By Rob Mirabito, Carpenters Local 33 (personal capacity)
In the current recession, corporate media would have us believe that things are tough all over. For working people, no doubt they are. Those at the top, however, don’t seem to be missing any meals. The last quarter of 2009 saw corporate profits on the upswing, which is a boon for investors in the stock market but has not translated into many new jobs. Considering that 83% of U.S. stocks are now in the hands of 1% of the people, it’s not hard to see why the “jobless recovery” is no recovery at all for most of us (ACS, Lending Report via financemymoney.com).
We are told that the only way to weather this economic storm is “shared sacrifice.” This is a red herring; first off, the rich don’t seem to be sacrificing at all and, moreover, why should workers share the sacrifice anyway? We didn’t cause this problem, bankers and speculators did.
We got screwed, and what did they get? They got millions in taxpayer bonuses: a handout from us for a heckuva job. In fact, in 2009 average Wall Street bonuses went up 17% from 2008 (businessinsider.com). It’s also worth mentioning that while they were profiting during the boom years, relative wages for workers either stagnated or declined.
It begs the question of who really gets what they deserve, in good times and bad ones. While our productivity has been climbing steadily over the last 30 years, our pay hasn’t kept up and inflation is making the money in our pockets worth less.
The period of boom and its orgy of speculation sowed the seeds for the current recession. In order to try to keep our standard of living, we are forced to do more work in less time.
We end up in a situation where the harder we work, the less we make.
So where does the wealth go in our system? It goes up.