I was one of six million "99ers" who once desperately needed a "Tier Five"...a number that is growing every week. And it looks as though high unemployment may well be "the new normal" for a long time, while employers continue to discriminate against the jobless.
But the stock market is recovering. Stocks are UP 40% in the past 19 months, while unemployment has increased by 1.1% during that same time. The large corporations have been rewarding their CEOs with huge salary increases, especially those who outsourced the most jobs overseas -- who also over-worked and under-paid their remaining domestic work-force whenever possible (except when union contracts prohibit them). Employers have been squeezing every drop of productivity (like blood) that they can from their American workers, much like they do in China. Many hire their employees as part-time workers to avoid the added costs such as paid holidays and health care -- squeezing EVERY penny they can from the workers, while adding to the corporate treasury and writing bonus checks to CEOs.
Meanwhile, the bankers also continue to reap huge rewards. Their bonuses and commissions will hit a record $144 billion, despite the poor economy and the suffering of 30-million unemployed and "under-employed" American citizens.
First the American taxpayers bailed out the big banks (who still have trillions of dollars in outstanding credit default swaps on the books), then those same banks raised their credit-card interest rates, repossessed more cars, and foreclosed on a record number of homes. Wells Fargo doesn't plan to halt foreclosures, despite an employee's testimony that she signed up to 500 foreclosure documents daily without even reading them (just as Congress does with bills).
And also like Citigroup, they have continued to outsource more jobs overseas. The bosses at Goldman Sachs have told their employees to try and keep a low profile during these harsh economic times, and not to flaunt their wealth.
Capitalism, as an economic system, is much more than just a citizen (or a private company or corporation) engaging in free enterprise. It's not just individuals taking a financial risk with their money to research and develop (invent) a widget for 75 cents and selling it on the open market for one dollar, thereby making a 25% profit. Capitalism is also an ideology and, almost always, involves control and power...just as with any other "ism" -- communism, Marxism, socialism, etc.
And to gain this power and control, big American banks and corporations "lobby" (bribe with cash or gifts such as golf club memberships or political donations) our government leaders for laws that enable them to further enrich and empower themselves. This has been the case since the robber baron days, and little has since changed. The "monopoly" laws, as with every other law that was meant to protect the citizens and consumers, have mostly been circumvented to favor the bigger and more powerful corporations. And just like Congress, big businesses were always -- and remain -- above the law.
Occasionally a corporation such as Arthur Andersen might be made into an example to quiet the masses when its excesses were too obvious to hide or explain away. And the same could be said for the recently enacted "financial reform" bills. But the big banks and corporations most likely had anticipated any changes, and in fact, may have even participated in crafting those very laws to benefit themselves, while appearing to submit to new government oversight to appease the peons.
Many big businesses and big banks have broken laws for centuries. Business is war, and they will do anything to make a dollar, even if innocent people should lose their lives. Just as in war, these victims are considered to be "collateral damage" in wars that really were, and still are, being waged for profits. You've heard the saying, "It's nothing personal, it's just business."
Besides for cheaper labor, manufacturers out-source jobs because worker safety is of little concern, and there are few foreign safety regulations that have to be enforced. One example would be the 1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, India where a gas and chemical leak resulted in the deaths of 3,787 people, and the injury of tens of thousands more.
And there were also the many domestic environmental disasters, such as Love Canal, that sickened and killed Americans as well. (BP and the entire oil industry is another story.)
Consumer advocate Ralph Nader notes GM's Chevrolet Corvair (1960-1969) in his book "Unsafe At Any Speed." There was also the Ford Pinto (1971-1980) with the exploding gas tank that was also brought to light by Nader. Auto recalls are made involuntarily when forced to by the government, but only voluntarily by the company when the chance of public exposure is imminent, and the related costs could eventually be higher because of litigation or lost sales. After the 1999 explosion at the Ford plant in Michigan, a report had exposed its corporate negligence. And then there's the lawsuits that were brought against the tobacco companies. The list of U.S. corporate mal-governance is endless, and doesn't even include the wheeling and dealing that goes on inside the defense industry.
Big American businesses knowingly hurt and kill people to make profits, and their risks of getting caught and the cost of litigation is calculated into the their profit/loss ratios -- whatever their lawyers and fines might cost is analyzed for cost-effectiveness -- and in case they ever had to go to trial to defend against punitive damages. But with very deep pockets, they can procrastinate legal proceedings for decades.
It's Wall Street and big business that governs our country. Members of Congress who receive millions of dollars in PAC funds and "bribes" from lobbyists only give lip service to common citizens. It's the BIG BOYS who get the phone calls and e-mails from our government "officials" -- all we get are computer-generated form letters sent weeks later as our only reply to any inquiry.
Ordinary citizens have always been considered expendable pawns on America's corporate chessboard. They are constantly being sacrificed for America's "Kings and Queens" -- the big bankers, corporate CEOs, and the Washington politicians. They don't serve "the people"; they aren't the "community leaders" they wish us to believe, and they aren't our "protectors." They only serve and protect themselves and each other. They keep the military and law enforcement fully financed to serve and protect themselves. They keep science and technology fully funded to serve and protect themselves. Infrastructure (what the masses needed) went into decay. Extending unemployment benefits beyond 99 weeks for jobless Americans were denied (let them eat cake). The masses are just a necessary nuisance, because collectively, the people vote the politicians into office, borrow the banker's money to purchase cars and homes, and buy all that corporate crap made in China.
1 | 2