Friday, September 01, 2006

Go Ahead, make my pay

This article that NYTimes put right at the top of its web edition front page Monday morning, [which, will go behind the paywall in a week, sorry, no permalink] should give most Democrats and, indeed, all us whiny lib'ruls, a stout helping of the sad pleasure of "I told you so". We have complained all along that the Republicans took unfair care of industries that donated heavily and lobbied heavily. We have pointed out for six years that Bush policy drains money not only from workers but from the economy as a whole by racking up unprecedented debt and erasing even the pretense that Republicans understand why nations have to balance budgets.

Our worst expectations have included the prospect that Republican prosperity only means corporate prosperity, a kind of wealth that only "trickles down" to the CEO and the boards of directors and the bond holders. If only the Republicans had met their own expectations half so well! The Home Depots, the oil companies, the Haliburtons and so on, are the economy in the minds of Bush and his advisors. I don't suppose many of the super-rich who steer these companies and so generously gave their money and their executives to the Republican campaign and administration have actually sat around thinking or saying to each other "how can we screw workers?" Simply saying "how can we make and keep as much money as possible this quarter for ourselves and our shareholders" has pretty much the same effect as long as that greed enjoys the leverage of unreformed campaign finance laws and massive K Street influence buyers.

So here in black and white is the harvest of Republican priorities, most of us are losing ground:

The median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003, after factoring in inflation. The drop has been especially notable, economists say, because productivity — the amount that an average worker produces in an hour and the basic wellspring of a nation’s living standards — has risen steadily over the same period.

As a result, wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation’s gross domestic product since the government began recording the data in 1947, while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960’s. UBS, the investment bank, recently described the current period as “the golden era of profitability.”

And the Republicans still don't think that there is any real problem with their economic priorities.

“Some people who aren’t partisans say, ‘Yes, the economy’s pretty good, so why are people so agitated and anxious?’ ” said Frank Luntz, a Republican campaign consultant. “The answer is they don’t feel it in their weekly paychecks.”

But Mr. Luntz predicted that the economic mood would not do significant damage to Republicans this fall because voters blamed corporate America, not the government, for their problems.

Economists offer various reasons for the stagnation of wages. Although the economy continues to add jobs, global trade, immigration, layoffs and technology — as well as the insecurity caused by them — appear to have eroded workers’ bargaining power.

Blogging is a leasure activity for most of us but my particular data point is that leasure is less available than ever for me. I only make money by working, MY taxes have taken the same size chunk out of my pay all through this administration thanks to AMT. America, do you not know greed when it puts a gun to your ribs?

Theories and speculations are interesting but the facts are damning enough...balance your news intake so you have the facts. When engaged, just don't let anyone misinterpret them. Media manipulation is a problem but we all work with much the same data and the manipulation's worst effect is in letting the average citizen opt for the selfrighteous, selfcongratulating conclusion from the facts. As much as the Republicans have lied to us, more of the problem is in our willingness to opt for the interpretations that make us comfortable or do not challenge the way we like to think of ourselves. These easy lies to voters must not stand, and do not find support in the facts. Todays lie: The corporations are doing OK so you voters must be doing OK.

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