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Happy Labor Day!
And what a good day it is, for only five years after that ugly Wall Street collapse, the Dow Jones Average has soared back above 13,000 and top executive paychecks are at Zippididoodah levels. The only little cloud over this otherwise sunshiny recovery is… well, you. You people for whom Labor Day is named, that is.
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Not only did Wall Street’s crash knock jobs, wages, benefits, homeownership, and middle-class opportunities into the ditch, but they’re still stuck there – and even sinking lower. Yet, the financial elites, political establishment, and media powers remain rapturously focused on the Dow, uncaring about the precipitous decline in the Doug Jones Average. If Doug and Donna aren’t prospering, neither is America, no matter how much wealth the privileged ones are socking away in offshore tax havens.
The stark status of The Doug is revealed in a recent report on laid off workers. Of the 6.1 million Americans who lost stable jobs since 2009, when the “recovery” officially began, nearly half are still out of work. Also, more than half of those who did find jobs had their pay cut, whacking their standard of living. Typical of these is Andrew McMenemy, whose software firm pulled the plug on his $80,000-a-year high-tech job in 2010. He has finally found another job, but it pays under $20,000 a year, with no benefits. At 53 years of age, McMenemy has had to move in with his father.
Knocking down the middle class is economically stupid, socially dangerous, and morally wrong. Labor Day is a good time to face up to the fact that today’s corporate and political leaders are wretchedly-bad gardeners – by tending to the moneyed elites and ignoring America’s workaday majority, they’re watering the weeds and pulling the flowers. Where’s that going to lead us?
“Most laid-off US workers take pay cuts in new jobs,” www.businessweek.com, August 24, 2012.