This so called “Booming economy” benefits only the rich, the rest of us are out of luck

 

Americans are not happy, and for good reason: They continue to suffer financial stress caused by decades of flat income. And every time they make the slightest peep of complaint about a system rigged against them, the rich and powerful tell them to shut up because it is all their fault.

One percenters instruct them to work harder, pull themselves up by their bootstraps and stop bellyaching. Just get a second college degree, a second skill, a second job. Just send the spouse to work, downsize, take a staycation instead of a real vacation. Or don’t take one at all, just work harder and longer and better.

The barrage of blaming has persuaded; workers believe they deserve censure. And that’s a big part of the reason they’re unhappy. If only, they think, they could work harder and longer and better, they would get ahead. They bear the shame. They don’t blame the system: the Supreme Court, the Congress, the president. And yet, it is the system, the American system, that has conspired to crush them.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, unemployment is low and the stock market is high. But skyrocketing stocks benefit only the top 10 percent of wealthy Americans who own 84 percent of stocks. And while more people are employed now than during the Great Recession, the vast majority of Americans haven’t had a real raise since 1979.

It’s bad out there for American workers. Last month, their ranking dropped for the third year running in the World Happiness Report, produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a UN initiative.

These sad statistics reinforce those in a report released two years ago by two university professors. Reviewing data from the General Social Survey, administered routinely nationally, the professors found Americans’ assessment of their own happiness and family finances has, unambiguously, declined in recent years. But if Americans would just work harder, everything would be dandy, right?

No. Not right. Americans work really, really hard. A third of Americans work a side hustle, driving an Uber or selling crafts on Etsy. American workers take fewer vacation days. They get 14, but typically take only 10. The highest number of workers in five years report they don’t expect to take a vacation at all this year. And Americans work longer hours than their counterparts in other countries.

Americans labor 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more than Brits, and 499 more than the French, according to the International Labor Organization.

And the longer hours aren’t because American workers are laggards on the job. They’re very productive. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates that the average American worker’s productivity has increased 400 percent since 1950.

If pay had kept pace with productivity, as it did in the three decades after the end of World War II, American workers would be making 400 percent more. But they’re not. Their wages have flatlined for four decades, adjusting for inflation.

That means stress. Forty percent of workers say they don’t have $400 for an unexpected expense. Twenty percent can’t pay all of their monthly bills. More than a quarter of adults skipped needed medical care last year because they couldn’t afford it. A quarter of adults have no retirement savings.

If only Americans would work harder. And longer. And better.

Despite right-wing attempts to pound that into Americans’ heads, it’s not the solution. Americans clearly are working harder and longer and better. The solution is to change the system, which is stacked against workers.

Workers are bearing on their backs tax breaks that benefited only the rich and corporations. They’re bearing overtime pay rules and minimum wage rates that haven’t been updated in more than a decade. They’re weighted down by U.S. Supreme Court decisions that hobbled unionization efforts and kneecapped workers’ rights to file class-action lawsuits. They’re struggling under U.S. Department of Labor rules defining them as independent contractors instead of staff members. They live in fear as corporations threaten to offshore their jobs—with the assistance of federal tax breaks.

Last year, the right-wing majority on the U.S. Supreme Court handed a win to corporatists trying to obliterate workers’ right to organize and collectively bargain for better wages and conditions. The court ruled that public sector workers who choose not to join unions don’t have to pay a small fee to cover the cost of services that federal law requires the unions provide to them. This bankrupts labor unions. And there’s no doubt that right-wingers are gunning for private sector unions next.

This kind of relentless attack on labor unions since 1945 has withered membership. As it shrank, wages for both union and nonunion workers did too.

Also last year, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations can deny workers access to class-action arbitration. This compels workers, whom corporations forced to sign agreements to arbitrate rather than litigate, into individual arbitration cases, for which each worker must hire his or her own lawyer. Then, just last week, the right-wing majority on the court further curtailed workers’ rights to class-action suits.

In a minority opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that the court in recent years has routinely deployed the law to deny to employees and consumers “effective relief against powerful economic entities.”

No matter how hard Americans work, the right-wing majority on the Supreme Court has hobbled them in an already lopsided contest with gigantic corporations.

The administrative branch is no better. Just last week, the Trump Labor Department issued an advisory that workers for a gig-economy company are independent contractors, not employees. As a result, the workers, who clean homes after getting assignments on an app, will not qualify for federal minimum wage (low as it is) or overtime pay. Also, the corporation will not have to pay Social Security taxes for them. Though the decision was specific to one company, experts say it will affect the designation for other gig workers, such as drivers for Uber and Lyft.

Also, the Labor Department has proposed a stingy increase in the overtime pay threshold—that is, the salary amount under which corporations must pay workers time and a half for overtime. The current threshold of $23,660 has not been raised since 2004. The Obama administration had proposed doubling it to $47,476. But now, the Trump Labor Department has cut that back to $35,308. That means 8.2 million workers who would have benefited from the larger salary cap now will not be eligible for mandatory overtime pay.

It doesn’t matter how hard they work; they aren’t going to get the time-and-a-half pay they deserve.

Just like the administration and the Supreme Court, right-wingers in Congress grovel before corporations and the rich. Look at the tax break they gave one percenters in 2017. Corporations got the biggest cut in history, their rate sledgehammered down from 35 percent to 21 percent. The rich reap by far the largest benefit from those tax cuts through 2027, according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center. And by then, 53 percent of Americans—that is, workers, not rich people—will pay more than they did in 2017 because tax breaks for workers expire.

The White House Council of Economic Advisers predicted the corporate tax cut would put an extra $4,000 in every worker’s pocket. They swore that corporations would use some of their tax cut money to hand out raises and bonuses to workers. That never happened. Workers got a measly 6 percent of corporations’ tax savings. In the first quarter after the tax cut took effect, workers on average received a big fat extra $6.21in their paychecks, for an annual total of a whopping $233. Corporations spent their tax breaks on stock buybacks, a record $1 trillion worth, raising stock prices, which put more money in the pockets of rich CEOs and shareholders.

That’s continuing this year. Workers are never going to see that $4,000.

No wonder they’re unhappy. The system is working against them.

https://www.rawstory.com/2019/05/the-untold-story-of-trumps-booming-economy/?utm_source=push_notifications

LEO GERARD, INDEPENDENT MEDIA INSTITUTE – COMMENTARY

 

12 thoughts on “This so called “Booming economy” benefits only the rich, the rest of us are out of luck

  1. I’m curious how many of these struggling workers have the latest cellphone, have a car payment(or two), stop at Starbucks every morning before they go to their stagnant wage job, go out for lunch daily, etc. etc…..

    OT threshold has not been raised since 2004… Obama proposed (but did nothing) a raise to 47K. Trump propose 35K and will probably do it. Isn’t that better than 23K?

    If anyone can’t leverage this economy into a better paying job, than they’re not trying.

    Anyone can invest in the stock market. Take that $5 a day and invest in good mutual funds. Watch how fast that grows.

    I hate this sniveling shit! Booming economy and still people are whining cause they can’t apply their HSU degree to a marketable skill!!!

    Like

    • What do you know about college? Go get your GED first, then we’ll talk about how we can help you pass the SAT someday, Corky.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know that the collective colleges and universities have convinced the masses that they HAVE to attend college and are reaping record profits and the students are amassing record amounts of debt to attend.

        I also have worked with and spoken with many HSU grads who are working service sector jobs due to the uselessness of some of the degrees offered today that no one had heard of a few decades ago, for good reason.

        Like

      • I know many more HSU graduates than you do, great-grandpa grifter. Most of them have good-paying jobs and careers, and the ones that aren’t making much money (as public school teachers, social workers, law enforcement, etc.) have made the decision that their profession of public service is of more value to them personally (and to the community) than a six-figure salary.

        Ever hear of the English word “altruism” before? No, I didn’t think so, Republikkkan. 🐘. Go get your GED already. Like Nike says, “Just do it!”

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Wanna win with money?

    Save $1000 for an emergency fund.

    Pay off consumer debt and never borrow again except for a house (see below).

    After all consumer debt is paid, build up the $1000 emergency fund to 3 – 6 months of expenses.

    Then start saving 15% of your income in 401(k) to get any match your employer offers and the rest in ROTH 401(k) and/or ROTH IRA.

    Start contributing to a 529 for your kids’ college and save for a down payment on a house. Buy the house with enough down to avoid PMI and only 25% of your takehome for a payment on a 15 year mortgage. Pay that mortgage off within 7 years.

    Then invest like crazy….

    Guaranteed formula to build wealth no matter your income. In simple terms, live on less than you make and live simply. Don’t keep up with the Joneses.

    But you have to avoid car payments, credit cards, restaurants, and take on NO consumer credit.

    For further details, go to daveramsey.com

    Like

    • consumer debt is a horrible trap, but you act like poor folks have a choice

      Liked by 1 person

      • They do, TE, all folks need to live below their means. In this economy, there are excellent opportunities to reach for better paying jobs.

        Folks making less especially need to avoid debt. It is a choice because they don’t incur that debt unless they sign on the dotted line.

        Like

  3. Bill Barr is being held in contempt by Congress for a simple reason – Brain Dead Bill Barr is a contemptible piece of Republitarded criminal trash.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. To Putin Pidor Puto:

    Obviously reading comprehension is not your strong suit. I have no doubt that many graduates from HSU go on to rewarding and lucrative careers. I’m also very aware of altruism and understand service to the community at large, having served 8 years in the military. Nowhere in my post did I say that any graduate from HSU finds gainful employment. And I’d be willing to bet that the ones that do have a traditional degree instead of the contrived degrees that the universities are pushing now in there quest for more suckers… errrr! students, to fleece on their way to dead end careers.

    Reading and comprehension are vital skills. I earned mine via a high school diploma and several years at CC’s, although I did not earn any degree.

    If you earned a high school diploma and attended college, you should be passed if you paid for any English courses, because your comprehension skills are definitely subpar….

    Like

    • You, sir (or madame) voted for a traitor and grifter, not to mention an unidicted co-conspirator according to the SDNY – Demented Demonic Donald Trump 🔥🇺🇸🔥 – and you continue to troll this and other local sites attacking anyone who is even mildly critical of the Traitor/Grifter-in-Chief 🇷🇺💰🏌️🐘💩, yet you unjustifiably and hilariously have deputized your community college dropout self as chief of the Humboldt County Grammar/Reading Comprehension police? LMFAO! 🇷🇺🏌️🍄👈🏼😆🤣😂😅😁😀

      #DonMcGahnTestifiesOnTuesdayThenTrumpPoopsPants 👖 💩

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Fear not Putin Pider , deplorable has got good economic financial practice mixed up in a far right deadend political ideology. His pocket book approach to life is what my grandfather taught me. He, however was a strong believer that That FDR, Truman, Kennedy exemplified the best path forward for our country to continue as a constitutional democracy. He lived to see Nixon’s folly and is turning over in his grave watching what trump and company are doing to rape the very roots that this country is based on. Deplorable will give us some babble in utter disgust and arrogant chest pounding. Just know he is full of very hot air, despite his descent approach to making a living.

    Liked by 1 person

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