We’ve been a subscriber to real-world economics review for some time, and find it a treasure trove of vital information. But in our preoccupation with events in Europe, we hadn’t read the latest issue, which arrived in our inbox yesterday.
A tip from moussequetaire led us to a very important article by two economists, Israeli Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan of York University in Toronto, titled “The asymptotes of power” [PDF] and this chart, captioned “The Underlying Magma: Income Share of the Top 10% of the U.S. Population vs. the Correctional Population as a Share of the Labour Force.”
The chart compares U.S. income distribution with the share of the workforce behind bars or on probation or parole.
As we can see, since the 1940s this ratio has been tightly and positively correlated with the distributional power of the ruling class: the greater the power indicated by the income share of the top 10 per cent of the population, the larger the dose of violence proxied by the correctional population. Presently, the number of ‘corrected’ adults is equivalent to nearly 5 per cent of the U.S. labour force. This is the largest proportion in the world, as well as in the history of the United States.