[OPE-L:783] Re: FW: Stats: wider rich-poor gap (fwd)

Michael Perelman (michael@ecst.csuchico.edu)
Fri, 12 Jan 1996 18:40:09 -0800

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I thought this post might be of interest vis a vis Duncan's recent
post. McCain was on pen-l, but he is not particularly left.

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> From owner-pol-econ@SHSU.edu Thu Jan 11 18:56:43 1996
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> From: mccainra@dunx1.ocs.drexel.edu (Roger A. McCain)
> Reply-To: mccainra@dunx1.ocs.drexel.edu (Roger A. McCain)
> Subject: Re: FW: Stats: wider rich-poor gap
> >You might find the distribution of income in the US
> >"obscene" but until you offer data which supports the
> >claim the rich are getting richer by making the
> >rest of the society poorer--in other words, the section
> >of society to which I belong--you haven't identified a problem
> >requiring any solution.
> >
> That's a matter of value judgment. What we think of as "a problem" reflects
> our values. In short, this statement says something about John M. Hall, not
> about the world or about economics. And ditto David Price' use of the word
> "obscene," of course -- says something about David Price, not about the
> world.
> The statistics, on the other hand, say something about the world. And from
> other sources, I believe that roughly the lower half of the income
> distribution has actually suffered falling real income levels -- with the
> fourth quintile roughly holding its own.
> Not a problem requiring any solution? Well, let's put it this way. It is a
> mystery for neoclassical economics, but Marxist economics at least has the
> categories to express what is happening: the immiserization of the working
> class, largely through the intensification of the exploitation of labor.
> That's what we are seeing.
> And, although I know the following qualifiers will be ignored, and I'll be
> accused of this and that, I'll say them anyway, for the record.
> No, I am not in favor of government control of the economy. It is the
> Marxist model of a capitalist economy that I have come to find useful --
> not any "Marxist" program.
> And second, yes, Marxist thinking can be used for predictive theory, though
> Marxists (mostly) don't regard that as a big deal. Examples:
> 1) Who could possibly have predicted the collapse of Communism in the
> Soviet Union? answer: a Marxist, Paul Sweezy did, about 1970, in an essay
> entitled "A Peaceful Transition from Socialism to Capitalism?"
> 2) Who could possibly have predicted the explosion of the government
> deficit in the Reagan years and the chronic inability of capitalist
> governments to balance their budgets? Answer: a Marxist, James O'Connor did
> in "The Fiscal Crisis of the State," published in 1970.
> Suggestion: if one wants to understand what is going on, maybe one would do
> well to rethink the Marxist model of Capitalism. If so, one may perceive a
> "problem to be solved," or, more precisely, an emerging revolutionary
> crisis.
> Roger A. McCain voice (215) 895 2176
> Professor, Economics fax (215) 895 6975
> 507D Matheson Hall mccainra@dunx1.ocs.drexel.edu
> Drexel University http://william-king.www.drexel.edu/
> Philadelphia, PA 19104 origin code 507

Michael Perelman
Economics Department
California State University
Chico, CA 95929

Tel. 916-898-5321 E-Mail michael@ecst.csuchico.edu