One Step Up, Three Steps Down

Garson, Barbara

Publisher:  Against the Current
Date Written:  01/09/2014
Year Published:  2014  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX20812

In an interview with author Barbara Garson, Against the Current examines the economic meltdown surrounding the Occupy movement and the effect it has had on working-class Americans.



Duane got out of the army at a time when it was easy to pick up a job that would pay your rent and food. In the sixties you could quit a job in Cincinnati and move to Cleveland just because you liked the band in that city.

The next time I met him I noticed that life was getting harder. For instance, it required two incomes to have a minimal household. Duane evaded some of the worst of the deskilling and outsourcing that happened to industrial workers in the '80s and '90s because he always kept ahead of the technology. Yet when he died, after the housing bubble burst his children were left with an underwater house that they had to walk away from and small credit card debts from Duane's last job move.

This was a man who worked steadily all his life with increasing skill and productivity (American productivity went up by 99% in those 40 years) but whose real wage stagnated or declined. That's the story of the American economy over the four decades in which capital has taken more of the pie and labor has gotten much less.