Connect the dots to see why wages aren’t growing for most Americans

Summary: America has become increasingly destabilized during the few decades, as the 1% grows stronger and seizes resources to grow still stronger. This post shows them at work shifting income from workers’ wages to corporate profits. Inequality doesn’t just happen; it results from people making decisions under a specific political and social conditions. In the past we reversed this process. This ended the Gilded Age, creating a broad middle class and the society we think of as America (quite unlike the nation of the previous century). We can do so again.

Innovation of new forms of society and technology. It is the key to our progress. It has allowed us to evolve from naked hunter-gatherers to the dominant species on this planet. This process is slow, normally taking hundreds or even thousands of years. But occasionally evolution leaps forward.

— A slight tweak of Professor Xavier’s words from the title sequence of the movie “X-Men” (2000)

Growing inequality: "Piketty Split", The Economist, 18 November 2014
From “Piketty Split“, The Economist, 18 November 2014

Homeostasis (aka negative feedback) rules “normal” life, defeating the predictions of doomsters who extrapolate current trends to collapse. Instead countervailing forces, including intelligent collective action through political, business, and social organizations, find new ways to maintain stability and growth. But sometimes we get positive feedback, when a change produces conditions that continue and accelerate the trend — and the mechanisms break that should maintain balance.

Marx saw such a process at work in 19th century industrialization. He forecast revolution for western nations as the inevitable outcome of the Gilded Age, as the flow of national income shifted from workers to those who own the means of production. He was wrong then, as — after much conflict — we found ways to more equitably distribute income without civil war. Perhaps Marx was not wrong, just early. Again we face the same challenge, as the 1% works to reshape America into a plutocracy.

During the past few years many economists confidently have predicted an acceleration in wage growth. But wage growth for most Americans (below the top quintile) remains only slightly above inflation. We see the reason every day in the news, as the 1% uses their power to boost their profits at their workers’ expense. The process accelerates as they grow stronger — and seize more — while we grow weaker.

Here are nine of our stories, stories describing the birth of a New America. Connect the dots to see the explanation of why most of the gains in America’s national income since 1980 have gone to the 1%. If continued, this trend will create a New America.

  1. The NYT explains the 2005 – 2009 illegal cartel suppressing wages of software engineers, run by Google, Apple, Intel and Adobe. Perhaps the most undercovered story of the decade. It would change people’s views of the tech industry, if they knew it.
  2. How H-1B Visas Are Screwing Tech Workers“, Mother Jones, 22 February 2013 — Tech companies import workers to keep wages low, profits high. Also see this by Norm Matloff (Prof Computer Scince, UC-Davis).
  3. Court docs show role of Pixar and Dreamworks Animation in Silicon Valley wage-fixing cartel“, Mark Ames, Pando, 7 July 2014 — Animators, too
  4. Wage Theft is a Bigger Problem Than Other Theft. Not enough is done to protect workers.“, Ross Eisenbrey, Economic Policy Institute, 2 April 2014 — Stealing wages from poor workers
  5. What We Learned Investigating Unpaid Internships“, Blair Hickman, ProPublica, 23 July 2014 — Summary of their year-long investigation. “Though the intern economy remains opaque, dialogue about the role of interns in the labor force – and protections they deserve – is beginning to take shape.”
  6. The endless series of corporations reducing benefits for employees: “Wal-Mart raises healthcare costs, cuts benefits for some part-timers“, Reuters, 7 October 2014
  7. Corporations not paying workers for time on the job: “Obama is siding with Amazon at the Supreme Court. It’s both illogical and inhumane.“, Scott Lemieux, The Week, 15 October 2014 — “The administration is indirectly backing the giant e-retailer in a dispute with warehouse workers”
  8. Whatever Happened to Overtime?“, Nick Hanauer, Politico, 17 November 2014 — We still work long hours; we no longer get paid more for doing so. “It’s one reason we’re poorer than our parents. And Obama could fix it without Congress.”
  9. The conversion of academic workers from tenured professors to low-wage few (or no) benefits part-time adjunct faculty and post-graduate students. Example: the U OR fighting a strike by teaching assistants seeking sick leave.

Let’s make this more specific. More personal.

20121208-microsoft

Two tragic examples of these trends at work

Journalist (Bloomberg News):  Jim, you have a birthday coming up next month. … Will you be at your desk, and has the Board approved you staying on past age 65?
Jim McNerney (CEO of Boeing): Yes, the heart will still be beating. The employees will still be cowering (laughing). I’ll be working hard; there’s no end in sight. We’re continuing to build the succession plan … But there’s no discussion of it yet. So you’ll still be asking questions of me.
— From the quarterly earnings conference call with Boeing’s senior management, 10 July 2014

The key reason for our weakness, pointing the way to a better future, appears at the end of the second story. It’s so big the NYT journalist didn’t see it.

(1)  Rules for the powerless will be set unfairly

Panel Of Ivy League Graduates Determines That Wage Laborers Should Perform Required Tasks For Employers Without Compensation“, Scott Lemieux (Asst Prof Political Science, College of St Rose) and Erik Loomis (Asst Prof History, U RI) , Lawyers Guns and Money, 10 December 2014 — Excerpt:

Earlier this year, I argued that 9CA {Court of Appeals} was right to interpret the Fair Labor Standards Act as requiring employers to compensate employees for mandatory security checks. This being the Roberts Court, it took them less than two months to unanimously conclude otherwise. The Sotomayor concurrence (joined by Kagan) suggests that the Obama administration siding with the employers helped foster the unanimity, although the workers were obviously drawing dead when it comes to securing a majority.

This is a statutory interpretation case, so Congress could step in and protect the worke….sorry, probably too soon for black humor.

It’s also worth noting how pervasive this sort of unpaid labor was in the early 20th century and it’s centrality to union campaigns at that time. The Triangle workers had to go through these checks to make sure they weren’t stealing. Loggers had to walk from the logging camp to the logging site without pay. Miners had to timber their own mines so they wouldn’t collapse on them – on their own time. All of these workers fought to end these injustices through their union campaigns and union contracts.

Reinforcing the ability of employers to force workers to do things like this without pay is a real step back toward those principles of the Gilded Age. That it is a 9-0 decision really reinforces how far the ideology of employer domination over workers has come in this country and how far we have to go to turn this nation back toward one where workers and their time and their dignity is respected.

Buffalo Jills
Amanda, Marlla, & Anna of the Buffalo Jills

(2)  Young women are a natural class to exploit

Rich NFL owners profit from cheerleaders’ work while paying them little or nothing: “Buffalo Bills Cheerleaders’ Routine: No Wages and No Respect“, NY Times, 10 December 2014 — Excerpt:

Supervisors ordered the cheerleaders, known as the Buffalo Jills, to warm up in a frigid, grubby stadium storeroom that smelled of gasoline. They demanded that cheerleaders pay $650 for uniforms. They told the cheerleaders to do jumping jacks to see if flesh jiggled.

The Jills were required to attend a golf tournament for sponsors. The high rollers paid cash — “Flips for Tips” — to watch bikini-clad cheerleaders do back flips. Afterward, the men placed bids on which women would ride around in their golf carts. The carts had no extra seats. Women clung to the back or, much more to the point, were invited to sit in the men’s laps.

For these and more humiliations, and for hundreds of hours of work and practices, Alyssa and her fellow cheerleaders on the Buffalo Jills received not a penny of wages, not from the subcontractor and certainly not from the Buffalo Bills, a team that each year makes revenue in excess of $200 million.

The National Football League, that $10 billion “nonprofit” business, is the occasionally repulsive gift that keeps on giving. An all-American empire, the N.F.L. is structured with various and many principalities and emirates, and fixers who cushion the leadership from the unsightly details of league business as usual. So owners and lobbyists handle the shakedown of cities for publicly funded stadiums; Commissioner Roger Goodell alights when a grip and grin is needed to seal the deal. Lawyers and doctors on the league’s pad handled the league’s war against payouts for concussions, which began with denial and segued into discredit, until lots of not-so-hot publicity made that unbearable.

… N.F.L.’s coyly kittenish policy requires that cheerleaders offer only their first name

… Alyssa, Maria and three other cheerleaders sued the Bills in May, alleging flagrant violations of state minimum wage laws. … The most they could hope for as cheerleaders, they said, were a few small tips and appearance fees here and there. Alyssa says she made $420 for more than 800 hours of work … “People really thought we had it good, that we were paid well and had this luxurious lifestyle … I ended up feeling like a piece of meat.”

… Alyssa recalled that team managers herded the winning cheerleaders into a darkened room to watch a slide show. They saw screen shots of their Facebook pages, obtained without their permission. … We will monitor everything you do, the women were told. The team’s contractor handed the women a contract and a personnel code, and told them to sign on the spot. The team dictated everything from the color of their hair to how they handled their menstrual cycle. “If you complained, you were told: ‘This is a privilege. Deal with it!’ ” Alyssa recalled.

Buried in the story is the key line. Political change occurs first in the minds of individuals. The current cycle began in the 1960s as conservatives slowly convinced Americans that their mechanisms of collective action — government and unions — were ineffective or illegitimate, and that only as individuals could they win. That’s the equivalent of convincing mediveal peasants in the divine right of kings. Such doctrines render a people powerless. They’re shackles of the mind.

Some other Jills, particularly alumnae, remain angry at Alyssa, Maria and the other three cheerleaders for bringing their lawsuit.

Conclusions

Unfortunately, social evolution runs backwards as well as forward. We can be passengers, whining about the result. Or we can organize, using the machinery the Founders bequeathed us. It’s all about choice. A great future awaits us, but we have to reach out and seize it.

Comet 's office of the future

For More Information

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About automation and wages:

  1. The coming big inequality. Was Marx just early?, 27 November 2012
  2. Krugman discovers the Robot Revolution!, 9 December 2012 — He notices that the new industrial revolution crushes wages

About wages:

  1. Do we have a shortage of workers, or just cheap employers? Part one of two., 8 May 2012
  2. Do we have a shortage of workers, or just cheap employers? Part two of two., 9 May 2012

About corporations maximizing profits, minimizing capex and wages

  1. The new American economy: concentrating business power to suit an unequal society, 27 April 2012
  2. Why America’s growth is slowing, and a solution, 28 January 2013
  3. Portraits of a nation in decline. An unnecessary and easily fixed decline., 14 February 2013
  4. Four graphs showing a nation in decline. An unnecessary and easily fixed decline., 1 November 2013
  5. For Thanksgiving, Walmart shows us the New America, 19 November 2013 -– Part time, no benefits, minimum wags.
  6. Watch corporations strip-mine their future (and ours), 18 April 2014

22 thoughts on “Connect the dots to see why wages aren’t growing for most Americans

  1. Several notes, all of them inflammatory and I don’t really have time to do them justice.

    1. Krugman has recently been doing a quick study on the effects of inequality on economic performance. He can’t find a link. The UK and the US are two of the least equal societies but their economic performance over the last 20 years has been at least as good as their more equal brethren. By the way, he does not like the results but is living with them until he has more time to think about it.

    I am curious if this trend will hold up over time. The reasons the US and the UK have done well, in my opinion, are twofold
    a) their governments made better economic decisions during downturns
    b) they have a lot of capital assets and a reputation as being safe places to put your money

    I suspect that their weakness over time will be a lack of innovation. But then, their competitors (China, Japan, South Korea, and the Euro nations) are not overly creative at this time.

    2. FM, your call to arms is logical but ill-timed. The reason the 1% gave up their power in the early 20th century was that they were afraid of the results of their own creation. The economic engine that they created was obviously a monster that devoured its own and forced desperate starving individuals to act. At first they were bloodily beaten back (with the approval of the Hearst-dominated newspapers and public).

    It was not until the Roaring 1890’s and the Great Depression saw such economic turmoil (not yet present today) that the 1% realized that they had genuine cause to be afraid for their lives and the continuing existence of the country. This caused them to be far more willing to give back power and wealth.

    This time around the 1% is making sure (so far) that people are not starving and the allies of the rich (such as the police) are doing a much better job (due to better information technology and tactics) of infiltrating and disrupting political movements before they can get large enough to make a dent in the national political parties.

    3. In both the first decade of the 20th century and the 1930’s the US was blessed with Presidents with very powerful personalities who were receptive to innovative ideas that led to the American Dream of the 20th century. One was a Republican and one was a Democrat, both were named Roosevelt.

    I am not saying that the changes could not have happened without them, but they made the change work better and faster than it would have if both men had been named Bush. You will notice that the 1% has learned its lesson from this and actively seeks ambitious followers for political candidates. Innovators and leaders are encouraged to go into finance instead.

    4. In spite of everything I have said above, I am extremely confident that the 1% will overplay their hand some time in the relatively near future (1-30 years?) and will bring about much worse conditions for the other 99%. This will bring about the opportunity for change that FM is speaking of. What will happen at that time cannot yet be imagined, much less predicted with any degree of accuracy.

    1. Pluto,

      We can only guess at these things. My spin differs on most of those.

      (1) I doubt inequality has any direct economic effects except over long time horizons. Likely effects are by making poorer use of social capital and diminished social cohesion. The latter is of extreme importance, but only during a time of crises.

      (2) the gilded age ended in part due to increasingly effective organization by workers (ignoring this is daft) and the 1%’s fear of revolution — which increased as Marxist & socialist groups gained support at the end of the 19th C, again after the Russian Revolution, and yet again during the Great Depression.

      As you note, none of these factors are present today. But conditions are different, so that tells us nothing about the future. Some circumstances are more favorable for reform than in the past. Some are less. Predictions about these things are so seldom accurate as to be imo a waste of time.

    2. “Krugman has recently been doing a quick study on the effects of inequality on economic performance. He can’t find a link.”

      Which shows that Krugman, like much of the supposedly intelligent commentariat, addresses the wrong issue and is confused about ends and means.

      I do not find the lack of a link between economic performance and inequality troubling. That a society may generate the same income — but may distribute that income in widely different ways while still producing the same amount of goods and services — seems perfectly plausible.

      The real problem is that producing goods and services, and achieving a certain level of income are not ends, but means to the actual end: ensuring the well-being of a population. It has been repeatedly demonstrated empirically that a higher degree of inequality entails, among other effects, less social mobility (hence, less opportunities for people to realize their potential); a less healthy population (all of it, also its wealthiest members); less political participation and benefits from it for less-endowed populations; and more crime.

      Hence, inequality is fair proxy measure for the well-being of a society.

      Therefore, inequality is a central issue that must be addressed _directly_, because it is an end in itself, not a means to achieve economic growth.

    3. Guest, what you are saying is reasonable but I do not know of any dataset that agrees with you. So please show me your data.

      Paul Krugman started in the same place as you but could not find a connection. We’re talking a well-established, Nobel prize-winning, liberal economist. He showed everybody his data and it was pretty irrefutable, at least in the short run, which was all he had at the time.

      He found that inequality did not successfully predict overall or average economic performance in the short-run. For example, Sweden is much more equal than the US but its economic performance over the last 20 years has generally been worse than the US.

      As I noted in my comments, this does not make intuitive sense, and I suggested that inequality in a 20 year period might not have a big enough effect to match that of bad government policies.

    4. Pluto,

      I don’t understand what you are saying about “guest’s” comment regarding inequality and economic growth. In what sense are you disagreeing with him? He says Krugman “can’t find a link”. You say “Krugman could not find a connection”.

    5. The Greediest 1% is what they should be called. Whether a fair reorganization can be achieved without the entire fabric of society coming apart I grow less and less optimistic about.

      I’ve lived through much of the time when the American Dream has turned into a Nightmare. A Baby Boomer I find myself accused by the Millenials for circumstances that until recently the Politicians of the Greatest & Silent Generations. The continuing elimination of the Middle class may flip our countries social Pyramid before long sooner if the Government was to ever set the Poverty line at an appropriate level. Which may happen People know that the minimum wage is not a living wage and it’s a short trip from a $15 minimum wage to a $30,000 Poverty line.

      If such changes do happen our whittled down middle class will become anorexic indeed. Just a $15 minimum wage will increase the numbers in poverty as a wave of layoffs seldom seen along with a similar wave of companies going out of business. Example : Could WalMart survive a $15 minimum wage? I don’t think so. The Restaurant industry would crash and be left to just high priced eateries or perhaps some fast food places where manpower would be replaced by robots.

      I saw and was enveloped by the foolish seeds to our Societies destruction being sown. Congress in response to the retirement poverty of the Greatest Generation (I remember news stories of Grandmas and Granddads having to eat cat food) So they adjusted the Social Security payouts, which quickly revealed that Social Security was going broke. So a ratchet was built into Social Security withholding increasing the amount every year but the cap on withholding was left in place. Of course the cap mostly benefited the rich so of course no serious consideration of removing it will take place until the situation is truly desperate. If they removed the cap Social Security would become sound for another century and probably beyond unless either unemployment would hit double digits or another Baby Boom would occur.

      How Corporate America broke the unwritten compact with the American Worker. I was brought up with the Concept “Work Hard, Give your Best, and you’ll earn a living wage… wrapped in there was the notion that such workers jobs were inherently safe. So what happened? The Workers did their part.. Productivity of the US Worker has increased but the traditional increases in worker pay have not. If that wasn’t bad enough as CEOs Compensation was increasing by leaps and bounds increasing the separation in earnings from Janitor to CEO. To Justify the lavish and overblown salaries CEOs claimed that actions they would dictate would increase share value and company profits. After claiming every profitable action in the company the direct result of their actions CEOs were still looking for the holy grail of profitability and by stabbing the workers in the back they found it.. Downsizing.. CEOs claimed that the companies were oversized and more could be done with less, CEOs were counting on the natural trend of workers to become more productive, so they slashed and they hacked paring payrolls to the bone and workers hours got longer and longer even as any pay increases got smaller ans smaller and workers stressed out more and more. CEOs then went for dirty tricks.. reducing salaries and saving on pensions by laying off workers just before they reached retirement and replacing them with youngsters making minimum wage.

      The result of what I call Corporations blowing their brains out was elimination of the most qualified workers and a wave of poorer products and services. AKA The age of the recall, which CEOs blame on more federal scrutiny but it wasn’t it was just more of the same by cutting staffing and blowing out the most experienced workers and overworking the rest quality suffered. Conclusion, if all the above trends continue the middle class will collapse and society will follow.

    6. Bill,

      Take a moment. Chill out. You’re seeing worst case scenarios.

      I’ll mention just one factoid. US corps can take a $15 without difficult, esp as it will be phased in over years. A $15 wage today would be less than one-third increase from its 1968 peak in real money. We’re a much wealthier society than 60 years ago.

      Also, the curent 1% in the US are probably no more greedy than other people now or in the past. They just have the power to exercise their greed on us. American’s institutions were built to restrain exploitation by plutocrats, and will today if we get off our butts and work them.

  2. As usual, the debate centers around the details of the “problem” – Income inequality. Also as usual, detail proves argumentative. Use of numbers like top 1% or the shifting vlue of “poverty level” is never justified by a good statistical analyst to define a subject. The only way to see the magnitude of “income inequality” in the United States is quite simple —– get up in the “balcony” and look with perspective at the whole picture.
    .
    Construct the NORMAL DISTRIBUTION (BELL) curve of 4 numbers as a percent of the average or the median.
    1) Individual income before taxes
    2) Household income before taxes
    3) Individual income after taxes
    4) Household income after taxes
    Then take the “width” measure of each of these clurves (sigma) and the skewness if it exists. Data available in IRS data.
    LASTLY, PLOT sigma and skew as a function of years since 1940. Those four plots will describe the actual extent of income maldistribution and the actual effects of tax policies on that distribution.

    By using data as percent of average or median income, only the shape is displayed and the effects of inflation are eliminated from the picture.

    1. John,

      I don’t understand your point. The body of research showing a radical increase of income inequality in the US since ~1970 is massive. Done by different people using different datasets, different analytical methods.

      The debate has moved on to analysis of causes, effects, and remedies.

    2. John,

      An additional note: the distribution of wealth and income are not at all like a Gaussian (“normal”) distributions. It’s a power law distribution, usually described as using a Pareto distribution (shown as a Lorenz curve). Inequality is measured using the Gini coefficient: a measure of the deviation of the Lorenz curve from the equidistribution line which is a line connecting [0, 0] and [1, 1].

      An alternative measure is the difference between median and mode income. This is directly proportional to the Gini coefficient; some consider it a more useful metric.

    3. If that “body of research” consists of comparing bottom 1 percent with top 1 percent, it just doesn’t show the picture. Statistical analysts begin their analysis by discarding the top and bottom numbers in any distribution. The value of “sigma” and the skew will describe the entire distribution in just two numbers. Plots of those two will provide the history.

    4. I agree that not all analysis discard the high and low, but you can not perform good population analysis by using only the top and bottom stats.

  3. There are many sad things to see in America today. But there are few things sadder than seeing Conservative social media page filled with blue collar workers crowing about how proud they are to have no rights, and can be fired at any time for no reason by their employers. They’re the economic Uncle Toms – fiercely loyal to their masters (even though this loyalty is not returned in any way), and fanatically hostile to any of their peers who questions the system.

    I really can’t think of any equivalent in history this extreme. We have a whole political party – a whole 50% of the population, with a horrible mean streak against themselves. Lower income people who literally cheer and praise Caterpillar when they froze employee benefits while simultaneously giving their CEO a massive pay raise. The kind of people who cheer and laugh when one of their peers gets brutally beaten and hospitalized by a psychopathic policeman. It’s baffling, but must be one of the greatest propaganda victories in the history of the world.

    1. Joe,

      I suspect you are correct, although historical comparisons are difficult.

      The obvious comparison with the conservative “throne and alter” political parties that were so influential in Europe until WW2. The poor gave their allegiance to aristocrats and churchman — whose interest tended to be inimical to the masses.

      But these leaders worked to conceal their animosity for their supporters. The lower blue collar support for the Right is like cattle cheering the stockyards.

      My ideas about ways to reform America look tactically strong, but defective on the operational and strategic levels.

    2. The poor certainly tolerated the monarchy and the church for a lot longer than they should have – but did they cheer for it like in America today?

      John Steinbeck said “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” I think there’s a lot of truth to that. Prols in the British Empire probably for the most part knew they were prols. They knew they were the absolute bottom of the class layer cake. They didn’t walk around with fantasies of becoming rich someday.

      Republicans are literally destroying the states they control – cannibalizing the infrastructure, education and social programs to pay tithes to the rich. Yet these people keep voting for them. Yet the sheeple keep voting for them.

    3. I have heard the argument that the Right will collapse when all the old Christian white guys die off – but I don’t buy it. I’ve met far too many fiery young Conservatives who will eagerly vote against themselves for the next 70 years.

      Maybe they will shoot themselves down. Maybe they won’t be able to balance ideology with common sense. Mainstream Conservatives are smart enough to know not to touch social security and not mess with social safety nets TOO much – what happens when we get a critical mass of Paul Ryans – ignorant fanatics who would love to completely tear down the government? If food stamps and welfare went away, the USA would fall into third world status immediately, and I doubt the right wing power structure would be able to survive the backlash.

      I agree that collective action is necessary- but the problem is that it needs to be collective action that the enforcers aren’t familiar with. Conventional protests and civil rights organizations that worked with MLK probably wouldn’t work today. The FBI is too good at tearing them apart – like they did with the Black Power movement. Imprison and/or murder the leadership, infiltrate, and destroy from the inside.

      What they DON’T seem to be handling very well is the police accountability movement. Cops tend to fly into a psychopathic rage when they so much as see a camera. Cameras really pose no threat – there’s no tactical advantage in turning into a deranged lunatic when someone points a camera at you – it just causes a nationwide stink. On the same note – cops are showing a lack of ability in picking their battles. Cops will always protect the bad apples – the thieves, murderers, rapists, and child molesters. They would rather have a huge PR defeat than prosecute a kiddie rapist in their ranks. These groups are growing, organized, and starting to address other social issues not strictly related to police brutality. Maybe that’s where reform will start.

      “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake” – Napoleon

  4. “The obvious comparison with the conservative “throne and alter” political parties that were so influential in Europe until WW2. The poor gave their allegiance to aristocrats and churchman”

    Not to nitpick but “throne and alter” sounds so much like Holy Alliance and early-mid 19th century. Back then voting rights were usually heavily restricted on a census basis, assuming one lived in one of the places where elections that mattered something were actually held. Support for nobles/clergy was relative, mostly passive in form and in any case it was not horribly irrational for a land owning peasant to be somewhat conservative but as noted it was largely besides the point. Then, again in places where voting mattered, mid 19th century to early 20th century governments were more likely to be run by a right-wing liberal than a “divine right of kings” type. Eventually socialist parties and Christian parties with an at least a moderately “progressive” social agenda gained traction.

    As for the US, it is indeed in part likely a case of people being convinced that “I will be rich someday”. But the issue deserves more scrutiny, there are likely social factors at play that make some attitudes at least partially rational. There is likely an element of self interest in the rejection of “Big Government”, multiculturalism etc. by the working class.

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