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Abstract

The study utilizes an extended version of a Charles V Hamilton paradigm in order to estimate yearly income transfers between classes in America's system of "welfare state capitalism." Analyzing the period from 1965 to 1984, what becomes most obvious is the substantial annual transfer from the middle/working class to the owning class. The transfer rose to more than $150 billion by 1984-a full 10% of middle/ working class income. Yet when looking at the implications, an interesting paradox emerges. Although the amount of transfer has increased some over the period, it has not grown nearly as fast as the after-tax income gap between the two classes. Those at the top have gotten sizably richer, while those beneath them have actually been witnessing a real-dollar income decline. Ultimately, this is attributed to both a postindustrial income bimodality within the non-elite population as well as a redistribution downward within that group. Frustrated by their own declining economic status, however, middle Americans at least temporarily turn a good bit of their wrath towards welfare recipients and not the owners of capital-much as Hamilton predicted.

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