JOBS! JOBS! JOBS! ECONOMY IS "GOOD"
(SO WHY AREN'T WE ALL HAPPY?)
Supposedly, based on a barrage of reports this last week or so
from bought-and-paid-for "news" sources, this year's college
graduating class are lords of the job market, waited on by eager
employers. The reports were tailored, with graduates from select
disciplines, like electrical engineering and computer science,
telling the camera about several job offers they have to choose
from. Not seen on-camera were liberal arts majors, but we were
told the jobs bonanza was "trickling down" to them also. And
probably the prospects *are* a little better this year for
college graduates -- but does that justify the massive "news
orgasm" last week on the subject?
What the real story is, is that after years of corporations
having downsized away their aging workforce, they are at the
moment hiring back *a* workforce (but not the same one now
rusting into old age.) The new hires are younger and presumably
being paid generally less, on average and in real dollars, than
the old-fashioned model of worker they replace. It would be
interesting to compare figures: number of workers downsized vs.
current, momentary, new hires. Also worth comparing would be
average salary in real dollars of former, discarded workers vs.
Thankfully, the alternative press has facts out that tweak the
corporate press's recent self-congratulatory outburst and throw
cold water on detested virtual-reality newsfaces like Dan Rather,
Tom Brokaw, and Peter Jennings.
The June 1997 issue of *The Progressive* magazine has remarks
made by Rep. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, to Federal Reserve
Chairman Alan Greenspan, during a recent (March 1997) House
Banking Subcommittee hearing. Here are excerpts:
SANDERS: Welcome, Mr. Greenspan.
This January, you told the Senate Budget Committee that
"the appropriate capital-gains tax is zero." Currently,
many Senate Republicans are calling for a capital-gains tax
According to the Center on Budget and Policy priorities,
70 percent of the benefits of that tax cut will go to
households earning over $100,000 a year.
Mr. Greenspan, I will grant you consistency in your
support for trickle-down economics. In your career up to
today, it is clear that you have advocated tax and monetary
policies which have benefited the very richest Americans
while at the same time your views reflect policies that
come down very heavily on the middle class, the working
class, and low-income people.
In 1983, you were appointed to chair, as I understand it,
the Social Security Commission. Under your leadership, the
highly regressive payroll taxes increased by about $200
billion. You chose to solve the Social Security crisis by
raising the payroll tax on working Americans while at the
same time, as an economic adviser, you advocated huge tax
decreases for the richest people in America.
Now currently, you are a proponent of reducing the
Consumer Price Index. I have neighbors and friends and
elderly people who are trying to survive on $7,000 or
$8,000 a year.
And I regard it as horrendous and vulgar, to be frank
with you, that there are people in government who want to
balance the budget on the weakest and most vulnerable
people in this society, and then advocate huge tax breaks
for the richest people in this country, as you continuously
Mr. Greenspan, the United States of America today -- not
all through your work but through the help of a lot of
other people, both parties -- has the most unfair
distribution of wealth and income in the industrialized
The richest 1 percent of the population owns 42 percent
of the wealth, more than the bottom 90 percent. In 1976,
the wealthiest 1 percent owned 19 percent of the wealth.
So we've seen the upper 1 percent more than double the
percentage of the wealth in this country that they own.
You talk about economic growth. Between 1983 and 1989,
62 percent of the increased wealth in this country went to
the richest 1 percent. You can have all the growth that
you want, but the middle class continues to shrink.
I'd love to take you to the state of Vermont, where you
can talk to working families where workers are working two
or three jobs trying to pay their bills, where women who
would prefer to stay home with the kids are now being
forced to work, where jobs in our economy which used to pay
$15 an hour in manufacturing are now paying $5 an hour for
But more importantly, during the past twenty years, we
have seen a decline in wages or stagnation for 80 percent
of all American families, while the people on top have
never had it so good. Twenty years ago, American workers
were the best compensated in the world. Today, we rank
thirteenth in the world.
You come to the state of Vermont with me, and I will take
you around our state. And I would love to hear the
response when you tell the working families of our state
that the economy is doing very well.