Stats on Amerikan working class conditions

Maoist Internationalist Movement mim3 at nyxfer.blythe.org
Tue Oct 3 23:09:20 MDT 1995


MIM statistics update on the condition of the Amerikan working class

All figures from Leonard Beeghly, The Structure of Social Stratification in 
the United States (Boston:  Allyn & Bacon, 1996)--an author who makes a 
point of disagreeing with our theses

I. Occupational structure

White collar:
1880: 19%
1993: 58%

Blue collar:
1880: 29%
1993: 39%

Farming:
1880: 52%
1993: 3%

(p. 51)

Looking at the same thing in another way, 82% of the Amerikan 
population was working class in 1900, but only 42% by 1993, by one 
government definition of blue-collar work. (p. 123)

We at MIM would say this confirms our hypothesis that the majority of 
Amerikan workers has become parasitic over time with the advancement of 
u.s. imperialism.

Meanwhile, the percentage living in poverty declined from 47% in 1880 to 
15% in 1993. Except for the Depression years, there is no mistaking the 
downward trend. The low for poverty was 11% in 1973. (p. 83)

Our critics have for the most part noted the above trend; our disagreement 
with them stems from the fact that they took up the post-modernist project 
of finding new agents of social change, while we stuck with the proletariat, 
which meant relocating our focus to the Third World.

II. Assets

Drawing the line for what is a capitalist and what is not is only somewhat 
problematic. For MIM if one has a net worth that allows one not to work 
thanks to dividends or interest income, then one is a capitalist, even if one 
chooses to work anyway.

Millionaires, 1989
0.6402% of all adults

Greater than $600,000 in assets, 1989
1.34% of all adults

(p. 177)

If we choose a dividing line for capitalist at the top 1% of adults, we are 
counting many people who are not millionaires, but people who have assets 
that could probably generate sufficient income to live on.

The capitalist class defined this way includes 934,000 households. It's net 
worth is $5.6 trillion. (p. 178) A 10 percent annual return on that would be 
$560 billion, which we argue elsewhere is too little to be anything but 
surplus-value from oppressed nations.

In our experience of struggle, when it comes to assets our critics start to 
lose sight of reality. When one takes the appearances of things within a 
chauvinist framework as readily provided by the imperialist superstructure, 
one easily comes to mistaken conclusions about where that $7 trillion GNP 
Doug Henwood is talking about is going and where it came from. The top 
1% has accumulated its assets over generations. It is not getting a huge 
portion of the GNP for its own wealth, because the surplus-value is being 
sucked in by a labor aristocracy in exaggerated salaries. What might be 
even more surprising is that almost two-thirds of all assets are in the 
bottom 99% of the population's hands, which is one reason we mentioned 
home equity earlier. 

Top 1%: $5.6 trillion
Next 9%: $4.7 trillion
Bottom 90%: 4.8 trillion
(p. 178)

Now we turn to where the assets really are by type.

III. Types of assets, 1989
				Top 1%	Top 9%	Bottom 90%
Asset type

Bonds				78%		16		6
Business assets			62		29		9
Trust funds			52		41		7
Stocks				49		36		15
Non-residential
real estate			45		36		20
Other assets			44		34		22

Other wealth
Checking			24		29		48
Other financial accounts	18		37		45
Thrift accounts			15		49		36
Life insurance			12		27		61
PRINCIPAL RESIDENCE		9		26		65
Autos				5		19		76

(p. 179)




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