Sunday, September 03, 2006

On Labor Day Weekend, We Mourn the American Worker...

Front paged at Booman Tribune and ePluribus Media

This weekend marks another Labor Day which, in addition to being the "celebrated" last weekend of summer, actually got its roots from the celebration of the labor movement. In fact, according to the US Department of Labor's own website:
The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take were outlined in the first proposal of the holiday -- a street parade to exhibit to the public "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations" of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday.


Sadly however, in this day and age, it seems more and more appropriate to treat this Labor Day as somewhat of a funeral for the labor movement, and by and large, the American worker.


And quite ironically, as Bush once again gave a "long on nonsense, short on substance" speech where he touted how strong the economy is and how thankful we should be to have him grace us with his tremendous vision and "compassionate conservatism" that got him duly (and without any controversy) elected not once but twice to lead this great and free world.

America is the most innovative Nation in the world because our free enterprise system unleashes the talent and creativity of our people. American workers are vital to our Nation's economic prosperity, and they help us confront the competitive challenges of the global marketplace.


My Administration remains committed to fostering an environment where innovation succeeds and opportunity thrives. Since August 2003, our economy has created more than 5.7 million jobs, and manufacturing production has risen 5.6 percent in the last year. Our economic expansion is lifting the lives of millions of our citizens, and we will continue to work toward developing sound economic polices that keep our economy moving forward and create more jobs for American workers.


Each year on Labor Day, we recognize the dedicated men and women of our Nation's workforce. By working hard each day, these highly-skilled individuals build better lives for themselves and their families and make America stronger.


Now, pardon my language here, but what an obnoxious sneering self righteous lying sanctimonious piece of shit he is.


Because, quite frankly, there is little for the American workforce to be thankful for, or to celebrate. Not just this year, but over the past six years - as a result of the systematic dismantling of any workforce protections to the benefit of the almighty corporate profit.


Where to even begin? Well, I guess we can start with the fact that the "heralded" Bush tax cuts, which are frequently (and inaccurately) pointed to as helping the middle class and American worker greatly benefited the top echelon of individuals in this country. But don't trust me on this, you can go right to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities which goes into great detail on how much the ultra wealthy benefited from the tax cuts. Or we can see how the other highly touted (but bullshit) number, the unemployment rate is really way higher due to the fact that it doesn't count people that have given up looking for a job.


Not enough? OK, well maybe the labor force should be celebrating all those jobs created which Bush has talked about. Um, except for the fact that those numbers are bullshit as well. But at least the tax cuts are keeping everyone paying their fair share, right? Oops, sorry. While the ultra wealthy are cheating the IRS out of around $70 BILLION per year, the IRS has decided to roll out a program to privatize debt collection, which will mainly target middle to lower income families, all while cutting the number of estate tax auditors.


But but, I thought that the American worker has lots to be thankful for. Didn't I hear Bush say that over and over? And isn't the economy just humming along? Ahhhhh, but it is because corporate profits are at the highest share of GDP since the 1960s, while real wages have dropped 2% since 2003 - to the lowest share of GDP since the 1940's:

The median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003, after factoring in inflation. The drop has been especially notable, economists say, because productivity -- the amount that an average worker produces in an hour and the basic wellspring of a nation's living standards -- has risen steadily over the same period.


As a result, wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation's gross domestic product since the government began recording the data in 1947, while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960's.


What else can we celebrate on this Labor Day weekend? Well, how about the fact that recent studies have shown that the middle class is rapidly shrinking in major metropolitan areas and that lower income families have to pay more for the same or similar basic services. Or the fact that Americans work the second longest number of hours per year, or that Americans are taking fewer and fewer vacations.


And lest we forget the all important benefits provided by employers:

Until the last year, stagnating wages were somewhat offset by the rising value of benefits, especially health insurance, which caused overall compensation for most Americans to continue increasing. Since last summer, however, the value of workers' benefits has also failed to keep pace with inflation, according to government data.


---snip---


Although the economy continues to add jobs, global trade, immigration, layoffs and technology -- as well as the insecurity caused by them -- appear to have eroded workers' bargaining power.


Trade unions are much weaker than they once were, while the buying power of the minimum wage is at a 50-year low. And health care is far more expensive than it was a decade ago, causing companies to spend more on benefits at the expense of wages.



So, please join me in a moment of silence as we mourn and remember the American worker on this Labor Day weekend.


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

It would be nice if it were just Bush that was the problem. All we would have to do then is get rid of him, and things would be fine. Look at this graph
http://www.visualizingeconomics.com/2006/09/02/comparing-income-series/
It show the problem has a long history with several income measures.

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