Where do you start to comment when you read a piece that is, at best, deeply spineless, and, at worse, completely clueless? We cease to be surprised by the relentless foolishness on the part of the transcribers of press releases (formerly called “journalists”). But, though I am not surprised, I can’t let these things go. In this case, it’s a dumb piece called, “Standard of Living Is in the Shadows as Election Issue”.
This piece of slop does the usual misdirection common among those transcribers of press releases who want to pretend like they are smart by using big words and big ideas. To wit:
They are the issues that have dominated the political debate in recent years and have played a prominent role in this presidential campaign. But in many ways they have obscured what is arguably the nation’s biggest challenge: breaking out of a decade of income stagnation that has afflicted the middle class and the poor and exacerbated inequality.
The misdirection is: I, the transcriber of press releases, am quite a deep person because I’ve touched on a “big issue”. In fact, let’s acknowledge–it is a big issue. But, then, oh my god. You see, the problem is:
The causes of income stagnation are varied and lack the political simplicity of calls to bring down the deficit or avert another Wall Street meltdown. They cannot be quickly remedied through legislation from Washington. The biggest causes, according to interviews with economists over the last several months, are not the issues that dominate the political debate.
At the top of the list are the digital revolution, which has allowed machines to replace many forms of human labor, and the modern wave of globalization, which has allowed millions of low-wage workers around the world to begin competing with Americans.
To start with, the causes are not varied. It is a single reason: an economic system that has robbed the people of their wealth. It isn’t some obscure concepts called “globalization” or “automation”.
It’s greed and power.
“Globalization” doesn’t just happen. It’s a product of very careful planning by very powerful people to profit the few over the many. Period. This is no mystery.
We’ve had globalization ever since human beings walked the earth. The difference is how rules are set that define who gets the benefits of globalization.
And the rules have been clear. The elite wins. The rest of us lose.
One of the more striking recent developments in economics has been economists’ growing acceptance of the idea that globalization has held down pay for a large swath of workers. The public has long accepted the idea, but economists resisted it, pointing to the long-term benefits of trade. “That is starting to change only in the face of very strong evidence over the past decade,” said Edward Alden of the Council on Foreign Relations.
In particular, job growth and wage growth have been weaker in sectors exposed to global competition — especially from China — than in sectors that are more insulated.
That description is so passive it makes me think the author is either dumb or too afraid to be clear: “globalization” doesn’t hold down pay for workers. Corporate CEOs hold down pay for workers. Rules passed by governments to let corporations do whatever they please with workers, including destroying unions, holds down pay for workers.
Power and greed.
Power and greed rear the heads in another absolutely terrible mistake in this piece of slop:
The minimum wage, similarly, appears to play only a minor role in the income slump. It has risen faster than inflation since 2000, even as overall pay at the bottom of the income distribution has not. [emphasis added]
That’s just dumb. As I’ve pointed out repeatedly, the minimum wage should be close to $20 an hour if you look at productivity over 30 years or more. Why is so low now?
Power and greed.
Bottom line: people have worked hard and haven’t gotten a fair share for a very long time.
There is only one sentence, in the entire piece of slop, that looks at the real issue:
Labor unions have shrunk; all else equal, unionized workers earn more, often at the expense of corporate profits.
That’s it. Never mentioned again.
Pathetic. But, alas, predictable.