Although most discussions of the impact of neo-liberal economic policies focus on the countries of the Global South, these policies have been implemented in the
However, these neo-liberal policies have been implemented in the
It is believed that the implementation of these neo-liberal economic policies and the cultural wars are part of a two-part project: the first part is to improve the economic well-being of the already well-off, as already suggested. But there is another, a second part that is perhaps even more important. These laws and policies are also being used to attack our unions and other organizations that can mobilize people to fight back. In other words, the corporations, their friends in government and the elite in general, are using these policies to attack the American public, in an effort to prevent re-emergence of the collective solidarity among the American people that we saw in the late 1960s-early 1970s, of which the internal breakdown of discipline within the US military, in Viet Nam and around the world, was probably the most crucial. Let me put it this way: the "cultural wars" are being waged to divert our attention away from the improving economic well-being of the already well-off, and to keep us from noticing that these same policies are also disemboweling our organizations, so that even when we wake up, when we recognize the systematic attack on our economic well-being, we will be unable to fight back: the longer we wait to see this, the weaker the position we will be in from which to fight back.
In other words, the elite saw the upsurge of the "60s" as being a threat to the established social order, both internationally and in the
In the face of these external challenges: making the Empire’s domination less stable: the elites are not wanting people from within the
So, what has been the impact of these policies on workers in the
To answer this question, this paper focuses on several interrelated issues: (1) it discusses the current economic situation for workers; (2) it provides a historical overview of US society since World War II; (3) reports the results of US Government economic policies; and (4) comes to a conclusion about the foreseeable future, but also argues the need for qualitative social change.
1) The Current Situation for Workers and Growing Economic Inequality
Steven Greenhouse of The New York Times published a piece on September 4, 2006, writing about entry-level workers, young people who were just entering the job market. Mr. Greenhouse noted changes in the
Median incomes for families with one parent age 25-34 fell 5.9% between 2000-2005. It had jumped 12% during the late ’90s. (The median annual income for these families today is $48,405.)
Between 2000-2005, entry-level wages for male college graduates fell by 7.3% (to $19.72/hr).
Entry-level wages for female college graduates fell by 3.5% (to $17.08).
Entry-level wages for male high school graduates fell by 3.3% (to $10.93)
Entry-level wages for female high school graduates fell by 4.9% (to $9.08)
Yet, the percentage drop in wages hides the growing gap between college and high school graduates. Today, college grads earn 45% more than high school graduates, where the gap had "only" been 23% in 1979: the gap has doubled in 26 years.
A 2004 story in Business Week found that 24 percent: one of every four: of all working Americans received wages below the poverty line. In January 2004, 23.5 million Americans received free food from food pantries. "The surge for food demand is fueled by several forces: job losses, expired unemployment benefits, soaring health-care and housing costs, and the inability of many people to find jobs that match the income and benefits of the jobs they had." And 43 million people were living in low-income families with children.
A 2006 story in Business Week found that
… information technology, the great electronic promise of the 1990s, has turned into one of the greatest job-growth disappointments of all time. Despite the splashy success of companies such as Google and Yahoo!, businesses at the core of the information economy: software, semi-conductors, telecom, and the whole range of Web companies: have lost more than 1.1 million jobs in the past five years. These businesses employ fewer Americans today than they did in 1998, when the Internet frenzy kicked into high gear.
In fact, "take away health-care hiring in the
There has been extensive job loss in manufacturing. Over 3.4 million manufacturing jobs have been lost since 1998, and 2.9 million have been lost since 2001. Additionally, over 40,000 manufacturing firms have closed since 1999, and 90% have been medium and large shops. In labor-import intensive industries, 25 percent of laid-off workers remain unemployed after six months, two-thirds of them who do find new jobs earn less than on their old job, and one-quarter of those who find new jobs "suffer wage losses of more than 30 percent."
The AFL-CIO details the American job loss by manufacturing sector in the 2001-05 period:
Computer and electronics: 543,000 workers or 29.2 percent
Semiconductor and electronic components: 260,100 or 36.7 percent
Electrical equipment and appliances: 152,500 or 26 percent
Vehicle parts: 153,400 or 18.6 percent
Machinery: 289,400 or 19.9 percent
Fabricated metal products: 235,200 or 13.3 percent
Primary metals: 144,800 or 23.5 percent
Transportation equipment: 246,300 or 12.1 percent
Furniture products: 58,500 or 13.4 percent
Textile mills: 158,500 or 43.1 percent
Apparel 220,000 or 46.6 percent
Leather products: 24,700 or 38.3 percent
Printing: 159,300 or 19.9 percent
Paper products: 122,600 or 20.4 percent
Plastics and rubber products: 141,400 or 15 percent
Chemicals: 94,900 or 9.7 percent
Aerospace: 46,900 or 9.1 percent
Textiles and apparel declined by 870,000 jobs 1994-2006, a decline of 65.4 percent.
As of June 2006, there were only 14.259 million manufacturing workers, down from 19.426 million at the