In the News

Today, the working class are most likely to work as caregivers, retail workers, cashiers, fast food workers, and janitors. How are the working class movements such as  “Fight for $15” minimum wage shifting the political and economic landscape?  Join the conversation, on the next Your Call, with Rose Aguilar, and you. 

 
| |

Some 63 percent of white students who graduate from public four-year colleges and universities borrow to do so, but 81 percent of black graduates go that route, according to a study of student debt by Demos, a public policy research organization. When it comes to associate's degrees, 57 percent of black students borrow, versus 43 percent of whites — and the black students borrow an average of $2,000 more.

| |

There is a classic sociological distinction between workers who are politically conscious of their economic class and those who are not. Leftist theorists have spoken of the difference between “class in itself”—an objective category defined by a worker’s relationship to capital—and “class for itself.” The latter concept refers to a class having become consciously aware of its own exploitation, and its workers actively fighting to overcome it. Karl Marx alluded to the distinction in his early work The Poverty of Philosophy (1847).

Black lives matter, we’re told—but in many American cities, black residents are either scarce or dwindling in number, chased away by misguided progressive policies that hinder working- and middle-class people. Such policies more severely affect blacks than whites because blacks start from further behind economically. Black median household income is only $35,481 per year, compared with $57,355 for whites.

|

When Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel ran for re-election in 2015, his opponents accused him of representing the elite in a city starkly divided by race and class. A new analysis of campaign finance data shows that, at least from a fundraising perspective, the mayor’s support did indeed come largely from a narrow band of Chicago’s citizens.

In a nutshell: Rahm Emanuel relied overwhelming on large donations from a very nearly exclusively white pool of donors — who also, as further analysis shows, largely live in the same few rich wards of the city (save for non-Chicagoans, as Emanuel also did a lot of fundraising outside the city). Even Garcia's donors were disproportionately white, though to a much lesser extent. "We expected going in there would be some demographic disparities," McElwee told The Week.
| |

However, money still matters a lot, and it probably matters more on the local and state level than it does nationally. As McElwee notes, the donor class has sharply different ideological beliefs than the public at large. For obvious reasons, they tend to resist the tax increases necessary to pay for better services, and tend to support "centrist" austerity derp like the Bowles-Simpson program. In other words, they're more conservative.

| |
Political leverage is another factor separating the top 20 percent from the rest of America. The top quintile is equipped to exercise much more influence over politics and policy than its share of the electorate would suggest. Although by definition this group represents 20 percent of all Americans, it represents about 30 percent of the electorate, in part because of high turnout levels.

Increased rates of delinquency, particularly among poor and minority citizens, also expose borrowers to job market discrimination. Some employers use credit checks as part of their hiring process, a practice that many argue is unduly burdensome and prevents Americans from getting the jobs they need to effectively pay off their student loans.

| |

"First, studies suggest that rights restoration decreases recidivism rates, by allowing returning citizens to fully participate in society," Sean McElwee, a research analyst for think tank Demos, previously told Mic. "Second, because numerous studies show that turnout is correlated with government transfers and responsiveness, voting rights restoration would force politicians to respond to returning citi

| |