Summary: One of the news media’s master narratives is that the dark evolution of America just happens, much like the myth of the “invisible hand”. Inevitable. Resistance is futile. All is for the best in this, the best of all possible worlds. In fact most of the drivers of rising inequality are politics conducted by other means, invisible means. This is not new in America. We fought these battles before in the often-violent unionization struggles that accelerated after the Civil War (see section 5d here). Times differ, but we can win again.
“There’s class warfare, all right. But it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”
— Warren Buffet, quoted in the New York Times, 26 November 2006
Unbalanced Wage Scales
- The emerging class structure of New America
- New America is made for corporations, not workers
- Corporations make millions from art while artists starve
- Academia adopts corporate comp systems: elites and peons
- For More Information
- The 99% need a raise
(1) The emerging class structure of New America
Increasing inequality of wealth and income plus changes in the structure of employment combine to return America to the 19th century class structure:
- the top few percent who own almost everything — the bourgeoisie
- elites with secure professions, high stable incomes, modest wealth
- the petite bourgeoisie — small business owners
- the proles, mostly with little job security and little or no wage growth
The major developments since 1980 have been downwards mobility of workers, even those who think of themselves as professionals and highly skilled workers. These stories fill the news media, although usually disguised. Here are three. Understanding these changes is the key to stopping them.
(2) New America is made for corporations, not workers
“Wages Stagnate as US Manufacturers Reap Record Profits“, Bloomberg, 21 November 2013 — Excerpt:
Boeing’s quest for concessions and employees’ opposition exposed a fault line in U.S. industry’s post-recession comeback: Even with hiring and output robust enough to be dubbed a manufacturing renaissance by President Barack Obama, workers are falling behind. Factory pay hasn’t kept pace with inflation and has fallen 3% on that basis since May 2009, while average pay for all wage earners slid only about 1%.
“We need to focus on how many jobs there are that give an adult a chance to earn a decent living,” said Gordon Lafer, an associate professor at the University of Oregon’s Labor Education and Research Center in Eugene. “Too much of the discussion has been about the number of jobs, and that’s obviously important, but there’s also a crisis in the quality of jobs.”
Boeing said it needed labor givebacks to keep the Seattle area as the home of the 777X jet, a new model with more than $95 billion in orders since September. Union workers said Boeing needed to share more of the wealth they help create. “This is really a symbol of what’s going on in this whole country,” said Machinist Thomas Campbell, 40. “We’re losing middle-class jobs.”
… The average hourly wage in U.S. manufacturing was $24.56 in October, 1.9% more than the $24.10 for all wage earners. In May 2009, the premium for factory jobs was 3.9% . Weighing on wages are two-tier compensation systems under which employees starting out earn less than their more experienced peers did, and factory-job growth in the South.
Since the U.S. recession ended in June 2009, for example, Tennessee has added more than 18,000 manufacturing jobs, while New Jersey lost 17,000. Factory workers in Tennessee earned an average of $54,758 annually in 2012, almost 10% less than national levels and trailing the $76,038 of their New Jersey counterparts, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
(3) Corporations make millions from art while artists starve
The new media created by Silicon Valley benefits corporations and consumers, the standard New America system. Workers have low wages and insecure incomes. The Huffington Post takes this to an extreme, paying its writers nothing.
“My Song Got Played On Pandora 1 Million Times and All I Got Was $16.89, Less Than What I Make From a Single T-Shirt Sale!“, David Lowery (lead singer of Cracker), The Trichordist, 24 June 2013 — Opening: