We need to talk about Labor Day. While we once celebrated union membership and making things, the economy in 2020 has changed.
We would be much better off in this country if we made cars and high end electronics back in the U.S. (T-shirts and flip-flops, not so much.)
But even as our economy changes, don't believe that it only works for the rich.
Former Clintonista Robert Reich penned a piece for The Guardian that argues just that:
"No other developed nation has nearly the inequities found in the US, even though all have been exposed to the same forces of globalization and technological change. Jeff Bezos’s net worth recently reached $200bn and Elon Musk’s $100bn, even as 30 million Americans reported their households didn’t have enough food. America’s richest 1% now own half the value of the US stock market, and the richest 10% own 92%."
There is no doubt that wealthy families have a lot of wealth. There is no doubt that many Americans do not own stocks and bonds beyond their 401k or a handful of investments,
But Reich is being dishonest. Jeff Bezos is not rich because other Americans are middle class. Elon Musk didn’t take your money to amass their fortunes.
Both Musk and Bezos have made our lives better, Bezos is a $200 billion man because Amazon delivers everything from face masks and hand sanitizer to televisions to your door.
You willing shop on his website, pay his fees, and are better off for it.
"Chief executives have done everything possible to prevent the wages of most workers rising in tandem with productivity gains, so most gains go instead into the pockets of top executives and major investors. They’ve outsourced abroad, installed labor-replacing technologies and switched to part-time and contract work."
It would be better if we made more cars in the U.S. (and we still do in some states) but building Fords in Detroit would make them thousands of dollar more expensive.
Speaking of which:
"They’ve busted unions, whose membership shrank from 35% of the private-sector workforce 40 years ago to 6.4% today."
Unions got fat and lazy. They became about power (their own and political) and forgot that the job was to make things. The downward trend in unions has occurred at a time when more union members are now public sector workers. There are fewer union coal miners and more union school teachers. There are a lot of reasons for that, innovation and politics, but don’t bemoan the loss of unions . Does anyone think we are better because of AFSCME of SEIU?
Reich is playing class politics, not reporting on history or offering an honest look at the modern economy. He knows a lot of young people are upset that the women’s studies degree they paid $150,000 for is worthless. He wants to blame their economic woes on Jeff Besos, not on them.
He’s the thing. We work fewer hours to get more things. Many of us can work from home. Within five years, thanks to the coronavirus, many of us may never have to put on pants or leave the house. We have better TVs, phones, computers, cars, and homes than just 20 years ago. The economy is working for all of the people who enjoy those things.
Yes, the rich in this country are getting richer. But so are the poor. If Reich were honest, he would admit that President Trump’s economy found jobs for millions of blacks and hispancis, and millions of working class white folks too. Nothing is better at moving people up the economic ladder than a job. President Trump was delivering jobs. Now, Nancy Pelosi and Reich’s fellow Democrats want to put people back on welfare.
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