MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
According to a study of US labor statistics featured on the AFL-CIO's Paywatch.org, US worker productivity has grown by 88% since 1982. Yet wages, adjusted for cost of living, have pretty much stagnated â€“ or in the case of displaced and threatened workers declined.
That increase in productivity by labor and technology has padded the pockets of the wealthy in increased profits.
Perhaps the most telling sign of the imbalance in workers struggling more to get by -- despite productivity gains -- is the imbalance between CEO pay and that of the average employee.
According to an AFL-CIO study, a "U.S. CEOs of the largest companies made 354 times the average rank-and-file workerâ€”by far the widest pay gap in the world."
Due to the battle over jobs and the effort to impose "austerity" on the 99 percent, the working class incurs personal debt. That debt, in turn, becomes profitable for the wealthiest financial institutions. How does that happen? Because if you are paying interest on your credit cards, for example, you are providing generally at least around a 20% profit to the credit card issuers. That is because the money the bank pays you for deposits is basically at around 0%. The banks too big to fail are lending your money out â€“ for which you receive more or less 0% -- at 20% on credit card debt.
Talk about loan sharks.
So the austerity program that the Obama administration, the Republicans, and Wall Street are imposing on the working class is a way of enriching the richest, while their salaries, benefits and assets are soaring. BuzzFlash at Truthout discussed some of this complex predatory economics yesterday in our commentary, "The Rich Get 'Punished"' by Getting Richer: How Bush Closed the Gap Between the Ultra Rich and Ultra-Ultra Rich and Left the Rest of Us With 'Austerity.'"
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka commented on the Grand Canyon divide between corporate CEO pay and the average worker:
Not only is U.S. CEO pay out-of whack with historical norms, it is off the chart globally. For example, in Switzerland, where voters recently imposed new limits on executive pay, the CEO-to-worker pay gap is 148 times. In the United Kingdom, the CEO-to-worker pay gap is one-quarter as large as ours. And in Japan, the gap is even smaller.
Trumka also called on CEO's to back off their continued low pay/austerity squeeze play on the American worker: "We are calling out the hypocrisy of rich CEOs who have the gall to ask for corporate tax cuts to be paid for by squeezing the retirement security of working America. The American public deserves to know the truth about their self-serving agenda."
The Obama/Republican promotion of austerity is another way of saying the poor will pay for the lavish lifestyles of the rich â€“ and further consolidation of the nation's assets in the hands of a few.
If a "grand bargain" is reached -- (which is a misnomer, because the Obama budget already leans so far toward austerity as compared to increased revenue from the wealthy that you could call it the "grand concession"), and the White House is going to give up just about anything to get to an agreement â€“ the stock market will soar.
Meanwhile, the working stiffs who already got hit with a 2% increase in FICA taxes this year will get all sorts of cutbacks while the value of stocks and investments rises and the rich deposit their growing dividend checks into offshore accounts and overseas jobs.