Piketty’s Fair-Weather Friends | Jacobin

Posted: 2014/05/30 by Punkonomics (@dearbalak) in Links/Articles/Video
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https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/05/pikettys-fair-weather-friends/

Here we return to the vision of the classical economists — Adam Smith, Ricardo and Marx — who saw the income distribution as the outcome of a historical struggle between capitalists and those who employ them, with no “equilibrium solution” possible.

The particular history this chart recounts has been told before, by writers like Doug Henwood and J.W. Mason, though maybe the definitive version still waits to be told: how resurgent capitalists in the 1970s and 1980s, emboldened by a weakened working class, drafted managers tightly into their ranks using the tools and personnel of Wall Street, and reshaped the economic landscape. (Note the sheer size of the shift in this chart: had it not occurred, the average non-managerial worker’s compensation would be more than 20% higher today.)

Just how the spoils of that twentieth-century victory get handed down to future generations is a matter that will no doubt depend on the multiplicative dynamics of capital in the twenty-first century, as Piketty claims. But whether those numbers spell a social crisis or just more of the same will depend on how the next chapter of the struggle is written.

 

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