The Disjunction Between Production and Distribution: An Outtake from "Slouching Towards Utopia?: An Economic History of the Long Twentieth Century 1870-2016

Save for white baby-boomers and pre-baby boomers who rode the post-WWII wave of government-sponsored housing finance and inflation on the one hand and union and white-collar defined-benefit pensions on the other, by and large the "middle class" in terms of wealth has always been a multi-generational phenomenon: what with keeping-up-with-the-joneses and the slings-and-arrows-of-fortune, several generations of secure middle-class incomes are required to build up anything that can be called a middle-class wealth stock.

And racial discrimination has made it impossible for African-Americans to have such a run of security:

Darrick Hamilton: Racial Equality Is Economic Equality: "Race is a stronger predictor of wealth than class itself. The 2017 Survey of Consumer Finances indicates that the typical black family has about $17,600 in wealth (inclusive of home equity); in contrast, the typical white family has about $171,000. This amounts to an absolute racial wealth gap where the typical black family owns only ten cents for every dollar owned by the typical white family!...

...This disparity has endured over time. The racial wealth gap is an inheritance that began with chattel slavery, when blacks were literally the capital assets for a white landowning plantation class. The gap continued after Emancipation, when discriminatory laws and institutions established insurmountable barriers to the American middle class for black families. Today, hundreds of years removed from chattel slavery, there has virtually never been a substantive black middle class when defined by wealth. In contrast, the implementation of FDR’s New Deal and post-war vision facilitated an asset-based white middle class to cumulatively build wealth and pass it on to their heirs...


#noted

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