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Category: Economic Theory

The Real Class War

Since at least 2016, the divide between the “working class” and the “elite” has been considered a defining issue in American (and Western) politics. This divide has been defined in occupational terms (“blue collar” versus “information workers”), geographic terms (rural and exurban regions versus major urban cores), and meritocratic terms (non-college-educated versus those with elite…

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The Characterless Opportunism of the Managerial Class

My first reaction to the work of Barbara Ehrenreich was one of complete indignation and contempt. A professor had assigned Ehrenreich’s book Nickel and Dimed (2001) for an English prerequisite at my commuter college—the urban satellite campus for two major universities intended to cater to low-income and nontraditional students. (Go Jaguars!) The book was a…

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The Cubicle Archipelago

“Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences.” Our current moment of corporate wokeness and “extremely online” pearl-clutching has made this phrase something of a cliché. In its most sympathetic rendering, it means that a free exchange of ideas allows everyone to decide who they wish to associate with…

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America’s Drift toward Feudalism

America’s emergence in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries represented a dramatic break from the past. The United States came on the scene with only vestiges of the old European feudal order—mostly in the plantation economy of the Deep South. There was no hereditary nobility, no national church, and, thanks to George Washington’s modesty, no royal…

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Commodity Financialization (and Why It Matters)

In December 2018, a leading European bank sent its customers investing tips for the next year. To navigate “an increasingly challenging investment environment,” the bank advised, “The latter stages of the economic cycle have historically been one of the better times to invest in commodities. Overall demand tends to stay high while inventories run low.” Until recently, commodities interested mostly those who produced, traded, or consumed them…

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Tax Sovereignty in the Age of Global Capital

In January 2019, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez found a perhaps unexpected vein of popular support when she proposed raising the top marginal tax rate from 37 percent to 70 percent for those with annual incomes of over $10 million.1 Polling conducted by the Hill and HarrisX soon revealed that 59 percent of Americans supported this idea:…

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Rebuilding British Industry: A Plan for the Post-Brexit Economy

Today Britain finds itself in an odd position. In the wake of the vote to leave the European Union and its aftermath, the Conservative Party has been given a new mandate. A substantial portion of the voting public wants a more independent Britain to pursue national restoration and regeneration. On an emotional level, most of…

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Disruptive Innovation in America and China

The concept of disruptive innovation arose from the study of innovation in companies, but it can also be applied to nations. In this essay I will use some of the concepts of disruptive innovation to analyze the dynamics of national innovation and growth in America and China.1 The United States is supposed to be the…

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America Needs an Industrial Policy

The phrase “industrial policy” conjures up images of Europe’s dirigiste failures, corruption in African and Latin American econ­omies, and the disastrous 1984 presidential campaign of Walter Mon­dale. In board rooms and think tanks and even university class rooms across the country, the term generates an instinctive revulsion hard­wired by decades of listening to laissez-faire and…

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