Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Reading

Labor is the backbone of this country, and if we are to solve our economic problems, then America's workers must be part of the debate. Here are some articles (the titles are links) that frame the issues well and offer some common sense solutions.

The Limping Middle Class 
by Robert B. Reich

THE 5 percent of Americans with the highest incomes now account for 37 percent of all consumer purchases, according to the latest research from Moody’s Analytics. That should come as no surprise. Our society has become more and more unequal. 

When so much income goes to the top, the middle class doesn’t have enough purchasing power to keep the economy going without sinking ever more deeply into debt — which, as we’ve seen, ends badly. An economy so dependent on the spending of a few is also prone to great booms and busts. The rich splurge and speculate when their savings are doing well. But when the values of their assets tumble, they pull back. That can lead to wild gyrations. Sound familiar? 
  
Do Happier People Work Harder? 
By Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer

Labor Day is meant to be a celebration of work. Yet, on this Labor Day, few have reason to rejoice. Even those who have jobs. 

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which has been polling over 1,000 adults every day since January 2008, shows that Americans now feel worse about their jobs — and work environments — than ever before. People of all ages, and across income levels, are unhappy with their supervisors, apathetic about their organizations and detached from what they do. And there’s no reason to think things will soon improve.
  
American Tale: Workers Side against their Economic Interests
by John Farmer

As another Labor Day arrives, it’s not hard to see many in the present-day workforce doing the same thing, this time by accepting the notion that organized labor (e.g., teachers, auto workers, public employees) — not Wall Street and a reckless, unregulated financial industry — collapsed the economy. 

Anyone who dares point this out is charged with inciting “class warfare.” And the critics are right; it is class warfare, though not quite as they mean it. There is, indeed, a fierce class war under way and the working class is losing it.

Worker wages have been stagnant for a decade and lately have declined, even as income for top earners and the dividend class expands. The income gap is greater than ever.

Income inequality has been rising ever since Reagan's election in 1980. Until we address this problem, the middle and working classes will continue to struggle.

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