Monday, November 28, 2011

Downward Mobility

The reality in America today is that wages fail to keep up with inflation and all the benefits of productivity improvements go to the top 0.01% and not to the workers. This is an economic crime.

Here is a bit from Robert Reich on his blog that highlights this:
For most of the last century, the basic bargain at the heart of the American economy was that employers paid their workers enough to buy what American employers were selling.

That basic bargain created a virtuous cycle of higher living standards, more jobs, and better wages.

Back in 1914, Henry Ford announced he was paying workers on his Model T assembly line $5 a day – three times what the typical factory employee earned at the time. The Wall Street Journal termed his action “an economic crime.”

But Ford knew it was a cunning business move. The higher wage turned Ford’s auto workers into customers who could afford to buy Model T’s. In two years Ford’s profits more than doubled.

That was then. Now, Ford Motor Company is paying its new hires half what it paid new employees a few years ago.

The basic bargain is over – not only at Ford but all over the American economy.

New data from the Commerce Department shows employee pay is now down to the smallest share of the economy since the government began collecting wage and salary data in 1929.

Meanwhile, corporate profits now constitute the largest share of the economy since 1929.

1929, by the way, was the year of the Great Crash that ushered in the Great Depression.

In the years leading up to the Great Crash, most employers forgot Henry Ford’s example. The wages of most American workers remained stagnant. The gains of economic growth went mainly into corporate profits and into the pockets of the very rich. American families maintained their standard of living by going deeper into debt. In 1929 the debt bubble popped.

Sound familiar? It should. The same thing happened in the years leading up to the crash of 2008.
There is more. Go read the whole article.

The cause of the current Great Recession is obvious. The American worker has been marginalized. They play a smaller and smaller role in the economy. As the big shots keep taking ever bigger shares of the economic pie, there is less and less money left to circulate in the economy. People can't afford to participate, so the real economy stall or shrinks. Greed has killed the goose that laid the golden eggs. How can the electorate not see this simple fact? How can they keep voting in right wing politicians who have put the country on this treadmill?

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