Fix: ‘How the Rich Are Different: Hierarchical Power as the Basis of Income Size and Class’

ABSTRACT This paper investigates a new approach to understanding personal and functional income distribution. I propose that hierarchical power — the command of subordinates in a hierarchy — is what distinguishes the rich from the poor and capitalists from workers. Specifically, I hypothesize that individual income increases with hierarchical power, as does the share of […]

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Differential Taxation: The Case of American Banking

Mladen Ostojić Abstract This paper maps an empirical history of corporate profit and taxation in the United States, with a special focus on the differential profit and taxation of banks relative to other corporations. An examination of these trends reveals a striking anomaly within the American banking sector: from the early 1980s until the financial […]

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Growing Through Sabotage

Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan Abstract According to the theory of capital as power, capitalism, like any other mode of power, is born through sabotage and lives in chains — and yet everywhere we look we see it grow and expand. What explains this apparent puzzle of ‘growth in the midst of sabotage’? The answer, […]

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How Do You Spot a Crank?

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. I confess that I have a recurring nightmare. In it, I realize that everything I’ve ever written about economics is wrong. Neoclassical economics is not, as I’ve repeatedly claimed, a pile of bullshit. In this nightmare, neoclassical economics is correct. And as a strident critic of neoclassical […]

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The Productivity of Bullshit Jobs

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. I recently read David Graeber’s book Bullshit Jobs: A Theory. If you’re not familiar, David Graeber is the anthropologist who wrote Debt: The First 5000 Years, a seminal book on the history of money and credit. In Bullshit Jobs, Graeber takes aim at pointless work. Graeber describes […]

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The Power Ethos in the US Military

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. In How Hierarchy Can Mediate the Returns to Education I examined the pay structure of the US military. I found that hierarchical rank is (by far) the strongest determinant of military pay. Here I want to show you that there is a regularity to military pay. In […]

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The Social Environment as a Cause in Economics

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. Have you noticed that economists are missing a word in their vocabulary? In microeconomics you’ll see words like ‘individual’, ‘utility’ and ‘maximize’. But you won’t see the word ‘environment’ anywhere. It seems that in microeconomics, individuals maximize their utility in a void. [1] This lobotomy of the […]

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Ten Tips For Doing Open Science

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. Science is the quintessential public good. It’s an iterative process in which new knowledge builds on previous knowledge. For this process to work, science needs to be ‘open’. Both the results and methods of scientific research need to be freely available for all. The open science movement […]

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Productivity Does Not Explain Wages

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. Does productivity explain income? I asked this question in a previous post. My answer was a bombastic no. In this post, I’ll dig deeper into the reasons that productivity doesn’t explain income. I’ll focus on wages. The evidence Let’s start with the evidence trumpeted as proof that […]

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The Tyranny of Meritocracy

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. Like many Canadians, I grew up with a faith in meritocracy. Do your best, I believed, and the world would reward you. In school, this idea seemed self-evidently true. I worked hard, and was rewarded with good grades and praise from teachers. And those students who didn’t […]

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