The State of Work in the Age of Anxiety

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From 1947 to 1974, American workers brought home most of the wealth they produced. Since 1974, they have steadily lost power - and they're getting just a fraction of the wealth they produce today..

Harold Meyerson is editor-at-large at The American Prospect and a columnist for The Washington Post.

to read Harold Meyerson's "The 40-Year Slump" published in The American Prospect, December 2013, click on

more at

From the end of World War II through the mid-1970s, American jobs—and with them, the American economy—steadily improved. President Kennedy’s description of how the economy worked was substantially accurate: “A rising tide lifts all boats.” Pay raises matched increases in the nation’s productivity at all points along the economic spectrum. Workers at the bottom of the pay scale saw their wages increase in tandem with everyone else’s. In growing numbers, employers provided pensions and health insurance to their workers. But beginning in the ’70s, the rising tide began leaving some, then most, and today nearly all boats behind.

demandside's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


Instead of putting 100% of the blame on corporations, some of the responsibility for a decline in wages and financial security and stability has to be placed at the feet of many Americans, who look down upon almost eveyone except corporate executives, and hate the possibility of someone earning more money than they do, except for executives. Many people in this country feel superior to others, even if they have less education than does someone else. Some of the blame in my opinion must also be directed toward the public educational system, for doing such a poor job in teaching social studies areas, including and especially basic sociology and economics as they pertain to social stratification and social class.

Robindell's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Probably white collar workers looking down on blue collar workers and allowing unions to be destroyed has something to do with it.

The idiots didn't realize that rising union wages/benefits meant their own wages would rise as keep the unions out. They were in the midst of warfare...and succombed to propaganda from the winning side.

The wealthiest man in the U.S. noted this: Video:

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

The anxiety factor, or is it the rat race or the profit motive or just trying to keep above water, is always misdirected toward hoping those above one's plight will be your friend and offer a helping hand--or at least allow you to cling to the ankles of the those just above you to avoid dropping into the maw below.

The truth of the "liberty and justice for all" vision is that those below you are more likely to cushion your fall and to build a strong structure from the bottom up if you identify with them and their plight than are those above you going to do more than kick you in the face so you will let go of their ankles. They may extract any wealth you might possess to keep you safe from falling. Enjoy your freedumb.

Apr. 26, 2012 12:15 pm

Anxiety of work and market is related to the historic battle between hunters and farmers. Today we have the 1% globalist hunters vs the 99% workers farmers & climate change. I have no anxiety about who i'm betting on.

tayl44's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Conservatives supposedly hate freeloading. So why are they trying to legalize it?

Conservatives supposedly hate freeloaders.

So why do they support right to work laws - which literally legalize freeloading?

Our nation's nine unelected monarchs on the Supreme Court are poised to deal yet another blow to organized labor.

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