What We’re Rightfully Owed

Photo by Pictures of Money: https://bit.ly/3daKFbc

by George Maroukis

The American Dream has mostly departed Millennial aspirations, and Gen Z is quickly coming to terms that the fog of American exceptionalism is clearing way to a dismal abyss.

A recent comprehensive analysis conducted by the RAND Corporation in September 2020 on the extraction of surplus value provides clarity as to just how damaging the capitalist class has been for the majority of America.

The study concludes that since 1975, the ultra-rich have pilfered, mostly by means of economic policy which promotes the financialization of capital, approximately $50 trillion.

While the mean income of the top 1% has more than quadrupled since 1975, the median income has barely budged. Had the increases been even, most of us would be making more than twice what we make today.

Trends in Income from 1975 to 2018 [Chart: Carter C. Price and Kathryn Edwards, RAND Corporation]

What if we collected from the capitalist class, at minimum, what we are rightfully owed for our labor? What if the physical and mental detriment caused by this manufactured insecurity was alleviated? What would that redistribution look like for families in the anthracite region?

Anthracite County2018 Median Household IncomePopulationPoverty RatePopulation in Poverty
Carbon$58k64k12.5%8k (1 in 8)
Columbia$58k66k14.3%9k (1 in 7)
Lackawanna$51k221k15.1%32k (1 in 7)
Luzerne$54k318k14.9%47k (1 in 7)
Northumberland$47k92k13.9%13k (1 in 7)
Schuylkill$49k144k12.7%18k (1 in 8)
Data from: https://datausa.io/ (Retrieved Oct 10, 2020)

As you can see, the data for median household income in the anthracite region aligns closely to the national median individual income in the RAND study. It is not hard to imagine the relief that nearly doubling your household income would provide. In addition, the some 127,000 local people in poverty – your neighbors, your friends, maybe even yourself – would be lifted out of these dehumanizing conditions.

No study this extensive has been conducted which depicts this intergenerational pillaging perpetuated by neoliberal economics. The drive to dispossess any form of regenerative benefit for society is at the heart of this scourge. The capitalist’s psychosis of limitless extraction that comes at the detriment of the masses through the hoarding of wealth is unsustainable in a finite world.


George Maroukis lives in Auburn, Pa., born to a carpenter/ mechanic and a nurse in Schuylkill Haven. He graduated from Penn State University with a BA in Communications. Previously he served six years in the US Army Reserve as a Preventive Medicine Specialist, and was deployed to Afghanistan. Today he is a human rights activist – including anti-war – and a bicycle infrastructure advocate. 

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