Friday, March 04, 2011

Robert Reich Gives a Nice Summary

Conservative economists have it wrong. The underlying problem isn’t that so many Americans have priced themselves out of the global/high-tech labor market. It’s that they’re getting a smaller and smaller share of the pie.

Yes indeed.

Today's unemployment news is good only in the sense that the raw numbers are moving in the right direction; unemployment decreased from 9.0 to 8.9 percent.

But, as Reich says, the new jobs ain't like the old ones:

The National Employment Law Project did just that. Its new data brief shows that most of the new jobs created since February 2010 (about 1.26 million) pay significantly lower wages than the jobs lost (8.4 million) between January 2008 and February 2010.
While the biggest losses were higher-wage jobs paying an average of $19.05 to $31.40 an hour, the biggest gains have been lower-wage jobs paying an average of $9.03 to $12.91 an hour.

This is not a recipe for sustainable prosperity and broadly-rising standards of living. It's a recipe for an America where there are a few oligarchs doing just great, while the bulk of us shop at dollar stores and barely get by.

The thing is, most people alive right now remember a different economic reality; one where prosperity was broadly shared and Americans were proud of having the world's highest standard of living.

They and I won't accept an America where there are a few people at the top making obscene heaps of money, while the vast bulk of the population lives one paycheck away from penury. Such an America is one that cries out to the heavens for justice. Such an America is a nation where social stability will begin to seriously degrade.

There seems to be this idea in the heads of our political elites that the United States is exempt from political instability because we're America and thus apart from history (hubris much?).

Unless our political and economic structures are reformed, our elites are going to learn that the US is solidly within the river of history, and that river will flood, and they will learn that history has neither pity nor remorse.

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