Thursday, June 04, 2009

Living Wage

I keep insisting that without living wages, the economy cannot recover, and today I am glad to announce former N.Y. governor Elliot Spitzer agrees with me. Of course, so do Professor Wombat and Dr. Krugman, but this one published yesterday in Slate.

While I am glad to see E.J. Dionne join me in deploring the media's insistence on giving their major attention to the blithering idjuts of the right, I also must admit that, as Dionne says, when they get the attention, they win.

With public attention, we can win. If we win, the U.S. recovers. That's an equation that has its perils, but is something to work with. Spitzer adds another link in the chain that will pull our economy out of its catastrophe with this point, that without income for individuals our economy is not working for us.

Long term, nothing is more fundamental than good jobs to creating the middle-class wealth that must drive the economy....The argument until now has been that the virtually unlimited appetite for American T-bills would permit us to issue this increasing debt without interest rates accelerating and the dollar suffering. Recent events have cast serious doubt on this assumption. The spread between two-year Treasury notes and 10-year notes is wider than it's ever been. And the Chinese government seems less and less enthusiastic about purchasing an unlimited supply of T-bills. (Has anyone wondered why we have said not a word about Chinese human rights abuses during this economic crisis and why Treasury Secretary Geithner has withdrawn the well-founded assertion that the Chinese have been manipulating the value of their currency?)

Now all of this might have been acceptable had we seen a remarkable increase in per capita income. We have not. Indeed, we have seen just the opposite: stagnation.
What would be a better approach? A policy to support those sectors that actually create goods and value. ...why not take an amount equal to the AIG bailout (more than $180 billion) and invest in a product that would be truly worthwhile: high-speed rail along our major economic corridors? If we transform the L.A.-San Francisco corridor with high-speed rail, and D.C.-Boston similarly, the savings and technological advances would be enormous.

(Yes, I had to throw in the proposition about Supertrain because Atrios loves it, but it is absolutely right.)

New technologies, new sectors, new attention to the source of U.S. wealth, the worker. Without that vision, our efforts are spinning old, tired wheels.

The financial sector has been propped up and hand-pulled through its threatened demise. If nothing is created to bring new money into what's left of our consumer economy, however, that's just not enough. Printing all the money we can doesn't give it value.

When the power of the government is used on behalf of our workers, then the economy will be lifted as it should be, by the individuals that make it up.

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Anonymous dan mcenroe said...

Spitzer was and continues to be right about so many things, and I can't help but think that he would still be governor today if he was a Republican. He fucked up, big time, but the investigation into his crimes was suspicious at best and he definitely pissed off all the wrong people when he was AG.

11:30 AM  
Blogger Ruth said...

Indeed, investigating crimes is a big offense against the wingers.

3:17 AM  
Blogger Jake - but not the one said...

Ruth, interestingly enough, many conservatives hold the same view. I don't know what you call these kinds of conservatives - I read them at Eunomia and Front Porch Republic.

Apparently there is a Catholic economic philosophy which starts with your proposition - that a living wage is the bedrock of a just economy (those are my words).

I don't know if the people I read can be considered conservatives in the usual meaning of the word. If you take the differences around abortion and birth control out of the equation, the goals of their policies and the goals of many liberals would look very much the same. They, of course, deny this vehemently. :)


5:58 AM  
Blogger Ruth said...

Jake, sadly the working people in the country have lost their bearings, I especially shake my head at hearing 'Yurpeen Socialism' used as a scare tactic. Most developed countries show their workers much more respect than the 'conservatives' in the U.S. have.

6:23 AM  

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