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J. C. Myers
Professor of Political Science, California State University - Stanislaus
Interests: I teach political science and have worked in both the United States and South Africa. My areas of interest and expertise include political philosophy and political economy. My research has taken me to libraries, archives, and government offices - but also to rural villages and urban squatter camps. You can find more detail regarding the issues I write about here in my book, The Politics of Equality: An Introduction (Zed Books, 2011).
Recent Activity
The Politics of Equality blog is moving to: If you have found the material I post here interesting and useful, please visit my new site and consider subscribing to receive email notification of new posts. Continue reading
Posted Nov 29, 2012 at politics of equality
Rates of growth are not the same as levels of development. Hungary was a late industrializer and was relatively underdeveloped at the beginning of the 20th century.
What are the main causes of violent crime? Culture? Racial tension? Poverty? This is the sort of question that seems irresistible as a topic for speculation: everyone has watched an episode of CSI or Law and Order, so everyone knows all about the causes of violent crime. But this is... Continue reading
Posted Nov 8, 2012 at politics of equality
It isn't unusual to hear market capitalism and democracy likened to one another. Both involve mechanisms through which a large number of individual preferences are aggregated and used to make important social decisions. In a market economy, the individual choices made by large numbers of consumers shape the ways in... Continue reading
Posted Oct 30, 2012 at politics of equality
If I have Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, Mitt Romney, and Paul Ryan's version of the story right, the economic inequality produced by market capitalism is supposed to act as an incentive, encouraging efficiency, productivity, and innovation. By richly rewarding business leaders, we supposedly assure ourselves of a vibrant, growing economy.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 16, 2012 at politics of equality
One of the results of extreme economic inequality is that very wealthy individuals are able to use their wealth to promote their ideas. A billionaire stockbroker is currently running this ad on TV warning that "socialism" led to poverty in Hungary and that the same thing is happening in the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 11, 2012 at politics of equality
In most cases, it doesn't make much sense to hold U.S. Presidents, or the political parties they represent, directly responsible for the level of employment in the wider economy. First and foremost, businesses make employment decisions based on the level of demand for their products. If demand is increasing and... Continue reading
Posted Oct 5, 2012 at politics of equality
As non-renewable sources of energy are expended, access to energy will affect economic inequality, within countries and between them. As fuel prices have risen, some in the U.S. have argued that an expansion of oil drilling would ease market pressures and secure independence from foreign oil producers. The United States... Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2012 at politics of equality
I suppose if you're a multi-millionaire, a $200,000 income looks awfully middling. So, yes - according to candidate Mitt Romney, the middle class extends to those earning $250,000. See the full text of his interview here. That definition, of course, would put approximately 95% of U.S. citizens in the middle... Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2012 at politics of equality
The most important fact to recognize about income distribution in the U.S. is that it has not always been governed by a single directional trend or tendency. The reason for this is that the most powerful force determining income distribution is class struggle. In my last few posts, I have... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2012 at politics of equality
I'm far from the first person to note that over the last three decades, income in the U.S. has been redistributed upwards. To the extent that we can usefully talk about a "middle class" in the U.S., its income shrank from the 1980s to the present. Over the same period,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2012 at politics of equality
Point well taken, Tom - and thanks for helping to keep my stats honest. It would be important to emphasize that I presented the imaginary "normal" distribution as a representation of what I suspect most people think of when conceiving of a "middle class" not necessarily as an achievable or desirable distribution of income. More importantly, though, things like COLAs (cost of living adjustments, for the uninitiated) shouldn't be assumed as historical norms. Most workers (myself included) haven't had a cost of living increase in so long we've forgotten what one was. I'll post some data highlighting this shortly.
The unedited version of President Obama's controversial comment on business and government is well worth reading. It makes clear an argument that I have made here before: everything we are able to do as individuals is founded on the existence of a broader society and the public goods we typically... Continue reading
Posted Aug 31, 2012 at politics of equality
My last post showed the distribution of household income in the U.S. Here it is again: Actual Distribution of U.S. Household Income 2010 Now, consider what this chart might look like if household income followed something closer to a standard distribution: Imaginary Distribution of U.S. Household Income My guess is... Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2012 at politics of equality
As the 2012 Presidential election picks up steam, we'll be hearing plenty of remarks about "middle class Americans." The reason for this is clear: an overwhelming majority of Americans self-identify as members of the middle class. A 2008 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 53% of people... Continue reading
Posted Aug 13, 2012 at politics of equality
Who makes up the top 1% of U.S. income earners? Sports stars? Government bureaucrats? Computer programmers? A recent study by Jon Bakija, Adam Cole, and Bradley Heim confirms some likely guesses and dispels some widely-held myths. In 2005 (the most recent year for which income tax data was available) a... Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2012 at politics of equality
Like the book that shares its name, this blog is primarily devoted to questions surrounding economic equality. I've decided, however, to take a short detour from that agenda today in order to address an issue that continually presents itself in the popular media: the misrepresentation of the powers of the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 27, 2012 at politics of equality
Today's Republican Party, fueled by the Tea Party movement's right-wing populism, rails against government benefits and those who receive them. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, for example, warns that Social Security and Medicare will turn us into "a bunch of people sitting on a couch, waiting for their next government... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2012 at politics of equality
What a great time to be a corporate CEO. As the Guardian reported today, CEO pay increased last year by 28%, while ordinary workers (after adjusting for inflation) got nothing. This year, CEO pay increased 15%, while ordinary workers got 0.3%. It appears that there is plenty of money in... Continue reading
Posted May 2, 2012 at politics of equality
The story is the same in Britain, Spain, and now the United States: cutting government spending slows economic growth. The recovery from recession was already sluggish enough, due to the fact that we didn't invest enough in public-sector economic stimulus. Cutting government spending at a time like this is very... Continue reading
Posted Apr 27, 2012 at politics of equality
Politics is the process through which people make conscious decisions about the conditions of social life. It involves competing interests, power over resources, and influence over those with decision-making power. The process of making political change often appears both obvious and obscure. We know that a civil rights movement transformed... Continue reading
Posted Apr 24, 2012 at politics of equality
In 2010, the U.S. took a grudging half-step toward a fundamental feature of modern social infrastructure, taken for granted in every other highly developed country: health insurance coverage for all citizens. That grudging half-step - the Affordable Care Act or "Obamacare" to its detractors - is now the target of... Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2012 at politics of equality
If you are fortunate enough to own a business, you can't be fired from your job. You can perform badly, run your business into the ground, and thereby lose your livelihood - but no one can walk into your business one day and tell you to clear out your desk... Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2012 at politics of equality
As a professional political scientist, I often find myself reminding people that U.S. Presidents do not have the power to make law. Presidents don't have the power to create or repeal health care policies. Presidents don't have the power to raise or lower taxes. But when candidates run for the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2012 at politics of equality
Tuba wars in Los Angeles and socialist orchestras in Venezuela. Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2012 at politics of equality