The Great U Turn Essay

Submitted By sabrina121977
Words: 1146
Pages: 5

About a little more than twenty years after World War 2 in the early 1960’s the American economy was extremely strong and growing, “the dollars was strong and inflation was low” according to The Great U-Turn by Bluestone and Harrison. It was a time when working families had the expectation that their children would be able to be prosperous. This was as a result of wealth evenly distributed among working families. There was also growing government involvement in the expansion of the “Great Society” programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Head Start etc. Along with these accomplishments by government, came rising public expenditure, all the while there were underlying currents that would threaten and reverse much of the government policies in favor of workers and the prosperity of the times for everyone.
In 1964 America was experiencing a time of prosperity because of record capital accumulations stemming from WW2, the expansion into international markets and government policies fashioned to help capitalist and their new business ventures etc. However less than 10 years later when the rapid growth of capital started to slow down and it started to become more and more apparent that things needed to change and which sector of the population would bear the financial burdens and which sector would continue to enjoy it’s benefits.
The country made a “U-Turn” after 1973 when “wages began a long downward trend, median annual family income stopped growing, more family members were working than ever before. By the latter half of the decade the most stable “core” workers in the economy, the roughly three-fifths of the labor force working year round and full time workers, became more and more likely to earn low wages. Between 1973 and 1979 one out of every five net additional year round and full time worker earned less than $11,000 a year (in 1986 prices). Since 1979, 36 percent of such employees earned wages and salaries below that threshold” (The Great U-Turn).
According to “Winner Takes All Politics” by Hacker and Pierson there are three big clues we could look at. First they suggest a “Hyper concentration of Income” where from the end of WW2 to 1970 incomes grew slightly faster at the bottom and middle population that at the top. However the trend is that the income of the top one percent of the rich was about eight percent in 1974 grew to more than 18 percent in 2007. Upon further examination of the data they found that more than six percent of the national income goes to 0.01 percent of families in the U.S.
The second clue is “Sustained Hyper concentration” of income by the “top percenters” is maintained even during downturns in the economy. While everyone else experiences devastating financial realities in a recession the top earners are less likely to honestly bear any financial burdens. Thirdly they explore “Limited Benefits for the Nonrich” where problems with government taxes and benefits. Unequal taxations (i.e. official taxes vs. effective taxes which are much less progressive), social programs and benefits etc. that are available to some members of the population and not others are just some of the factors instrumental in examining the uneven-ness of income accumulation by the top earners and everyone else.
Before the economic turn government would be described to have taken the position of working for a larger sector of the population i.e. the workers with the government policies and regulations that business had to abide by. With the government and the courts facilitating and promoting safe and economically favorable work environments via policies and rulings helped working families prosper in the 1960’s thru early 70’s, however competing interest on the side of employers and frankly their influence within the government thru lobbyists was the motivation for the change in direction in worker – capital – government relations.
Let’s start with Nixon, President Nixon during his term oversaw the most rapid