Welcome to the “New Economy” SUCKER!
By Ronald Orf
FIVE SIMPLE FACTS THE REPUBLICANS DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW.
1. During the 1920’s Henry Ford decreed that nobody who worked in his automobile plants should receive less than $5 a day for their labor. Conservatives labeled him “a traitor to his class” and despaired that rewarding labor at that level would bring about the destruction of the American economic system. Ford’s response: “People need to make $5 a day to afford to buy my cars”.
2.When I was a child my mother used to reminisce about her childhood during the depression. She recalled the government slaughtering hogs and burying them in pits to try to raise the price of pork by decreasing supply. My mother knew this “supply side intervention” could not succeed because: The problem was not that people did not WANT to buy pork, but that they COULD NOT AFFORD to buy pork.
3.During the 1980’s the Reagan administration instituted a tax policy of rewarding the capital side of the economic equation. “Supply side” economics put into place large tax cuts for business and the wealthy. The misnamed “Department of Labor” became the “stick it to labor” department throwing roadblocks at unionization and minimum wage increases while encouraging the outsourcing of industrial jobs to places where labor would be far less demanding. Many American workers bought in to the scheme on the hint that their reward would come through higher productivity and corporate profits. They overlooked that the gains in profits and productivity were systematically transferred to management and the top 5% of the population through incentives and a capital gains tax rate far lower than the working class was paying on their stagnant salaries. Surprisingly, it all SEEMED to work, and whenever possible, the Republicans extended the “Reagan Revolution” to all aspects of the economy. Unfortunately, much like abstinence based education, “supply side economics” never actually worked, and in fact brought about the disaster that is now engulfing the U.S. financial markets.
4. Most of the economic “recovery” that was brought about during the Reagan era was the responsibility of demand, and had nothing to do with the supply side cuts, which were really just the recycled “trickle down economics” of the pre-Great Depression era. Not coincidentally, the last time this percentage of American assets was held by such a small portion of the population was 1929. The Reagan-Bush-Bush economic policy has been nothing more than a method for a massive shifting of wealth that has taken 30 years to accomplish. The current situation is not part of the “normal economic cycle”, but the cumulative effect of a deliberate process of borrowing from social security and foreign governments to finance tax cuts for the wealthy while guaranteeing a financial collapse for our children. Eight trillion of our nine trillion dollar national debt, excluding the trillions to stave off the current financial disaster, has been incurred in these three administrations. The working class, who were encouraged to eat their seed corn, actually financed the “Reagan Expansion”, and while the top tier (capital) prospered, the rest of us (workers) never received that promised payoff. We lost spending power every decade, a process that has been grossly accelerated during the last seven years. We have financed our phantom middle class lifestyles by gutting the equity from our homes, making the double income family the norm, working longer hours more productively than any other industrial nation, maxing out our credit cards, and borrowing from our retirements. Despite the noble stopgap efforts, American families are belatedly realizing that they are in a financial death spiral. Even if they cut back drastically on their lifestyles they still cannot meet their essential payments for fuel, food, health care, and college costs.