Friday, August 30, 2013

Where have America's wages gone?

America's wages have gone to greedy CEOs, a lot of whom are incompetent or crooks.

The Economic Policy Institute has just put out a study showing that most of the wealth created in this country has gone to the top one percent. As R.J. Eskow notes in the Huffington Post,
We don't have a problem of inadequate wealth. The problem is inadequate wealth distribution. For 99 percent of Americans, wage growth has lagged significantly behind increases in productivity. As the authors note, this is true "regardless of occupation, gender, race/ethnicity, or education level." Since the Great Recession productivity has grown by 7.7 percent, while wages have actually fallen for the bottom 70 percent of earners.
It isn't as if those one percenters deserve it. A devastating new report by the Institute for Policy Studies shows that 40 percent of the highest paid CEOs were either fired, bailed out or led companies that had to pay huge fines or settlements for breaking the law.

Eskow says it's hopeless to try to convince Republicans to do anything about the inequality destroying our country.
Republicans are a lost cause. The Republican Party platform of 1956 boasted of union growth and Social Security expansion under President Eisenhower. But that party is long gone and there's little likelihood it will ever return. Democrats can be pressured by their base, with its preponderance of working people. Republicans who primarily rely on billionaire and/or Tea Party support are largely insulated from that kind of pressure (although there may be some opportunities for populist grassroots alliances).
And he excoriates the so-called "centrist Democrats" who aid and abet billionaire-backed Republicans.
The word "centrist" is placed in quotation marks because polls show that their economic views are to the right of the American mainstream. On issues such as corporate taxation, Social Security benefits, and free trade, they stand to the right of most Americans -- and sometimes to the right of most registered Republicans. 
"Centrist" Dems actively participated in the deregulation of Wall Street, which led to runaway financialization of profits while putting the global economy at risk. They pushed free trade agreements that decimated American jobs (and failed to provide adequate rights for workers overseas), a practice which President Obama has continued. 
"Centrist" Dems remained silent as corporate leaders paid themselves constantly-inflating salaries and bonus packages, diluted shareholder oversight, and transformed corporations like GE from productive, job-creating entities into financial players fixated on quarterly results -- a fixation which has helped executive pay packages expand exponentially. 
He concludes:
It will take a grassroots uprising to redirect the thinking of the "centrist" Democrats toward economic equality.
The good news is that may be happening, given the thousands of workers who walked out on jobs at the ports, fast food restaurants and retail stores.