Two depressing articles have slunk past my nose recently. The first is this one from Washington Post by Phil Angelides: The real causes of the economic crisis? They’re history. and this one from the New York Times by Steven Greenhouse: The Wageless, Profitable Recovery
Angelides points out that
The contrast in fortunes between those on top of the economic heap and those buried in the rubble couldn’t be starker. The 10 biggest banks now control more than three-quarters of the country’s banking assets. Profits have bounced back, while compensation at publicly traded Wall Street firms hit a record $135 billion in 2010.
Steven Greenhouse gives it to us in more detail — detail that should infuriate all of us who are not in the select elite (and trust me, that’s MOST OF US — only TWO PERCENT of people in this country are hyperrich):
In their newly released study, the Northeastern economists found that since the recovery began in June 2009 following a deep 18-month recession, “corporate profits captured 88 percent of the growth in real national income while aggregate wages and salaries accounted for only slightly more than 1 percent” of that growth.”
Some economic recovery! I know my wages have stagnated. I’m not complaining in one sense — I am deeply fortunate to have a job, and one that I enjoy at that (even if I rant and rave about this application or that). But, I would like to see a recovery spread a bit more cheer around. I’m sick of seeing huge corporations just absolutely raking it in. Don’t forget what US Uncut keeps pointing out — how huge corporations not only make huge amounts of money, they get out of paying any taxes for it. Forget even the historically low tax rate that’s in effect now — corporations are in effect paying NO taxes because the U.S. Government — from the Feds all the way down to city municipalities keep giving benefits and exemptions to these same grossly overinflated companies (who in turn pour extra money into convincing politicians to implement even more breaks and benefits to keep that positive feedback loop well greased up).
It gets even better. The companies have managed to squeeze more productivity out of us, even with pretty much the same numer of paid hours:
The authors said another factor explaining the weak performance for aggregate wages and salaries was the slow growth in weekly hours during the recovery. At the same time, worker productivity has grown just under 6 percent since the recovery began, helping to keep employment down while lifting corporate profits, the study said. [NYT]
So Angelides raises the relevent question (and answers it):
So, how do you revise the historical narrative when the evidence of what led to economic catastrophe is so overwhelming and the events at issue so recent? You and your political allies just do it.
And he goes right on and details the lies from Paul Ryan, Alan Greenspan, JP Morgan’s chief investment officer, congressional Republicans (and even the odd Democrat), have trotted out — to astonishingly good success, so far. Angelides warns us
will divert us from the urgent task of putting people back to work and creating real wealth for America’s future. Over the past decade, we squandered trillions of dollars on rampant speculation rather than on making investments — in technology, infrastructure, clean energy and education — that increase our productivity and economic strength. The financial sector’s share of corporate profits climbed from 15 percent in 1980 to 33 percent by the early 2000s, while financial-sector debt soared from $3 trillion in 1978 to $36 trillion by 2007.
If we don’t change our direction, we’ll be killing not just ourselves, but this country. It will unravel to the point of no return. This actually seems to be what the superrich and the corporations want — a kind of American Somalia. Do we — the people — we — the majority — we — the 98% — really want that?