Where is our economy going? I'm fearful...
I'm writing a fiction book--a cautionary tale to warn people of danger-signs in our government and in our nation's future. I've been writing it for years. I'll write--life will get in the way and I put it away--then I get serious about writing again.
My husband asked if I'd finish the book before I die. Typing frantically, I said, "I hope I finish it before it happens!"
That was kind-of a joke several years ago. Today I'm not so sure!
I see the Citizens United ruling's allowing Corporations and Rich Bullies to buy our politicians--even our elections--and I'm afraid. I see corporations' paying politicians to give them huge tax breaks and to keep the minimum wage low. Don't be fooled by the $7.25 hour minimum wage passed in 2009. It's outrageously low...but I understand that most food service workers are paid less than $3.00 an hour. Apparently businesses expect customers to make up the difference in tips. If they don't, it's not the business's problem!
No? It becomes the taxpayers' problem.
These businesses cause welfare rolls to soar when they pay full-time workers only pennies. When workers can't afford food on their pitiful-wages, they need food stamps. When they can't afford health care, they need universal government insurance. Yet the very groups which cause the poverty are fighting to cut welfare and to kill the Affordable Care Act.
When a person works full-time that worker must be paid enough to live on with a little to spare. That's "quality of life." And more and more the only people with much "quality of life" in the U.S. are the wealthiest 1% and those who own and run mega-corporations.
We can't afford to wait until my book is published--we must do something now!
So I decided I'd research the subject.
While eating breakfast this morning I picked up an old newspaper from my reading stack. Dated April 26, 2015, it carried a story, "Job market not working to spread wealth," by Eduardo Porter of the New York Times.
What an eye-opener! Here was the research I was planning to do...right on my breakfast table! I'll share the essence with you this morning.
Porter quotes experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California at San Diego, Princeton, and Harvard.
From 2000 to 2007 while the Western World was experiencing slow but steady growth, wages for the lowest-paying jobs declined. CEO wages and perks soared, but most workers at the bottom of the job market received no raises. Those who did got only modest increases. American corporations' healthy profits and executives' "colossal pay" were compared to "bottom end wages that forced millions of workers to rely on public assistance to survive." This is also happening in Canada and Germany.
Lack of education was cited as a possible reason for this disparity. Yet my husband and I hold doctorates in our fields and we've never been paid according to all of that education. Even in teaching, only those who teach in certain areas and for private universities are paid what they are worth.
Here is one key answer to our dilemma. Lawrence Katz, Harvard economics professor, "noted how some 40 years ago the compensation of American workers became decoupled from productivity growth, which continued to advance even as wages stagnated." Katz blames "globalization which moved a large share of industrial jobs to...cheap labor markets." He says "education may not be enough to secure a good job." And he wonders if robots might take over non-skilled work.
Then Harvard labor professor Richard B. Freeman hits the nail on the head. We "need entirely new mechanisms to distribute income across the economy." He suggests that citizen-ownership of capital stock--non labor income--would even things out. He implies that this should be in addition to reasonable wages.
This is exactly what I am working for in the civilizations I've created in my book. The earth and all of its resources belong to the people...and all people should profit from them. Not just the 1%.
If readers have any idea how to do that, I'd like to hear it...both for my book--and by working together--we just might help save our world!