Governor Chris Christie thinks Bruce Springstein "feels guilty that he has so much money, and he thinks it's all a zero-sum game: In order to get poor people more money, it has to be taken away from the rich."
In a country where worker productivity has been on the constant rise for decades, but compensation for their work has stagnated (or gone down relative to the cost of living), the notion that anyone wants to "take" anything from the rich is stunningly wrong. I can't imagine how much anger one must be harboring to frame a quest for fair compensation for increased productivity as "taking" instead of what it is: earning.
A prominent governor in the wealthiest country in the world should not be denigrating poor people by positioning them as "takers" and not human beings who happen to be in a different station in life than he's fortunate enough to be in, and who deserve to be spoken of and lobbied for with as much dignity and respect as anyone else in this country.
The issue of Thriving Wages for Workers is going to be the most important topic we can talk about in the years ahead. It is the common denominator of so many of our nation's woes, from the dwindling Social Security pot; families on Social Survival programs like SNAP, Medicaid, and Welfare; our unnecessary reliance on credit; and even the collapse of the nuclear family. Here are some people who are reminding us to keep this topic front and center; let's follow their lead:
How about the MSM discuss poverty, education, climate control, wages, inequality, Banks.Not Gen. Petraeus BS.— OIN (@OINNEWS) November 13, 2012
The only ones crying about Obamacare is Big Business. They don't pay taxes, don't pay good wages, hate regulations. #InvestInAmericaForOnce— Morneque (@Morneque) November 13, 2012
CompaniesWant Better Workers Need to Pay More Its a Consentrated effort by GOP & Chamber of Commerce lower wages motherjones.com/kevin-drum/201…— Arthur Pedicini (@ArthurA_P) November 13, 2012
Winning Words on the Progressive Business Message:
Being conservative or progressive has nothing to do with appreciating the role of business in society. The progressive view of business is about responsibility and patriotism, and has a distinctive pro-American flavor. In this edition of the Winning Words Project, we channel President Obama's rhetorical style to present the full-throated progressive message on business.
Readers may recognize the first few paragraphs. President Obama's signature vision of a truly United States of America, where all people and groups hold their duty to country and each other above self-interest — e pluribus unim — applies equally well to American businesses.
The audience for this message includes moderates and persuadable voters who wonder why Democrats care so much about how much businesses contribute to our society in taxes and workers' wages, and business owners who are on the sidelines this election cycle because they are turned off by the populist rhetoric the president has undertaken to date. This speech makes it clear that it's Mitt Romney's Republicans who are quibbling over how big of a slice of our economic pie goes to the wealthiest people in America; the Democratic Party cares about how businesses can work FOR America to increase the size of our economic pie to benefit everyone.
Our Obama-inspired business pitch ...
Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation, not because of the height of our trees, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy; our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
That is the true genius of America, a faith in simple dreams, an insistence on small miracles; that anyone with a good idea and drive can start a business, even if they don't inherit a fortune from their wealthy parents.
We have more work to do, for the workers I met in Galesburg, Illinois, who lost their union jobs at the Maytag plant that moved to Mexico, and now they have to compete with their own children for jobs that pay 7 bucks an hour.
Now, don't get me wrong, the people I meet in small towns and big cities and diners and office parks, they don't expect government to solve all of their problems. They know they have to work hard to get ahead. And they do.
Alongside our famous individualism, there's another ingredient in the American saga, a belief that we are all connected as one people.
It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family: "E pluribus unum," out of many, one.
A message from our founder
I've had some emotionally disturbing encounters in social media over the past few days. Some old friends looked me up and invited me to join them in some conversations about some really important issues we're facing in this country. And in the course of those conversations I met with some of the most derisive vitriol I've ever encountered anywhere ... and this was coming from the privileged people I grew up and went to school with for years.
You're NUTS. The wealthy bankroll this country and you try to make them the evil ones. You're so backward it would be funny if it were not scary.
Employers PAY the workers. Without them the workers are unemployed. Get off your horse trying to make the employers out to be bad guys. They PAY you and me and everyone else. People who try to denegrate successful businessmen are jealous. ... Stop coveting your neighbor's stuff. It really makes you look stupid. Stop drinking the liberal Koolaid and use your own brain.
In the real world, wealthy people start businesses and hire others to do work for them. Those workers gladly take the jobs at the pay rates offered. ... If those workers don't want the job, because they are jealous of their boss, they don't have to take it. There are others there who will.
It was so stunning in its hateful disregard for the average working person, it inspired me to write this.
I'm white; grew up in a solidly middle class family; went to top-notch, well-funded public schools that weren't surrounded by gang violence or other bad influences; had parents in a happy marriage who lived "'til death do they part"; who put a premium on a college education and saved so my sisters and I could attend without having to hold down jobs or take out student loans; I have a name that isn't a barrier to getting job interviews. And most of the people I grew up with had all those same advantages in life, and more.
The title pretty much says it, but let's explain ...
We have a serious problem in America: Workers in this country have not seen their level of compensation rise in 40 years in comparison with executive and shareholder compensation, the actual cost of living, or even their own productivity.
Our political leaders have focused on the disparity between worker and top executive compensation, referring to it as either "pay inequality," or "pay inequity," but this has created an atmosphere of defensiveness on the part of those at the top of the corporate food chain. And this is not the atmosphere that Progressives want to engender. We know it's going to take all of us working together—especially those at the top—to get this problem solved.
And lagging worker compensation is a problem, not just a "discrepancy" issue or a "fairness" issue. And no one thinks the average worker and the most senior executive should be earning "equal pay" as one another. So what is the real problem?
From at least the mid-twentieth century until the mid 1970s, worker productivity and worker compensation traveled on the exact same path. Hard working Americans saw their pay increase in direct proportion to their efforts. This made for a robust working and middle class in America, who had money to live on, money to spend, and money to save. When the middle class has sufficient money to live on, they only need to fall back on taxpayer-funded assistance if they hit a serious bump in the road, such as the loss of a job and the draining of all savings.
Banks in a capitalist society are meant to create wealth and decrease risk. JPMorgan and its kind do the opposite.
In his testimony before a congressional panel on the recent Swiss trading debacle, Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, said, “We’re doing what a bank is supposed to do.”
Was Dimon correct? In a capitalist economy, was Chase doing “what a bank is supposed to do"?
The answer is assuredly no.
A bank is not supposed to do what JPMorgan Chase and its fellow too-big-to-fail compatriots do every day. They are practicing something other than actual capitalism. As this column has consistently stated, capitalism is not a vague idea. It is an economic system with well-defined principles designed to create wealth for society. These principles have powered the creation of wealth in America since the nation’s founding and empowered our country with an extraordinary resilience.
"All the property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages. He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it."
~ Benjamin Franklin, letter to Robert Morris, December 25, 1783
On Friday, June 8, 2012, President Obama addressed the press, and in the course of his comments, made the following statement:
“The truth of the matter is that, as I said, we’ve created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone. The private sector is doing fine. Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government"
Those who were paying attention—on both sides of the political spectrum—flew into a tizzy, calling it a "gaffe," and compared it to John McCain's ill-timed and utterly wrong statement—as the economy plunged precipitously into recession—that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong."
Democratic strategist James Carville, along with the Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner Research Group, held some focus groups and concluded (pdf) that even though it's true that the Private Sector is "doing fine," most Americans don't feel that it's doing fine. And there's a very good reason for that. For most Americans who were affected by job loss during the recession, though they may have returned to work, they haven't returned to any level of prosperity.
The discussion always begins with discussion of their experience with job losses for themselves and their families -- and how that has left them struggling to pay for groceries.
Most have jobs now, but speak about their lower wages and benefits. Because wages are down, there has been a dramatic rise in discussion of very basic pocketbook issues. And this does not seem like some passing phase.
This has not been a pocketbook-level recovery for ordinary Americans. This is especially true for non-college-educated voters, who have been uniquely hit by this economy. They, their families, and people they know are on food stamps, on unemployment, and on disability.
It's heartbreaking to hear and read the stories of hard-working Americans who just want to work for a living, make a decent wage they can support their families on, start college funds for their kids with, have enough to set aside so they can enjoy their retirement, and perhaps have a little left over to spend a bit frivolously (who doesn't want a cool iPhone or Android, or the latest kicks on the market—and why shouldn't they?), but who are forced by economic circumstance to feel "lucky" to have any job at all.
Well there's a really good reason that the Private Sector is actually "doing fine," but most Americans—middle class, former middle class, and working class families all across this nation—aren't feeling the least bit "fine." And this is it ...