Skip to main content

Paul Davidson and the good old days for workers

Letter from Paul published in The Economist edition of November 2nd.
* SIR – “Labour pains” (November 2nd) pointed out that the share of wages in national income has fallen after being nearly constant for decades after the second world war. During the post-war decades the middle class prospered because of the full-employment policies started by Franklin Roosevelt and continued by both Democratic and Republican presidents and Conservative and Labour governments in Britain.

In this period the growth of union power, enshrined in legislation and policies, pursued the sharing of monopoly rents and profits of corporations with their workers. By the 1970s, however, the seeds were sown for the beginning of the end of middle-class prosperity. The anti-union policies of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher made it socially and politically popular to see unions as the villains in the economy. This was quickly supplemented by firms outsourcing to foreign countries where an hour’s worth of labour was paid a much lower real wage.

But now, a new threat is growing that will further hollow out the middle class and make even more significant differences in the distribution between the top 1-2% and the rest of society. This threat is automation. You correctly indicate that policymakers should think about broadening capital ownership as a way of boosting income to workers and restoring a prosperous middle class.

For a creative approach to restoring middle-class prosperity, I recommend the work of Professor Robert Ashford in the forthcoming issue of the Journal of Post Keynesian Economics called “Beyond Austerity and Stimulus: Democratising Capital Acquisition With the Earnings of Capital As a Means of Sustainable Growth”. Professor Ashford proposes a capital-ownership broadening policy that big companies adopt to produce enhanced earnings for their employees, customers, and other poor and middle class people; enhanced corporate profit and growth; reduced need for welfare dependence; and enhanced sovereign creditworthiness.

Paul Davidson
Journal of Post Keynesian Economics
Boynton, Florida
You can see this letter and others here.


  1. It is interesting to note that one of the roots of the neoliberal backlash in Sweden was due to the fact that by the 1970's Swedish labor unions had garnered majority capital ownership of major Swedish corporations.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

A few brief comments on Brexit and the postmortem of the European Union

Another end of the world is possible
There will be a lot of postmortems for the European Union (EU) after Brexit. Many will suggest that this was a victory against the neoliberal policies of the European Union. See, for example, the first three paragraphs of Paul Mason's column here. And it is true, large contingents of working class people, that have suffered with 'free-market' economics, voted for leaving the union. The union, rightly or wrongly, has been seen as undemocratic and responsible for the economics woes of Europe.

The problem is that while it is true that the EU leaders have been part of the problem and have pursued the neoliberal policies within the framework of the union, sometimes with treaties like the Fiscal Compact, it is far from clear that Brexit and the possible demise of the union, if the fever spreads to France, Germany and other countries with their populations demanding their own referenda, will lead to the abandonment of neoliberal policies. Aust…

A brief note on Venezuela and the turn to the right in Latin America

So besides the coup in Brazil (which was all but confirmed by the last revelations, if you had any doubts), and the electoral victory of Macri in Argentina, the crisis in Venezuela is reaching a critical level, and it would not be surprising if the Maduro administration is recalled, even though right now the referendum is not scheduled yet.

The economy in Venezuela has collapsed (GDP has fallen by about 14% or so in the last two years), inflation has accelerated (to three digit levels; 450% or so according to the IMF), there are shortages of essential goods, recurrent energy blackouts, and all of these aggravated by persistent violence. Contrary to what the press suggests, these events are not new or specific to left of center governments. Similar events occurred in the late 1980s, in the infamous Caracazo, when the fall in oil prices caused an external crisis, inflation, and food shortages, which eventually, after the announcement of a neoliberal economic package that included the i…

What is the 'Classical Dichotomy'?