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Serfing USA: Corporate America is Robbing American Workers

By dlindorff - Posted on 29 December 2010

By Dave Lindorff

Along with the staggering theft in broad daylight of Americans’ assets that has occurred in the course of the ongoing financial crisis, as taxpayers funded multi-trillion bank bailouts and banks stole homes through foreclosures with the help of fraudulent paperwork, American companies have also been picking the pockets of workers more directly.

This second round of paycheck theft has come in the form of stolen productivity gains.

Historically, the relatively high and rising standard of living of American workers--both blue and white-collar--, which once gave the US one of the highest standards of living in the world, has come courtesy of rising productivity, which has allowed US companies to produce more goods with less labor, and to then pass some of the enhanced profits on to workers in the form of higher wages, without having to raise prices. That has been important because, when higher wages are financed by higher prices, it tends to be a kind of zero-sum game: higher wages cancelled out by inflation.

But beginning in 2000, the old system, already creaky, broke down.

The corporate onslaught against trade unions and against the minimum wage, which began with the Nixon administration in 1968, combined with so-called “free-trade” deals that allowed US companies to shift production overseas and then to freely import the products of their overseas production facilities back for sale to Americans at home, by weakening the power of workers to demand higher wages, has led to a situation where companies can just pocket all the profits from productivity gains, leaving wages stagnant, or even driving them down.

The recession that began in late 2007 has only made matters worse, giving owners and managers to opportunity to really hammer employees. With real unemployment and underemployment now running at close to 20%, employees are in no position to press for higher wages, even as those who are still working are putting in extra effort to keep their jobs, thus pushing productivity gains even higher.

The figures speak for themselves.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gains during the 1990-1999 decade averaged just 2.1% per year. The prior decade, from 1980-1989, the average productivity gain was 1.5% per year. But between 2000 and 2009, when the economy suffered two recessions, the average annual productivity gain has been 2.9%, almost 50% higher than the prior decade, and almost double the rate in the 1980s.

During this same period, however, wages have actually declined...

For the rest of this article by DAVE LINDORFF in ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent online alternative newspaper, please go to: ThiCantBeHappening!

i don't get the 'History' paragraph, Higher Wages = Higher Prices = Zero Sum Game??? If only that were the problem; WE are Making Too much money and the prices are rising.
Only 1 in 9 makes a Living Wage in Montana, it's 49th on the Wage scale (up from 50th)--- in the last 20 years Montana has seesawed between 49th and 50th; This isn't due to rising Prices. It's due to Capitalism and its virulent CEO's like Max AIG Baucus.

There's something missing here.
Capitalism is the Zero Sum Game. It demands Profit pure and simple...he who dies with the most toys wins.
Higher Wages? a relative term has no meaning. Living Wage however is commensurate with what one needs and where one lives.
This small article points to Wages as suspect - It should have started out by saying such.

We are indentured slaves, strung out on slave wages reluctantly paid by the Corp's who've not sweated an ounce. Most of the Working Class if they have a job, have to work two and three jobs to make ends meet...

Capitalism is the Problem It Demands Profit more more more and even tho these stats herein are obvious they do not move the CEO's/Slave masters to part with profits no matter what.

Capitalism is the Problem

Happy New Year,
Will in Billings, MT
Industrial Workers of the World
fw 371037


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