Happy Labor Day!
And what better time than this annual celebration of America’s working stiffs to draw attention to our national economic recovery?
As those attached to the Dow Jones Average can attest, the economy is now perking along quite nicely, with the Dow up 57 percent since the dark days of 2009, presently soaring above 13,000. Also, the nation’s pile of wealth has grown impressively, executive paychecks have zoomed back up to Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah levels, and sales at stores like Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue are absolutely crackerjack!
The only little cloud over this otherwise sunshiny recovery is … well, you. You people for whom Labor Day is named, that is.
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 few are lavishing on luxury goods or socking away in offshore tax havens.
The stark status of the Doug was dramatically highlighted in an Aug. 24 report from the Labor Department 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 took big hits in pay, thus whacking their families’ standard of living and holding back the economy’s critically needed revival of consumer spending.
Those who’ve been knocked down are mostly not low-skilled poor people, but middle-class folks like 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. The fact is that today’s corporate and political leaders are wretchedly bad gardeners — by tending to the moneyed few and ignoring America’s workaday majority, they’re watering the weeds and pulling the flowers.
Where’s that going to lead us? Don’t look now, but according to a slew of corporate executives, government policy-makers and media cheerleaders, our future is on Mars. Not that we have to move there, but we’re told we can see the future in NASA’s lovable Mars rover, named “Curiosity.” It’s presently scooting around the red planet with human-like dexterity and abilities.