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You take for granted that the malevolent Koch Brother billionaires and FOX will go all out to keep robbing workers. That's just what they do. But, a much more pernicious danger undercutting workers is the inaccurate way in which the traditional "liberal" media and a whole raft of politicians describe what has happened to wages. It's typically referred to as "wage stagnation". That is false: it's wage robbery.

I've noted this before and it's almost a daily feature of the discourse. But, the other day, The New York Times did it again, in an editorial entitled "Where Have All The Raises Gone?". It is a mind-numbing exercise in misdirection and avoidance of the truth. First, the propaganda:

Most people who work for a living know that for a long time now, raises have been few and far between. Wages typically fall or stagnate in recessions, and the Great Recession was particularly severe, exerting a drag on pay that persists to this day.

But that is only a partial explanation, because declining and stagnant wages predate the latest downturn. Understanding the causes is essential for determining the policies needed to create good jobs. Research by three economists — Paul Beaudry, David Green and Benjamin Sand — goes beyond familiar explanations for wage stagnation like global competition and labor-saving technology. Examining the demand for college-educated workers, they found that businesses increased hiring of college graduates in the 1980s and 1990s in adapting to technological changes. But as the information technology revolution matured, employer demand waned for the “cognitive skills” associated with a college education.

As a result, since 2000, many college graduates have taken jobs that do not require college degrees and, in the process, have displaced less-educated lower-skilled workers. “In this maturity stage,” the report says, “having a B.A. is less about obtaining access to high paying managerial and technology jobs and more about beating out less-educated workers for the barista or clerical job.”

The findings help to explain the trajectory in wages for workers with bachelor’s degrees. From 1979 to 1995, their average pay rose modestly, by 0.46 percent on average annually, while wages declined for the non-college-educated who make up the vast majority of workers. From 1995 to 2000, wages grew for all educational groups, but since 2002 pay for the less educated has declined while pay for the college educated has largely stagnated.

Blah, blah, blah...the usual crap about education, fixing roads, and one line that ends with "more support for union organizing."

But, the reality is that the central trend in wage collapse is a single-minded, free market drive by CEOs and their enabling political allies to rob workers. It's pretty simple and it can be explained in a few short sentences:

CEOs rob workers by spending billions of dollars to threaten any worker wanting a union. End result: no union, wages and benefits go down. Robbery.

CEOs at virtually every major corporation pack their boards of directors with cronies, and those cronies hand that one individual, the CEO, tens of millions of dollars in pay and benefits. End result: the cupboard is miraculously bare when it comes to pay for the rest of workers, because the corporate treasury has been looted by the CEO. Robbery.

Workers kill themselves on the job, sometimes literally, but, at least, laboring til they are exhausted to increase productivity year after year (why we are so obsessed with that is a topic for another day), piling up mountains of profits--and, yet, the minimum wage is not what it should be: around $20-an-hour. Because CEOs, their lobbyists and the free-market sycophants in both political parties, parroting utter garbage about "competitiveness", keep the minimum wage at poverty levels. End result: essentially, those CEOs et. al. win the economic battle for years to come when progressives trumpet a campaign to raise the minimum wage to $10.10-an-hour, which will still leave that wage at half of what it should be and siphon hundreds of billions of dollars in the sweat-of-the-brow of workers into the pockets of a few. Brilliant. Robbery.

Basically, American corporate profits grow on the back of widespread poverty--it's part of the business model.

So, while The New York Times cannot, and will not, call this for what it is--robbery--we should stop using the phrase "wage stagnation" as if wages somehow stagnated by some natural phenomena.

This has been concerted robbery. A moral crime against society. Call it by its name.

Originally posted to Tasini on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 09:48 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (124+ / 0-)

    Follow me on Twitter @jonathantasini

    Visit Working Life.

    by Tasini on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 09:48:42 AM PST

  •  Excellent post. (39+ / 0-)

    The extreme economic inequality is based on taking from working people and giving to the owners of Big Capital.  Almost like a teeter-totter, as wealth among a few rises, wages decline.

    Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

    by TomP on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 09:51:10 AM PST

  •  Worker pay isn't impacted by CEO compensation (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG, nextstep, Sparhawk, MGross

    The overwhelming majority of CEO compensation is in restricted stock or non-qualified stock options, both of which are not cash expenses to a company. The cash compensation of the CEOs of the Fortune 500 is a small fraction of 1% of  total corporate expenses. If the CEOs took only $1 in salary and bonus it would allow the companies to increase the pay of all hourly workers by less than 1%.

    CEO pay isn't the issue of why the pay of other employees has stalled.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 10:02:01 AM PST

    •  Fine, keep wages where they are and give out (7+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      koosah, RichM, Alumbrados, JVolvo, elwior, AWilson, BYw

      stock to make up for it.

      While you dream of Utopia, we're here on Earth, getting things done.

      by GoGoGoEverton on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 10:10:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No thanks (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tasini

        I mean, "stock" is certainly something, and it could be lucrative. But it won't put food on my table unless I cash it in.

        In the big picture? Not interested.

        This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

        by lunachickie on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 03:07:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Preferred Stock (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lunachickie

          If the company's assets are sold off to another entity, the preferred shareholders are more likely to be in line to receive compensation. Holders of common shares (like typical employee stock options or ordinary stock market investors) get squat. In an IPO, common shares might make something, but preferred shares, again, make more.

          •  It still doesn't put food on my table (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            radical simplicity

            either, unless I cash it in :(

            This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

            by lunachickie on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 05:11:02 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Except for utilities few public companies (0+ / 0-)

            issue preferred stock, and haven't for a long time. Companies will issue convertible debt or straight debt. Preferred stock doesn't play a role in the capital structure of public companies any more. Preferred is used extensively in private companies and is issued to investors so they have a preference in liquidation over the founders and other common stockholders.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 05:36:17 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I am aware of the role of preferred (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              VClib, lunachickie, FindingMyVoice

              stock in private companies. Most public companies began life as private ones, in which case preferred vs common was relevant.

              In public companies, class A and class B shares play a similar role, though not all companies divide their stock into separate classes. For employees, Class A = power over the direction of the company, Class B = roll those dice, baby!

              As a form of employee compensation, stock is simply a means of deferring useful pay that could otherwise be being invested in the demand side economy - if the employee is lucky. If the employee is not lucky, it's a means of permanently not compensating the employee for a portion of their labor.

    •  Why do you think wages have stalled? (4+ / 0-)
    •  Actually that could not be further from the truth (40+ / 0-)

      Before Reagan and when corporations could not compensate their top executives with company stocks to avoid taxes there was a tax incentive to pay the companies employees a better wage.

      CEO's made an average of around 20 to 30 times the lowest paid employee in the company over three decades ago but today they make 300 to 1000 times more. The top executives and stock holders have captured 95% of the productivity gains produced by the employees while the employee's wages have lost purchasing power in the economy. CEO pay in company stocks changes the whole business structure, business decisions are now made on what is best for the stock price rather than what is best for the customer and the health of the company in general.

      Yes CEO pay is a major part of the problem creating lower wages for American workers. It was caused by changes in the federal tax structure that began with Reaganomics.

      Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

      by RMForbes on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 10:29:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's the coupling of compensation to stock price (8+ / 0-)

        ...rather than wage rate that, as you say, changes the whole business structure and how business decisions are made. However, it's not just CEOs getting those options and bonuses. Variable compensation based on corporate goals and market prices have been pushed way down in corporations since the early '90s and staff from the CEOs down to supervisors have been reaping those gains. Profits have been reinvested into raising productivity with technology and financialization which further raises the compensation of all vested staff. Yes, that's not an incentive for higher base wages and there are even lower emloyee counts as a result. But for decades now productivity gains are not being accomplished by the same staff working harder or smarter. The people creating the higher productivity methods and systems are instead being compensated. So, I think it's a lot more complex than you say and the facts you share are more coincident than causal.

        •  It's pretty simple (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kck, VClib

          A cobbler is a high skill position. They need to make shoes using very specialized skill sets.

          Someday their company comes along and hires an engineer to design a machine to make shoes. The owner and the engineer are highly compensated for this work.

          The cobbler's job has now been replaced by an unskilled guy who only knows how to push the "make shoes" button and a tiny fraction of a highly paid guy who fixes the machine when it breaks.

          What has happened here? A skilled middle class job has fallen to automation. The company owner made a lot of money. The design engineer is paid a considerable salary. Society in general benefits from extremely lower cost (and higher quality generally) automated produced items.

          But the net effect has been the elimination of a previously "good job". "Productivity" has increased, but the salary for the position falls. It's not like pushing a button is a skill like being a cobbler is. You can find a person to push a button anywhere. So "wages don't track productivity", especially median wages.

          This goes on every day. There doesn't have to be a conspiracy or "theft" (though it feels that way to the displaced worker). There just has to be the normal human desire to do more with less resources.

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 02:09:42 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Exactly, it's not hard to org and reorg... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Tonedevil, FindingMyVoice

            ...around these realities so that everyone gets invested. We can handle this.  American workers can be protected without protectionism, can unify labor and organize to protect the interests of all workers without industrial era type labor unions, and can extend social benefits cradle-to-grave to all Americans as they move in and out of jobs without the adversarial and inefficient industrial era coupling of benefits to employers.

            The status quo is unacceptable but nothing is being done to address it and no one, Dems included, are even talking about solutions. Raising the min wage is not a solution, it's not a strategy, it's a no-brainer to stop the bleeding and at least maintain the status quo.

          •  This is NOT (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Tonedevil, ozsea1

            a normal human desire.

            to do more with less resources.
            This is a "normal unfettered capitalistic desire on behalf of stockholders". There's nothing human about it.

            This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

            by lunachickie on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 03:09:32 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Really (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              VClib, nextstep

              So, you don't shop for items based on price?

              Anyone who does so contributes to this dynamic.

              If you buy plane tickets on the web instead of a travel agent, you are doing the same thing the "capitalists" are.

              No matter how obliquely you choose to participate in this process, buying this and not that because of price, at the end of the day, drives someone to make these decisions.

              (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
              Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

              by Sparhawk on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 03:24:35 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  You're talking about two different things (4+ / 0-)
                you don't shop for items based on price?
                I am not a company paying wages. "Humans shopping for groceries and looking for sales" is not the same thing as "A corporation paying wages to one human, and expecting those wages to compensate for that one human doing the work of two or more other humans."

                Most of your previous comment was reasonable enough, but that last sentence completely tanked it. There's nothing human about the desire to do more with less in that particular context. Unless you want to refer to it as unconscionable greed. THAT is human.

                This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

                by lunachickie on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 03:39:47 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  I work at a privately owned company... (25+ / 0-)

        ...and the owner takes home between 576 times what the low paid worker in the shop makes or 240 times what I make. Each year we get about a 1.5% raise. It doesn't matter how hard we work (I worked my ass off the first couple of years there, but now I only give a little over 40 hours a week). They get mad when you don't work massive amounts of overtime, but there isn't an incentive. In fact, I can tell their incentive tends to be, "You have a job."

        I also see this in job adverts while I job hunt for new work. "Applicant must be able to multi-task (Do the work of four people) and do what is necessary to get the job done (Massive unpaid overtime) and have a positive job outlook (Not call out the Mother fuckers on their immoral B.S.)."

        The beatings will continue until moral improves.

        Regulated capital serves the people, unregulated capital serves itself.

        by Alumbrados on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 12:30:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Amen! (8+ / 0-)

          Particularly the "multi-task" reference:

          "Applicant must be able to multi-task (Do the work of four people) and do what is necessary to get the job done (Massive unpaid overtime) and have a positive job outlook (Not call out the Mother fuckers on their immoral B.S.)."
          The qualifications are ridiculous for a lot of Good Jobs, particularly in the tech sector (or what remains of it, anyway). I always wonder why they cry the blues because they can't find people to fill their positions. Maybe if the qualifications listed in their damned help-wanted ads made some freakin' common sense, they'd get what they need! Someone pointed out the other day that it's not unusual to see tech ads specifying 2-5 years experience with a particular discipline or set of code spec that's only been around for several months. And you know what? I've seen that. Absolutely.

          This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

          by lunachickie on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 03:15:23 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Same here (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lunachickie, Alumbrados

            Those ads are almost always cover for meeting the letter of the H1-B visa laws:

            "We advertised the position, but couldn't find anyone with the qualifications, honest! The only person we could find is this college student from [other country with slave-level wages] whose student visa is about to expire after he has "interned" for us for the last 2 years. Can we get an H1-B for him, pretty please?"
            •  Yup (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              radical simplicity, Alumbrados

              and they can rob the H1-B holder blind, because all they have to do is threaten them with loss of their visa.

              Not that it's not bad enough what they do to the natives--I'm just saying if you're here on any kind of visa and you get threatened with having it pulled and you have to go back where you came from, that's a huge incentive to shut up and take whatever they're dishing out.

              This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

              by lunachickie on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 05:46:29 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Even worse (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                lunachickie, Alumbrados

                They're often actually employed by front companies that hire them out on a contract basis and take a huge cut of what little they do get paid.

                The contracts they've signed with those companies require that they pay the company some ridiculous sum should one of the hiring companies try to bring them on as a full time employee. I had an employee discover this the hard way, when I hired him full time. He discovered that little bit of fine-print when my employer's legal department received a letter demanding we pay the person's former employer $10k for the privilege of having hired him. I was given two options: let him go, or get him to pay the money himself and present proof to our legal department that the payment settled all debts to the contract house.

                They are, essentially, indentured servants.

      •  ...which Reagan policy was this? (3+ / 0-)
        Before Reagan and when corporations could not compensate their top executives with company stocks to avoid taxes there was a tax incentive to pay the companies employees a better wage.
        The 1986 TRA changed the law to tax capital gains at the same rate as income (something which has since been changed.)

        The top income rate was lowered in the 1986 reforms, but it was already down to 50% prior to that, having come of historic highs some time before.

      •  RMF - you are misinformed about the stock (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nextstep, Balto

        There is no doubt that lower marginal rates make high incomes more valuable to the recipients. But since Reagan left office, and the top marginal rate was 28%, they have moved back up to nearly 40%, the highest rate since the Tax Reform Act of 1986 which completely rewrote the IRS code for individuals. And I have no argument that the wage disparity has grown significantly as CEO pay has mushroomed and pay for hourly workers has flattened, that's just a fact. But that's not my point, which was that if the CEO gave up all his cash compensation it wouldn't fund much of a raise for all the hourly workers.

        You are misinformed about the tax impact of equity compensation. This is a widely held view here and I should do a diary about it just as a reference piece. All equity compensation to the CEOs of the Fortune 1000 is taxable as W2 income at the top marginal rate, currently about 40%. There is no way to structure that income so that it qualifies for long term capital gains, now taxed at 23.8%. It is impossible. Only executives who manage investment partnerships can structure their incentive compensation so that it qualifies for long term capital gains treatment.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 03:43:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nonsense n/t (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ozsea1, RMForbes

          This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

          by lunachickie on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 04:51:29 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  lunachickie - this is one area where I am an (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Balto

            expert and every tax professional on this site agrees with my statement about equity compensation and that it is taxable as W2 income. This isn't my opinion.

            I have engaged the best tax professionals in SF, NYC, and DC on this issue and there is no way to make non-qualified stock options (the only kind CEOs receive) and restricted stock qualify for long term capital gains. If it could have been done I would have done it while serving as compensation committee chairman, a role I have had at numerous public companies since 1988.

            If you have some specific examples that show otherwise, I'd like to see them. I'd love to know how to do it.  

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 05:47:52 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  So if that were true how did Romney have (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              VClib

              an effective tax rate of less than 15%? Wasn't he paying deferred income taxes at the capital gains rate? I guess you agree that the very wealthy should have the tax code written in their favor. What we have today is not a progressive tax system which incentivizes reinvestment in our domestic economy. That's not okay by me and something I believe we need to work to change.

              Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

              by RMForbes on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 06:28:06 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  RMF - Romney was in one of those rare (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Balto

                businesses where the managers can structure their incentive compensation to qualify for long term capital gains. You have to start with a partnership structure. So that eliminates all corporations. This is important because in a partnership profits and losses are determined by contract, the limited partnership agreement, not by the amounts invested by all of the parties. The partnership must have a finite life, typically ten years. So that also rules out corporations. The partnership must acquire assets, hold them long enough to qualify for long term capital gains treatment and then within the finite life of the partnership all the assets must be SOLD to recognize the gains and the proceeds distributed to the parties.

                Subject to certain performance requirements the partnership managers are awarded, by contract with the investors, an equity ownership position in the assets. Upon liquidation all partners are treated the same so the managers receive incentive compensation that is eligible for long term capital gains treatment, just like the financial investors who provided the capital to the partnership. This incentive structure is called a "carried interest" and has been how all investment partnerships have been structured since the early 1970s. The typical partnership managers are in venture capital, hedge funds, private equity, real estate, oil & gas and movies.

                Bain Capital was initially a venture capital firm and expanded to also be a private equity investor. Both of those investment areas are structured as investment partnerships and conform to the requirements I outlined above. Mitt Romney has a continuing carried interest in each investment partnership formed by Bain Capital and that is why his income was eligible for long term capital gains tax rates.

                It's unfortunate that people think that because Mitt Romney had such a low tax rate that all equity compensation awarded to executives has the same tax treatment. Romney was not a corporate manager, he was an investment manager.  

                "let's talk about that"

                by VClib on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 07:00:05 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I know all about sole proprietorships, partnership (0+ / 0-)

                  LLC's and S-Corps, their profits are all like you say taxed as the individual income of the owner(s). However, C-Corps and especially transnational corporations are not taxed this way at all. Why do you say they are?

                  Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

                  by RMForbes on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 07:42:39 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  RMF - I didn't write about the taxation (0+ / 0-)

                    of corporations at all. I was only discussing the taxation of the incentive compensation of executives and the differences between corporate executives and investment managers.

                    I made no mention of corporate taxes. This was all about the taxation of individuals.

                    I would appreciate your feedback because I obviously wasn't clear and I am thinking of making this comment into a diary.

                    "let's talk about that"

                    by VClib on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 07:48:31 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  You're right, I wasn't clear (0+ / 0-)

                      Corporate executives at a fortune 500 transnational corporations don't have their compensation taxed in the same way as the rest of us small business owners at all. The current tax code favors these already very wealthy individuals which I believe is incredibly wrong in my point of view. I believe all income from any source should be taxed at least 50% on income over $3 million a year like it was between 1935 and 1986 when Reagan deregulated corporate compensation regulations. We need to close these loopholes that allow corporate CEO's to pay little or now income taxes on their compensation.

                      Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

                      by RMForbes on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 08:12:13 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  RMF - Senior Fortune 500 execs (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        nextstep, Balto

                        pay the top marginal rate of nearly 40%. You can argue that is too low and should be higher. But because all of their corporate compensation is W2 earned income, they are paying the top rate. They would have to have a huge investment portfolio and generate a lot of capital gains from selling appreciated capital assets, or making very big charitable gifts, to drive down their effective rate. So these executives do in fact pay taxes on the same basis as successful small business owners. In fact, small business owners have more options (but less income) to legally shelter income than Fortune 500 execs.

                        When the Tax Reform Act of 1986 passed it closed nearly all the loopholes, that was the rationale of dropping the top marginal rate from 50% to 28%. Rates before 1986 and after really can't be compared, because they apply to a completely different IRS code for individuals. Not many loopholes remain for corporate executives. All their perks are now taxable income. I remember when car allowances, and other similar executive benefits weren't taxable income. That's long gone.

                        "let's talk about that"

                        by VClib on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 08:53:00 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

    •  ...on the one hand (20+ / 0-)

      worker productivity is way up but worker compensation is flat.

      On the other hand, more or less all new wealth created is diverted into the pockets of the parasitic 0.1%.

      The purpose of conservatism is to prevent anyone from paying attention to these facts.

      Politics means controlling the balance of economic and institutional power. Everything else is naming post offices.

      by happymisanthropy on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 10:39:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Where did the wind fall... (5+ / 0-)

      From productivity gains go, then?

      “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” - John Steinbeck (Disputed)

      by RichM on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 11:22:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  essentially (17+ / 0-)

        into the hands of CEOs, shareholders (often times the WalMart family-type controlled wealth creation schemes), the web of hedge fund/private equity firms who stripped the firms of their assets (e.g., terminated overfunded pension funds and pocketed the cash) and, then, sold them for profits (laying off hundreds of thousands of workers overall)...you know, that kind of casino economic "plan".

        Follow me on Twitter @jonathantasini

        Visit Working Life.

        by Tasini on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 11:47:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Romneconomics (13+ / 0-)

          Yep, you sell it off piece by piece, then declare bankruptcy. Its all legal and total robbery.

          Also on the wage front, workers get beat over the head with the fact that Asian workers get only a a few bucks a day, if that. So, its a squeeze play, and we're sick of it.

          A true craftsman will meticulously construct the apparatus of his own demise.

          by onionjim on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 12:18:24 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Romneconomics = Sopranomics. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            onionjim, Tonedevil

            It makes me think of an early episode Bust Out:

            Tony and Richie Aprile squeeze money out of David Scatino's store, ordering Ramlösa bottled water, coolers, airline tickets, and sneakers on the store's credit and selling the merchandise on the street. They inform Davey the squeeze will continue unless he is able to pay the money he owes them. Davey is distraught over his situation and at one point, he lies on a pool table in his basement while pointing a pistol into his mouth. When his wife enters the room he hides the weapon in the ceiling tiles and claims to be fixing a light. Later, his wife and Carmela Soprano have lunch at Nuovo Vesuvio and she expresses concern about Davey's gambling, mentioning that the sporting goods store is in her name. Artie Bucco serves them the mineral water that Tony had Davey order, mentioning that he got a great deal on the price.
            -snip-
            Too embarrassed to go home, Davey has taken to sleeping in a small tent set up at the store. In a late-night conversation with Tony, he asks how this will end. Tony explains that he and Richie will keep charging items to the store's credit and selling them until there is no more credit available and bankruptcy is the only option for the store. Davey is inconsolable even after Tony explains that Davey's debts to both Tony and Richie will then be considered satisfied. Tony also explains to Davey that this is one of his primary sources of income, he only let Davey in the game because he knew this store was available to bust out, and reminds Davey that the Executive Game was fair; Davey could just as easily have won a lot of money as lost it.

            We are all pupils in the eyes of God.

            by nuclear winter solstice on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 03:14:01 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Don't forget ravening predation of worker pensions (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            onionjim

            So what if municipal and teacher pensions were instantiated to compensate for lower base pay, and lack of access to social security for retirement? All it takes is a little bit of lying about how and why a city's budget is ailing to gain free licenses to rob those silly little peons blind.

            Can't tax those job deflators, no siree! But robbing old ladies who paid into the system for decades? Go for it!

        •  "Web of hedge fund/private equity firms" (5+ / 0-)

          I should make a permanent link to where I can show and expand this more often, but look at the top ten largest owners of any Fortune 500 company, say, UPS, Dell, McDonald's, Disney, ExxonMobil, and Bank of America, and you'll find it's the same list of 12 - 15 names: Vanguard Group, State Street Corp., Goldman Sachs, BlackRock, Massachusetts Financial Corp., and a few others. Imagine the executives at those companies, and then imagine the investors that gave them a few million dollars when those funds started. They're the ones calling the shots.

          I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

          by CFAmick on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 01:03:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Vanguard is owned by the investors. (0+ / 0-)

            Unlike the rest, Vanguard charges very little and does not have brokers push favored stocks on commission.  Otherwise I agree with you.

          •  Most of the entities you list as shareholders do (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib

            so as mutual funds, Exchange Traded Funds, etc., where other parties are the ones that in effect own the company shares.

            This is very different than these financial companies owning these public companies.

            The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

            by nextstep on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 02:44:44 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  RichM - primarily to the shareholders (0+ / 0-)

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 03:48:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Wow. (4+ / 0-)

      Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees.  Our system, commonly referred to as "capitalist," is by its nature one of exploitation.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, when resources are conscientiously used to feed, clothe, and house people, and are expended in an efficient manner to make the world better.  Unfortunately our system has devolved to a point where it's eating itself, feeding off the fat from things of value built previously, that are now just food for the profit machine. Labor and wages, natural resources, intellectual property, pensions, etc., are all now merely fat cows that are tied up and ready for slaughter by the owners in our great "ownership society."  Why build stuff anymore?  That's hard work, requires creativity, and is such a bother.  Sucking the life out of things of value someone else created, and redistributing the profits generated by labor upwards? Now that's the ticket.  

      CEOs are just one small cog in the machine.  Their pay? Geez, what a small sprout to fixate on in a very large and dark forest.

      "After the (job losses) and (austerity) they won't be the same human beings you remember. Slaves?. . let's just say, they'll be satisfied with less" -Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine, as explained by Ming the Merciless.

      by Softlanded on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 11:39:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  We're not buyin' it (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gustynpip, Tonedevil

      Either you're misinformed or misinforming, VC.

      As one friend to another, someone's got to be honest with you.

      WE. AREN'T. BUYIN'. IT.

      “Vote for the party closest to you, but work for the movement you love.” ~ Thom Hartmann 6/12/13

      by ozsea1 on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 12:18:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  oz - I think people have missed my point (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Balto

        which was cash to the CEOs isn't what is keeping down wages for the hourly workers. Total CEO compensation is clearly driving the inequality, but the diary author was trying to make the point that CEO pay was holding back compensating hourly workers in a fair manner. Even if you take the total cash compensation of the five highest paid people at Fortune 500 companies the total cash compensation doesn't represent 1% of the company's total payroll.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 03:54:34 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Sorry, VCLib, but you are utterly wrong. (9+ / 0-)

      1. "Free" stock to an executive means that the company is never paid, while diluting the value of stock bought that helped to grow the company.
      2. Stock going to a CEO is not a one-time payment like cash- it keeps paying dividends. The CEO has a claim on future profits of the company until the CEO decides to sell the stock. That means a CEO with a large chunk of stock gets paid in stock this year, and gets paid in dividends... forever.  How is that not a drain on the company's profits that could otherwise go towards worker pay?  That is if the CEO keeps the stock instead of going for the quick buck, which brings me to my next point.
      3. A CEO paid in stock has as much or more of an incentive to raise the stock price in the short term than an incentive to grow the company and keep it healthy and profitable for the long term.  This is why CEOs outsource rather than promote workers, and why regulation is a dirty word to the 1%/GOP.  How many people now think of CEOs as long term thinkers?  Damned few.  That's dangerous for the long term value of the company and for the health of the community in which the company is based.

      •  Jerry - I agree with you, but you missed my point (0+ / 0-)

        I had only one point, cash compensation to the CEO isn't holding down the pay of hourly workers.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 03:56:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Straw man (0+ / 0-)

          First, it's not just *cash", it's overall benefits--including long-term pension. Second, the context is the combination of factors driving down wages for workers. Lastly, actually, if  you took that one percent of payroll that goes TO ONE PERSON off the table, it has meaning in the context of bargaining negotiations where health care costs and wages are cut because, oh, gee, we have no money...it's the entire picture.

          Follow me on Twitter @jonathantasini

          Visit Working Life.

          by Tasini on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 05:10:16 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Tasini - it really depends on the size (0+ / 0-)

            of the company and the magnitude of the CEO pay package. In Fortune 500 companies, with billions of revenues, even the top five executives total compensation (which includes all those other elements you noted), less the equity component, is less than 1% of the total compensation expenses for the entire corporation. These companies have tens of thousands of employees and total salary, wage and benefit expenses that are in the billions.

            The spread between CEO pay and hourly workers is unconscionable and the actual amount of the total compensation is reprehensible. Lowering CEO compensation would certainly help the spread. My only point is that it wouldn't help very much lifting the wages or benefits of the hourly workers.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 06:01:19 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Worker pay isn't impacted by CEO compensation (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Darth Stateworker, Tonedevil

      in the same way CEO compensation isn't impacted by stock price, profitability or productivity.  

      "These are not the scapegoats you're looking for."

    •  More bullshit from VClib. No, the "overwhelming (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Darth Stateworker, Tonedevil, ozsea1

      majority" of CEO compensation is not restricted stock or stock options.  They receive a tremendous amount of cash.  And regardless of whether it's a cash outlay, it's something of value that impacts the bottom line of the company and therefore the ability of the company to pay their other employees more.

      And it's not only the CEO's who are overpaid, so whether they're only stealing 1% of the hourly workers' pay for that one person is irrelevant.  Add up all that's stolen from the hourly workers to pay the overpaid top management, and the hourly could, in nearly every case, be paid a fair wage for the production.

    •  ¡eh hombre, ¿cómo estás? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eyo

      :o)

      "But I do apologize, JVolvo, for you are arbiter of all that can and cannot be discussed and I bow down to your supremacy when it comes to what can be written on this website." WinSmith 1/22/2014 - "OK" JVolvo 1/23/2014 (sorry, Clive)

      by JVolvo on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 12:58:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't disagree (9+ / 0-)

    but....

    I think that we have to be very careful to preserve the concept of wage theft for cases where people are actually just not paid at all.  Because, I believe that this should be a criminal matter, rather than a civil one.

    Twice in the last year, I've worked for almost a month, while being promised that I would be paid.  Yet, no money came in.  In the case last year, I was working as an adjunct for a university, and most recently I was working directly for a federal government agency. I still hope that I'm going to get paid in the latter case, but in the case of the university I haven't been paid almost a year later.

    After I figured out that the university I worked for just wasn't going to pay me, I  contacted the office of Sen. Sherrod Brown for help.  They did nothing.  I simply wanted help getting a complaint in to the Department of Labor.  They had no interest.  I think that Sen. Brown is a decent guy, but I'm sorry his staff suck.

    So I eventually figured out the convoluted process of filing a complaint with DOL's wage and hour division.  They reminded me that the could only recover minimum wage, which ironically was higher than the rate that the university wanted to pay me at, when they said they would pay.   So I mailed in the complaint.  That was last August.  I haven't heard a damn word back.

    Just not getting paid.  That's wage theft, and that happens a lot.  It's not just Mexican day laborers getting caught up in this, it's people you'd presume are a lot less vulnerable to exploitation. We shouldn't dilute the reality of wage theft by conflating it with the trend for wage increases to fall short of increases in productivity.

    That, that is an orchestrated program of income redistribution put in place by powerful private interests who have captured the State, and made it their bitch.   But.... it's not wage theft.

    http://www.economicpopulist.org

    by ManfromMiddletown on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 11:03:56 AM PST

    •  distinction without a difference IMHO (3+ / 0-)

      They are the same, though done in different ways and using different strategies. In both cases, they deny people their rightful wages.

      Follow me on Twitter @jonathantasini

      Visit Working Life.

      by Tasini on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 11:17:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Having lived through both (4+ / 0-)

        I can assure you there's a hell of a difference between getting paid shit, and not getting paid shit.

        That you don't, tells me that you probably haven't lived through this.

        Wage theft should be a crime, but when you try to expand the definition like you are here you make sure that will never happen.  And, I'm sorry, but I think that making a dubious rhetorical point shouldn't be placed ahead of actually helping people.

        http://www.economicpopulist.org

        by ManfromMiddletown on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 12:19:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  But you're buying into their thought pattern: (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Darth Stateworker, ozsea1

          "You think you have it bad, someone else has it worse, so be grateful for the dregs you get."  Workers in other countries get paid less than our minimum wage is, so we should just be grateful to get that.  Some countries have no worker safety laws, so we should be happy to work in almost safe conditions.

          No, there's really no difference, other than degree, between when someone is underpaid and when they're not paid.  It's just easier for the powers that be to justify the former than the latter.  But both belong in the exact same ethical hell.

          •  people who are underpaid at least know the small (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ManfromMiddletown, VClib

            amount of money will show up in their direct deposit. The ones who thought they would get paid what they were told and had budget plans based on a contract are the ones who are immediately unexpectedly screwed.

            We are all pupils in the eyes of God.

            by nuclear winter solstice on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 03:20:15 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I realize that, but it's still that doesn't make (0+ / 0-)

              one okay and the other not.  It still makes both of them wrong; one of the wrongs is just even harder to deal with.  I'm not saying your situation isn't a bit harder; I'm saying that focusing on that fact and thus kind of dismissing the wrong of the other is simply playing into their hands.  Everyone has to stick together and not play into the "who has it the hardest" game they want us to play in order to divide us.

          •  Broken agreements. (0+ / 0-)
            No, there's really no difference, other than degree, between when someone is underpaid and when they're not paid.
            The point that I am making is that there is a difference between a situation in which the lack of bargaining power (because of the absence of unions) leads to workers being paid less than they are worth, and when employers make an agreement to pay workers an agreed upon rate, and then fail to uphold their end of the bargain. The latter should be a crime for which employers serve hard prison time, because it is real theft.

            The former is bullshit, but is a civil matter, a tort, not a crime.

            I believe that we can get laws against wage theft on the books.  But... only if the definition is narrowly crafted can we get this.

            http://www.economicpopulist.org

            by ManfromMiddletown on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 03:27:20 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Re (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib

        But in only one of them are they denied their legal wages.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 02:32:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hmmm... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ozsea1

          so even you are agreeing that this should be a crime?

          http://www.economicpopulist.org

          by ManfromMiddletown on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 03:34:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Violation of the law is a crime (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            nextstep

            Denying people wages they agreed to work for after the fact is a crime.

            Asking people to punch out and work after the fact is a crime.

            Asking people to do non-tipped work on a tipped salary is a crime.

            "Wage theft" as commonly understood is a crime.

            Paying people minimum wage when they'd rather make more is not a crime.

            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

            by Sparhawk on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 06:34:47 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  File a claim in small claims court against (3+ / 0-)

      the offending employer. Often it takes a judgment against them to finally make them pay up. They will also be responsible for your filing fees and court costs. Usually these cases are open and shut enough that you will not need an attorney and the judge will find in your favor. A lot of the time you will get a default judgment because they won't bother sending anyone to court.

      I had someone I know recover unpaid wages this way when wage and hour division was not aggressive in pursuing the case.

      I do agree with you that wage theft should be categorized as criminal.  It should be a felony.

      •  worked for us the couple times we had to do it in (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NoMoreLies

        a dozen years.

        We are all pupils in the eyes of God.

        by nuclear winter solstice on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 03:21:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I live in a different state now. (0+ / 0-)

        The cost of initiating the case would far exceed what I could ever hope to reclaim through court action.

        That I think is a location for collective action.

        As an academic employee at another university, when the point came up that we had limited right to form a union, I made the point that if they don't negotiate, then we should organize to litigate until they scream for a master agreement, aka a contract.  

        The problem is that there's not been much effort to organize along these lines.

        http://www.economicpopulist.org

        by ManfromMiddletown on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 03:33:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  $20/hr minimum wage? (0+ / 0-)

    Where do you get that number from?

    •  various calculations done by economists (6+ / 0-)

      Joel Rogers for example at U of Madison

      Follow me on Twitter @jonathantasini

      Visit Working Life.

      by Tasini on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 11:14:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Will look that up. That seems pretty high (0+ / 0-)

        for where I live.

        •  It is based... (8+ / 0-)

          on productivity gains.

          "[I]n the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone...They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand."

          by cardboardurinal on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 11:37:06 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's correct (10+ / 0-)

            Thought that was clear from the post. But to emphasize: typically, in the old days (say pre-1979), productivity gains translated roughly into wage benefit gains. Since 1980 the rate of productivity has risen a a pace that should equal roughly a minimum wage of $20 an hour--and, no, you cannot credit technology with all that productivity gain (a bit of nonsense floated by some who would deny workers' contributions).

            Follow me on Twitter @jonathantasini

            Visit Working Life.

            by Tasini on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 11:50:19 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Oh, why can't you? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sparhawk
              you cannot credit technology with all that productivity gain (a bit of nonsense floated by some who would deny workers' contributions).
              Are you arguing the workers are smarter or harder working than previous generations?

              The modern worker certainly isn't working longer hours, on average.

              •  Your link in support (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ozsea1

                of your sarcastic question provides no support for what you seem to be asserting by default.  Why?

                Longer hours != productivity gains.  Productivity gains are measured in output per hour/shift/some other measure of time.  

                In other words, simply saying people don't work longer hours than they used to not only doesn't lend support to your rhetorical question - it basically reflects that the exact opposite is true:  If workers are working similar hours as before, yet, as shown in other statistics, productivity is up, workers are accomplishing more in the same amount of time.  Period.

                "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

                by Darth Stateworker on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 04:01:32 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Yes, I'm not arguing they're not. (0+ / 0-)

                  I'm just saying, once you take efficiency from technological gains out the question, how much is left?

                  I'd say "not much if any."  Are people better lawyers these days?  Better engineers?  Or can they simply do more work because technology has made their work easier?

                  Wages aren't based on productivity.  Labor is a cost, when you need less people to do the same or more work, there's no reason to pay workers more, if anything, the supply has increased, while the demand has decreased.

                  The only way you get higher wages from higher productivity is if the workers and the owners are the same people. (As a side note, the benefits of higher productivity are new and cheaper goods, not higher wages.)

                  •  That's your opinion. (0+ / 0-)

                    And you're entitled to it.

                    However, as the other poster noted, there really isn't much evidence out there to support the assertion that productivity gains are all or even mostly related to technology picking up some or part of the workload.

                    Reality is that business processes themselves get improved over time and become more efficient.  They always have, and this is a historical fact.  As such, it seems that much of the productivity gains are from items as simple as business process refinement.

                    Wages aren't based on productivity.
                    Firstly - that depends:  a commission-based saleperson would certainly disagree with you on that point, wouldn't they?  It also brings to mind a company I read about recently in an article about  unique working conditions.  I believe it was Conde Nast.  Basically, they have no set hours.  You simply earn your salary by completing your assigned tasks.  Sounds like a productivity based wage, no?

                    Secondly - they should be if capitalism isn't simply going to be uberly exploitative of the working class.

                    "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

                    by Darth Stateworker on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 07:01:43 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Does this matter? (0+ / 0-)
                      However, as the other poster noted, there really isn't much evidence out there to support the assertion that productivity gains are all or even mostly related to technology picking up some or part of the workload.

                      Reality is that business processes themselves get improved over time and become more efficient.  They always have, and this is a historical fact.  As such, it seems that much of the productivity gains are from items as simple as business process refinement.

                      Does this really change the argument, though?  Whether productivity increases are due to technology, process refinement, or economies of scale, they're unrelated to general worker quality.
                      Firstly - that depends:  a commission-based saleperson would certainly disagree with you on that point, wouldn't they?  It also brings to mind a company I read about recently in an article about  unique working conditions.  I believe it was Conde Nast.  Basically, they have no set hours.  You simply earn your salary by completing your assigned tasks.  Sounds like a productivity based wage, no?
                      A company can compensate employees based on productivity if they wish.  If technology allows your salesman to make $300k a year instead of the $100k he was making, though, and you could retain or replace him for $100k, you're overpaying for labor (and should reduce the sales commission.)
                      •  You're not getting it, sport. (0+ / 0-)
                        Does this really change the argument, though?  Whether productivity increases are due to technology, process refinement, or economies of scale, they're unrelated to general worker quality.
                        .

                        This is a baseless assertion - just as baseless as your prior assertion.  When it boils down to it - when a business process improves - in many cases it improves because the guy doing the work suggests ways to make it more efficient.  So yes, I'd say that's a clear example of worker quality improving productivity.  I have no idea what you do for a living, but clearly, you don't have all that much experience dealing with workers that are allowed to think independently.  I remember it wasn't that long ago people used to praise the ingenuityworking man - because they were wise enough to realize it was generally the working man who had all the bright ideas.  Today, with the blind worship of capital - as you seem to be doing - our economy sucks.  Go figure.

                        A company can compensate employees based on productivity if they wish.  If technology allows your salesman to make $300k a year instead of the $100k he was making, though, and you could retain or replace him for $100k, you're overpaying for labor (and should reduce the sales commission.)
                        Thus perpetuating the exploitative nature of unfettered capitalism.  Capitalist systems will fail following such rules.  The only way capitalism is workable long-term is if labor and capital have equal power - which means capital couldn't do this kind of bullshit to labor.

                        You can argue all the textbook, libertarian Austrian school capitalist cheerleading bullshit you want, but there's an idea why such ideas aren't implemented outside a classroom: because they only work in a vacuum.  They fail miserably in the real world.

                        Honestly, with your almost standardized right wing views on labor policy and economics policy, I wonder if you might be on the wrong website.

                        "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

                        by Darth Stateworker on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 07:30:08 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

          •  I wonder (0+ / 0-)

            Does it take into account increased foreign competition?

  •  It's not that hard... (12+ / 0-)

    If the wealth of the 1% increases more than the GDP - then that wealth came from somewhere - that somewhere is the other 99%.

    Conversely, if wages are not keeping up with GDP, then wages are being taken from the wage earners.

    Additionally:

    If productivity increases, but wages do not, then it is those at the top which benefit from the productivity increase.  Essentially, robbing labor's increase in output.

    Everything else is smoke and mirrors.

    “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” - John Steinbeck (Disputed)

    by RichM on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 11:21:32 AM PST

  •  Yes, you're exactly correct (6+ / 0-)

    Let's call it out for what it is. Millions upon millions spent by public companies in numerous ways to hold down wages, while exec staff "wages" continue to soar. Threats issued to toe the line or they'll move production offshore...or to the slave states in the South. It's robbery of the shareholder wealth and especially of the workers wealth.

    I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony

    by pajoly on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 11:38:35 AM PST

  •  It's bad, I don't get why you say "robbery" though (0+ / 0-)

    The system needs to be changed. No doubt about it.  There is far more to be gained nationally, socially, and individually once it is changed. And there is entrenched opposition and many ultra-high comp people whose personal gains or losses will animate their opposition.

    Companies are not people, have no morals, no virtue, are neither patriotic nor humanistic. It's not the companies that are robbing it's the gov't that's MIA. Labor and commerce need to be protected but neither is being done. Instead we have a plutocracy breeding corpses and vultures to feed off of them. Raise minimum wage, change CEO compensation, hell, eliminate CEO's and all execs, and the problems at the dinner tables will not be altered one bit. Raising the min wage is a good short term boost to lots of people who will use it and produce an uptick nationally. But the system will "rebalance".  

    Money is at the center now and until that center is broken the fewer and fewer hands with the money are and will corrupt whatever rules are put in place.  

    Once good thing is that we certainly have the resources and many ways and means to fix this...whenever we have the will...

    •  Robbery is the right term (5+ / 0-)

      In some cases, it's literally breaking the law.

      But, mostly, it is stealing, if not written in the law--and I think in most cases it is pre-meditated. Robbery is often the act of taking something through fear and threats--and that is exactly what happens in the workplace, when it comes to union organizing, for example.

      And, as a matter of political education and mobilization, I think it's useful to use language that is tough but descriptive to what most people feel: I've worked hard and I've been robbed of a fair living.

      Follow me on Twitter @jonathantasini

      Visit Working Life.

      by Tasini on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 11:57:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I usually use images of war (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eyo, Tasini

    to describe it, but I'm down with your framing.

    Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 12:16:40 PM PST

  •  Just yesterday I read for the first time (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nuclear winter solstice, ozsea1

    a poem by G. K. Chesterton called "A Song of Swords" (rather sounds like the latest George R. R. Martin title, I know), about riots in a small village called Swords.

    This is the verse that stuck with me:

    Be they sinners or less than saints
    That smite in the street for rage,
    We know where the shame shines bright; we know
    You that they smite at, you their foe:
    Lords of the lawless wage and low,
    This is your lawful wage
    .
    It seemed appropriate.
  •  It's all about free trade with 3rd world nations (5+ / 0-)

    The last time I had a raise without changing jobs was the exact same year as when Clinton gave MFN status to China.

    None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

    by gjohnsit on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 12:47:51 PM PST

  •  It's about what they can get away with (5+ / 0-)

    Workers have been little power to demand more because of the uneven playing field. My spouse and I have a computer consulting firm (we are the only employees) and we have been on multiple occasions been asked to cut our rates for a long standing client. Honestly, we don't have the ability to say "no" because we only have a few clients and can't afford to loose one.

    Just this week a client that my spouse has worked with for over twelve years just asked for a rate cut from all of their contractors. Their reason is that their IT budget is too high - whatever that means, and despite the fact that they are highly profitable company and they are completely satisfied by the work their contractors are doing they figure they can save a few bucks by just paying them less. From what we gathered, they had some big costly initiatives with third party software vendors that ran over budget, so they decided to try and make their department budget numbers look better by pulling some money out of the pockets of some their contractors who had absolutely nothing to do with their cost over runs. And yeah they can do it, because finding other Clients takes time and you can't just walk away from a paying one in the heat of the moment, however much you'd like to tell them where they can shove it.

  •  Bill Moyers used the phrase "elite plunder" (9+ / 0-)

    In a beautiful speech, in 2007:

    Life on the Plantation
    January 12, 2007

    ... America is socially divided and politically benighted. Inequality and poverty grow steadily along with risk and debt. Many working families cannot make ends meet with two people working, let alone if one stays home to care for children or aging parents. Young people without privilege and wealth struggle to get a footing. Seniors enjoy less and less security for a lifetime’s work. We are racially segregated in every meaningful sense except the letter of the law. And survivors of segregation and immigration toil for pennies on the dollar compared to those they serve.

    None of this is accidental. Nobel laureate economist Robert Solow – not someone known for extreme political statements – characterizes what is happening as nothing less than elite plunder: “The redistribution of wealth in favor of the wealthy and of power in favor of the powerful.” Indeed, nearly all of the wealth America created over the past 25 years has been captured by the top 20% of households, and most of the gains went to the wealthiest. The top 1% of households captured more than 50% of all gains in financial wealth ...

    Bill Moyers is a national treasure.

    “Hardworking men and women who are busting their tails in full-time jobs shouldn't be left in poverty.” -- Elizabeth Warren

    by Positronicus on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 01:28:00 PM PST

  •  Increased productivity leads to higher wages!* (3+ / 0-)

    * But only if employees have the power to push management to share increased productivity-based profits with them in the form of wages.  If not, the bosses will just keep it, demand more, let pay & benefits shrink and/or disappear, and if you don't like it, you can lump it.

    We now return to your regularly scheduled Economics 101-flavored news discussions.

  •  Discharge Petition to Raise Minimum Wage (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Darth Stateworker, ozsea1

    Here's a list of House members who signed the petition to force a vote on raising the minimum wage to $10.10 hr.

    Link

    Check the list, if your member of Congress hasn't signed it, give them a call and ask them to do so.

    Money is property, not speech. Overturn Citizens United.

    by Betty Pinson on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 02:19:56 PM PST

  •  Well I suspect we could change that (0+ / 0-)

    it seems that people are starting to fear the unwashed masses. We now have several populist movements taking place in the United States.

    If you do not believe me have a gander at the change in same sex marriage laws, medical and recreational marijuana laws, and yes a small beginning to minimum wage laws.

    I don't think most people realize that most jobs are tied to minimum wage of their state. For instance my state minamum is $9.20 my former multinational corp. paid my state minamum wage plus $5.00 per hour and .25 more for each year worked. When minimum wage was raised and tied to the cost of living my raise the first year after was $1.10 (raise in min. plus .25) the next year was .75 (cost of living plus .25) made a difference in my $15.00 and hour life over a short time.

    It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich according to what he is not what he has -Henry Ward Beecher

    by PSWaterspirit on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 02:41:43 PM PST

  •  A concerted effort, deliberately worded (3+ / 0-)

    by corporate News toadies to the state.

    These first two paragraphs aren't just propaganda, they are pure sophistry, writ large:

    Most people who work for a living know that for a long time now, raises have been few and far between. Wages typically fall or stagnate in recessions, and the Great Recession was particularly severe, exerting a drag on pay that persists to this day.

    But that is only a partial explanation, because declining and stagnant wages predate the latest downturn. Understanding the causes is essential for determining the policies needed to create good jobs.

    Like hell it's essential to determine policy. That lone sentence is a heaping helping of steaming bullshit, topping off the rest of that milquetoast lede.

    That the paragraph should have, by any decent written standard, ended right there is bad enough. But no. This blatant sophistry is used as a lead-in to a paragraph that's fairly unnecessary. Until it gets here:

    As a result, since 2000, many college graduates have taken jobs that do not require college degrees and, in the process, have displaced less-educated lower-skilled workers.
    More nonsense in the context it's being presented. The displacement has affected ALL OF US, whether we have degrees or not.

    Why in the hell don't more people understand what the NYT and it's ilk are doing with the language? It absolutely infuriates me.

    This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

    by lunachickie on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 03:02:43 PM PST

  •  I've always said (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ozsea1

    that the bigger a company gets, the more sociopathic it becomes.

    That's not true in all cases.  Many, though.

    The CEO and Board sit in their corner suites checking on their stock options and don't have to spend one minute out of their day looking at their assembly workers, their clerks, their meat processors.  They don't have to listen to one word about their families, how their kids are growing up, the struggles that they're running into, etc.

    That lack of contact with anyone but their millionaire peers makes it that much easier just to slash employment and wages.  Smaller businesses can be more humane because they have to look their employees in the eye every single day.

    Mitt Romney was apparently joking when he said "I like being able to fire people," but it wasn't very funny.  Everyone I've ever talked to who had to terminate someone's employment describes it as the most awful, painful responsibility that bosses have.  It causes them to lose sleep and feel miserable in general, all because they know exactly what that employee stands to lose.  They have to look them in the eye with full knowledge of the pain they are about to inflict.

    Mitt, in his corner suite at Bain, was able to avoid that kind of pain.

  •  The entire (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tasini

    wage discussion is all a lesson in how framing wins the debate.

    Republicans have successfully framed the debate that it's the wealthy business owners that "earn" the money, and thus can set wages for workers wherever they'd like. This successful framing is why so many people let out a collective yawn when wage inequality is brought up.

    It's time to reframe that debate to reflect reality to reflect that wealthy people are not entitled to all the wealth created by their workers that they'd like simply because they provided some start-up capital for a business.  It's time to flip how people view income should be distributed - with workers getting a larger share, and the owner class getting a small share from each workers production.  A classic pyramid - instead of the bullshit upside down pyramid that supply siders try to say is valid.

    The question really is - how do you frame things in that manner so that most people just instantly "get it"?  That is the key to winning the argument - simple, easy to digest framing.

    "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

    by Darth Stateworker on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 03:48:45 PM PST

    •  DS - employee ownership is a path that I like (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Darth Stateworker

      This is an area I hope to write more about this year. In the past we had more incentives for business owners to sell their companies to the employees when they retired or decided it was time to sell and do something else. There are tens of thousands of small and medium sized companies sold every year in the US. How do we make the employees a legitimate player in the purchase of those companies? That seems to be a public policy that is in everyone's interest.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 06:07:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The problem (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib

        with making an "employee ownership" argument - it's quite easy for righties to twist such arguments around to say that it's "socialism", as the workers actually do own the means of production.

        Is it really socialism?  No.  But given that the right has no problem labeling things as socialism inaccurately as it is, they can simply employ their favorite boogieman and continue their modern-day red-baiting campaign.

        It's a great idea - but it won't win any converts from the other side  and that's what we really need to do:  pry a few of them away from their cognitive dissonance protected ideology.

        As a side note:  One could argue more for German-style labor/management relations and get a similar effect as employee ownership would bring about due to Germanys penchant for corporate co-determination.  Of course, then the righties can run their mouths about the evil unions...

        Basically, they've got every angle covered with some sort of rhetorical nonsense, don't they?  Ugh.

        "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

        by Darth Stateworker on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 06:17:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  DS - I don't think so for two reasons (0+ / 0-)

          First, socialism is government owning the means of production, not employees. Nearly every startups starts as an employee owned company and no one has any problem with employee ownership in that model.

          Second, the employees will be competing in the open market to purchase the companies. This won't be a gift, employees will have some skin in the game.

          This is all free market policy. I don't think the other side will mind at all. In fact, I think we can get them on board and make this bipartisan.

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 06:34:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You're missing the point. (0+ / 0-)

            I'm not saying it's an accurate argument.  I'm pointing out how easy it is for fact-free rightwingers to simply dismiss it using their go-to boogieman of socialism.

            Remember - they don't give a shit if the argument is accurate.  Only that it can scare the bejeezus out of their fear-driven base with evil sounding words or concepts.  The validity of what they are saying isn't relevant to them.  They'd try telling people the color orange is actually purple if they thought it would get them a few more votes.  Reality, as you and I see it, doesn't matter.

            In other words - my response is "devils advocate" on how Republican strategists would respond to such a suggestion being put forth by the mainstream.

            As such, I think we've simply got a better chance of convincing people that they deserve a bigger share of the profit - because it's the truth, it isn't gimmicky to say that, and you cannot malign a somewhat more equitable profit sharing with the "socialism" boogieman to anyone with half a brain, provided it's argued in a way that frames the argument correctly.

            The easiest way to make that argument is mathematically.  IE: discussing how much profit an employees position generates per hour - and then stating that the larger share of that profit generated by the employees work should go to the employee, while the employer would get a smaller share.

            However, it's the whole "making an argument mathematically" thing that bores the shit out of people and prevents them from paying attention.

            "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

            by Darth Stateworker on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 06:49:58 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  DS - the problem is the ownership issue (0+ / 0-)

              Government can impose higher taxes on owners who take out large salaries. Government can also raise the minimum wage. Unions can help adjust the pie slices to negotiate a better deal for workers. But beyond that, what can government due to compel business owners to share a larger piece of the pie with workers? The owners slice the pie.

              The reason I like employee owned companies (and I think it can be bipartisan) is that the employees have the power through ownership to slice the pie in a way they collectively think is fair.

              "let's talk about that"

              by VClib on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 07:07:21 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Which is why (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VClib

                I talked about German-style co-determination above.  It combines both aspects of employees having a hand in how the company is run and having motivation to make the company more profitable.

                It does this without the liability of having the right scream "socialism" - the accuracy of which notwithstanding.

                I believe it would be easier to get their voters to go along with passing co-determination laws than implementing any other solution.  I think the recent kerfluffle at the VW plant in Chattanooga could be a springboard for that.  Basically, VW wanted the union because they wanted a works council - which is how they implement their co-determination.  They could not have a works council without the union because of how US labor law is structured.

                It's political gamesmanship.  One-up assholes like Bob Corker by saying "Let's change the law to require works councils, giving VW what they want while avoiding having to force workers into unions."  BANG!  Workers now have a voice on the job, while avoiding the union boogieman Republicans have built over the years.

                It's this kind of "turn-it-around-on-the-other-guy" type of politics that Democrats generally fail at.

                Basically, I'm all about strategy.  Like I said - I love the idea of employee ownership.  I just don't know if we can sell it to the masses.

                "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

                by Darth Stateworker on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 07:26:16 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  The concepts aren't mutually exclusive (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Darth Stateworker

                  I favor changing the labor laws to allow works councils, but those councils will only have the power that owners bestow on them.

                  I wonder how organized labor would view a bill to allow works councils in a non-union company? Are works councils widely used in union shops?

                  "let's talk about that"

                  by VClib on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 07:43:44 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  They aren't used in the US (0+ / 0-)

                    by any shops that I'm aware of, union or non-union.

                    However, my understanding is that under US labor law (basically, the way Taft-Hartley is structured), you could only implement one legally in a union shop.

                    That is why VW was so hard-pressed to try to get a union in Chattanooga.  Their German works council basically demanded it so the US plant would also have a works council.

                    As far as the level of power they'd get - that's why I said legislate them as they do in Germany.  It's German co-determination laws that gives works councils their power.  Basically, the laws state workers have just as large a voice in running a business as the shareholders do.

                    Which makes sense, because in any capitalist system that has any chance at lasting long-term, one needs to treat labor and capital as equals.  When one side holds too much power - the system collapses, just as we see here today in the US.

                    Even the righties here acknowledge the collapse.  They simply blame it on labor by inferring and implying it's our pathetically small union memberships fault - instead of acknowledging capital has a huge upper hand on labor in the US today.

                    "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

                    by Darth Stateworker on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 08:14:41 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  DS - required German style works councils (0+ / 0-)

                      are a higher political mountain to climb than card check or employee ownership. And I think you won't have organized labor as an ally.

                      "let's talk about that"

                      by VClib on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 08:58:47 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I'd disagree. (0+ / 0-)

                        It's all in the framing of the debate.  Frame works councils and co-determination as an alternative to unions.  Even most rightie voters realize they're getting screwed at work.  They just buy in to the anti-union vitriol.  So offering this as an alternative to unions could work.

                        As far as labors involvement: why would labor NOT want this?  It would seem to me a works council at a non-union employer would essentially be a benefit to unions, as it would theoretically be easier to organize since the works have some say-so in operations, so they could tamp down on the union crushing nonsense management tends to do at US companies.

                        "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

                        by Darth Stateworker on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 11:01:05 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  For the same reason organized labor has always (0+ / 0-)

                          been against organized work councils in the US. The unions see it as a replacement of, rather than a path to a union shop.

                          "let's talk about that"

                          by VClib on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 02:06:03 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I have never heard (0+ / 0-)

                            of organized labor in the US objecting to works councils here.  UAW certainly embraced the idea in Chattanooga.

                            Do you have an example of the opposite?

                            "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

                            by Darth Stateworker on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 03:25:57 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I should have worded my comment more (0+ / 0-)

                            carefully. I don't know of any attempts by unions to form works councils or any position by organized labor to oppose works councils. US organized labor has always been fearful of anything that looked like a "company union" and so I am speculating that they will think of these entities as union substitutes. The reality is that for much of Europe works councils have powers and authority that no union in the US has over employers and employees. You should reach out to some of the organized labor people here at DKOS, maybe by writing a diary, and see how they feel about works councils in non-union shops in the US. It would be interesting to read their views and see if they would support legislation to implement them.

                            "let's talk about that"

                            by VClib on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 05:08:14 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Having been involved in the labor movement (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            VClib, Tonedevil

                            for a long time, I think your speculation on this one is a bit off.

                            Labor knows that it's likely not coming back in the manner it once was in the US, and is actively looking for new ways for workers to have influence without a traditional union.  This is, in my opinion, exactly what labor leaders have been preaching for.  Contrary to the image the right portrays, organized labor is more about the workers than simply "collecting dues or making union offers the 1%" or whatever other bullshit the right usually lobs out there.  At the end of the day - it's about getting workers a fair wage and a fair shake.  As such, I don't think any true member of the labor movement would think of works councils as a bad thing in the slightest.

                            You make a good point in that I should query other union members specifically on works councils to get a reading on their opinions - but since I interact with fellow union members from multiple unions on a daily basis - I think it's fairly safe to say I've already got a good idea what these folks are thinking.

                            As for DKOS - in reading the UAWVW thread, I don['t recall seeing even one Kossack say anything negative about works councils - and if it was a problem for union Kossacks, I expect there would have been quite the discussion on it.  Mainly, all I saw was support.  TONS of support.

                            "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

                            by Darth Stateworker on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 05:36:13 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  DS - I have no experience at all with unions (0+ / 0-)

                            so I will defer to your experience and expertise.

                            "let's talk about that"

                            by VClib on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 05:42:15 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

  •  Even worse that the stealing of actual (0+ / 0-)

    wages is the callous inteference with a worker's opportunity ..... workers known to be going to school, to prepare for a better job or career, have their class schedules deliberately intefered with, are assigned mandatory overtime during the weeks where it is known that conferences are held with academic advisors.  Andif an employer finds out that a worker is moonlighting with a second job, the worker is forced to choose between the two, and if they choose the present job, then find their work hours cut, or even reduced to part time, to try to force them out anyway. The punishment of ambition and drive is a vicious by product of the meanness in the current economy.

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