Thursday, August 31, 2006
Yet More Ironic Reflections On Labor Day
Here is another article about the decline of the unions and the middle class. You've heard the sentiments before, but here are some bracing new statistics. Productivity and median family income both rose 104 percent from 1947 to 1973, moving in tandem like a pair of oxen yoked together. Since '73, things have been different. Now they are worse than ever. While corporate profits have been bolting ahead like a racehorse, the median hourly wage has declined 2 percent since 2003 - 1.8 percent for men and 1.3 percent for women in the last year alone. Instead of a world where "a rising tide floats all boats", to quote a speech about the economy from JFK in the early sixties, we have one in which the rising tide actually sucks the water out from the rest of us. The author dubs this storm surge of the profit motive The Great Upward Redistribution.
According the New York Times, wages and salaries comprise the lowest share of the GDP since 1947. Most of the rest is corporate profits, glorious, golden corporate profits, in which the CEOs wallow like pigs in a trough. Salaries are hunkering so low in the mud of economic subsistence that the entry level salary for an airline pilot of all things, once a famously lucrative profession, has been reported at $21,000 at some companies - barely enough to pay for your morning Starbucks. How can happiness thrive in the barnyard of labor when even the birds are plucked? We are all just waiting for slaughter while our leaders proclaim, like the pigs in Animal Farm, that all animals are equal, just that some animals are more equal than others...
"Workingman's Blues" from American Prospect