Sunday, March 29, 2015

Save the Middle Class But Don't Touch My Salary!

Back in February 2015, Rex Nutting wrote an article for MarketWatch outlining seven means to slow the erosion of the American middle class. He acknowledges that "history shows a prosperous middle class makes the economy stronger." His caveat is that these seven measures will accomplish this "without soaking the rich."

Full Employment. By increasing employment for "could be" workers, wages will rise for all workers. And this objective can be facilitated by Congressional action that authorizes money to repair and upgrade our forgotten infrastructure. A fantastic idea but requires government spending (tax money) and will never get through our current Congress.

Give workers a voice. The GOP has literally been at war with workers and unions since the beginning of the Bush administration. Unless it is accompanied with pro-worker legislation, regulations and tax policy, it will result in the further exportation of jobs.

Give workers better skills. I have been arguing and documenting in this blog, for years, that in addition to legislation and tax policy that is brutally and shamefully anti-American workers, technology has played a major role in rendering obsolete many skill sets. Machines have and continue to displace many workers.

Encourage more profit-sharing. I still come across American companies that offer their employees profit-sharing and 401K plans. However, due to the evolving nature of employment in this country, these benefits are dwindling and are currently an endangered species.

Enforce and strengthen laws protecting American workers. Mr. Nutting argues that millions of workers are being cheated by the companies that they work for. And that they have a right to pensions, health care, disability insurance, and workers' compensation insurance. He continues that Social Security and Medicare should be reinforced, not gutted. Workers PAY for these entitlements and are relying on them more and more because of the aforementioned.

Raise the minimum wage. A truly good idea short term. Our country is beginning to act on this suggestion in certain political regions as well as on the federal level.

Require our foreign trading partners to respect their workers' rights. At this point in my critique I am beginning to wonder if Rex Nutting is in actuality a computer program. If he is not a virtual cousin to Harvey the Rabbit, I sincerely hope he continues to advocate for the Progressive agenda.

Though his goals are truly noble, and a more equitable distribution of wealth is necessary to preserve democracy and the America that most of us know and love, what Mr. Nutting fails to realize is that these proposals "soak the rich" only by slightly different means. Spending on infrastructure must come from taxation and is a very Keynesian notion. What Mr. Nutting fails to acknowledge is that the super rich and global corporations have significant control of the American government and, short of a revolution, these whimsies will never come into being. The powers that be see democracy, justice, and equity as an anathema to their world and vision.

As a boy in the 1960's, the model for living a "good" life was to go to college, get married, buy a house, and save for retirement. The millennials will attest to the flaws in this model in our current world.

Also, for some, landing a well-paying government job was akin to hitting the lottery. Not only did this offer security in one's life but might also serve as a spring board for the formation of a small business or "private sector" venture with a grant or lucrative government contracts. Conservative Republicans and their wealthy puppeteers, despite trying to dismantle most of the federal government, have taken this concept to the extreme.

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