By Marc Jampole
Was anyone shocked to learn today’s news that while
corporate profits have made a recovery, jobs and incomes have not? Shouldn’t we
be used to these jobless recoveries by now?
The last two recoveries before this tepid one did not see
large increases in jobs. It could be
that economic bubbles hide excess labor that flourishing companies start to
carry, so when the bubble bursts, millions of jobs go away permanently.
At each recession, businesses have learned how to make do
with fewer workers. And as each year passes, the inequality-creating policies
of low taxes on the wealthy, privatization of government services,
union-busting and a low minimum wage have continued to erode the incomes and
buying power of all but the top one or five percent of incomes.
This elixir of policies allows wealth to accumulate at the
top and enables the owners of productive means to grab everyone’s share of a
It used to be that when the economic pie grew, everyone’s
slice got a little bigger. Now only the portion allotted by owners to
themselves is growing.
The sequester is one small step in the squeezing of everyone
else for the benefit of the rich. Congress and the President have decided that
they no longer want to borrow money to pay for jobs and services that taxes
used to finance before the Bush II tax cuts for the wealthy. Rather than raise
taxes to pre-Bush levels to pay for
these jobs and services, we are cutting them out. Meanwhile, the rich continue
to count their tax savings.
The current trend can only go so far, however. Who will buy
things if only the rich have money? Either enough businesses will realize that
they need middle class customers to survive or we’ll have a 30’s-like
depression and social protest movements will reach a level that scares the
ruling elite into economic policies that produce a flatter income and wealth
In the mean time, however, millions of people are going to
suffer. And by suffer, I don’t mean not being able to buy the latest generation
of smartphones or having to go to junior college for two years. I mean not
having enough to eat or having a text book in
high school classes and not having a library opened nearby. I’m talking
about not being able to afford a doctor or medicine. I’m talking about homelessness and living on
the edge and off the Internet grid.
Meanwhile the wealthy will eat cake—flourless chocolate, judging
from the dessert trends in expensive restaurants nowadays.