Monday, September 04, 2006

Devaluing Labor

Or, a succinct reminder, from Fred Hiatt's Washington Post, no less, of the reason opinion columns in newspapers are called "OpEds" -- a contraction of "opposite editorial":
The young may be understandably incredulous, but the Great Compression, as economists call it, was the single most important social fact in our country in the decades after World War II. From 1947 through 1973, American productivity rose by a whopping 104 percent, and median family income rose by the very same 104 percent. More Americans bought homes and new cars and sent their kids to college than ever before. In ways more difficult to quantify, the mass prosperity fostered a generosity of spirit: The civil rights revolution and the Marshall Plan both emanated from an America in which most people were imbued with a sense of economic security.

That America is as dead as the dodo. Ours is the age of the Great Upward Redistribution.
For the bottom 90 percent of the American workforce, work just doesn't pay, or provide security, as it used to.

Devaluing labor is the very essence of our economy. I know that airlines are a particularly embattled industry, but my eye was recently caught by a story on Mesaba Airlines, an affiliate of Northwest, where the starting annual salary for pilots is $21,000 a year, and where the company is seeking a pay cut of 19 percent. Maybe Mesaba's plan is to have its pilots hit up passengers for tips.

Labor Day is almost upon us. What a joke.
And isn't it a remarkable coincidence that while median income has been declining in 46 states, it has been rising in the District of Columbia? If you could somehow reverse out the K Street thievery, I'd wager D.C. would look a lot more like the rest of the country.

Progress. Courtesy of the Let Them Eat Cake Party.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the problems in American politics is that the "working class" has the perception that single issue voting will effectively achieve the society that they want. I point to the massive voting for Reagan by the "labor rank and file." And, they didn't seem to mind that one of the first things he did was to end the air traffic controllers strike and dump their union. And, look zat the states that supported Georgie Bush. West Virginia, for god's sakes!

7:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clearly, labor is SUPPOSED to consist of people about whom the Catholic church has said "give us a child until he's seven and he's ours for life." That is, people who have never really had a chance because they have been controlled since birth.

The real question is, in view of the idea that intellectuals are not only supposed to be able to think for themselves but to do it spontaneously (daily even), why is no one (apparently) asking the following question: What does the frog tell himself as the water temperature slowly rises?


2:42 PM  
Blogger Eric Soderstrom said...

TA - the frog thinks, "Ooohh - those bubbles feel kind of nice."

Incidentally, I cleaned out the filter of our spa (medical necessity - car accident. OK, 75% therapeutic, 25% fun) recently and pulled the skeletal remains of a small frog from the filter. I can't figure out how it got in there in the first place.

So I pose to you - why does the frog get in to the pot in the first place?

Anyway - other anonymous - I don't know many people who consider themselves part of "labor." Everyone I know (almost) has a job. No one I know, except my friend the Sheriff's Deputy, is in a union. Somehow, people who delude themselves in to thinking that they are "middle class" do not think of themselves as "labor." Somehow "labor" is beneath people.

12:22 AM  

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