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Harold Meyerson

How capitalism enriches the few rather than the many

Michael Lewis’s “Flash Boys,” his takedown of high-speed stock trading, may be making headlines this week, but it’s just one of two books on our economic dysfunctions that are flying off the shelves. While “Flash Boys” explains how the fastest-growing form of trading enriches the few at the expense of the many, the other book, Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” provides a more fundamental and disquieting explanation: how capitalism itself enriches the few at the expense of the many.

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A local approach to bigger paychecks

Many cities are pricey places to live. Acknowledging that reality, a growing number of cities have adopted higher minimum-wage standards than those set by the federal and state governments. San Francisco is on that list, as are San Jose, Seattle (where efforts are underway to raise the hourly minimum to $15), Washington (and two adjacent Maryland counties), Albuquerque and Santa Fe, N.M. Even in San Diego, no bastion of liberalism, the City Council is moving to put a wage hike before local voters.

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The coming job apocalypse

As a general rule, more Americans work than do the citizens of other advanced economies. Since the late 1970s, when the number of women in the workforce ballooned, the share of Americans who either had jobs or were trying to get one was greater than the share of comparable Europeans. For reasons good and bad — the higher availability of jobs, the need to bolster stagnating incomes, the linkage of jobs to health insurance — Americans worked like the dickens.

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The Death of an Employer Scam

One of the most pervasive scams that employers use to lower their workers’ wages is misclassification—that is, turning their workers into independent contractors or temps when they are actually employees. Misclassification shouldn’t be mistaken for the whim of an errant employer. On the contrary, it’s a strategy that has been used to transform entire industries.

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How to Raise Americans' Wages

Once upon a time in a faraway land—the United States following World War II—workers reaped what they sowed. From 1947 through 1973, their income rose in lockstep with increases in productivity. Their median compensation (wages plus benefits) increased by 95 percent as their productivity increased by 97 percent. Then, abruptly, the rewards for greater productivity started going elsewhere—to shareholders, financiers, and top corporate executives. Today, for the vast majority of American workers, the link between their productivity and their compensation no longer exists.

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Russia doesn’t respect borders. Neither has the U.S.

In light of Russia’s military movement into Crimea, it’s a good thing that the United States repudiated the Monroe Doctrine. In 1823, to deter European powers from military or political intervention in the emerging nations of Latin America, President James Monroe announced a policy implying that that region was our sphere of influence, not Europe’s. The United States invoked the Monroe Doctrine, along with the imperatives of the Cold War, to justify some of its own interventions there: in Cuba, Panama, Nicaragua, Chile, Grenada, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela — it’s a long list.

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Harold Meyerson Named One of Nation’s Top 50 Columnists!

awardIn September, 2009 Atlantic Monthly named Harold Meyerson one of 50 Most Influential Columnists. Calling its list “its all-star team,” Atlantic Monthly’s Top 50 are the most influential commentators in the nation – the columnists and bloggers and broadcast pundits who shape the national debates. Harold Meyerson is honored to be in their midst.

To get a complete list of the country’s Top 50 Idea-meisters, click here.

Harold Meyerson's Book

Harold Meyerson's Book
Who Put the Rainbow in the Wizard of Oz?
Yip Harburg, Lyricist

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