The race to the bottom in the labor force is killing the American middle-class...

A new report by Brookings shows how corporations are forcing Americans to work to the bone for meager wages. Today – the typical two-parent family has to work 26% longer than back in 1975. And since 1975 – wages have failed to keep up with the longer working hours. In other words – fat cat CEOs are getting a lot more “bang for the buck” out of their workers today. Which is to be expected now that Americans have to compete for jobs with slave labor in the developing world thanks to so-called Free Trade. The race to the bottom in the labor force is killing the American middle-class – it’s time to ditch so-called Free Trade.


ymhotep's picture
ymhotep 12 years 49 weeks ago

Bill Clinton not George Bush was the worst Republican president in history. NAFTA, junking the Glass-Steagall Act, a preemptive war with Bosnia, a love affair with Israel and a relationship with Saudi Arabia that motivated bin Laden to act like a madman. Peace

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 12 years 49 weeks ago

Junking the Glass-Steagall Act was not Bill Clinton's doing..although it happened on his watch. He was on his way out of the Presidency with the Mafioso Rethugs trying to get him impeached for the Monica thing. The immense amount of pressure to get Glass-Steagall passed was brought about by the Repuglicans working for their bankster and Wall Street gangsters. Would Clinton have acceded to that disastrous act if the Republicans and faux-Democrats (blue dogs) had not put pressure to get it passed? But, having said that, as I have often said in the past, I believe that the two party system is a crooked shell game anyway..or a rigged system of bad-cop, good-cop where the wealthy ruling elite will win the game no matter who is elected President...or who is put into Congress. The Democrat/Republican system is a pretend democracy that hides the fact that it is really anything but a democracy.....plutocracy, corporatocracy, oligarchy, cleptocracy...whatever...but certainly not a democracy.

The repeal of part of the Glass-Steagall Act that Clinton signed was ram-rodded by three Republicans: Sen. Phil Gramm(R,Texas), Rep. Jim Leach(R, Iowa), and Rep. Thomas J. Bliley, Jr.(R, Virginia) and Chairman of the House Commerce Committee who were co-sponsors of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (also known as the "Financial Services Act" of 1999). This was mostly a Republican scam on the American people and many the Dems, even though outnumbered anyway, were either bought off or too cowardly to stand up to principle.

mwalkerco's picture
mwalkerco 12 years 49 weeks ago

When I was in school in the late 60s and early 70s I remember hearing about how computers were going to reduce our work hours and give us all more free time in the future. In the 80s I recall a lot of my friends finally DID get that free time- in the unemployment line (thank you Mr. Rayguns)- while the rest of us picked up their slack, and did the work of three or four people. So my question is- when is all that free time coming for the rest of us. And, I don't mean the unemployment line!

mwalkerco's picture
mwalkerco 12 years 49 weeks ago

Newsweek published a great article in June showing that US workers are willing to accept the lowest wage rates in the world- yes the WORLD. Lower than Bangladesh, Cambodia- even small-nation African workers! Check it out:

PLSzymeczek's picture
PLSzymeczek 12 years 49 weeks ago

Back in 1975, one union wage was still sufficient to support a family. Wages today aren't sufficient anymore. Real wages have declined to the point that even with two incomes, it's tough to get by, even though productivity has increased 25% or more.. Meanwhile, CEO salaries have increased disproportionately; where CEOs used to make the equivalent of 30-50 average workers, today they make the equivalent of 300-500 average workers.

wmstoll's picture
wmstoll 12 years 49 weeks ago

You all must be too young to remember when the stores were stocked with both made in USA goods and imported goods. I still have a Pendleton jacket that looks good after 40 years. Unfortunately, the consumer voted to increase their purchasing power, and they bought the imported. You can blame who you want, but take the time to look in the mirror. Ask yourself why you didn't buy that Zenith, and instead bought that imported TV. Ask yourself why those imported cars looked so good. Look in the mirror.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 12 years 49 weeks ago

But long before nearly everything was made overseas and "our" manufacturers were selling us the "Buy American" mantra, they were already farming out for foreign-made parts. Parts already made in China, Mexico, India and everyplace else except the US.

I remember when my company had made even the more insignificant parts in-house and then they began using foreign made parts...and still called their product "American Made". So how is a consumer going to "Buy American" when even the "American Made" products were largely "Foreign Made" parts?

Keep waving those flags and voting for the next smoke-and-mirrors, promise-them-anything, useful-idiots for the ruling elite. They are winning the class war against us and we will eventually not even be able to buy the cheaply made products from WalMart. Some of us are already there...I'm sure.

I had a GE refrigerator that lasted more than 20 fact I am still using it...again (good thing I didn't throw it out). I had bought a new "other brand...(but it probably wouldn't matter if it was still a GE brand if they are made overseas now as well)..refrigerator 9 months ago and it broke with a bad compressor starter capacitor/relay module. It was covered under warranty for a year so it did not cost me to have it repaired. But the original warranty will end in a few months and they send me a mailer trying to get me to buy extra insurance for extra years of coverage. The cost each 1 year coverage would be about the cost of 10% of the original refrigerator price. I probably won't buy the insurance because if that frig goes out again for that same part...I will just buy the part (for a lot less than what the insurance would cost that year). Now if the compressor goes out...I'll probably just buy another refrigerator. But most certainly another brand.

If products are built to last a certain time between failures and this is calculated by insurance companies...and if people are buying those insurance contracts...then the insurance companies have an interest in a product's mean time between failure (mtbf) being longer than the service contract. Many people realized that buying a service contract was generally not worth it because the products tended to last. Most consumer protection advocates I've read have said that buying service contracts were really not worth it because the products tend to last beyond service contracts anyway.

So the manufacturers have to engineer their products to last longer than a normal warranty or even an additional service contract yet not so well as to last a long time so that the customer will have to buy again as soon as possible.

It is a gamble, of course...but, hey, that is the reason why these FIRE economy gangsters get rich. The odds are in their favor...if you play their game. Isn't it gambling when you "invest" your money? And a lot of people found out that they lost the game because they believed in the system.

I'm not even sure if it really matters, from a quality standpoint, if it is made overseas...American manufacturers had hired these brainy wizards to come up with things like "planned obsolescence" so that things would only last a short time before people felt the need to buy again...a new model...

In fact, for a number of years, during the decline of American manufacturing, the competing foreign products went from a history of shoddy copy-cat products to better-than-made-in-America products...and everyone wanted the reliability and quality of the foreign products. Now that many US corporations are relocated overseas...running the show...using cheap labor...they are, perhaps, again showing the world how shoddy and unreliable "planned obsolescence" mentality is.

David Cantrell's picture
David Cantrell 12 years 49 weeks ago

I cannot understand why it has taken decades for people to come to this conclusion. I knew what was going on back when Regan was president. It is just about the same with religion as with politics (wait until it is too late to make a difference to try to change things, and then whine & cry for sympathy). Dave

aufie's picture
aufie 12 years 49 weeks ago

I'm not sure, but isnt cutting out free trade what they did in 1929? I wasnt for free trade particularly, the way it was done, but now that it's here, it may do more harm then good to retreive it. China probably wouldn't allow us to anyway with the threat of selling off their U.S. bonds and cuasing interest rates to skyrocket.

LauraLeigh0105's picture
LauraLeigh0105 12 years 49 weeks ago

In some ways it all started with the idea of "planned obsolescence". My mom told me about this when I was growing up...the idea that things could not be so well made as to put a damper on consumer demand ( a fuel for the overall economy). Used to be things made overseas were cheap and easy to afford but didn't last as long. Then America made products also became less well made (perhaps to to increase profit margin for the bigwigs?) but still more expensive than foreign goods. Hmmmm. Who wins that battle. Two products (neither particularly well made) but one is cheaper, I would surmise it would be the least costly of the two pieces of crap. (tongue firmly in cheek)

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 12 years 49 weeks ago

The current working conditions many face remind me of my non union job during the Reagan recession of the early 80's. It was a large printing company and we all worked mandatory long hours, at least 70 per week including weekend hours. It was a frightened workforce and management knew it, they kept reminding us to be thankful we had a damn job. I can remember thinking to myself, the owners, now called "job creators", should be thanking me for showing up to make them rich. These guys laughed all the way to their offshore bank accounts.

Anyway the experience taught me the necessity of working in a unionized environment, but my point here is that high unemployment creates a working environment that spawns, abuse of, and great amounts of stress for many working folks. Although it works out great for companies owned by wealthy sociopaths, and the republicans have provided these conditions once again.

One last thing.....polls indicate the majority think free trade hurts the nation, also contrary to CANTOR'S lie which I keep hearing on abc network radio news, the one about his belief that the American people are against all raising of taxes to reduce the deficit. The fact is polls indicate 72% SUPPORT RAISING TAXES ON AMERICANS WHO MAKE MORE THAN $250,000 PER YEAR TO REDUCE THE DEFICIT. I sure as hell don't hear abc or any others mentioning this little fact.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 12 years 49 weeks ago

October 23, 2008....“Were you wrong?” Congressman Henry Waxman prompted him (Greenspan) to elaborate.

“Partially,” (Greenspan) replied. “I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interest of organizations, specifically banks, is such that they were best capable of protecting shareholders and equity in the firms.” The fact that they simply sought predatory gains for themselves – in the form of losses for their customers and clients (and it turns out, taxpayers” was “a flaw in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works.”

But the past two or three years evidently have given Mr. Greenspan enough time for a re-think. In Wednesday’s Financial Times (March 30, 2011) he returns to his old job proselytizing for deregulation."

"Mr. Greenspan refused to acknowledge the obvious: If Wall Street’s collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and other derivatives are too complex for regulators to understand, they also must be too complex for buyers and other counterparties to evaluate. This negates a key free market assumption. How can one make an informed choice without understanding the market and the consequences of one’s action? On this logic regulators would follow free market orthodoxy in rejecting derivatives and other such “complex” products.

Many critics would say that CEOs of the banks that went bust don’t understand the complexity that led to their negative equity either. Or, they know all too clearly that they can take a gamble and be bailed out by the government, simply by threatening that the alternative would be monetary anarchy that would drag down consumer banking along with casino banking. The problem is not so much complexity, but gambling – increasingly with computer models and fast mega-trading of swaps and derivatives. This is how investment bankers have made (and often lost) their money.

But they want the game to continue. That is the bottom line. On balance, even if they lose, they will be bailed out. So of course they are all for “complexity” that enables them to make gains at the economy’s expense (Mr. Greenspan’s “flaw” in the system). "

With people people like this with their idiotic double-talk and inane ejaculations running the wonder we are now in deep trouble.

leighmf's picture
leighmf 12 years 49 weeks ago

Are you working harder than in 1975? Thom- I haven't worked since the Clinton Administration which is why I have time to write in your blog.

POETIC PREDICTION TWICE FULFILLED in a week or so from Oh, Omaha!:

"Ghastly, ghostly, ghouls and Walker,
Peter Falk, Whitey a Talker.
A Hollywood Star will get a stalker."

Halle Berry was confronted by a stalker who has a criminal past. Get this? Hall (Lincoln-Hall) Berry (Berry Street).

My mother Katherine Anne Kryder was stalked from 1960-1972 by Berry Street Lincoln-Hall criminal agents of Bush's CIA and G.H. Walker & Co. transfers her securities. Will anyone help break this case and open the doors to the US Treasury?

No. I am a little red hen, and Billina reports 4,300 turkeys died of the heat in Kansas, and more turkeys are bound to go if someone doesn't speak up.


Elioflight's picture
Elioflight 12 years 49 weeks ago

I haven't worked since 2005. My profession is almost dead. I wrote and edited educational materials as a freelancer. Many of my clients have since closed down. Education: an institution destroyed by Bush's "most children and all real learning left behind" and rethuglican attacks on public education funding in favor of more money in the pockets of the wealthy so that they can afford education for their spolied brats, so that these privileged spawn make take over and run this country further into the ground.

I recently attended the funeral of my dedicated well-educated talented hardworking teacher friend who committed suicide. She was losing her specialized teaching position with little hope of finding another, losing her house, and everything she had worked for. She helped thousands of children learn to and enjoy reading.

kyslim420's picture
kyslim420 12 years 49 weeks ago

In 1975 I had a Union Job and at 23 years of age I was able to build a new home for $25,000, have a child ('78), buy new Dodges in '76 and another in '77 for $2900 and $3200, and my wife stayed at home to raise the kids (+ step daughter) until they started school so we did it on one income. This was the last time we had run away inflation and BECAUSE of my UNION job we recieved cost of living raises each year around 7% which at the time didn't seem to be enough, and we fought for more, but as it turned out, I still had more purchasing power each year since my fixed payments were easier to make as my wages went up. The only "loser" was the Banksters, who were getting paid back with dollars that were worth less each year. They were singing the blues BUT THEY WERE GETTING PAID! I was building equity to cover the inflation and even though I wasn't really gaining potential profit, it allowed me the freedom to sell and buy another home as I was NEVER up side down in the mortgage.

Now I live in a Right to Work state where there are no unions and it is hard to find work for more than $10/hr, the house we bought in 2007 for $130,000 would probably appraise at less than $100,000 and due to insurance and taxes our monthly payments are going up at ridiculous rates. Even though we were carefull when we bought and did not over extend ourselves, and got a great fixed rate, we are stuck and have no options other than to absorb increases until we can no longer afford them and walk away, some retirement plan eh?

Quite frankly I am ready to try some inflation again!

leighmf's picture
leighmf 12 years 49 weeks ago

Are you one of the McCann twins, or do you think they are really two people or just one?

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