Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Fuck the Job Count! What People Need Are Living Wages!


 
Every month the charade continues. Governments in North America announce the latest labour market statistics, hoping to pull the wool over the population’s eyes, making them believe that things are a lot better than they really are.

It’s relatively easy to do: just don’t count those who are so discouraged that they have given up looking for a job.  In reality, these people still exist; they just don’t show up in the unemployment figures.  As a result, people are spoon fed a distorted picture of reality that they seem more than happy to accept, unless, of course, they are struggling to make ends meet, which in America is more than 100 million people.
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You don’t need to be a genius to see how the big lie works.  If the numbers are jigged to show less than a 10% unemployment rate, people will think that this means that 90% or more of the people who are employable do in fact have jobs.

It’s difficult to know in North America what the real unemployment rate is.  Estimates, based on the participation rate, those who are between 18-54 years old and do have jobs (see John Williams' site, Shadow Statistics) are closer to 23%.  In other words, three times the official, government endorsed, rate!

If that’s not enough, the government stats do not differentiate between part-time and full-time jobs, between temporary and permanent employment.  Having a permanent, full-time job with benefits that pays more the $50,000 is not the same as working part-time at Walmart, but for the purposes of propaganda they are.

What would make a difference is if we starting using the median income as an indicator of economic performance.  For example, U.S. real (inflation adjusted) median household income was $51, 939 in 2013 versus $51,759 in 2012, statistically unchanged.  In 2013, real median income was 8% lower than in 2007, the year before the onset of the Great Recession.  What’s up with that?

Things are about to get worse.  The U.S. Congress, otherwise known as America’s elected millionaires club, has just given the President of the United States of America, Mr. “Forget About Change You Can Believe In“ Barak Obama, the authority to fast track trade negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which effectively will make it easier for multinational corporations to offshore production where salaries are the cheapest and where the environmental regulations are the most lax.

This recent development reminds of the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen’s poignant classic, “My Hometown” released in 1984 on the Born In The U.S.A album, a precursor for what was coming down the road:

Now Main Street’s whitewashed windows and vacant stores

Seems like there ain’t nobody wants to come down here no more

They’re closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks

Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain’t coming back to your hometown

Fortunately, there is push back and it’s coming from municipal government, the level of government closest to the people.  Last week, the municipal council of Los Angeles adopted a resolution that would see the minimum wage become $15 an hour by 2020, joining Seattle and San Francisco in the fight against poverty.  As could be expected, billionaire Warren Buffet went on record to say that that raising the minimum wage to a living wage was a bad idea.  Bad idea for whom Warren?  Fat-assed rentiers like yourself or for the children of parents who have two work at least two wage-slave jobs in order to house, clothe, and feed their kids?

What will be really interesting to see and very sad if it is indeed the case –of course, we won’t know beforehand since the wordings of the multinational trade agreements are being kept secret—is if a corporation can file a motion in the investor-state dispute settlement tribunal to roll back living wage legislation adopted at the state or municipal level.

That’s certainly not the kind of change people were hoping for!!!  

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