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On this Labor Day, when working families all across America are struggling, it’s fitting for us to reflect on the profound insight of that prominent economic theorist, George W. Bush. In 2000, explaining his approach to economic policy, W declared: “We ought to make the pie higher.”
What the professor was trying to express is the old theory that by baking a larger pie, everyone can get a bigger slice. But that theory ignores a special trick of economic pie-making that Bush baked right into his policy: Greed. Yes, the pie is now larger, but Bush simply fattened the slices of the corporate powers and the rich, leaving the workaday majority of folks trying to get by on the same slim pickings they had before… or less.
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Today, corporate profits are surging, CEO pay is skyrocketing, purchases of luxury goods and oceanfront property is zooming – but the income of workers is not even keeping up with inflation. Well, now, wait a minute, say the Bushites, we’ve been creating thousands of new jobs, so, see, trickle-down-economics really does work.
Hold it, greed-breath. First, you’ve been losing jobs, too. In fact, Bush is the first president since Herbert Hoover to produce a net loss of jobs during his term. Second, and most important, the issue is not jobs. Think about it: even slaves had jobs. The issue is income… wages… middle-class opportunities. Ask a waitress at any cafe or bar if she’s aware that Bush has been creating new jobs, and she’ll say: “Yeah, I know, I have three of them.”
In terms of buying power, average wages today are lower than what they were when Nixon was president. Under Professor Bush, America’s economy is producing more low-wage, service sector jobs, while shipping out the manufacturing and high-tech jobs that offer our people middle-class wages and the opportunity for upward mobility.
Instead of trickle-down, America needs a grassroots policy of percolate-up economics.
“For wage earners, economic pie getting harder to digest,” The Boston Globe, July 24, 2005.
“How Long Can Workers Tread Water,” The New York Times, July 7, 2005.