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Business Web sites: 'Marx was right'

Data show 'middle class' living standards in downward trend

While they didn’t actually come right out and say that, an article posted by a number of business-oriented Web sites in the last week irrefutably confirms some of Karl Marx’s key assertions regarding the capitalist system.

Over the past century and a half, countless capitalist politicians and academics have built careers trying to prove that Marx and his writings were outdated, misleading and just plain wrong. Nowhere has the effort to discredit Marxism been more energetic than here in the United States.

Incurring particular wrath in bourgeois circles over the years was Marx’s contention in his groundbreaking 1867 work Volume I of “Capital”: “Accumulation of wealth at one pole is, therefore, at the same time the accumulation of misery . . . at the opposite pole.” In other words, as the rich get richer—and because they are getting richer—the poor get poorer.

The enemies of Marx and socialism argued vehemently that this had been disproven by an overall rise in wages and living conditions for much of the working class inside the imperialist countries in the late 19th and much of the 20th century. What the apologists of capitalism always left out of their “analysis” was the super-exploitation and extreme impoverishment of the workers and peasants of Asia, Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Middle East—the vast majority of the world’s people—which, in addition to an industrial monopoly, made possible a temporary rise in living standards inside the colonizing states.

Over the past three decades, however, working-class living standards in the United States have resumed the downward trend inherent under capitalism, and in the last few years at a quickly accelerating pace.

An article by Michael Snyder, “The Middle Class in America is Radically Shrinking, Here Are the Stats to Prove It,” has been picked up by numerous Web sites including Tech Ticker and Business Insider. (While he uses the term “middle class,” Snyder is really referring to the working class—but even talking about workers as a class is discouraged in establishment circles. Sounds too much like Marxism.)

The points made by Snyder include:

  • 83 percent of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of 1 percent of the people.
  • 61 percent of Americans "always or usually" live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.
  • 66 percent of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1 percent of all Americans.
  • 24 percent of American workers say that they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year.
  • Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32 percent increase over 2008.
  • Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.
  • In 1950, the ratio of the average executive's paycheck to the average worker's paycheck was about 30-to-1. Since the year 2000, that ratio has exploded to between 300- and 500-to-1.
  • The bottom 50 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.
  • The top 1 percent of U.S. households own nearly twice as much of America's corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.
  • More than 40 percent of Americans who actually are employed are now working in service jobs, which are often very low paying.
  • For the first time in U.S. history, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that number to go up to 43 million in 2011.
  • Approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010—the highest rate in 20 years.
  • Despite the financial crisis, the number of millionaires in the United States rose a whopping 16 percent to 7.8 million in 2009.

While presenting an array of very useful facts, Snyder does not draw the only logical conclusion from his own report: The capitalist system must go.

 

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