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BLHightower writes: "'Hallelujah,' shout the devout. 'All praise the Dow!' Unless, of course, your wealth is dependent not on stock prices, but on wages."URB

Texas' progressive political curmudgeon, Jim Hightower. (photo: JimHightower.com)
Texas' progressive political curmudgeon, Jim Hightower. (photo: JimHightower.com)



Getting Kicked While the Richest Get Richer

By Jim Hightower, Creators Syndicate

13 March 13

 

t's a sign," exclaims a February Associated Press story - a sign that our economy is "healing." "It signals that things are getting back to normal," added a delighted market analyst. And a March 4 New York Times report heralded it as "a golden age."

The "it" they're hailing is the Dow, that mystical force believed by faithful Dowists to be "The Way" - the provider of good fortune, often bestowing its magical beneficence by magical means. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is the holy measure of corporate stock prices, and it is now smiling warmly on its acolytes.

Last week, the Dow Jones Average reached a new high, having regained every dime of the $11 trillion that Wall Street investors had lost in the 2007 crash. "Hallelujah," shout the devout. "All praise the Dow!"

Unless, of course, your wealth is dependent not on stock prices, but on wages. In that case, you're among the majority of Americans who're more concerned about the Doug Jones Average. Forget the buzz about "a golden age" - Doug, Darcy, Diego, Deewanna and all the other Joneses can't even afford to enter the Golden Arches, for they're still mired in the Great Job Depression that Wall Street's crash caused.

Washington rushed to the rescue of the financial elites, but the Joneses are still getting double-stiffed by Washington policymakers and by the very elites Washington continues to coddle. The GOP House refuses to talk about a minimal tax hike on the superrich, but members had no qualms about jacking up the payroll taxes on millions of workaday people.

Meanwhile, even as corporate profits have rocketed up by 20 percent a year since the end of 2008, the chieftains are still refusing to increase hiring and are holding down wages. As a result, the share of America's total income that goes to workers has now tumbled to the lowest level in nearly half a century.

United Technologies (one of the 30 corporations whose financial performances are measured to calculate the Dow Jones Averages) is a force in that knockdown. This industrial giant, fed a regular diet of fat government contracts, has enjoyed annual revenue increases of some $2 billion a year since 2005, yet rather than increasing its workforce, CEO Louis Chenevert is shedding workers.

Last month, only four days after announcing that United Tech's stock price had leaped to a record high, the corporation revealed that it will fire 3,000 employees this year, on top of the 4,000 dumped in 2012.

That is the harsh math behind such recent smiley-face headlines as this one: "Household wealth back at pre-recession levels." Oh, joy - we're all rich again!

Or not. The article attributes the gain in household wealth to "surging stock prices." But before you start ripping up your floorboards in hopes of finding your share of this bounty, read deeper into the article to learn that the Dow doesn't do much at all for the Doug. In fact, the wealthiest 10 percent of households own 80 percent of all corporate stocks.

Harsher yet is the way the corporate powers are treating those financially stretched Americans who're looking not for a bundle of wealth, but just a decent job. Today's massive backlog of unemployed and underemployed workers allows corporations to bring in hoards of top-quality applicants and literally toy with them. It's now common for a job-seeker to return five, seven, nine or more times to the same company hiring hall for senseless rounds of interviews - only to have the company whimsically decide not to fill the opening at all.

From Google to Starbucks, major corporations have roughly doubled the duration of their interview process in the last two years. The New York Times noted that one fellow seeking a video-editing job was run through a gauntlet of nine interviews and made to undergo a ridiculous battery of psychological and personality exams, along with a math quiz and a spelling test - after which the company simply closed the opening.

Insulting, yes, but expensive, too. The out-of-work interviewee has to pay for producing work samples and cover the cost of everything from dry cleaning to parking fees. The job-dangling corporation, on the other hand, can simply force existing employees to shoulder a heavier load, while it trifles with applicants looking for what is laughingly referred to in CorporateSpeak as "the purple squirrel" - an applicant too qualified to exist.

Even a dog knows the difference between being tripped over ... and kicked. The way workaday Americans are being kicked around today is revolting - both in the sense of being abhorrent and inevitably inducing a revolt.

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+13 # unitedwestand 2013-03-14 01:01
No one states things better than Jim Hightower! When is the revolt coming people? Time for us not to be so complacent.
We all know what needs to be done. Things like reenact The Sherman Act, demand a reversal of the Citizens United case, jail criminal banksters, stop giving companies money for taking jobs overseas, jail politicians who take lobby money then vote on bills that profit them. This list could go on and on.
Our elected officials have become useless, let's not become another Mexico, where the rich 1% own more than 90% of the wealth, and if you need anything done, you have to pay somebody, or Somalia where there is no government to depend on.
Rand Paul and Paul Ryan and all their Teabaggers need to be run out of town.
 
 
-13 # MidwestTom 2013-03-14 07:21
Because of the debt The Obama administration and the Fed are printing money to pay our bills and keep the government programs going. This extra money makes all assets worth more in dollar terms. Eliminate the debt, then the government will stop printing, and wages and assets will rise and fall together. Inequality is accelerating due to the debt.
 
 
+1 # MidwestTom 2013-03-14 07:12
Welcome to the results of Quantative Easing that the politicians do not talk about. When one bails out Wall Street and then prints money to "SAVE JOBS", that money goes directly to the bankers. Instead of distributing the money directly to tax payers, like Bush did, the money goes to banks, who pay bankers huge bonuses, and the market rises. Since a major part of our so called leading indicators are the stock indexes, the economy is reported to be getting better and better.

Today's Treasury bond auction was 100% purchased by the Fed, no outside buyers. We are just "printing" money, and when we do that assets go up in dollar value, but wages do not increase according. The rich get richer.
 
 
+11 # phrixus 2013-03-14 07:53
Unionize. It's the only hope the middle class has left.
 
 
+1 # AMLLLLL 2013-03-17 20:09
Agree, phrixus. Wages stagnated after the air-controllers ' strike was broken, but CEO pay has kept going up. I have heard disappointing stories about the unions, but know personally the gap between union and non-union jobs; it's way more than money. Getting rid of unions is like tearing down the fence around your property because you snagged your sleeve on a nail sticking out.
 
 
+2 # LeeBlack 2013-03-14 09:43
All true but not comforting if one has been looking for a job for 7 months with few interviews and failing hope.
 

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