Skip to main content

You take for granted that the malevolent Koch Brother billionaires and FOX will go all out to keep robbing workers. That's just what they do. But, a much more pernicious danger undercutting workers is the inaccurate way in which the traditional "liberal" media and a whole raft of politicians describe what has happened to wages. It's typically referred to as "wage stagnation". That is false: it's wage robbery.

I've noted this before and it's almost a daily feature of the discourse. But, the other day, The New York Times did it again, in an editorial entitled "Where Have All The Raises Gone?". It is a mind-numbing exercise in misdirection and avoidance of the truth. First, the propaganda:

Most people who work for a living know that for a long time now, raises have been few and far between. Wages typically fall or stagnate in recessions, and the Great Recession was particularly severe, exerting a drag on pay that persists to this day.

But that is only a partial explanation, because declining and stagnant wages predate the latest downturn. Understanding the causes is essential for determining the policies needed to create good jobs. Research by three economists — Paul Beaudry, David Green and Benjamin Sand — goes beyond familiar explanations for wage stagnation like global competition and labor-saving technology. Examining the demand for college-educated workers, they found that businesses increased hiring of college graduates in the 1980s and 1990s in adapting to technological changes. But as the information technology revolution matured, employer demand waned for the “cognitive skills” associated with a college education.

As a result, since 2000, many college graduates have taken jobs that do not require college degrees and, in the process, have displaced less-educated lower-skilled workers. “In this maturity stage,” the report says, “having a B.A. is less about obtaining access to high paying managerial and technology jobs and more about beating out less-educated workers for the barista or clerical job.”

The findings help to explain the trajectory in wages for workers with bachelor’s degrees. From 1979 to 1995, their average pay rose modestly, by 0.46 percent on average annually, while wages declined for the non-college-educated who make up the vast majority of workers. From 1995 to 2000, wages grew for all educational groups, but since 2002 pay for the less educated has declined while pay for the college educated has largely stagnated.

Blah, blah, blah...the usual crap about education, fixing roads, and one line that ends with "more support for union organizing."

But, the reality is that the central trend in wage collapse is a single-minded, free market drive by CEOs and their enabling political allies to rob workers. It's pretty simple and it can be explained in a few short sentences:

CEOs rob workers by spending billions of dollars to threaten any worker wanting a union. End result: no union, wages and benefits go down. Robbery.

CEOs at virtually every major corporation pack their boards of directors with cronies, and those cronies hand that one individual, the CEO, tens of millions of dollars in pay and benefits. End result: the cupboard is miraculously bare when it comes to pay for the rest of workers, because the corporate treasury has been looted by the CEO. Robbery.

Workers kill themselves on the job, sometimes literally, but, at least, laboring til they are exhausted to increase productivity year after year (why we are so obsessed with that is a topic for another day), piling up mountains of profits--and, yet, the minimum wage is not what it should be: around $20-an-hour. Because CEOs, their lobbyists and the free-market sycophants in both political parties, parroting utter garbage about "competitiveness", keep the minimum wage at poverty levels. End result: essentially, those CEOs et. al. win the economic battle for years to come when progressives trumpet a campaign to raise the minimum wage to $10.10-an-hour, which will still leave that wage at half of what it should be and siphon hundreds of billions of dollars in the sweat-of-the-brow of workers into the pockets of a few. Brilliant. Robbery.

Basically, American corporate profits grow on the back of widespread poverty--it's part of the business model.

So, while The New York Times cannot, and will not, call this for what it is--robbery--we should stop using the phrase "wage stagnation" as if wages somehow stagnated by some natural phenomena.

This has been concerted robbery. A moral crime against society. Call it by its name.

Originally posted to Tasini on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 09:48 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site