization or the freedom to obtain abortions had they been available at that time.

Yes, a square city. It is hard not to perceive Masdar as effectively a large private suburban residential industrial park rather than a vibrant diverse autonomous city. In many ways its philosophy is derivative of Ebenezer Howard’s garden city concept brought into the high-tech culture of the twenty-first century, except that it appears to be designed for the privileged rather than for the working poor. Nicolai Ouroussoff, who was the architecture critic for the New York Times from 2004 to 2011, suggested that Masdar is the epitome of a gated community: “the crystallization of another global phenomenon: the growing division of the world into refined, high-end enclaves and vast formless ghettos where issues like sustainability have little immediate relevance.” It’s too early to tell whether Masdar will become a real city or remain just a grandiose upscale “gated community” stuck out in the Arabian desert.


pages: 357 words: 99,684

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

anti-globalists, back-to-the-land, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, business cycle, capital controls, centre right, citizen journalism, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, do-ocracy, 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, mass immigration, 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.


pages: 296 words: 98,018

Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas

"side hustle", activist lawyer, affirmative action, Airbnb, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, Burning Man, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, cognitive dissonance, collective bargaining, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, David Heinemeier Hansson, deindustrialization, disintermediation, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, friendly fire, global pandemic, high net worth, hiring and firing, housing crisis, Hyperloop, income inequality, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Kibera, Kickstarter, land reform, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, new economy, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Parag Khanna, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit maximization, risk tolerance, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, Steven Pinker, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, the High Line, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, Travis Kalanick, trickle-down economics, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, Upton Sinclair, Vilfredo Pareto, working poor, zero-sum game

We must ask ourselves why we have so easily lost faith in the engines of progress that got us where we are today—in the democratic efforts to outlaw slavery, end child labor, limit the workday, keep drugs safe, protect collective bargaining, create public schools, battle the Great Depression, electrify rural America, weave a nation together by road, pursue a Great Society free of poverty, extend civil and political rights to women and African Americans and other minorities, and give our fellow citizens health, security, and dignity in old age. This book offers a series of portraits of this elite-led, market-friendly, winner-safe social change. In these pages, you will meet people who ardently believe in this form of change and people who are beginning to question it. You will meet a start-up employee who believes her for-profit company has the solution to the woes of the working poor, and a billionaire investor in her company who believes that only vigorous public action can stem the rising tide of public rage. You will meet a thinker who grapples with how much she can challenge the rich and powerful if she wants to keep getting their invitations and patronage. You will meet a campaigner for economic equality whose previous employers include Goldman Sachs and McKinsey, and who wonders about his complicity in what he calls “the Trying-to-Solve-the-Problem-with-the-Tools-That-Caused-It issue.”

Even would endeavor, with characteristic Silicon Valley ambition, to counteract the effects of a generation’s worth of changes in the lives of working-class Americans, rooted in policy choices and shifts in technology and the world situation—including outsourcing, stagnant wages, erratic hours, defanged unions, deindustrialization, ballooning debt, nonexistent sick leave, dismal schools, predatory lending, and dynamic scheduling—while doing nothing about those underlying problems. Like Rosenstein and other believers in win-wins, the founders of Even wanted very much to help, but thought it best to help in a way that would create some opportunity for them, too. Leibrock was among the Even founders’ first hires, and she was on the Nimitz that day driving from interview to interview, learning about the lives and needs of the working poor so that Even could most effectively serve them as customers. She is a graduate of Yale and the private schools of Austin, Texas, with no trace of an accent. She was part of the great brain rush to California that was turning the Bay Area into one of the most unaffordable, unequal, and tense parts of the country, with resentful locals famously throwing rocks at the Google buses that ferried employees to and from the South Bay.


pages: 357 words: 94,852

No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need by Naomi Klein

Airbnb, basic income, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Brewster Kahle, Celebration, Florida, clean water, collective bargaining, Corrections Corporation of America, desegregation, Donald Trump, drone strike, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, energy transition, financial deregulation, greed is good, high net worth, Howard Zinn, illegal immigration, income inequality, Internet Archive, Kickstarter, late capitalism, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market fundamentalism, mass incarceration, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral panic, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, new economy, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, open borders, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, private military company, profit motive, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, sexual politics, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transatlantic slave trade, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, trickle-down economics, Upton Sinclair, urban decay, women in the workforce, working poor

With good reason: as the tremendous hoarding (and hiding) of vast sums of wealth by a small and unaccountable global class of virtual oligarchs makes clear, those who benefit most from these radical social restructurings are a small minority, while the majority see their standard of living stagnate or slip, even in periods of rapid economic growth. Which is why, for those who are determined to push through these policies, majority rule and democratic freedoms aren’t a friend—they are a hindrance and a threat. Not every neoliberal policy is unpopular, of course. People do like tax cuts (for the middle class and working poor, if not for the super-rich), as well as the idea of cutting “red tape” (at least in theory). But they also, on the whole, like their taxes to pay for state-funded health care, clean water, good public schools, safe workplaces, pensions, and other programs to care for the elderly and disadvantaged. Politicians planning to slash these kinds of essential protections and services, or to privatize them, are rightly wary of putting those plans at the center of their electoral platforms.

In order to offset the tens of billions going to private companies in contracts and tax breaks, in November 2005 the Republican-controlled Congress announced that it needed to cut $40 billion from the federal budget. Among the programs that were slashed: student loans, Medicaid, and food stamps. So, the poorest people in the United States subsidized the contractor bonanza twice: first, when Katrina relief morphed into unregulated corporate handouts, providing neither decent jobs nor functional public services; and second, when the few programs that directly assist the unemployed and working poor nationwide were gutted to pay those bloated bills. — New Orleans is the disaster capitalism blueprint—designed by the current vice president and by the Heritage Foundation, the hard-right think tank to which Trump has outsourced much of his administration’s budgeting. Ultimately, the response to Katrina sparked an approval ratings free fall for George W. Bush, a plunge that eventually lost the Republicans the presidency in 2008.


The Future of Money by Bernard Lietaer

agricultural Revolution, banks create money, barriers to entry, Bretton Woods, business cycle, clean water, complexity theory, corporate raider, 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 Future of Employment, the market place, the payments system, Thomas Davenport, 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: 419 words: 109,241

A World Without Work: Technology, Automation, and How We Should Respond by Daniel Susskind

3D printing, agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, blue-collar work, British Empire, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, cloud computing, computer age, computer vision, computerized trading, creative destruction, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, demographic transition, deskilling, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, drone strike, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, financial innovation, future of work, gig economy, Gini coefficient, Google Glasses, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, income per capita, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Hargreaves, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Joi Ito, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, low skilled workers, lump of labour, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, Metcalfe’s law, natural language processing, Network effects, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, pink-collar, precariat, purchasing power parity, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Sam Altman, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, social intelligence, software is eating the world, sovereign wealth fund, spinning jenny, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, strong AI, telemarketer, The Future of Employment, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, Travis Kalanick, Turing test, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, upwardly mobile, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We are the 99%, wealth creators, working poor, working-age population, Y Combinator

Consider, for instance, Benjamin Friedman, a Harvard economist, writing that “the question is not whether millions of would-be-workers will be chronically out of work … most Americans will find something to do. But far too many of the jobs they will end up taking will pay them too little support what our society considers a middle-class standard of living.” Benjamin M. Friedman, “Born to Be Free,” New York Review of Books, 12 October 2017. 37.  From Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Profile of the Working Poor, 2016,” https://www.bls.gov/opub/reports/working-poor/2016/home.htm (accessed July 2018). 38.  Robert Reich, a public-policy professor and former secretary of labor for Bill Clinton, once estimated that by 2020 up to 40 percent of Americans would have “uncertain” work like this, the sort of work that makes up the “gig,” “share,” “irregular,” or “precarious” economy, and by 2025, most workers will. This is likely to turn out to be an overestimate, though; in 2017, only 10 percent worked in so-called alternative work arrangements, a slight decline from 2005.


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

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, affirmative action, banking crisis, business cycle, 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, money market fund, Nelson Mandela, 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, zero-sum game

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

3D printing, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, American Legislative Exchange Council, basic income, Bretton Woods, clean water, collective bargaining, commoditize, 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, mass incarceration, means of production, performance metric, post-work, profit motive, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, school vouchers, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Slavoj Žižek, structural adjustment programs, Tim Cook: Apple, urban renewal, women in the workforce, working poor, zero-sum game

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: 415 words: 119,277

Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places by Sharon Zukin

1960s counterculture, big-box store, blue-collar work, corporate social responsibility, crack epidemic, creative destruction, David Brooks, East Village, en.wikipedia.org, Frank Gehry, Guggenheim Bilbao, Haight Ashbury, Jane Jacobs, late capitalism, mass immigration, new economy, New Urbanism, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, rent control, Richard Florida, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, South of Market, San Francisco, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Thorstein Veblen, upwardly mobile, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, white flight, working poor, Works Progress Administration, young professional

“Brooklyn-ness,” as the New York Times art critic Holland Cotter wrote in 2004, is now “a cultural ethnicity.”10 The contentious fate of the McCarren Park pool, a public recreational facility on the border between Williamsburg and Greenpoint, reflects this dramatic shift in Brooklyn’s image. Built by Robert Moses in the 1930s with funds from the federal Works Progress Administration, the swimming pool served an overcrowded tenement district of the working poor. During hot summer months in the 1930s and 1940s more than six thousand swimmers a day would pass through the majestic arch of its entry pavilion. In the 1970s, though, when more black and Puerto Rican residents moved into nearby neighborhoods and began to use the pool, racial conflicts broke out over who belonged there, as well as over who was responsible for mounting incidents of crime and vandalism.

Klein “on the Square,” opened across the street from the park during the 1920s, drawing crowds of factory workers and immigrants who grabbed bargains from the sales tables without any pretense of politeness. The humorist James Thurber described sale days at S. Klein as near-riots.10 From an elegant residential neighborhood and then a popular shopping and entertainment district, Union Square turned into a center of cheap stores for the working poor. This is how it remained until the 1970s, when, an architectural history of the city says, the square was “threatened … by a slow social decline that was turning it into a seedy and menacing corner of the city.”11 Like the privatization of other responsibilities formerly carried out by government, the privatization of public space in New York City begins with this narrative of urban decline.


pages: 185 words: 43,609

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel, Blake Masters

Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Andy Kessler, Berlin Wall, cleantech, cloud computing, crony capitalism, discounted cash flows, diversified portfolio, don't be evil, Elon Musk, eurozone crisis, income inequality, Jeff Bezos, Lean Startup, life extension, lone genius, Long Term Capital Management, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, Nate Silver, Network effects, new economy, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, pets.com, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, software is eating the world, Steve Jobs, strong AI, Ted Kaczynski, Tesla Model S, uber lyft, Vilfredo Pareto, working poor

The Power Law of Distribution One of these methods is likely to be far more powerful than every other for any given business: distribution follows a power law of its own. This is counterintuitive for most entrepreneurs, who assume that more is more. But the kitchen sink approach—employ a few salespeople, place some magazine ads, and try to add some kind of viral functionality to the product as an afterthought—doesn’t work. Most businesses get zero distribution channels to work: poor sales rather than bad product is the most common cause of failure. If you can get just one distribution channel to work, you have a great business. If you try for several but don’t nail one, you’re finished. Selling to Non-Customers Your company needs to sell more than its product. You must also sell your company to employees and investors. There is a “human resources” version of the lie that great products sell themselves: “This company is so good that people will be clamoring to join it.”


pages: 459 words: 123,220

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

assortative mating, business cycle, 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, jobless men, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, mass incarceration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, Occupy movement, Ralph Waldo Emerson, randomized controlled trial, school choice, selection bias, 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: 424 words: 119,679

It's Better Than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear by Gregg Easterbrook

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, air freight, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Branko Milanovic, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, coronavirus, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Exxon Valdez, factory automation, failed state, full employment, Gini coefficient, Google Earth, Home mortgage interest deduction, hydraulic fracturing, Hyperloop, illegal immigration, impulse control, income inequality, Indoor air pollution, interchangeable parts, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, labor-force participation, liberal capitalism, longitudinal study, Lyft, mandatory minimum, manufacturing employment, Mikhail Gorbachev, minimum wage unemployment, obamacare, oil shale / tar sands, Paul Samuelson, peak oil, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post scarcity, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, reserve currency, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, short selling, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Slavoj Žižek, South China Sea, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, supervolcano, The Chicago School, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, the scientific method, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, uber lyft, universal basic income, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks, working poor, Works Progress Administration

Adjusting to current dollars and for population growth, contemporary income-transfer programs—including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, ObamaCare, and the alphabet soup of TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly the food stamps program), CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance), SSI (Supplemental Security Income), and EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit)—mean Washington transfers about four times as much, per recipient, as was transferred during the New Deal. It’s good that government aid to individuals is greater today than in the past—no one should live as many did during the Depression. But US federal spending for the poor, the working poor, the lower middle class, the disabled, and the retired is more substantial than generally understood. That federal entitlement spending is backed by two sources—taxes on the affluent and borrowing from the young through the national debt. Both are income-transfer mechanisms. Yet income inequality still is high. The Belarus-born economist Simon Kuznets, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1971, showed that industrial development first increases and then decreases inequality.

In 2015, economists led by William Gale of the Brookings Institution calculated that raising the top federal tax rate to 50 percent, then redistributing new revenue entirely to the bottom quintile, would have an “exceedingly modest” effect on inequality. The higher rate would increase federal revenue by about $95 billion; transferring the sum to the bottom would remit about $2,000 per year to poor and working-poor American adults, money that would be welcome, to be sure, but would not alter the basics of social equity. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton advocated federal tax increases at the top. The Sanders plan would have raised an added $150 billion per year, though the Vermont senator proposed to distribute most of the revenue not toward the bottom, rather, to senior citizens, who are already society’s most-favored group economically, and to the middle class, which already is fairly well off.


pages: 677 words: 121,255

Giving the Devil His Due: Reflections of a Scientific Humanist by Michael Shermer

Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, anti-communist, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Boycotts of Israel, Chelsea Manning, clean water, clockwork universe, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, Columbine, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, creative destruction, dark matter, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Flynn Effect, germ theory of disease, gun show loophole, Hans Rosling, hedonic treadmill, helicopter parent, hindsight bias, illegal immigration, income inequality, invisible hand, Johannes Kepler, Joseph Schumpeter, laissez-faire capitalism, Laplace demon, luminiferous ether, McMansion, means of production, mega-rich, Menlo Park, moral hazard, moral panic, More Guns, Less Crime, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, positional goods, race to the bottom, Richard Feynman, Ronald Coase, Silicon Valley, Skype, social intelligence, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, WikiLeaks, working poor, Yogi Berra

Brooks, when it comes to charitable giving and volunteering, numerous quantitative measures debunk the myth of “bleeding heart liberals” and “heartless conservatives.” The opposite, in fact, appears to be true. Conservatives donate 30 percent more money than liberals (even when controlled for income), give more blood, and log more volunteer hours. And it isn’t because conservatives have more expendable income that they are more generous. The working poor give a substantially higher percentage of their incomes to charity than any other income group, and three times more than those on public assistance of comparable income. In other words, poverty is not a barrier to charity, but welfare is. One explanation for these findings is that people who are skeptical of big government give more than those who believe that the government should take care of the poor.

Boudreaux showed how, in fact, income redistribution could have the opposite effect: Because status among humans is determined not only by income but also by traits such as political power, athletic prowess, military heroics, intellectual success, and good looks, equalizing incomes will intensify the importance of these non-pecuniary traits as sources of status. And there’s no reason why persons with low status in these non-pecuniary categories will not suffer all the stress and envy now allegedly suffered by people with low incomes.24 In the end, then, following Frank’s line of reasoning, the government should give tax breaks to conservatives, the wealthy, and the working poor in order to reward their pro-social behavior and encourage more giving, and the government should stimulate income inequality in order to attenuate status seeking in other nonpecuniary traits. All liberals in favor of such policies please raise your hands. Other Hidden Costs: What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen in Government Actions Even if evolutionary psychologists are wrong in this analysis of sexual selection and costly signaling theory, and it was determined that ostentatious displays of wealth, power, prestige, and creativity should be penalized through a consumption tax because of Frank’s analysis using Coase’s transaction models that reveal the hidden transaction costs of positional ranking and subsequent arms races, there are transaction costs of implementing such a tax.


pages: 441 words: 124,798

Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America by Beth Macy

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, centre right, crack epidemic, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, invisible hand, labor-force participation, mandatory minimum, mass incarceration, McMansion, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, obamacare, offshore financial centre, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, single-payer health, urban renewal, War on Poverty, working poor

The idea was to create a public-private partnership where “angels,” or trained volunteers, helped funnel addicts into treatment, mentoring them during the cumbersome and usually relapse-ridden march toward sobriety—kind of like an on-call NA sponsor, only with the skills of a social worker able to take advantage of the city’s housing, mental health, and job resources. The program would be located at the Bradley Free Clinic, a long-running program for the working poor staffed by physician volunteers and located in Old Southwest, a burgeoning heroin hot spot. The clinic’s executive director, Janine Underwood, wasn’t a doctor. In the fall of 2015 she attended the first Hope Initiative meeting not because she ran a nonprofit medical clinic but because her twenty-eight-year-old son, Bobby Baylis, was among the four who died of fentanyl-laced heroin that June, while Tess was in jail.

Still raw in her grief—her son Bobby had been dead only six months—Janine Underwood could draw a detailed mental map of the treatment landscape, from health care privacy hurdles to instructions on what to do the moment you realize your twenty-one-year-old is injecting heroin. “I’m in health care, and there were just so many things I didn’t know,” said Underwood, the administrator of a free clinic for the working poor. In 2016, psychologist Cheri Hartman teamed up with Jamie Waldrop and Janine Underwood as well as local police officers to try to divert Roanoke users from jail into treat-ment. Hartman and her husband, psychiatrist Dr. David Hartman, battled bureaucratic logjams, political indifference, and stigma concerning the use of buprenorphine to treat opioid-use disorder. After her son Spencer’s conviction for heroin distribution made front-page news in 2012, prominent Roanoke jewelry store owner Ginger Mumpower became a de facto counselor to worried parents, some of whom drove two hours just to talk to someone about their children’s addiction to heroin and pills.


pages: 497 words: 143,175

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

"Robert Solow", 1960s counterculture, activist lawyer, affirmative action, airline deregulation, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, business cycle, 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, Gunnar Myrdal, income inequality, income per capita, intermodal, invisible hand, knowledge worker, laissez-faire capitalism, liberal capitalism, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, market bubble, Martin Wolf, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, open economy, Paul Samuelson, 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: 501 words: 134,867

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

addicted to oil, 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, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), investor state dispute settlement, invisible hand, liberal capitalism, 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, WikiLeaks, 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: 464 words: 127,283

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

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, digital map, Donald Davies, 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, Jane Jacobs, jitney, John Snow's cholera map, Joi Ito, Khan Academy, Kibera, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, load shedding, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, mobile money, mutually assured destruction, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, off grid, openstreetmap, packet switching, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Parag Khanna, patent troll, Pearl River Delta, 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 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, undersea cable, 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.


The Hour of Fate by Susan Berfield

bank run, buy and hold, capital controls, collective bargaining, friendly fire, Howard Zinn, income inequality, new economy, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Simon Kuznets, strikebreaker, the market place, transcontinental railway, wage slave, working poor

One of his frequent companions was Jacob Riis, the photojournalist whose groundbreaking report about New York City’s slums, How the Other Half Lives, had been published in 1890. Shortly afterward, Roosevelt visited the Evening Sun office where Riis worked and left his card with a note on the back: “I have read your book7 and I have come to help.” Roosevelt was working on the Civil Service Commission then, so there wasn’t much he could do, but the two became friends. Five years later, as health commissioner, Roosevelt saw that living conditions for the working poor were unimproved since then, or even since his time as legislator, when his fact-finding missions among tenement dwellers had first challenged his perspective on the underclass. His political pronouncements became more forceful. “There is not8 in the world a more ignoble character than the mere money-getting American, insensible to every duty, regardless of every principle, bent only on amassing a fortune,” Roosevelt wrote in a magazine article in 1895.

They recruited miners from central and eastern Europe, often more than they could fully employ, so that the men12 ended up working intermittently for less money in hazardous conditions. That had the effect of depressing all wages. The men called it “mining the miners.”13 Then owners lowered production and raised prices. Some of the earlier generations, resentful or retired, moved away. By 1902, at least half14 of the anthracite miners were immigrants from Slavic countries; by some counts they spoke fourteen different languages and dialects. They were the new working poor, each month calculating how to support their families. The old high-priced “pluck-me” company stores had officially closed, only to be handed over to the relatives of favored foremen or superintendents. Shopping there15 wasn’t compulsory, if a miner didn’t care about losing a rich vein or the days to mine it. As one striker recounted, the superintendent might ask: “Do you know that my wife’s brother George has a store?”


pages: 459 words: 138,689

Slowdown: The End of the Great Acceleration―and Why It’s Good for the Planet, the Economy, and Our Lives by Danny Dorling, Kirsten McClure

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Boris Johnson, British Empire, business cycle, capital controls, clean water, creative destruction, credit crunch, Donald Trump, drone strike, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Flynn Effect, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, global supply chain, Google Glasses, Henri Poincaré, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, jimmy wales, John Harrison: Longitude, Kickstarter, low earth orbit, Mark Zuckerberg, market clearing, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, means of production, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mortgage debt, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, Ponzi scheme, price stability, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, QWERTY keyboard, random walk, rent control, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Scramble for Africa, sexual politics, Skype, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, structural adjustment programs, the built environment, Tim Cook: Apple, transatlantic slave trade, trickle-down economics, very high income, wealth creators, wikimedia commons, working poor

Max Neufeind, Jacqueline O’Reilly, and Florian Ranft (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2018), 286-94, https://policynetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Work-in-the-Digital-Age.pdf. 24. Anna Ilsøe, “Progressing the Voluntarist Approach,” in Neufeind, O’Reilly, and Ranft, Work in the Digital Age, 286. 25. “Global Unemployment Down, but Too Many Working Poor: UN,” New Straits Times, 13 February 2019, https://www.nst.com.my/world/2019/02/459969/global-unemployment-down-too-many-working-poor-un. New Straits Times is Malaysia’s oldest English-language politics and business newspaper. 26. Nationwide House Price Index, accessed 6 May 2019, https://www.nationwide.co.uk/-/media/MainSite/documents/about/house-price-index/downloads/uk-house-price-since-1952.xls. 27. Dan McCrum, “Affordability Backwards,” Financial Times, 19 February 2004, https://ftalphaville.ft.com/2014/02/19/1776182/affordability-backwards/. 28.


pages: 510 words: 138,000

The Future Won't Be Long by Jarett Kobek

Berlin Wall, British Empire, Donald Trump, East Village, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial independence, Golden Gate Park, means of production, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, New Journalism, Norman Mailer, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, thinkpad, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, urban decay, wage slave, War on Poverty, working poor, young professional

Even the pavement was broken and destroyed, the sidewalks crumbling. Dogshit was everywhere. One empty lot looked as if its building had exploded, obliterating the walls and ceilings while leaving the interior contents unscathed. Piles of doors and furniture and bathtubs and the scattered plastic of people’s lives, trash all mashed together. There was no fence, no barrier between the street and the remains. My family had been poor, but we were the working poor, people who lived off our land. The citizens of Alphabet City were something below that, living on the streets, in abandoned buildings, in empty lots, in burned-out cars. There was a ghost town quality that would be hard to believe today when every block is crammed with hundreds of people no matter what hour. In those days, the streets were empty. And the few who were there? Well. I forced my face into a blank, not wanting to betray my shock, letting some of my hair fall down past my forehead.

The Inverted Bloody Crosses shared the bill with Collapsed, Bold, and Nausea. I hadn’t the slightest. I somehow convinced Baby to come along. “You’re a groupie now?” he asked. The Inverted Bloody Crosses sounded horrible but were the proper sort of awful, constructing signs and signifiers of post-riot LES discontent. Pronouncements, sans musique, about the cops, about the rich, about wars against the working poor. All delivered by Jon de Lee. Vocalist and lead guitarist. In the short moments between his prolonged bouts of ranting, the band cranked out dense eruptions of noise. Jon later explained that the Crosses were thrashcore, elaborating on the various punk subgenres and their distinguishing features. I tuned him out, bless his pretty little head. “So what,” said Baby, “you’re going to fuck this guy because you saw his band?”


pages: 197 words: 49,240

Melting Pot or Civil War?: A Son of Immigrants Makes the Case Against Open Borders by Reihan Salam

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Bonfire of the Vanities, charter city, delayed gratification, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, ghettoisation, guest worker program, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, income per capita, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, job automation, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, mass immigration, megacity, new economy, obamacare, open borders, race to the bottom, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, two tier labour market, upwardly mobile, urban decay, working poor

Of course, most immigrants aren’t fighting gentrification in the streets, for the obvious reason that they are typically more concerned with providing for their families. Indeed, the great appeal of newcomers as workers is that relative to native-born workers, they will do any job and live in the most insalubrious conditions. This is especially true of low-skill immigrants, who greatly increase their incomes by moving to the United States, even when they are among the poorest of America’s working poor. That’s part of why the political influence of the newcomer working class is so muted as compared to that of the established working class. Low-income immigrants tend to naturalize at low levels, in part because many are so poor that the cost of naturalization is daunting,14 and naturalized citizens vote at lower rates than the native-born.15 Meanwhile, unauthorized immigrants have even less influence.


pages: 184 words: 53,625

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

Airbus A320, airport security, algorithmic trading, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Cass Sunstein, Charles Lindbergh, cognitive dissonance, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, dark matter, Dava Sobel, David Brooks, Donald Davies, future of journalism, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, HyperCard, Jane Jacobs, John Gruber, John Harrison: Longitude, Joi Ito, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, lone genius, Mark Zuckerberg, mega-rich, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, Occupy movement, packet switching, peer-to-peer, 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, US Airways Flight 1549, WikiLeaks, William Langewiesche, working poor, X Prize, your tax dollars at work

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: 166 words: 52,755

Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America by Chris Arnade

affirmative action, big-box store, clean water, Donald Trump, white flight, white picket fence, working poor

This meant dismantling a system that demeaned, denied, and dehumanized so many based simply on the color of their skin, their sexuality, or their views. Yet we didn’t get just how deep and pervasive our privilege was. We were well intended, but we had removed ourselves from the lived experiences of most of the country, including the places and people we wanted to help. The vast majority of minorities and the working poor were excluded from our club—by a lack of credentials and by a system rigged against them getting any. Our similar path to success, our education, and our isolation from the bulk of the country, left us with a narrow view of the world. We primarily valued what we could measure, and that meant material wealth. The things that couldn’t be easily measured—community, dignity, faith, happiness—were largely ignored because they were hard to see—especially from so far away.


How Will You Measure Your Life? by Christensen, Clayton M., Dillon, Karen, Allworth, James

air freight, Clayton Christensen, disruptive innovation, hiring and firing, invisible hand, Iridium satellite, job satisfaction, late fees, Mahatma Gandhi, Nick Leeson, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, working poor, young professional

Each brain cell can be connected to hundreds of other cells by as many as ten thousand synapses. That means children who have been exposed to extra talk have an almost incalculable cognitive advantage. What’s more, Risley and Hart’s research suggests that “language dancing” is the key to this cognitive advantage—not income, ethnicity, or parents’ education. “In other words,” summarized Risley and Hart, “some working-poor people talked a lot to their kids and their kids did really well. Some affluent businesspeople talked very little to their kids and their kids did very poorly…. All the variation in outcomes was taken up by the amount of talking, in the family, to the babies before age three.” A child who enters school with a strong vocabulary and strong cognitive abilities is likely to do well in school early on and continues to do well in the longer term.


pages: 462 words: 150,129

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley

"Robert Solow", 23andMe, agricultural Revolution, air freight, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, colonial exploitation, colonial rule, Corn Laws, creative destruction, 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, hedonic treadmill, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, income per capita, Indoor air pollution, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 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, Kickstarter, 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, Thales and the olive presses, Thales of Miletus, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, transaction costs, ultimatum game, upwardly mobile, urban sprawl, Vernor Vinge, Vilfredo Pareto, wage slave, working poor, working-age population, Y2K, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

(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: 543 words: 147,357

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

Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Blythe Masters, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, business cycle, capital controls, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, centre right, choice architecture, cloud computing, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, Corn Laws, corporate governance, creative destruction, 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, liberal capitalism, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Pasteur, low cost airline, low-wage service sector, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, money market fund, moral hazard, moral panic, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, Neil Kinnock, 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, Right to Buy, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Rory Sutherland, Satyajit Das, 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, Vilfredo Pareto, Washington Consensus, wealth creators, working poor, zero-sum game, 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: 504 words: 143,303

Why We Can't Afford the Rich by Andrew Sayer

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Albert Einstein, anti-globalists, asset-backed security, banking crisis, banks create money, basic income, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, call centre, capital controls, carbon footprint, collective bargaining, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, 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, G4S, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, high net worth, income inequality, information asymmetry, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), investor state dispute settlement, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, job automation, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, land value tax, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, means of production, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, neoliberal agenda, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, patent troll, payday loans, Philip Mirowski, plutocrats, Plutocrats, popular capitalism, 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, wealth creators, WikiLeaks, Winter of Discontent, working poor, Yom Kippur War, zero-sum game

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.


Investment: A History by Norton Reamer, Jesse Downing

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, asset allocation, backtesting, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, break the buck, Brownian motion, business cycle, buttonwood tree, buy and hold, 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, dogs of the Dow, 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, information asymmetry, 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, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, negative equity, Network effects, new economy, Nick Leeson, Own Your Own Home, Paul Samuelson, 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, survivorship bias, 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: 495 words: 154,046

The Rights of the People by David K. Shipler

affirmative action, airport security, computer age, facts on the ground, fudge factor, if you build it, they will come, illegal immigration, mandatory minimum, Mikhail Gorbachev, national security letter, Nelson Mandela, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, RFID, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, Skype, Thomas L Friedman, union organizing, working poor, zero-sum game

ALSO BY DAVID K. SHIPLER The Working Poor: Invisible in America A Country of Strangers: Blacks and Whites in America Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land Russia: Broken Idols, Solemn Dreams THIS IS A BORZOI BOOK PUBLISHED BY ALFRED A. KNOPF Copyright © 2011 by David K. Shipler All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto. www.aaknopf.com Knopf, Borzoi Books, and the colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Shipler, David K., date. The rights of the people: how our search for safety invades our liberties / David K. Shipler.—1st ed. p. cm. A Borzoi book. eISBN: 978-0-307-59550-8 1.

He shared a George Polk Award for his coverage of the 1982 war in Lebanon and was executive producer, writer, and narrator of two PBS documentaries on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one of which won an Alfred I. duPont—Columbia University Award for excellence in broadcast journalism. He is the author of four other books: Russia: Broken Idols, Solemn Dreams; Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land (which won a Pulitzer Prize); A Country of Strangers: Blacks and Whites in America; and The Working Poor: Invisible in America. He has been a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a trustee of Dartmouth College, chair of the Pulitzer jury on general nonfiction, a writer-in-residence at the University of Southern California, and a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow. He has taught at Princeton University, at American University in Washington, D.C., and at Dartmouth College.


pages: 903 words: 235,753

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

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, basic income, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), 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, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, Ethereum, 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, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jacob Appelbaum, Jaron Lanier, Joan Didion, John Markoff, Joi Ito, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Khan Academy, liberal capitalism, lifelogging, linked data, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, McMansion, means of production, megacity, megastructure, Menlo Park, Minecraft, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Monroe Doctrine, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, peak oil, peer-to-peer, performance metric, personalized medicine, Peter Eisenman, Peter Thiel, phenotype, Philip Mirowski, Pierre-Simon Laplace, place-making, planetary scale, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, reserve currency, RFID, Robert Bork, 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, undersea cable, universal basic income, urban planning, Vernor Vinge, Washington Consensus, web application, Westphalian system, 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: 186 words: 57,798

Nonviolence: The History of a Dangerous Idea by Mark Kurlansky

Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Bartolomé de las Casas, Berlin Wall, British Empire, colonial rule, continuation of politics by other means, desegregation, European colonialism, Khyber Pass, Mahatma Gandhi, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, polynesian navigation, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, working poor

In Charleston, South Carolina, two thousand demonstrators protested taxes by burning effigies and then staging a mock funeral for the death of “American Liberty.” The stamp officials were forced to resign in every colony but Georgia. The demonstrations were accompanied by a boycott of British goods. The result of all this was that within a year the act was repealed. But the following year the British attempted another taxation scheme, the Townsend Acts, which, because they only taxed imports indirectly, the British hoped would be more palatable. The working poor were angry about their economic plight and they were not always nonviolent. They attacked and destroyed homes of officials, and looting was not uncommon. The intellectual leaders, being largely men of property, opposed these acts of destruction and tried to keep the street protests orderly. There was clearly a class division, and the upper-class leaders had to negotiate with the street leaders.


pages: 258 words: 63,367

Making the Future: The Unipolar Imperial Moment by Noam Chomsky

"Robert Solow", Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital controls, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate personhood, creative destruction, deindustrialization, energy security, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, Frank Gehry, full employment, Howard Zinn, Joseph Schumpeter, kremlinology, liberation theology, Long Term Capital Management, market fundamentalism, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, 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: 179 words: 59,704

Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living by Elizabeth Willard Thames

"side hustle", Airbnb, asset allocation, barriers to entry, basic income, buy and hold, carbon footprint, delayed gratification, dumpster diving, East Village, financial independence, hedonic treadmill, IKEA effect, index fund, indoor plumbing, loss aversion, McMansion, mortgage debt, passive income, payday loans, risk tolerance, Stanford marshmallow experiment, universal basic income, working poor

One missed shift can equal a missed rent payment or a missed electricity bill. Compounding this problem is the fact that many economically disadvantaged people lack a bank account, which means they’re unable to take advantage of the lending opportunities or overdraft protections that a large financial services firm can provide. It’s my belief that we, as a country, need a stronger social safety net for the working poor. We need comprehensive medical and dental coverage, we need welfare programs that don’t strand families who earn just barely too much money to qualify for housing and food subsidies, we need to care not only for our children and our elderly, but also for adults who struggle—for any number of reasons—to cobble together a livable wage. I’m a proponent of exploring a universal basic income, as studies have demonstrated that entrusting people with money of their own often yields tremendous dividends for society as a whole.


pages: 232 words: 63,846

Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth by Gabriel Weinberg, Justin Mares

Airbnb, Firefox, if you build it, they will come, jimmy wales, Justin.tv, Lean Startup, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Network effects, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, side project, Skype, Snapchat, social graph, software as a service, the payments system, Uber for X, web application, working poor, Y Combinator

As billionaire PayPal founder and early Facebook investor Peter Thiel put it: [You] probably won’t have a bunch of equally good distribution strategies. Engineers frequently fall victim to this because they do not understand distribution. Since they don’t know what works, and haven’t thought about it, they try some sales, BD, advertising, and viral marketing—everything but the kitchen sink. That is a really bad idea. It is very likely that one channel is optimal. Most businesses actually get zero distribution channels to work. Poor distribution—not product—is the number one cause of failure. If you can get even a single distribution channel to work, you have great business. If you try for several but don’t nail one, you’re finished. So it’s worth thinking really hard about finding the single best distribution channel. We use the name Bullseye for our three-step framework because you’re aiming for the Bullseye—the one traction channel at the center of the target that will unlock your next growth stage.


pages: 558 words: 168,179

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

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Legislative Exchange Council, 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, corporate raider, 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, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, job automation, low skilled workers, mandatory minimum, market fundamentalism, mass incarceration, 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, Powell Memorandum, Ralph Nader, Renaissance Technologies, road to serfdom, Robert Mercer, 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: 233 words: 64,479

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

airport security, Berlin Wall, David Brooks, follow your passion, illegal immigration, Isaac Newton, longitudinal study, 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: 267 words: 71,123

End This Depression Now! by Paul Krugman

airline deregulation, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Bretton Woods, business cycle, 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, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, 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: 246 words: 70,404

Come and Take It: The Gun Printer's Guide to Thinking Free by Cody Wilson

3D printing, 4chan, active measures, Airbnb, airport security, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, assortative mating, bitcoin, Chelsea Manning, disintermediation, fiat currency, Google Glasses, gun show loophole, jimmy wales, lifelogging, Mason jar, means of production, Menlo Park, Minecraft, national security letter, New Urbanism, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Skype, thinkpad, WikiLeaks, working poor

I replaced the canon element with a RepRap printer and posted the thing to our website, proud to borrow the thoroughly Texan slogan, one suited for the skirmishes of all untimely men: More than a month later, I still felt some of that first bewilderment as I packed up my laptop. I dropped a few wilted dollars on the table and left Jim’s for the damp night outside. I had avoided other diners and cafés since my first weeks back in Austin. Everything to the south and east was choked with hipsters, sitting, malling, looming—mostly looming. But this far north they dared not gambol. No quarter for your bad conscience and mercenary affectations among the old and working poor, whose blind indifference was better than any contempt. Highway 1 led me slowly back to Guadalupe and home, where lustrous bands of white and green and red were pulled across the pavement’s mirror surface. The night’s work finished, I thought maybe I’d go to class tomorrow. PART II Ministry of Defense One virtue is better than two, a poet once said. And like my plans to go to class, eventually most of my other virtues would be sacked in service of a strange new pastime.


pages: 262 words: 66,800

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

agricultural Revolution, anti-communist, availability heuristic, Bartolomé de las Casas, Berlin Wall, British Empire, business climate, clean water, continuation of politics by other means, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, demographic transition, desegregation, Donald Trump, Flynn Effect, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, Gunnar Myrdal, 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, Nelson Mandela, open economy, place-making, Rosa Parks, sexual politics, special economic zone, Steven Pinker, telerobotics, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transatlantic slave trade, very high income, working poor, Xiaogang Anhui farmers, zero-sum game

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.


pages: 317 words: 71,776

Inequality and the 1% by Danny Dorling

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, banking crisis, battle of ideas, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Boris Johnson, Branko Milanovic, buy and hold, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, centre right, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, corporate governance, credit crunch, David Attenborough, David Graeber, delayed gratification, Dominic Cummings, double helix, Downton Abbey, en.wikipedia.org, Etonian, family office, financial deregulation, full employment, Gini coefficient, high net worth, housing crisis, income inequality, land value tax, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, lump of labour, mega-rich, Monkeys Reject Unequal Pay, Mont Pelerin Society, mortgage debt, negative equity, Neil Kinnock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, plutocrats, Plutocrats, precariat, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, TaskRabbit, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trickle-down economics, unpaid internship, very high income, We are the 99%, wealth creators, working poor

Ten Things They Don’t Tell You about the Welfare Budget’, Huffington Post, 17 December 2012, at huffingtonpost.co.uk. 65. Figure 3.4 in Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, ‘State of the Nation 2013, October 2013, London, Stationery Office, at gov.uk. 66. H. Reed, ‘In the Eye of the Storm: Britain’s Forgotten Children and Families – Methodological Summary’, London, Action for Children – The Children’s Society – NSPCC, 2012, p. 6. 67. G. Kelly, ‘Stealth Cuts Are Making Universal Credit Toxic to the Working Poor’, Guardian, 12 December 2013. 68. According to the research undertaken for the Children’s Society and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. See Reed, ‘In the Eye of the Storm’. 69. Nat Cen, ‘Social Attitudes in an Age of Austerity’, British Social Attitudes 2012, London, National Centre for Social Research, at bsa-29.natcen.ac.uk. 70. J. Werran, ‘Lewis Disputes “Shoddy” Labour Figures on Council Tax Arrears’, Local Government Chronicle, 11 October 2013, at localgov.co.uk. 71.


pages: 238 words: 68,914

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

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Atul Gawande, barriers to entry, Clayton Christensen, commoditize, informal economy, inventory management, job automation, knowledge economy, lifelogging, 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: 212 words: 69,846

The Nation City: Why Mayors Are Now Running the World by Rahm Emanuel

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, blockchain, carbon footprint, clean water, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, Enrique Peñalosa, Filter Bubble, income inequality, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, Kickstarter, Lyft, megacity, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, payday loans, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the High Line, transcontinental railway, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, urban planning, War on Poverty, white flight, working poor

The auto industry bailout was perceived in the same manner. The middle class believed it was a get-out-of-jail-free card intended solely for the executives who created the crisis in the first place. And then came the Affordable Care Act. Again, this was a great piece of social policy. We had to provide health-care coverage for the 40 million formerly uninsured people in our country. The program at one level was an expansion of Medicaid for the working poor, but our political opposition painted it as health care for “others” while you struggled to pay your own bills. People also came to believe that they would lose their health care and doctor and not be able to keep them as promised. Somehow those narratives became the more accepted ones—at the time. These two bills, coupled with a deep recession, left the country with a middle class that felt squeezed.


Smart Cities, Digital Nations by Caspar Herzberg

Asian financial crisis, barriers to entry, business climate, business cycle, business process, carbon footprint, clean water, cloud computing, corporate social responsibility, Dean Kamen, demographic dividend, Edward Glaeser, Edward Snowden, hive mind, Internet of things, knowledge economy, Masdar, megacity, New Urbanism, packet switching, QR code, remote working, RFID, rising living standards, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, smart cities, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, smart meter, social software, special economic zone, Stephen Hawking, telepresence, too big to fail, trade route, transcontinental railway, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban sprawl, women in the workforce, working poor, X Prize

Additionally, it left visitors underwhelmed by its productivity, convenience, and aesthetics. In the case of New Cairo and 6th October City, they were designed to relieve some of the pressure from Cairo’s runaway population growth but thus far had perpetuated its striking income disparity. Rather than solving a need for stronger economic drivers, many found these developments to be suburban retreats for the wealthy and impractical for the working poor. The entire concept of urban planning on the brand-new, citywide scale too easily invoked dystopian images of grey, lifeless structures containing none of the vitality and relevance the world now expects of city life. Meanwhile, established cities such as London and Chicago were fighting hard to retain their positions as transportation hubs; was it not presumptuous to believe that a brand-new city could divert enough air traffic to sustain economic promise?


The Polytunnel Book: Fruit and Vegetables All Year Round by Joyce Russell

clean water, Kickstarter, working poor

Be sure to harvest while the skin is firm and shiny. You will need to watch out for sharp spines on the stem, as these can give a nasty prick. Cut through the stem with a knife or clippers. Don’t just tug on the plant, as roots may be damaged. August is ‘make or break’ month for this temperamental vegetable. Some people grow aubergines without any problem; other people just can’t seem to get them to work. Poor fruit set can be due to low temperatures, poor feeding or poor pollination (or all three at once). If no fruit has set, dampen a paintbrush and transfer pollen as early in the month as possible. If we get a hot, late summer, it’s still possible to get late fruit. Feed with a seaweed-based liquid feed and apply well-rotted horse manure as a mulch around the aubergine plants. Keep the soil moist but not soggy.


pages: 593 words: 189,857

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

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, asset-backed security, Atul Gawande, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, break the buck, Buckminster Fuller, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, 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, Kickstarter, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, McMansion, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Nate Silver, negative equity, 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, selection bias, 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: 603 words: 182,826

Owning the Earth: The Transforming History of Land Ownership by Andro Linklater

agricultural Revolution, anti-communist, Anton Chekhov, Ayatollah Khomeini, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, British Empire, business cycle, colonial rule, Corn Laws, corporate governance, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, facts on the ground, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, Gini coefficient, Google Earth, income inequality, invisible hand, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kibera, Kickstarter, land reform, land tenure, light touch regulation, market clearing, means of production, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mohammed Bouazizi, Monkeys Reject Unequal Pay, mortgage debt, Northern Rock, Peace of Westphalia, Pearl River Delta, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, quantitative easing, Ralph Waldo Emerson, refrigerator car, Right to Buy, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, spinning jenny, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, ultimatum game, wage slave, WikiLeaks, wikimedia commons, working poor

Raw wool, worth around two million pounds a year, earned more than eight million pounds a year as cloth, and its production employed almost one in five of the workforce in the mid-seventeenth century. And almost uniquely among European nations, England charged no internal taxes on the movement of agricultural produce from the country to the town. “The working manufacturing people of England eat the fat, and drink the sweet, live better, and fare better, than the working poor of any other nation in Europe,” declared Daniel Defoe in 1726. “They make better wages of their work, and spend more of the money upon their backs and bellies, than in any other country.” The significance of this widening divergence has provoked furious debate amongst historians and economists attempting to explain why it happened. The emphasis used to be placed on enclosures as the spur to more efficient farming until research showed that open fields in England and France had also increased yields of cereals in the seventeenth century.

An explosive growth in the population, from about seven million inhabitants in 1700 to more than eleven million by the end of the century, should have pushed up agricultural prices and profits as the demand for food increased. Instead, prices for wheat and other cereals barely rose until the 1780s. Cheap food meant that Daniel Defoe did not exaggerate in 1726 when he claimed that “The working manufacturing people of England eat the fat, and drink the sweet, live better, and fare better, than the working poor of any other nation in Europe.” Much of the demand was in fact met by imports of wheat from northern France, and some from an increase in the acreage worked by British farmers. But in the first seventy years of the century, the rising productivity of farming that had doubled wheat yields since the early 16th century began to flatten and almost level off. By rights the price of land should have fallen, but instead it increased from about five pounds an acre for enclosed land in the early 1700s to more than thirty pounds in the 1760s.


pages: 662 words: 180,546

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

"Robert Solow", Alvin Roth, 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, business cycle, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, constrained optimization, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, dark matter, David Brooks, David Graeber, debt deflation, deindustrialization, do-ocracy, 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, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, joint-stock company, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, l'esprit de l'escalier, labor-force participation, liberal capitalism, liquidity trap, loose coupling, manufacturing employment, market clearing, market design, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, money market fund, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, Nash equilibrium, night-watchman state, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shock, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, Philip Mirowski, 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, Vilfredo Pareto, 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: 300 words: 78,475

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

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, post-work, 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: 232 words: 77,956

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

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, Right to Buy, risk tolerance, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, 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: 294 words: 77,356

Automating Inequality by Virginia Eubanks

autonomous vehicles, basic income, business process, call centre, cognitive dissonance, collective bargaining, correlation does not imply causation, deindustrialization, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, ending welfare as we know it, experimental subject, housing crisis, IBM and the Holocaust, income inequality, job automation, mandatory minimum, Mark Zuckerberg, mass incarceration, minimum wage unemployment, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, New Urbanism, payday loans, performance metric, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, statistical model, strikebreaker, underbanked, universal basic income, urban renewal, War on Poverty, working poor, Works Progress Administration, young professional, zero-sum game

By 1860, Massachusetts had 219 poorhouses, one for every 5,600 residents, and Josiah Quincy was enjoying his retirement after a long and rewarding career in politics. From the beginning, the poorhouse served irreconcilable purposes that led to terrible suffering and spiraling costs. On the one hand, the poorhouse was a semi-voluntary institution providing care for the elderly, the frail, the sick, the disabled, orphans, and the mentally ill. On the other, its harsh conditions were meant to discourage the working poor from seeking aid. The mandate to deter the poor drastically undercut the institution’s ability to provide care. Inmates were required to swear a pauper’s oath stripping them of whatever basic civil rights they enjoyed (if they were white and male). Inmates could not vote, marry, or hold office. Families were separated because reformers of the time believed that poor children could be redeemed through contact with wealthy families.


pages: 232

Planet of Slums by Mike Davis

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, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet Archive, jitney, jobless men, Kibera, labor-force participation, land reform, land tenure, liberation theology, low-wage service sector, mandelbrot fractal, market bubble, megacity, microcredit, Nelson Mandela, New Urbanism, Pearl River Delta, 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

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, I will remember that I didn’t make the world, and it doesn’t satisfy my equations, illegal immigration, Internet of things, late fees, mass incarceration, 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, Rubik’s Cube, 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: 223 words: 77,566

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, blue-collar work, cognitive dissonance, late fees, medical malpractice, obamacare, payday loans, Peter Thiel, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, school vouchers, Silicon Valley, unbiased observer, upwardly mobile, working poor

If things escalated a bit, bedrooms would illuminate as people awoke to investigate the commotion. And if things got out of hand, the police would come and take someone’s drunk dad or unhinged mom down to the city building. That building housed the tax collector, the public utilities, and even a small museum, but all the kids in my neighborhood knew it as the home of Middletown’s short-term jail. I consumed books about social policy and the working poor. One book in particular, a study by eminent sociologist William Julius Wilson called The Truly Disadvantaged, struck a nerve. I was sixteen the first time I read it, and though I didn’t fully understand it all, I grasped the core thesis. As millions migrated north to factory jobs, the communities that sprouted up around those factories were vibrant but fragile: When the factories shut their doors, the people left behind were trapped in towns and cities that could no longer support such large populations with high-quality work.


pages: 287 words: 86,919

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

Ada Lovelace, airport security, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, Bretton Woods, computer age, Craig Reynolds: boids flock, discovery of DNA, Donald Davies, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Grace Hopper, Hacker Ethic, informal economy, John Conway, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, late capitalism, linear programming, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, moral panic, mutually assured destruction, Norbert Wiener, old-boy network, packet switching, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, 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: 321 words: 85,267

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

A Pattern Language, American ideology, 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, Peter Calthorpe, 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: 262 words: 83,548

The End of Growth by Jeff Rubin

Ayatollah Khomeini, Bakken shale, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, British Empire, business cycle, 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, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Jane Jacobs, Kickstarter, 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, zero-sum game

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: 361 words: 81,068

The Internet Is Not the Answer by Andrew Keen

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Airbnb, AltaVista, Andrew Keen, augmented reality, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Black Swan, Bob Geldof, Burning Man, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collective bargaining, Colonization of Mars, computer age, connected car, creative destruction, cuban missile crisis, David Brooks, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, Donald Davies, 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, Joi Ito, Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, Lean Startup, libertarian paternalism, lifelogging, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, Metcalfe’s law, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Nate Silver, Nelson Mandela, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, nonsequential writing, Norbert Wiener, Norman Mailer, Occupy movement, packet switching, PageRank, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer rental, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Potemkin village, precariat, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, 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 Future of Employment, the medium is the message, the new new thing, Thomas L Friedman, Travis Kalanick, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber for X, uber lyft, 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: 281 words: 86,657

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

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, mass immigration, McMansion, New Urbanism, Norman Mailer, Peter Calthorpe, 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: 273 words: 87,159