Tag Archives: working class

The “Vicious But Brilliant Exploitation” That Drives Right Wing Economics


Photo via EPI This month, Thea Lee took over as president of the Economic Policy Institute, America’s premier left-wing economic think tank. We spoke to her about Trumponomics and the fight for equality.

Lee spent two decades as an economist at the AFL-CIO, America’s largest federation of unions, before taking over as head of EPI—a group that produces some damn good charts . She will have her work cut out for her.

Splinter: What do you think are the root causes of the decline of unions and organized labor in America, over the past several decades? Thea Lee: There’s probably […]

The Hoarding of the American Dream


There’s a certain type of financial confessional that has had a way of going viral in the post-recession era. The University of Chicago law professor complaining his family was barely keeping their heads above water on $250,000 a year . This hypothetical family of three in San Francisco making $200,000, enjoying vacations to Maui, and living hand-to-mouth. This real New York couple making six figures and merely “ scraping by .”

In all of these viral posts, denizens of the upper-middle class were attempting to make the case for their middle class-ness. Taxes are expensive. Cities are expensive. Tuition is […]

The Year of Living Angrily


An important and perhaps overlooked story of 2017 was the opioid crisis among the urban poor. Here Clara Cardelle, an outreach worker, passes out fentanyl test strips, naloxone and hygiene kits in the Bronx. The close of 2017 probably finds you with little residual outrage. You spent it all during a year that supplied daily — no, often quarter-hourly — occasions to look up from your cubicle and beg for mercy, deliverance, scream therapy or permanent-resident status in Iceland. New Yorkers directed whatever anger they had left for the decrepit state of the subway system. But there was plenty […]

What the 2016 Election Revealed About the Limits of ‘College for All’


Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Jannis Tobias Werner For decades, attending college has been the sole recipe for social and economic mobility offered up by Republicans and Democrats alike. But the 2016 election revealed the limits of "college for all." For one, only one-third of Americans actually have bachelors degrees, as Joan Williams points out in her new book, The White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America . Williams, a Distinguished Professor of Law, UC Hastings Foundation Chair, and the founding director of the Center for WorkLife Law at UC Hastings College of the Law, argues that higher education […]

The Hoarding of the American Dream


There’s a certain type of financial confessional that has had a way of going viral in the post-recession era. The University of Chicago law professor complaining his family was barely keeping their heads above water on $250,000 a year . This hypothetical family of three in San Francisco making $200,000, enjoying vacations to Maui, and living hand-to-mouth. This real New York couple making six figures and merely “ scraping by .”

In all of these viral posts, denizens of the upper-middle class were attempting to make the case for their middle class-ness. Taxes are expensive. Cities are expensive. Tuition is […]

Economic Inequality and Health Inequality are Inextricably Linked

Economic Inequality And Health Inequality Are Inextricably Linked

Economic Inequality And Health Inequality Are Inextricably Linked The devastation to struggling small towns and cities of Appalachia and the Northeast unleashed by the opioid epidemic has brought renewed attention to the connection between the physical health of individuals and the economic health of their communities. Indeed, the opioid crisis is an especially pernicious example of the many national-scale public health challenges that disproportionately affect economically distressed places throughout the country.

Our organization, the Economic Innovation Group (EIG), works to shed light on the socioeconomic fault lines dividing American communities. We recently cross-walked county-level measures of economic well-being from EIG’s […]

Are we really that woke?


The culture wars have been at the center stage of our political discourse for some time now, and it’s about time we contextualize them. While it is true that people voted for Trump due to cultural anxiety , they also did so out of a deep dissatisfaction with the so-called “ establishment ”.

Their political choices may be misplaced, but the anger of these voters is not unfounded—the system has failed them. The U.S. has the highest inequality of any developed country and a staggering lack of economic mobility . Despite what some may assert, our politicians are largely to […]

Dream Hoarders

If you’re looking for a passive-aggressive Christmas gift for your upper middle class friends, whatever their politics, you could do worse than Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It . I have to admit that, despite the fact that my poverty-researcher friends have been recommending Richard Reeves to me for a long while, I read it sooner than I might have otherwise because of this Observer piece , drawn from the book, which discusses one of the arguments in my […]

The Lines That Divide America


Think of waiting in a long, slow-moving line, like the security lines at an airport. What’s your emotional reaction when you see someone cutting ahead of you, or shifting into a faster-moving line that you are not allowed to join? What if you are pulled aside for extra questioning, for no apparent reason?

Lines can bring fairness and order to what might otherwise be a free-for-all. There’s even a science, called queuing theory, that examines the optimal ways to make lines move equitably and efficiently. But they don’t always work that way; sometimes, they can operate to institutionalize unfairness and […]

These are the worst places to grow up poor in Britain

Were you born in one of the best (or worst) places in the country for social mobility? 1

Social and economic inequality has become one of the defining characteristics of our time. In fact, the gap between rich and poor (around the world and in the UK) defines the modern economy. It can potentially explain some of the reasoning behind the Brexit vote, the success of populists like Donald Trump and why more and more people are looking to politicians like Jeremy Corbyn for radical solutions.

Now a report from the UK’s Social Mobility Commission has highlighted the ‘spiral of ever growing’ regional inequality across the country. The study looked into factors such as education and housing to […]