Corporate Profits at All-Time High; Wages at All-Time Low: Can We Call it Class War Yet?
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As unions declined, so have wages for most people. The Center for American Progress found in a study that as union membership decreases, so does the so-called middle class's share of national income. The middle class long served as a buffer between those at the top and those at the bottom. As long as the majority of Americans were comfortable, had decent jobs and pensions, and could send their kids to school, the wealthy could stay wealthy and the poor were pretty much just ignored. And that middle class was built through decades of union agitation, not just for higher wages and healthcare benefits, but for the eight-hour day, for the weekend, for safety in the workplace and some job security.
But now the middle class has been hollowed out. Increasingly, there are the super-super-rich, and there are the rest of us.
As Hayes writes, we're ruled by an ever-smaller group of elites who not only control all the resources, but all the power. The same people who are pushing wages downward are the ones paying for politicians' campaigns, and they're the same people on the boards of directors and trustees of our universities, our institutions—like JP Morgan Chase's Jamie Dimon, who serves on the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, the Harvard Business School, Catalyst, as well as on the Board of Trustees of New York University School of Medicine.
Meanwhile, for the vast majority of us, the recession that supposedly ended in 2009 looks more like a depression each day, and as long as low wages and high unemployment remain the order of the day, there's no recovery in sight.
Sarah Jaffe is an associate editor at AlterNet, a rabblerouser and frequent Twitterer. You can follow her at @sarahljaffe.