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A Pledge To 1% of America


As those jobs disappeared, many blue-collar workers were forced to take jobs with far less pay and benefit security.

...Helping fuel the loss of good jobs has been a decline in union membership, industry deregulation, increased outsourcing of state and government services and economic policies that focus more on containing inflation than on maintaining full employment, Schmitt said.

Earlier this year, Democrats rolled out a Making It In America initiative aimed at helping restore American manufacturing, and the jobs lost with its decline. Whatever the particulars of the plan, acknowledges the what the decline of manufacturing has meant for America's economy and American workers, and tries to offer a solution to what most Americans agree is ap problem.

By contrast, the "pledge" barely mentions manufacturing, save one caption in a chart bemoaning how few Americans work in manufacturing as opposed to government, without ever once asking or answering a simple but critical question: Why?

Perhaps because the answer would point to their own policies and politics.


That the term "inequality" doesn't get so much as a mention in the "pledge" doesn't come as a shock. That the term "equality" or even the phrase "equality of opportunity." which made numerous appearances in the Cantor/Ryan/McCarthy propaganda piece Young Guns, suggests the GOP is ignoring not only the growth of economic inequality, but its destructive impact on "equality of opportunity" for generations to come.

The most recent period of Republican dominance in government was a "lost decade" for American workers. Not so for America's most wealthy. It was a boom for top 1% and a bust for the rest of us. The gains that boosted the income of the top 1%, never trickled down into the paychecks of American workers.


Real wages have been stagnant for many workers in the 2000s. After rising quickly in the second half of the 1990s, most workers real wages have been stagnant in the 2000s, especially since 2003. This result holds for a wide variety of wage and compensation measurements, including those that add the value of fringe benefits.

The productivity/wage gap has grown. The gap between productivity growth and workers wages, especially those of middle- and low-wage workers, is at a historically high level.

Wage growth has been unequal. Wage growth in the 2000s followed a highly unequal pattern, and higher-wage workers gained the most ground.

Despite low unemployment, workers' bargaining power has diminished. Though the unemployment rate has been low in historical terms, it does not capture the erosion of employment relative to the population caused by weak growth in (or withdrawal from) the labor force over the past few years. The bottom line is that many workers still lack the bargaining power to claim their fair share of the productivity growth they themselves are helping to create. This is partly due to weak job creation over the course of this recovery.

More downward pressure on wage growth is likely. The recent slowing of productivity growth and rising unemployment are likely to place further pressure on most workers' real wages in the near to medium terms.

From 2001 to 2006, the highest earning 1% received 75% of the income gains.

It is just one point in a long-term trend that has seen the concentration of wealth return to pre-Great Depression levels.

Consider: in 1928 the richest 1 percent of Americans received 23.9 percent of the nation's total income. After that, the share going to the richest 1 percent steadily declined. New Deal reforms, followed by World War II, the GI Bill and the Great Society expanded the circle of prosperity. By the late 1970s the top 1 percent raked in only 8 to 9 percent of America's total annual income. But after that, inequality began to widen again, and income reconcentrated at the top. By 2007 the richest 1 percent were back to where they were in 1928—with 23.5 percent of the total.