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No Union is an Island, Entire to Itself . . .

By       Message Seymour Patterson     Permalink
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The profile of profits depicted in Figure 3 is perhaps the culmination of the rise in labor productivity, and the systematic and successful undermining of union membership, which depresses wages. In the long term, these trends are untenable, because to sustain a middle-class standard of living, increasingly, households must have two wage earners where before one would have sufficed. To add insult to injury, the tax bite is biased against wages--the top marginal wage earner pays 39.6 percent, while profits recipients are taxed 20 percent tops. This, of course, exacerbates the income gap between the top 1 percent of the population and everybody else. Other things are also cause to worry--student debt is one trillion dollars, and nonprofit hospitals have gone the way of the Dodo bird. Perhaps the US is immune, but historically elsewhere income disparities and eroding living standards have led to political instability, strikes, and coups. It might be the better part of wisdom for the country's leaders to tone down their ideologically driven political squabbles and address the forces that can rip the country apart such as the widening income chasm between the haves and the have nots.  

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Seymour Patterson received a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Oklahoma in 1980. He has taught courses and done research in international economics and economic development. He has been the recipient of two Fulbright awards--the first in (more...)

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