Who Does our Economy Serve?

Ed Luce with The Financial Times’ has documented the “crisis of middle-class America.” He notes the “median wage stagnation” that has hit most American families, and writes, “the annual incomes of the bottom 90 per cent of US families have been essentially flat since 1973....That means most Americans have been treading water for more than a generation.” At the same time, the Financial Times notes, America's CEOs have seen their compensation go up over a hundredfold. The result is a level of inequality not seen in this country since 1929, and the conversion of the middle class of 1940 to 1980, into the terrified working poor of the post Reaganomics era, the vast majority of whom live paycheck to paycheck, with no significant savings, and only a job loss and a few weeks from being homeless and on the streets.

The new GDP report shows our economic growth slowed to a 2.4 percent rate in the second quarter, too slow to put Americans back to work. Much more worrisome are details in this report pointing to a continued slowdown this year. According to a recent survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, workers are cashing in their retirement plans just to stay afloat. Their grim statistics show the percentage of American workers who have less than $10,000 in savings grew to 43 percent in 2010. Almost 25% of all workers have postponed their planned retirement in the past year. A CareerBuilder.com survey reports that 61 percent of workers are now living paycheck to paycheck, as compared to 43 percent in 2007. Meanwhile, Bankers at the big Wall Street banks wrapped up their best month in a year. This begs a question. Economic activity happens in America because government authorizes corporations and gives substantial benefits and limitations of liability to those few individuals who own most of corporate America. Thus the question: Is this economy our Government has created here to serve the wealthy people who own it, or did we bring it into being and do we support and maintain it so it can benefit average working people, and thus Democracy?

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