Tag Archive for: inequality

The Cost of Biden’s Racialism

Joe Biden may have once bragged about his cooperative relations with segregationists, but he still arguably owes more to African-American leadership and voters than any politician in recent history. After all, it was black voters who bequeathed him the two critical victories in South Carolina and Georgia that led to his nomination in 2020. Perhaps that’s why he promised in his inaugural address to focus on the “sting of systemic racism” and fight encroaching “white supremacy.”

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Joel Kotkin Talks with Anthony Furey: Payback Against Political Elites

By: Anthony Furey
On: The Full Comment

Voters around the world are saying they’re angry. They’re unhappy that the promise of upward mobility is over and they’re frustrated that government policies animated by elitist values keep making life harder for the middle and working classes, Joel Kotkin tells Anthony Furey this week. Younger voters around the world are already flocking to more extremist solutions after feeling abandoned by the establishment, explains Kotkin, a noted authority on global economic, political and social trends from California’s Chapman University. It’s all creating a powerful political volcano, he says, and the explosion won’t be pleasant. (Recorded April 28, 2022)

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Do We Need a Capitalist Civil War?

We Americans like to think of ourselves as a thoroughly modern people — living proof of what, with enough toil and grit, the rest of the free world can one day hope to be. And yet for all our progressivism and idealism, America’s political culture finds itself unable to escape the past. We may be living in a 21st century democracy, but that “democracy” increasingly resembles something that could have been plucked out of feudal Europe or, perhaps more accurately, feudal Japan.

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The Working Classes Are a Volcano Waiting to Erupt

Whatever the final outcome, the recent French elections have already revealed the comparative irrelevance of many elite concerns, from gender fluidity and racial injustice to the ever-present ‘climate catastrophe’. Instead, most voters in France and elsewhere are more concerned about soaring energy, food and housing costs. Many suspect that the cognitive elites, epitomised by President Emmanuel Macron, lack even the ambition to improve their living conditions.

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California’s Vanished Dreams, By the Numbers

Even today amid a mounting exodus among those who can afford it, and with its appeal diminished to businesses and newcomers, California, legendary state of American dreams, continues to inspire optimism among progressive boosters.

Laura Tyson, the longtime Democratic economist now at the University of California at Berkeley, praises the state for creating “the way forward” to a more enlightened “market capitalism.” Like-minded analysts tout Silicon Valley’s massive wealth generation as evidence of progressivism’s promise. The Los Angeles Times suggested approvingly that the Biden administration’s goal is to “make America California again.” And, despite dark prospects in November’s midterm elections, the President and his party still seem intent on proving it.

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America is Headed for Class Warfare

Nothing has revealed the class divide in the U.S. quite like runaway inflation and skyrocketing gas prices. But in addition to the economic impact the staggering incompetence of the Biden administration is having on the working class, there is a political one; it’s undeniably driving working class voters even further from the Democrats and toward the GOP.

But it’s not all good news for conservatives. The recent Amazon vote to unionize could be a precursor to something less appealing to the Right: a nascent rebellion among the vast armies of service workers who for decades have inhabited the lower economic rungs.

The truth is, the rising tide of class conflict is problematic for both parties. The Amazon vote challenges the GOP’s anti-union stance and its free market dogma. But Democrats, too, face an embarrassing conundrum, since the companies most likely to face continued union drives—Amazon and Starbucks among them—are themselves core funders and media stewards of the Democratic Party.

This is not the discussion either liberal oligarchs or Right-wing activists want. They would rather battle over media hot buttons like climate, race, and gender, than meaningfully address working conditions, wages or rapidly rising rents.

In other words, neither party has developed a program to boost proletarian aspirations.

And this despite the fact that the growing class divide could well be the dominant issue of the next decade. Middle- and working-class Americans are widely—and correctly—pessimistic about their economic futures. Even before the civil unrest of recent years and the pandemic, Pew reported that most Americans believed our country was in decline, with a shrinking middle class, increased debt, alienation from leaders and growing polarization.

Almost 70 percent of Americans told pollsters last year that the next generation will be worse off than their parents. And it’s not just the masses. Young people across the country are pessimistic as well: Most people 15 to 24 also think life will be worse for them than for their parents.

They aren’t wrong. The share of American adults who live in middle-income households has decreased from 61 percent in 1971 to 51 percent in 2019, and the pandemic appears to have accelerated this pattern, hitting low-income workers hardest while the recovery helped them least.

Meanwhile, those at the top are raking it in. CEO compensation reached record levels this year, investment bankers on Wall Street enjoyed record bonuses and the giant tech firms now boast a market capitalization greater than the bloated federal budget.

Read the rest of this piece at Newsweek.


Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Roger Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. Learn more at joelkotkin.com and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.

Photo: Elvert Barnes via Flickr under CC 2.0 License.

Green Hypocrisy Hurts the Poorest

Roughly a half century ago, rising energy prices devastated Western economies, helping make the autocrats of the Middle East insanely rich while propping up the slowly disintegrating Soviet empire. Today the world is again reeling from soaring energy prices; but this time the wound is self-inflicted — a product of misguided policies meant to accelerate the transition to green energy.

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A New Dawn for the Working Class?

The labouring masses are restless, as evidenced by the Canadian trucker strike, union drives in Amazon warehouses in the US and in demonstrations throughout the developing world. More revealing still may be the turmoil in the labour markets, where workers are changing jobs, creating their own and, overall, refusing to return to the structures of the pre-pandemic order.

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Kotkin on KFBK Morning News: Haves and Have-Nots in CA

By: Sam Shane

On: The Morning News (iheart radio)

Joel Kotkin, Professor of Urban Studies at Chapman University joins host Sam Shane to discuss California society and how the state has become one of “haves and have-nots”.

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California is a Bastion of Innovation Marred by Deep Inequality. Is That America’s Future?

Everyone seems to be California dreaming these days. Much of America, particularly its red parts, see California as a hopeless dystopia best understood as everything the nation should avoid. Meanwhile, for the progressive Left and many around Joe Biden, California is the Mecca, a great role model being attacked by jealous reactionaries.

As in so many cases, both sides have a piece of the truth.

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