A Generation of Capitalist Decay
By Jay Arena, New Orleans WDN
On many indicators, the material conditions of the US working class have declined in the era of "neoliberalism", otherwise known as capitalism in decay.
1973: average weekly wage :$502,
1998: average weekly wage:$442,
1973: one child in seven children in poverty
1997: one child in five children in poverty
1983 -1995 the inflation adjusted net worth (which includes the value of a home)
of the bottom 40% of households
of the middle 55% of households
Unionization DOWN to 10% of the workforce, from its high of 30 % in the 1950s.
Prison population UP-- 2002 over 2 million people were incarcerated in the US. 12% of African American males in their twenties and early thirties were incarcerated. As of 1997 the top 1% of households had 40.1% of all wealth, UP to the highest level since 1929, the eve of the Great Depression.
Neoliberalism in the Third World
1980: 136 million people in poverty in Latin America, 41% of the population.
1992: 266 million people in poverty, 62% of the population.
Minimum wage in 1993 as percentage of minimum wage in 1980:
Wages as percent of GDP ( measure of what share of total wealth goes to workers).
Country 1970 1990
Venezuela 41% 31%.
Peru 40% 16.8%
Mexico 37.5% 27.3%
Ecuador 34% 15%.
Between 10 and 20% of the total national income has been shifted from the vast majority of the population--the workers--to a tiny layer of the ultra-rich. By 1994 Mexico had 27 billionaires, more than the number of all of Latin America just 2 years earlier. The growth in the number of millionaires and billionaires in Mexico and Latin America at one pole, and the increasing misery at the other end of the class spectrum, are a direct result of the policies of privatization, export promotion and state violence against workers organizations.