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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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