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The American Dual Economy: Race, Globalization, and the Politics of Exclusion


I describe the American economy in the twenty-first century as a dual economy in the spirit of W. Arthur Lewis.

Similar to the subsistence and capitalist economies characterized by Lewis, I distinguish a low-wage sector and a FTE (Finance, Technology, and Electronics) sector. The transition from the low-wage to the FTE sector is through education, which is becoming increasingly difficult for members of the low-wage sector because the FTE sector has largely abandoned the American tradition of quality public schools and universities. Policy debates about public education and other policies that serve the low-wage sector often characterize members of the low-wage sector as black even though the low-wage sector is largely white. This model of a modern dual economy explains difficulties in many current policy debates, including education, healthcare, criminal justice, infrastructure and household debts.