Thursday, February 22, 2007

Are We Coming to Our Centses?

With great pleasure I announce that finally I have found a commentator who is facing the issue of our flatline wage situation honestly. In WaPo, Harold Meyerson gives a really telling analysis of the effect of globalisation on U.S. wage scales.

The debate begins at the familiar flash point of trade -- more particularly, with the realization of business elites and their political champions that the nation's free-trade policies have become threatened by growing public anxiety over our economic future. While corporate profits soar, individual wages stagnate, held at least partly in check by the brave new fact of offshoring -- that millions of Americans' jobs can be performed at a fraction of the cost in developing nations near and far. November's elections, in which voters sent to Congress a freshman class composed almost entirely of free-trade skeptics, rang alarm bells on both Wall Street and K Street.
As call centers relocate to India, the Rubinauts call for extending trade adjustment assistance to service as well as manufacturing workers. They call for a universal health-care system delinking insurance from employment, so that U.S. companies can compete globally without having to be the only corporations in an advanced economy that cover their workers' medical costs. They call for improving our education system so that American workers can be more competitive.
Free-trade skeptics such as I believe that these domestic reforms, while overdue, are not enough. We argue that there need to be rules for the global economy that protect workers no less than investors, that global minimum wage standards, say, are no less necessary in a global economy than national minimum wage standards are in a national economy.

The 110th Congress chose to make a raise in the minimum wage one of its major priorities. I applaud that choice, and see great encouragement for the U.S. working public. While most of us are working above that standard, choosing to reward labor instead of regarding it as a threat to the business community takes the tack that will strengthen the country's economy once again.

The business sector has responded to the 'threat' of raising minimum wage by declaring that businesses will be 'forced' to trim away workers. Naturally, this has not been the effect in communities where minimum wages have been raised. In actuality, the purchasing power created by better wages has been more to spend, and more money going into the businesses there.

While Meyerson is dwelling mostly on the effect of Free Trade on U.S. wages, this is a good beginning. I hope he will encounter Rep. Barney Frank's comments that I posted here recently, and last night at Correntewire ;

(FRANK):When you refuse to raise the minimum wage, so inflation erodes it, when you have an active policy of breaking labor unions, when you have a tax policy that favors people at the high end, you are reinforcing those tendencies.

And so, what we have is a national policy which takes advantage of factors that are keeping real wages depressed and keeping productivity way ahead of wages so that all of the increase — as Alan Greenspan said two years ago, and apparently is still the case, virtually all of the increased wealth in this society that comes from increased productivity goes to the owners of capital.

Because they have been given very special and one-sided treatment by the cretin in chief, the corporate sector has come to regard itself as the sole object of government. Naturally, that sector wants to have all the advantages, as that will create its idea of a 'strong economy'. Increasingly, though, the GOP is becoming aware that the public votes, and it is not accepting the lies.

A strong economy results from working people making a living, and having the money to spend on that living. Without that factor, so neglected for the past ten years of GOP rein, the economy has depended on the American worker stretching increasingly farther to support itself. Finally, we have reached a negative level of savings. American households have had to go into increasing amounts of debt to support this GOP economy. The last time that happened was the Depression.

The threat to a strong economy is not from the working wage earner. It is from the unbalanced policies of a maladministration that throws all of its resources to the corporate sector.

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Anonymous Karin said...

Harold Meyerson is quite good. He gets overlooked a bit, imo. I myself often forget to check to WaPo editorial page, because so many wankers are there.

7:37 PM  
Blogger Ruth said...

Do you know, WaPo has the best and the worst. It's editorial board thinks they work for the Wall Street Journal sometimes, I think. But I always check out their solid posters. And sometimes they are paydirt.

1:51 AM  

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