In a recent interview with Bill Moyers, Holly Sklar, columnist and author of the book "Raise the Floor" and director of "Business for Shared Prosperity", made the following points.
• US Wages adjusted for inflation are lower than they were in the 1970's
• US Minimum wage adjusted for inflation is lower than it was in the 1950's.
• The US has the highest spread of financial inequality of any industrialised nation.
• The US has the highest rates of poverty in the developed world.
• 39 other countries in the world have lower child mortality rates than the US.
• Lack of universal health care is killing small businesses.
She goes on to say,
"We've been living the American dream in reverse.....income and wealth inequality have gone back to the 1920's, back at levels we saw right before the great depression."
Here are some more points I noted from that interview. This reversal is the result of the significant gains made in worker productivity going not to the workers but to the wealthy. The richest get richer as the poor working class struggles harder to make ends meet. The middle class is disappearing.
Leaner and meaner has not led to making the US more competitive, rather the US economy has been driven into the dirt, corporate raider style, to enable the rich to skim off every last ounce of value for themselves. Infrastructure is crumbling, R&D is declining, education is failing, adequate health care is only for the elite. Much of this is due to the union busting strategies created by Ronald Reagan and improved upon ever since. The political system now accepts that hourly wage jobs keep people in poverty rather than lifting them out of poverty. By keeping the minimum wage down the politicians are keeping all the hourly wages above that level down as well. 80% of the workers in the US are hourly wage workers. In 1968 the minimum wage adjusted for inflation was $9.88, it is now $5.85.
Americans have compensated for this situation by increasing personal debt. The credit crunch is proving that practice unsustainable.
Now here are some thoughts of my own. The US can bounce back. The US can move toward sustainability, here are just a few things you can do; first increase your own resiliency by leading a more sustainable life, get out of and stay out of debt, build local economy, then get active on a national scale. Support the adoption of universal health care, support your local union, bring in a reasonable and just minimum wage. Support investment in the infrastructure of the country, including renewable energy to create low carbon jobs. Help the country shift away from unsustainable business/corporate practices that encourage war, global warming, and the plundering of the commons by the wealthy. Demand campaign finance reform. Get involved.
Get government out of the pocket of the corporations and give it back to the people.
What have you done today to lower your impact?
We are washing away the foundations of our existence on every front. It is high time we move from crashing about on the planet like a bull in china shop and find a way to go forward with intent. We must find systems of living based on sustainability. The systems and tools exist, it is up to each of us to adopt them.
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