Higher turnout has the possibility of weakening the donor class’s grip on policy. It could also reduce the influence of the extreme right wing on politics. It’s not surprising that the GOP, which benefits from a low-turnout, strong-donor environment, supports voting laws that tend to reduce turnout.
On a late evening this past summer and without warning, one of the oldest buildings in Atlanta caught fire. Gaines Hall — a former dormitory on the campus of Morris Brown College — had been shuttered for years, closed when the school fell on hard times. After firefighters extinguished the two-alarm blaze, what was essentially left of the building was a charred red brick shell.
Most Americans will end up at 55 where they were at 35—not in vigor or short-term memory, sadly, but in earnings.
Recently researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York announced some grim news: An impressive study of 200 million Social Security records going back to 1978 revealed that working Americans’ earnings plateau in their 40s.
This may seem fine—what would be bad about bringing in that same peak salary every subsequent year?—until one accounts for the eroding effect
Governments have typically dealt with capitalism’s more misery-inducing tendencies by creating institutions of labor protection — such as the right to organize unions — and by building out modern welfare states. Although these policy programs have been fairly successful, especially in the countries that have pushed them the furthest, they have not fully eliminated coercion and deprivation.
Americans who vote are different from those who don’t. Voters are older, richer, and whiter than nonvoters, in part because Americans lack a constitutional right to vote and the various restrictions on voting tend to disproportionately impact the less privileged. In 2014, turnout among those ages 18 to 24 with family incomes below $30,000 was 13 percent. Turnout among those older than 65 and making more than $150,000 was 73 percent.
Not that many people vote in midterm elections. While 57.5 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the 2012 presidential race, a mere 41.9 percent did in 2014, according to data from the Census Bureau. Midterm turnout isn’t just low, though. It’s falling. It tumbled from 47.8 percent in 2006 to 45.5 percent in 2010 before falling yet further to 41.9 percent in 2014.
I propose a far-reaching agenda to fix Quarterly Capitalism, equal to the task of shifting traderscorporate America away from an obsession with short-termism and toward creating shared productivity. These proposals are complementary and non-exclusive, but the problem of Quarterly Capitalism and short-termism is so embedded in the economy that a layered approach is needed.