Low Wage America
by Stephen Lendman
Welcome to low-wage America. Lousy jobs, rotten pay, eroding benefits, and poor working conditions reflect things for growing millions.
Most workers live from paycheck to paycheck. They have few or no savings. They’re trapped in financial insecurity. They struggle to survive out of sight and mind.
They do so to cover bare essentials. They’re hard-pressed to do it. They’re more than ever debt entrapped. They’re increasingly on their own.
They’re one missed payday from possible destitution, homelessness, hunger and despair.
Raising the minimum wage obscures things. Debating it crowds out reality. Where have all the good jobs gone?
They’ve been offshored to low-wage countries. Monthly employment reports show mostly low-pay/poor-or-no-benefit/part-time or temp jobs created.
Most pay poverty or sub-poverty wages. Households need two or more to survive. High unemployment makes finding one hard.
Previous articles explained. Reported 6.6% unemployment is fake. Real unemployment is 23.2%. Over 100 million working age Americans can’t find jobs.
It’s 10 million more than when Obama took office. His job creation boasting is phony. He’s a jobs destroyer, not creator.
His job creation scheme is cutting corporate taxes. Doing so doesn’t create jobs. It improves bottom line performance. It benefits shareholders. It does nothing to help workers or job seekers.
Real unemployment persists at Depression era levels. No federal policy was instituted to change things. Minimum wage debates divert attention from what’s needed.
Americans deserve living wage protection. They deserve good benefits. They need Washington guaranteeing both.
They need policies instituted to do so. They need progressive governance. They need what bipartisan complicity denies.
Fairness isn’t America’s long suit. Class warfare defines official policy. Since the mid-1970s, inflation-adjusted wages declined. Workers earn less real money today than then.
Benefits steadily eroded. Good jobs disappeared. Class struggle between haves and have-nots persists.
Never have so few benefitted at the expense of so many. Privileged Americans never had things so good.
Wealth disparity extremes are unprecedented. Inequality defines America. Social justice is disappearing in plain sight.
Business as usual is policy. Ordinary people are exploited. Growing millions face poverty, unemployment, underemployment, homelessness, hunger and overall deprivation.
Government of, by and for everyone equitably doesn’t exist. Monied interests alone thrive. Neoliberal harshness harms most others.
Bipartisan complicity force-feeds it.
It’s institutionalized when vital aid is needed. Doing so wages financial war on millions. It’s official policy. Most people struggle to get by.
Welcome to today’s America. It’s no fit place to live in. Progressive governance demands waging war on concentrated wealth and power.
Doing so would institute social justice. It would be official policy. Peace would be prioritized. Imperial wars would be end. So would foreign occupations.
Defense spending would be hugely slashed. Minimally to half its current size. Ideally much more.
America’s empire of bases would close. Force levels would be cut to a small fraction of current size.
Progressive taxation would replace today’s policy. No more free lunches. Corporate America would be forced to pay its fair share. So would rich elites.
Washington would support organized labor’s right to bargain with management on equal terms.
Living wage protection would be instituted. It would take urban, rural, state and local conditions into consideration.
Legislation would penalize companies offshoring jobs for profit. Corporations moving abroad to escape penalties wouldn’t work.
Doing business in America would require obeying fair practice policies. Exploitive companies would be shut out.
Anti-trust laws with teeth would be instituted. Monopoly and oligopoly power would be abolished.
Public education would be supported. It would be reinvigorated. It would be federally funded. States would have to conform to federal standards. It would be the law of the land.
Universal/single-payer healthcare would be instituted. Everyone covered. No one left out. Predatory insurers would be excluded. Except as a voluntary option.
Money power would return to public hands where it belongs. Wall Street crooks would be prosecuted. So would other lawless corporate predators.
Tobin taxation would be instituted. Large investors would be targeted. Speculation would be discouraged.
At one-half of one percent, hundreds of billions annually would be raised. A one-tenth of one percent tax on daily derivatives trading would raise over half a trillion dollars annually.
Imagine the benefits this kind of revenue could produce. Imagine social justice like no country ever before experienced. Imagine ending a broken system.
Imagine unprecedented fairness. Imagine making America fit to live in. Imagine making it a model to emulate.
Minimum wage debates obscure these issues. They’re smoke and mirrors deception. They divert attention from what really matters.
Not according to New York Times editors. On February 8, they headlined “The Case for a Higher Minimum Wage,” saying:
“(E)vidence show(s) that increasing the minimum wage is vital to the economic security of tens of millions of Americans, and would be good for the weak economy.”
“An hourly minimum of $10.10, for example…would reduce the number of people living in poverty by 4.6 million…”
Obama’s $10.10 minimum wage scheme applies only to federal contractors. What about all public employees.
What about state and local ones. What about private sector workers. What about restoring lost benefits. What about strengthening them.
What about explaining what $10.10 an hour means: x 40 hours x 52 weeks = $21,000. The federal poverty level for a family of four is $23,500.
It’s woefully below reality. It’s based on a decades old guideline. Households need at least double that amount to avoid poverty.
They don’t need minimum wage protection. They need guaranteed living wages. Enough to cover all essential expenses. Enough to live like most working Americans did decades ago.
Obama’s scheme is smoke and mirrors mumbo jumbo. “Give America a raise,” he said. His rhetoric rings hollow.
Working American wages eroded for decades. Inflation adjusted, they decline annually. Real inflation is multiples higher than fake numbers.
Times editors are right saying minimum wage debates are more political than economic. They’re wrong supporting higher minimum pay at the expense of what people need to live on.
They’re right saying it’s no “cure-all.” It’s “not bold or innovative.” It doesn’t matter, they suggest. “(I)t deserves to pass,” they say.
Americans deserve much better. What about restoring the dream of millions. What about instituting policies discussed above.
Longstanding Times policy supports wealth, power and privilege. Endorsing more crumbs for workers doesn’t wash.
Ending let ’em eat cake policy really matters. So does making America fit to live in. Don’t expect Times editors to explain.
Paul Craig Roberts discussed “recover(ing) justice.” Doing so requires “a reasonable distribution of income, the accountability of government, (and making) corporations and banksters (conform) to the rule of law…”
Reinvigorating demand requires ending “the existing order that serves the one percent…The ladders of upward mobility must be restored.”
Roberts justifiably opposes higher minimum pay to buy “compliance.” To keep the rabble in line. To curb discontent. To let business as usual continue.
“By purchasing compliance, Washington can continue to masquerade as…indispensable, ‘a light unto the world,’ ” a benevolent society, while…”murder(ing) people in half a dozen countries,” and waging war on ordinary people at home, Roberts explained.
Ruthless unfairness defines today’s America. Institutionalized policies are legally, morally and ethically degenerate.
Hardwired inequality harms growing millions. Changing things requires entirely dismantling an unjust system. It requires a total makeover.
It requires replacing injustice with fairness. It requires government of, by and for everyone equitably.
It requires what never before existed. It never will without organized people demanding no less.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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