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Yesterday I said  (based on the most recent New York Times/CBS poll) the economy really sucked --- but it's much worse than even I had thought.

This is per a new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, via the Huffington Post: "The economic recovery just keeps getting worse for the average worker as U.S. employers squeezed their employees even harder than usual in the first quarter, leading to the biggest drop in hourly pay on record."

Worker productivity (as usual) is up. And corporate profits are at record highs; and the stock market is setting records, too --- but workers haven't been reaping the same rewards that their employers have been.

Average Americans today are making less, after inflation, than they made in the early 1970s. Something has gone fundamentally wrong. American workplaces are simply no longer working for those who punch timecards.

Last year Walmart's CEO Mike Duke made 796 times the average worker's pay and Target's CEO made 645 times the average worker's salary. The rate of CEO pay has far outstripped wage growth for the country's rank and file. A recent report from the AFL-CIO found that CEO pay grew at a rate 127 times faster than worker pay over the last 30 years.

At a Walmart shareholder's meeting last week, as their employees were outside protesting for better wages, one shareholder condemned Mike Duke's salary. But Duke only responded by saying that Walmart paid competitive wages. Maybe for their CEOs, but not for their employees, whose average wage is 8.81 per hour. Duke earned $20.7 million last year.

But that's peanuts compared to Duke's boss. Walmart heiress Christy Walton (net worth: $25.3 billion) earns $220 million in dividends every six months. That equates to $1.2 million a day!

This is why it's very difficult for me to fathom the concept of global philanthropy and what's behind all these "free trade agreements".

Walmart is a global philanthropist, and their foundation's website says, "Walmart and the Walmart Foundation gave more than $1 billion in cash and in-kind contributions around the world." They also launched a program called Fighting Hunger Together and the website says that Walmart made a $2 billion cash and in-kind commitment through 2015 --- to help end hunger in America. But shouldn't Walmart just give their employees a raise instead, so that they wouldn't need to use food stamps?

I suspect that Walmart does this "charity work" mostly for the tax benefits --- and probably for public relations reasons. I suppose that's also why Walmart is under investigation for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act --- and why the US has so many trade agreements --- agreements that were lobbied for and written by business groups such as the Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

This redistribution of wealth --- from worker to CEO to owner --- has been rushing ahead now for over three decades. Since 1980, as analyst David Cay Johnston noted last week, “corporate pre-tax profits have grown at almost twice the rate of pre-tax wages.” Behind this massive redistribution: a relentless corporate offensive to minimize labor bargaining power by any means necessary.

It is already well known that the level of income inequality stretches much higher in the United States than in the other developed countries of Europe and North America. The U.S. is the world’s only major nation with inequality that is both high and rising. Now a report from the International Labor Organization shows that U.S. inequality has literally gone off the chart.

So not only does the economy (for working Americans) really suck, it continues to get much worse. How much blood can the CEOs get from stone? I don't know, but I suppose we'll eventually find out.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Don't worry, they don't own your soul... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, MRA NY, northsylvania



    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 01:32:39 PM PDT

  •  We're number one! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Robert, Stude Dude


    The U.S. is the world’s only major nation with inequality that is both high and rising.
    Low wage Republican voters don't have a clue how they are being used.

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't

    by crystal eyes on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 01:49:55 PM PDT

  •  it always galls me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    anastasia p

    to read that someone (who has never worked a day in her life) can be described as having "earned" dividends.

    You "earn" when you work and produce.  There are lots of words to describe what Christy Walton does, but "work" and "produce" are not among them.

    Until someone suggest a better one the word I'll use is "leeched" . . .

    Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

    by Deward Hastings on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 01:53:26 PM PDT

  •  Wages Suffer Sharpest Decline in 60 Years (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    northsylvania, Mr Robert
    Bill Black: The economy is recovering - unless you work for a paycheck.

    June 9, 13

    NOOR: So, Bill, what can you tell us about this latest news from the first-quarter? Bank profits soared to record levels while wages suffered their sharpest decline since 1947.

    BLACK: What it all adds up to, of course: it is a very good time and a very good country to be a plutocrat, because the rich are getting richer at a staggering rate and poor people are actually getting poorer, just like the same saying goes.

    So we've got a series of news that it has just come in this week. One thing shows that we have the largest decline in wages. Boy, that's a big win. And that follows--that's for the first quarter of 2013. And that follows what was a huge quarter for income in the fourth quarter, in other words the last three months of 2012. But, of course, there's a footnote on that. And that huge quarter at the end of last year was to beat the tax increase. So that was the massive payment of bonuses to the wealthiest Americans. So they made sure the wealthiest Americans got their money before the tax increases kicked in.

    And what happened as soon as we got back to the regular economy? Well, wages haven't simply stalled; they've actually gotten negative. And productivity is up, which is supposed to mean that wages are up, but wages have gone in the opposite direction. So that's the news on the wages front.

    On the bank profit front, hey, we've got the highest reported profits ever for the first quarter of this year. Now, the twist in all of this is that the statistics, when you look at them closely, show the banks weren't all that profitable in their regular operations, because, of course, they're not making all that much in the way of loans and such. They're mostly sitting on their money.

    •  And I think what angers me still more (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Claudius Bombarnac, llywrch

      is the smug assertions on the right that people are not making it because they are lazy or "don't want to work."

      Jon Husted is a dick.

      by anastasia p on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 02:09:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly... (3+ / 0-)

        We are told to pick ourselves up by their bootstraps, and that no one owes them a thing.

        Martin Luther King Jr. - "It’s all right to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it's cruel just to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.”

        Millionaire Herman Cain told us, "Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks, if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself!" Millionaire Glenn Beck told unemployed protesters, "Some of these people, I bet you'd be
        ashamed to call them Americans. Go out and get a job!" Millionaire Ben Stein writes, "The people who have been laid off and cannot find work are generally people with poor work habits and poor personalities".

        I would tell them all, "Stop outsourcing our jobs and pay us a fair and living wage, and maybe then we wouldn't have to come to you for a damn handout."

        If people won't go protest in the streets, then they'll end up sleeping on them instead.

        by Bud Meyers on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 03:33:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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