Richard Wolff on the meltdown of the American capitalist system

Richard Wolff is an Economics Professor at the University of Massachusetts, whose documentary film Capitalism Hits the Fan reveals with stunning clarity the undeniable and ever more glaring deficits in the inherent structure of the capitalist economic model. Viewing this film could be used as wonderful starting point for a discussion or series of discussions on our present situation. In the following article by Wolff, from The Guardian /UK, he expands on this theme:

Until the 1970s, US capitalism shared its spoils with American workers. But since 2008, it has made them pay for its failures…One aspect of “American exceptionalism” was always economic. US workers, so the story went, enjoyed a rising level of real wages that afforded their families a rising standard of living. Ever harder work paid off in rising consumption. The rich got richer faster than the middle and poor, but almost no one got poorer. Nearly all citizens felt “middle class”. A profitable US capitalism kept running ahead of labor supply. So, it kept raising wages to attract waves of immigration and to retain employees, across the 19th century until the 1970s.

Then everything changed. Real wages stopped rising, as US capitalists redirected their investments to produce and employ abroad, while replacing millions of workers in the US with computers. The US women’s liberation moved millions of US adult women to seek paid employment. US capitalism no longer faced a shortage of labor…US employers took advantage of the changed situation: they stopped raising wages. …

January 18, 2011 by  The Guardian/UK

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