Saturday, March 26, 2011

Obey...Eat Ice Cream (and Recycle)

I snapped this photo after a recent lunch in Cambridge, MA

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Sinking Working Class

The income gap between the very rich and poor has grown to staggering proportions. In fact, it’s recently been declared the eighth wonder of the world. The average worker is treading water and quickly losing breath. 

The top 20% of earners received 49.4% of all income, while the bottom 20% earned 3.4%. That 14.5-to-1 ratio has nearly doubled since 1968 when it was 7.69-to-1 (According to the 2010 US Census).

And executive pay continues to rise, while the average worker's compensation stagnates. What's worse is most corporations are expanding their cash coffers, but not their employment base. Take a look at this useful indicator of employment health, the employment-population chart:

You see no uptick in private sector jobs since the recession ended. Ah...but an uptick in executive pay, yes. Because expanding profits is how executives rationalize their pay bumps. And as long as the unemployment rate remains high, corporations can continue to underpay employees--who should feel lucky just to have a job.

Beyond the ugly employment picture, a few other dark clouds lurk on the average worker's horizon:

  • State and federal budget crises
  • Inflation
  • Baby-boomers retiring and the social security shortfall

We need to reign in executive pay and increase the wages of the common worker before the situation explodes into a crisis. (Think Arab Spring). Also, eliminating the tax break for the wealthiest Americans would be another helpful step (but that's for another post).

THIS IS NOT SOCIALISM. It’s simply doing what’s right—for working class families and the future stability of our country.