by Evert Cilliers aka Adam Ash
If the productivity gains of American workers since 1980 were reflected in our wages, our median household income today would be $92,000 a year instead of $50,000.
That's $42,000 per year that our 1% has stolen from our 99%. In fact, our wages today, when adjusted for the cost of services and goods, are the same as they were in 1970. Yet from 1820 to 1970, American business paid the American worker higher wages year after year after year.
Imagine what kind of economy we'd have today if our median household income was $92,000. We'd be thriving — instead of reeling from unemployment, home equity loss, underwater mortgages, credit card debt, student loans and medical bills.
What would have to change for us to get back the $42,000 per year we're being cheated out of?
Everything. Even if the minimum wage went to $15 or $25 an hour, or taxes on folks earning over $1m per year went to 50% or 70%, where they were before Reagan, or unions were back in full strength, representing at least 30% of our labor force, that $42,000 per year would still be going to the top. CEOs in America would still be getting 300 to 500 times more money than their workers, unlike Europe (20-something times) or Japan (10-something times).
Our business system is feudal. There's nothing more undemocratic. It's not as if any CEO is elected by his workers every four years, as it should be if our businesses were democratic. Then that CEO would be responsible to his workers, to whom he would owe his job, instead of responsible to himself and his cronies. The Germans, way smarter than us, have labor unions represented on the boards of their companies. They don't think it's the job of the top brass to screw their workers into the ground.
We used to be a Ford economy: at the outset Ford decided to pay his workers enough money to be able to afford the cars they made. Today we're a Walmart economy: Walmart doesn't pay its workers enough wages for them to get off food stamps. We're forced to live on credit. When our 1% of rich folks inflated the housing bubble to create their fraudulent derivatives, regular folks had enough equity in their homes to finance their living standards. For a short while. Then that Ponzi scheme collapsed. Today we Americans don't get paid enough for us to have an economy. The rich have plucked the goose so bare, there's nothing left but the bones.
America's workers have been completely disempowered. They're the most pathetic bunch on the planet. They live in the biggest economy on earth, and they have fewer rights than peasants. They're like women in Saudi-Arabia — hapless, helpless, and completely oppressed. In Washington, nobody's talking about creating more work for workers, like FDR did with his Public Works Administration, which would be the sensible thing to do. They're talking about deficits, a smokescreen issue of the 1% to take down our social safety net of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Wall Street would dearly like to have Social Security privatized, so they could have all that money to gamble with.
You and I are screwed forevermore.