Saturday, June 26, 2010

One of the reasons for the Golden Age that allowed white workers in the U.S. to have a high standard of living was Keynesianism

Keynsian economics, which in this case said that society can in fact benefit if companies don't cut wages to the lowest possible level but instead preserve them higher artificially. More wages by people who use the money (as opposed to having it sit in a bank someplace) means more dollars driving consumption meaning more products bought, translating out into more economic activity in general. If you put wages too low you undercut the ability of people in general to buy the products you make, thereby causing the economy to contract since it can't support the same amount of factories that it once could. The higher wages were part of a general post-war compromise that saw unions give up much of their militancy in exchange for stable benefits and a place at the table of both government and corporate board rooms. And the wages in general were made easier to fulfill by the fact that U.S. industry was the only intact international industrial system after the Second World War.

Ever since the downturn of the '70s hit that agreement that Keynesian wage policies are good has been under fire. Part of what we're experiencing now economically is a result of abandoning these policies. By allowing the tendency of capitalism to reassert itself society has opened up the door for an increasing division between capital and labor, between folks who find themselves doing jobs that aren't either in a position of authority or in white collar trades and people who do find themselves in those positions. Class begins to matter more now than in the past. This is extremely important because from the '60s on the idea was for folks from minority backgrounds to try to become part of the deal that was established, that white people were already benefiting from, but from which they had been excluded.

The issue at hand is whether this second fissure will really equalize power between the races by throwing white people down the class ladder or if it will somehow maintain the racial hierarchy that exists in the United States while intensifying the overall class differences in society.

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