Daily Archives: July 1, 2011
This post, “Overworked America: The Great Speedup,” from Truthout explains why you’re so tired when you drag home from work, illustrated like this:
You’re busting your butt for your overlords and they’re seeing record profits, but what does that leave you, aside from tired?
US productivity increased twice as fast in 2009 as it had in 2008, and twice as fast again in 2010: workforce down, output up, and voilá! No wonder corporate profits are up 22 percent since 2007, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute. To repeat: Up. Twenty-two. Percent.
This is nothing short of a sea change. As University of California-Berkeley economist Brad DeLong notes, until not long ago, “businesses would hold on to workers in downturns even when there wasn’t enough for them to do—would put them to work painting the factory—because businesses did not want to see their skilled, experienced workers drift away and then have to go through the expense and loss of training new ones. That era is over. These days firms take advantage of downturns in demand to rationalize operations and increase labor productivity, pleading business necessity to their workers.”
Meanwhile, what’s passed off as the growing pains of a modern economy is—not to go all Marxist on you—simply about redistribution. For 90 percent of American workers, incomes have stagnated or fallen for the past three decades, while they’ve ballooned at the top, and exploded at the very tippy-top: By 2008, the wealthiest 0.1 percent were making 6.4 times as much as they did in 1980 (adjusted for inflation). And just to further fuel your outrage, that 22 percent increase in profits? Most of it accrued to a single industry: finance.
In other words, all that extra work you’ve taken on—the late nights, the skipped lunch hours, the missed soccer games—paid off. For them….
We got to this point because of decades of political decisions. To name but three: turning over the financing of elections to wealthy interests; making it harder for unions to organize; deregulating Wall Street (and completely wimping out on reregulating it after the financiers nearly destroyed the global economy). And even after having watched these policies bring the global economy to its knees, Mitch McConnell & Co. say that any questioning of corporate power is tantamount to rolling out the tumbrels. Please.