What do trickle down economics, offshoring jobs, union busting, ending the minimum wage, raising the social security retirement age, opposition to Obamacare, cutting Pell grants and raising the interest rates on student loans and destruction of the public education system all have in common?
They are all Republican proposals and goals. And they all put downward pressure on wages.
Most people think that offshoring jobs increases a company's bottom line by lowering its cost of production. But there's a side effect which is just as desirable in the eyes of the plutocrats: It increases domestic unemployment. In the supply and demand world of human labor, more unemployed people vying for fewer jobs is great if you're the one paying wages.
When a multi-billion dollar retailer transitions from "Made in America" to cheap Chinese crap what they have done is put thousands of American workers out of a job. Oftentimes a union job that paid well. Those same workers are then
available desperate to work for the retailer as cashiers, warehouse workers and restockers. They aren't just making less than they were at their old job, they might be making less than people used to earn at their current job.
When insanely profitable corporations and the wealthy get tax breaks, it transfers the burden of paying taxes onto the middle class. This is what I call Corporate Socialism, where the costs of production are shared by the general population. Republicans frame "supply side" a.k.a. "trickle down" economic policy as purely beneficial, that higher corporate profits will result in more employees, and that lowering the taxes of billionaires will result in more aggressive and riskier investment and that will also translate into more jobs. It's utter poppycock. A billionaire will always seek to increase his wealth with the best investments he can find, regardless of whether he's paying 45%, 33%, 20%, 13% or zero taxes.
Trickle down is the myth that spawns the rest of Republican folklore - what's good for the 1% is good for the rest of us - but the economy is a closed system. If you increase one person's slice of the pie, you're decreasing someone else's. You can't just "make the pie higher."
Raising the Social Security retirement age would increase the number of people looking for work. Ironically, one proposed solution to high unemployment is to lower the retirement age, which would skim a few percent of the workforce and create openings for younger, would-be workers.
Opposing Obamacare doesn't actually put downward pressure on wages, but it does keep workers locked into their jobs. Crap insurance is better than no insurance at all. One strategy that corporate America has getting away with is to slowly scale back benefits and delay salary increases. This is only possible in an atmosphere where job mobility is low and people are reluctant to change employers. But Obamacare unlocks one of the shackles holding people back from finding another job or starting their own business.
Dumbing down the public school system and making it harder for students to get a secondary education also puts downward pressure on wages, as workers don't possess the skills necessary to rise up through the ranks or land a better job. Even though factories are being eliminated, there seems to be a push to groom the next generation of workers for vocational jobs. There is a glut at the bottom of the workforce with less chance that the children of manual laborers will be able to go to college. Higher education is becoming something exclusively available to the wealthy.
I started working in the mid-80's and I made minimum wage bagging groceries at $3.13 per hour. Since then, the cost of a dozen eggs has tripled; the cost of a gallon of gas has quadrupled. But the minimum wage? It's barely doubled, and up until 2007 it had only risen 65%. Plutocrats advocate for the elimination of the minimum wage based on the specious argument that a worker will earn what he or she is worth. There is a grain of truth to this, but unemployment throws a spanner in the works by forcing people to take jobs they are overqualified for. When there is too much competition for scare jobs which puts downward pressure on wages, the minimum wage is a stop-gap that prevents us from falling into slave labor.
The GOP has been very successful at marketing themselves as the patriotic party, and by extension, the party who cares the most about America. But the shine has come off that penny. Recently there was a poll which showed a vast majority of Americans don't believe the Republican party is looking out for the public interest. Their policies have trumped the rhetoric and people are waking up to the fact that everything the GOP does is geared to screw the little people and benefit the plutocrats.