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An Introduction to Political Economy by R Page Arnot

By R Page Arnot

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Mrs. Jones is no domestic goddess. More likely, she is overweight and overworked. Employed as a nurse at a nearby hospital, in her spare time she assists neighbors without medical insurance. The occasional tax-free extra cash is crucial to make ends meet. In 2006, the couple’s household income was $46,326, $2,000 lower than in 2001, the year the previous recession ended. 2 Husband and wife shop at Wal-Mart, eat at McDonald’s, and regularly buy lottery tickets in the hope of winning their way out of the middle class.

To obtain basic modern necessities, a middleincome earner would have to work more hours today than was the case five, ten, or fifteen years ago. Globalization has broken the link between productivity and real earnings at the local level, unleashing a novel economic interdependency. Today, those who are nostalgic for the American Dream should look at the Nordic countries, where the middle class still exists and where income inequality has been curbed by ad hoc policies. indd 48 ROGUE ECONOMICS 11/2/08 2:05:05 PM rich families are likely to remain poor and rich respectively, in the Nordic countries they have the same chances to succeed.

Income inequality has also been fast growing in Europe, with the widest gap between rich and poor to be found in the United Kingdom. 7 million. In 2006, British corporate profits were the highest since 1965, but they were distributed less equitably than in the past. 4 percent. According to Goldman Sachs, profit margins of corporations have been rising steadily since 1989, reaching an all-time high in 2006, thanks to the decline in labor’s share of national income. This phenomenon is linked to the exceptional surge in the global supply of labor.

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