One of the most change resistant views in America is the claim that we can’t afford living wages for all full-time employment. Few beliefs are so deeply ingrained in our culture.
People wedded to this idea believe it with a religious fervor equal to their faith in gravity and when challenged they will pull out text books authored by people who qualify as high priests of scarcity.
The religiosity of this acceptance is why geneticist David Suzuki has characterized conventional economics as a form of brain disease. To my thinking, it is simply a case in which the means have become more important than the ends.
We created an exchange system to thrive that metastasized beyond its purpose because of the power of a few to exploit the many. Bottom line examples all over the world show clearly that you can rig an economy for any purpose, it can be to sustain a middle class or mostly benefit the rich and once the rich have legally bribed most of the politicians the latter example is hard to control.
I internalized the trickledown ideology growing up and I used to believe it as they say with every fiber of my being. But after many years of study, in my view, the assumption that living wages for all fulltime employment are not possible in a country where our citizens often claim to be the greatest country on earth is pure unadulterated bullshit.
Three hundred years of global economic history shows decidedly that over time the growth of capital outpaces labor, unless there are safeguards to prevent it.
Competition in the production of goods and services leads to lower prices, competition among businesses for employees leads to higher wages. And this must be considered constantly in a robotic and digital app economy. There are lots of jobs being created that are tasks that need to be done, but they lack the political power needed to demand fair compensation.
Some of our most successful companies pay wages so low that taxpayers must subsidize their employees, and yet, when they announce their executive salaries, bonuses and stock options in the millions and millions of dollars we don’t hear complaints about them having to raise prices for their goods and services. Why is that?
But when employees at the low end ask for livable wages, well connected and well compensated economists will leap out of the woodwork screaming about how the country just can’t afford it.
The reality is that in America, public corporations are openly looted by executives and quid pro quo boards of directors. Even upon going bankrupt executives often bailout with multimillion dollar golden parachutes.
What makes living wages impossible is an echelon of wealthy individuals and corporations with the political power to gain a legislated freeride and escape paying their fair share of taxes.
Unfortunately, all they need to do is send their free market lobbyist missionaries out with messages that some poor fools somewhere are going to benefit at public expense and the distraction is complete, along with the notion that trickledown Kool-Aid is the only drink in town.