Tuesday, August 02, 2016

The economy is great...so why don't I feel it?

Led by Donald Trump, a familiar claim of the Republican party is that Obama has made the economy far worse than ever. However, the economy has actually improved, especially after the Bush financial crisis was resolved by the Obama administration. But this fact does not ring true with many workers in the middle class.  

And therein lies the strength of the Republican strategy to convince people of their false statements about the economy.  As a whole, the middle class has truly not participated in the economic improvements and large cash in-flows enjoyed by the financially top 1% of society.

The reason for this is simple to explain and has nothing to do with the Obama Administration or the new Democratic platform.

If you are a middle class worker, you have a job.  The salary you got when you took that job was between you and your boss.  The government currently has no control over the wages that you are paid by your employer, except if you are a minimum wage worker.  State legislatures set the minimum wage that your employer cannot legally go below.  But there is no governmental requirement for an employer to increase your pay at any time.  Whether you get a pay increase at all, depends on the policies of the executives running your employer's company.  In the distant past, employers used to treat employees to annual raises, the amount of which depended on how well you met your job objectives.  Today however, regardless of how well you do your job, your employer may still not increase your pay.

Prior to the Reagan administration, some middle class workers enjoyed protections on living wages by their union membership.  Labor unions were started under a Democratic administration at a time when business executives put profits before people in the worst way.  

Before labor unions, many company executives treated workers with contempt and disrespect.  Hours were long.  Safe working conditions were not a consideration.  Weekend work was expected. If you got a vacation it was not paid.  Children were put to work in factories as executives of manufacturing companies took advantage of families that could not afford to eat during the depression unless their children worked. Some workers were killed during strikes against unfair labor practices.

As soon as they gained back the Presidency, the Republicans worked hard to reverse workers gains received from labor unions.  This effort continues even today and has resulted in the demise of union membership.  Today, less than 25% of workers belong to unions and the Republicans are still trying to get rid of unions altogether.  Their "Right to Work" legislation is being promoted as a positive measure to help workers, but in reality it is just another Republican lie to reduce current Union membership and reduce workers rights and wages.   Republican legislators have argued that the National Labor Relations Board, the agency that is the only help workers have with grievances against their boss, be dissolved from the federal government.  Republican legislators have refused to increase the federally mandated minimum wage.  They have legislated for increased work visas for lower paid foreigners to take American jobs.  Working for their true constituents, the Republican party has assisted the wealthy by devaluing workers and ensuring that workers wages do not impact the corporate bottom line.

Labor to an executive is an expense.  It costs the company money and reduces the profits.  The profits are for the executives and the owners and not something shared with workers in most companies.  A large part of business management's responsibility is to reduce costs so there is always downward pressure on wages. In a society that found slavery as a viable alternative to more expensive labor, it is fairly apparent that in a capitalistic society the powerful value profits over people.

Your employer has enjoyed the benefits of the economic progress made by the Obama administration, but has not shared the profits with you.  Your wages could be increased since there is plenty of cash in the coffers of Corporate America, but your employers have decided against it.  That is why you have not been feeling the benefits of economic gains being realized by the rich.  

For the last thirty years, the share of the economic gains received by the top 1% of society have exceeded those that most workers have received by nearly 300 times.  If you have been employed for more than 20 years, you may remember a time when annual raises were a thing.  Today, most corporations have eliminated annual raises and increased the competition between fellow workers in order to keep their workers more productive and content with having a job with no increase in wages.  With foreign workers visas being increased yearly, American workers today are always fearful that their company may have another lay-off, in which they might lose their job to lesser paid foreigners unless they out-work their fellow employees and don't complain about their wages.

Ultimately, you are not feeling the improvement in the economy because of the greed of your bosses.  They have received the benefits, which one could say are the result of your labor, since no company is made profitable by its non-human elements.   

Nearly 75% of the economy is from consumer purchases.  The other 25% is from government spending. The Republicans want to keep your wages low and reduce the federal government.  Both tactics will reduce the economy for all socio-economic classes.  The Republicans are married to the "trickle-down" theory where you give the economic benefits to the rich and they will create more jobs.  This is a total farce that has hurt the middle class for over the last 35 years.  The only thing their economic theory has caused is a redistribution of wealth to the top 1%.  Jobs don't get created if demand does not warrant it and simply giving tax breaks and exemptions to the rich does not increase demand.

The Democrats want to improve the economy from the middle class out, which will improve the economy from the consumer side.  This will ultimately benefit the rich as well since consumers with more money can buy more things.

When you vote this November, remember that Donald Trump is not an island to himself, but rather the culmination of historic Republican obstruction and erroneous economic policies that contributes to your inability to make gains from the improvement in the economy.  If you are middle class, you should not want Republicans in state or federal office.

Vote for Democrats for all political offices to eliminate the obstruction in Washington and give America back to the middle class.  Only then will workers make progress against the powers that otherwise would hold them down.

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