Friday, September 14, 2012

Economic Inequality and Deprivation Continue Unabated

The latest figures from the Census Bureau show the continuing trend toward greater income inequality, persistent poverty, and declining median income. Many might have hoped that an Obama administration would have presided over a more equitable distribution of economic benefits but as was reported in the Spring, things are actually worse than under the Bush administration on the question of unshared “prosperity”.

But this is not an Obama problem or a partisan problem; it is a systemic failure of the structure of the United States political economy and our form of capitalism. Neither of the two major political parties has a plan to address this issue, which would require aggressive policies aimed at raising income levels and strengthening the hand of labor in their relationship with capital, owners, and employers. This can’t be achieved when unemployment weakens workers’ bargaining power and the assault on (by Republicans) or benign neglect (by Democrats) of organized labor ensures continuing unfavorable labor market outcomes for workers.

Pro-labor policies would also be the best remedy for stimulating the economy, which remains mired in recession due to insufficient consumer spending as a result of widespread economic deprivation.

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