On October 25th, 2016, CPEG Member Joe Persky testified before the Cook County (Illinois) board about the potential effects of raising the county minimum wage. Subsequent to testimony provided by CPEG and many other groups, the county board voted to raise the minimum wage from $8.25 to $10 per hour on July 1, 2017. It will then rise by $1 per year until reaching $13 an hour in 2020! This is a major victory for low-wage workers in Chicago and all of Cook County.
As noted by Dr. Persky in his testimony, “Empirical evidence gathered throughout the country as well as here in Illinois supports the proposition that raising minimum wages increases incomes of low wage workers and their households without reducing employment. Cook County owes its low wage workers a serious increase in their minimum wages.”
Download Dr. Persky’s Expanded Testimony (.pdf) before the board.
Check out two recently released books authored by CPEG members Joe Persky and Ron Baiman!
The Political Economy of Progress
John Stuart Mill and Modern Radicalism
Joseph Persky – Oxford Studies in the History of Economics
While there had been much radical thought before John Stuart Mill, Joseph Persky argues it was Mill, as he moved to the left, who provided the radical wing of liberalism with its first serious analytical foundation, a political economy of progress that still echoes today. A rereading of Mill’s mature work suggests his theoretical understanding of accumulation led him to see laissez-faire capitalism as a transitional system. Deeply committed to the egalitarian precepts of the Enlightenment, Mill advocated gradualism and rejected revolutionary expropriation on utilitarian grounds: gradualism, not expropriation, promised meaningful long-term gains for the working classes. He endorsed laissez-faire capitalism because his theory of accumulation saw that system approaching a stationary state characterized by a great reduction in inequality and an expansion of cooperative production. These tendencies, in combination with an aggressive reform agenda made possible by the extension of the franchise, promised to provide a material base for social progress and individual development.
The issue of income and wealth inequality is the great moral issue of our time, it is the great economic issue of our time and it is the great political issue of our time.
– Senator Bernie Sanders, May 2015, announcing his candidacy for president
The driving force behind both the decision of Bernie Sanders to seek the presidency and the firestorm that his campaign unleashed is the same as that of Occupy Wall Street: the 1% vs. the 99%. The unifying theme of Sanders rallies, speeches and policies has been the denunciation of “the billionaire class.” Sanders understands better than most that the obscene level of income and wealth inequality in the U.S. – we’re No. 1 among wealthy countries – makes all other problems more difficult to solve.
Following a June 7th presentation to the Illinois legislature by CPEG members Ron Baiman and Bill Barclay, which occured during a hearing on proposed bills to create a “LaSalle Street Tax”, CPEG has issued additional clarifying comments. The comments are in response to a number of issues raised during the hearing.
CPEG LaSalle Street Tax Additional Comments (PDF)
The attached essay, composed by CPEG members Mel Rothenberg and Bruce E. Parry over the past year, argues that a Marxist materialist analysis is fundamental in understanding and articulating the current international social/economic conjuncture. They note about the essay, “We sketch the theoretical framework underlying such an analysis, apply this framework broadly to describing the key phenomena defining our era, and draw some general strategic conclusions on what political approach and tasks revolutionary Marxists should be currently focusing on. To do all this in a relatively short essay necessitates a necessarily cryptic and schematic presentation, but we felt this was worth doing in view of the absence of such analysis among Marxist activists. There are a number of worthy lengthy and more detailed treatises written by scholars and academics, some of the most relevant of which we reference. Unfortunately these works are often theoretically dense and do not ordinarily find their way to left activists, the primary intended audience of this essay.