A combination of income inequality, conservative economic legislation and racism have
birthed a dual economy within the United States. The low-wage sector, a group of laborers and
service workers, barely allows its members to remain above the poverty line, if at all, and as a
result grows larger every day. And the FTE sector, made up of the top 20 percent of American
earners, almost all of whom are college graduates and, more than likely, white. The middle class
– defined as “households earning from two-thirds to double the median American household
income” – held three-fifths of all income in 1970, and only two-fifths in 2014 (Temin, 2017, pg.
11). Between 1993 and 2010, middle-waged jobs fell by 6 per cent while low-paying and
high-paying jobs rose by 3 per cent (Temin, 2017, pg. 11). Peter Temin argues that in light of
these figures, we are seeing a significant shift in the US economy towards ruling rich and
extreme poor, which will continue to grow if measures are not taken.
American history and politics, particularly slavery and its aftermath are at the roots of our
systemically oppressive economics. Though the Declaration of Independence stated that “all men
are created equal” it referred exclusively to white men; African Americans were not included.
“When slavery was abolished after the Civil war, the presumption that blacks were abominable
and lacking in personality endured. Reconstruction…. was followed by Jim Crow laws and
social controls that were created to reproduce something close to the antebellum relations
between whites and blacks,” (Temin, 2017, pg. 51). Propaganda that compels humans to assign
racial hierarchy to one another is what Temin calls, “Racecraft”. Decades of using racecraft as a
weapon of oppression has ultimately produced a society of White Americans with “White Rage”,
in other forms known as white supremacy. It’s influence extended to immigrants, seen in full
force after a “Second Great Migration” of Latinos from Mexico and Central America due to,
“political regimes that denied them a path to economic advancement and security,” (Temin,
2017, pg. 55).
“Racial discord plays a critical role in determining beliefs about the poor… opponents of
redistribution in the United States have regularly used race-based rhetoric to resist left-wing
politics,” (Temin, 2017, pg. 55). Evidence of this is the overwhelming number of minorities and
people of color trapped in the low-wage sector, unable to escape it. Ironically, most poor people
living in the United States are not black, in fact, less than one third of the population are people
of color. Conservative white politicians still appeal to the racism of poor white voters to get
support for policies that further harm the low-wage sector, casting recipients of welfare and other
social programs as “lazy, incapable, and generally unworthy”. Temin likens conditions of these
many poorer americans to those living in a developing country: non-access to quality education,