America has been in regression for decades, with ever more corporate influence, rolling back worker's rights and busting unions, stagnating wages, outsourcing jobs, and under-taxing the wealthy and larger corporations.
In a previous report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics they found that the number of U.S. workers in all labor unions fell to 14.7 million — the number of private sector union workers fell to 7.1 million and the number of public sector union members fell to 7.6 million.
For the first time in American history, government employees accounted for more than half of all union membership — but that's because the percentage of private sector union workers fell to only 6.9 percent of the total workforce, the lowest rate for private sector workers in more than a century.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that all union workers in the workforce fell to 12.3 percent in 2009 from 20.1 percent in 1983, when there were 17.7 million union members. The peak was 35 percent during the mid-1950s, after a surge in unionization during the Great Depression and after World War II.
The northern state of New York had the highest unionization rate of any state at 24.2 percent; while the southern state of North Carolina had the lowest rate at 3.2 percent.
Today union workers earn a median weekly paycheck of $917 — higher than the $717 in earnings for non-union workers.
Many large corporations (that are also "government contractors" in "the private sector") that benefit from taxpayer funding, also despises labor unions. They blame them for attempting to negotiate wages that only keeps pace with rising inflation. The GOP uses the argument that government workers shouldn't be paid more than those in the private sector, when it's become common knowledge that wages in the private sector have remained stagnant (or fell) over the past 40 years. Government unions have mostly just maintained their cost-of-living over the years...like members of Congress also have.
For decades these corporations, whenever possible, have either outsourced jobs overseas for cheaper labor, or moved to another state to reduce worker's wages and benefits — just so their CEOs could pay themselves ever rising and excessive salaries — not to be "competitive in the marketplace", or to re-invest in their businesses, but just to stuff their pockets.
Oh, and also so they wouldn't have to provide safe working conditions for their employees. Are Wal-Mart's Chinese factories as bad as Apple's?
Republicans have also been pushing for easing VISA restrictions for "skilled foreign workers", further undermining our domestic workforce, displacing our current college graduates, increasing domestic unemployment, and depressing wages. A factory worker in China earns between $1 and $2 an hour, engineers between $8 and $10 a hour. Rather than outsourcing the factory, they now want to import the cheaper workers. The CEOs and their Republican mouth-pieces have been falsely claiming that American workers "lack the necessary job skills", but never specifically say what skills we need, when in many instances just one day of on-the-job training would usually suffice.
These same corporations blame high taxes and excessive regulation (and Obama) for high-unemployment, which is just not true, and why they have hoarded over $2.5 trillion in corporate treasuries today.
Taxes have been going down for corporations and CEOs for decades, and are historically low for capital gains. Most large corporations (that also enjoy "limited liability") have only paid half of the "statutory" rate for years, by paying a much less "effective" rate, using many loopholes in the tax code that they lobbied congress for. And the same goes for the top "marginal" rate as well. (Read my posts: Historical Tax Rates on the Rich from 1862 to 2011 and How the 1% bilks the 99%.)
And don’t expect very many new factory jobs. Last year Representative Betty Sutton, in a speech to the House of Representatives, noted that just between 2001 and 2010 alone, America has lost over 56,000 factories. (Politifact rated her claim "true".) I write more about this in the links directly below:
- Where the Jobs Are
- China on Track to Pass America as #1
- China's Greatest Generation and the Chinese Dream
- How Apple Screwed the U.S. Middle-Class
Besides outsourcing or moving to other states, corporations have elected politicians to establish "right-to-work" laws, and had other legislation passed to limit unions and worker's rights, to keep their employees' paychecks stagnant while the CEOs' salaries, "pay-for-performance", and stock-options have skyrocketed over the same period of time.
Is any CEO worth $1 million a day? That’s roughly $42,000 an hour, or $700 a minute. Read the New York Times pieces: In Executive Pay, a Rich Game of Thrones and When Shareholders Make Their Voices Heard.
Here is the number of federal employees by decade (in millions and excluding U.S. Postal workers), as listed by the Office of Personnel Management compared to the U.S. population (Most recent federal hires were for Homeland Security).
|Date||U.S. Population||# Federal employees|
In relation to population growth, there are fewer federal workers today than there were in 1990, 1980 and 1970. But if one listens to tea partiers and other fiscal hawks, you would think the numbers had doubled over the years. In fact, their proportion of the total workforce has not grown much at all -- and is roughly in line with natural population growth.
Others have noted that the size of the federal workforce compared to the overall U.S. population has dropped steadily since the 1960s, thanks to a booming population and cutbacks made during the Reagan and Clinton years.
Below: The federal government employment levels through the years (including U.S. Postal workers)
|Administration||Executive Branch civilians||U.S. Population||Gov't employees per 1,000 of population|
|1962 (Kennedy)||2.48 million||186.5 million||13.3|
|1964 (Johnson)||2.47 million||191.8 million||12.9|
|1970 (Nixon)||2.94 million*||205 million||14.4|
|1975 (Ford)||2.84 million||215.9 million||13.2|
|>1978 (Carter)||2.87 million||222.5 million||12.9|
|1982 (Reagan)||2.77 million||232.1 million||11.9|
|1990 (Bush)||3.06 million*||249.6 million||12.3|
|1994 (Clinton)||2.9 million||263.1 million||11.1|
|2002 (Bush)||2.63 million||287.8 million||9.1|
|2010 (Obama)||2.65 million+||308.7 million||8.4|
Read my post Tax Rates during the Fabulous Fifties, when the population was half of what is today, when corporations profited, the middle-class grew, and everybody had a chance at prosperity. Today the Republicans offer us austerity, like they now have in Greece because of the big bank's influences on entire countries, their governments and economies.
The U.S. still has an extremely small percentage of its workers employed by the public sector, at least compared to Europe. The largest? According to Citi's Tobias Levkovich, the answer is China, where nearly 50% of workers are somehow in the government sector. Granted, this could include state-owned-enterprises (such as their oil companies and banks) which remain a large chunk of the Chinese economy.
That's why I proposed an idea about the Keystone Pipeline, funding a massive non-profit public works program to build an oil company that's operated and owned by our government (the people).
But since the Great Depression, and World War II, the U.S. government has always been America's largest employer. Today Wal-Mart is the second largest and employs 1.4 million Americans in the United States — McDonalds, about 700,000. And most of those are non-union low-paying part-time jobs with no healthcare or other benefits. This is the "private sector" that the Republicans feverishly support, compared to the "public sector".
This is union jobs compared to non-union jobs. This is where America continues to drift. Corporate influence in politics, rolling back workers rights and wages, and converting our democratic republic into a corporate plutocracy. Republicans have been pushing for this "smaller government" and "free trade" that has destroyed America's middle-class for several decades, and have primarily pushed for polices that we've only seen the top 1% benefit from (such as taxes, among many examples).
Welfare built its reputation when times were good, but offers very little help now that jobs have disappeared. Despite the worst economy in decades, and four years of economic distress, the welfare rolls have barely budged. But yet, the Republicans want to blame "big government" and cut welfare for the poor.
As a favor to struggling Americans, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin., proposed a federal budget last week ravaging programs for the poor, elderly, disabled, young, veterans, jobless, students and other vulnerable people. Ryan did it, he said, because these programs (food stamps, health insurance, Pell grants, veterans' hospitals and the like) are "demeaning". I would say that living on the street and constantly hungry would be more demeaning. (Read GOP: Killing Vulnerable Americans With Kindness - Literally)
It's not Obama who is trying to "fundamentally transform America", that was just the President's poor choice of words , words that the GOP constantly twists and echoes. Obama only wants to economically move the country back to a time when workers were paid a "living wage", when corporations and the wealthy were taxed more fairly, and when corporate executive salaries weren't so exponentially higher than the people they employed.
Obama wants to reign in the big banks that gambled and lost trillions of dollars of our country's wealth, and reign in the high cost of healthcare that corporations can't outsource. Their CEOs raise the cost of healthcare to compete with other excessive executive salaries. Obama wants to economically move America back to a time when all Americans had a more fair chance at the brass ring, before corporations were allowed to completely control our politics and monopolize all our basic needs.
It's not Socialism, it's math. Higher profits, less taxes, and low wages (at any cost to the country), just to increase the CEOs bottom line is not capitalism, it's just plain old fashioned greed. And that's a far cry from being "patriotic", especially when multi-nationals hold no preference to the well-being of real people, no matter what borders they live within.
President Obama and Senate Democrats will kick off a coordinated pressure campaign on Republicans next week ahead of a tax day vote on legislation to enact the president’s “Buffett Rule,” which would ensure that the rich pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes (the top marginal rate is 35%, but most of the top 1% aren't taxed at this rate because the majority of their earnings aren't made through "regular wages".)
I personally would like to see capital gains, dividends, carried interest, SWAG investments (silver, wine, art, and gold), gifts, inheritances, all other personal income taxed as "regular wages", according to their federal income tax rates, instead of only paying the very low 15% tax rate.
If someone buys a painting for $1 million, then sells it a year later for $2 million, how many jobs does this create? If someone like Paris Hilton inherited $500 million (or receives an annual "gift" of $10 million a year), how many jobs does she create? If Mitt Romney earns $20 million a year trading stocks, how many jobs does he create? The Republican's tired old line about "job creators" is a myth, and almost ALL the GOP's policies only concentrate more of the nation's wealth to the top 1%.
The Tea Party says they want to "take this country back". Back from who or from what? Back to the 1890's and the Gilded Age? To the days of the robber barons? Back to the Stone Age?
Or back to the days of tax brackets and "big government" during the 1950's? Back to a time when American had a strong middle-class and voters had more of a say in their government. This is where Obama wants to take us. Was this country and President Dwight D. Eisenhower Socialist then? I would even be willing to go back to the Truman or Roosevelt eras. Hell, I'd even be willing to compromise and go back to Ronald Reagan time!
Before George W. Bush, the Republicans deregulated the banks and killed the labor unions. Since George W. Bush the Republicans have ran up the national debt, cut taxes for the rich, started two un-funded wars, and let the big banks and large corporations do whatever it is they wanted.
And if they had their way, the Republicans would also kill Medicare and Social Security, eliminate the minimum wage, increase subsidies to big oil, eliminate capital gains taxes altogether, and lower corporate tax rates to collect just enough revenues to cover the cost of paying congressional salaries, as well as their healthcare plans and pensions. To hell with roads, bridges, and teachers — they have their own private airports and private schools.
Obama didn't create the national debt, the housing bubble, or the stock market crash in 2008, causing massive unemployment and record poverty...Obama just tried to help the victims of the Republican polices that created that mess.
It's the Republicans like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan who want to make us more like European nations, by imposing austerity measures and budget plans like they did in Greece. The Republicans ran up the deficit after Bill Clinton, then they used the excuse of "runaway spending" to cut social programs like welfare and food stamps for the poor and working-poor, and cut retirement and healthcare plans for the middle-class, because the top 1% doesn't NEED these programs for themselves.
The Republicans and corporate America have radically changed this country, and not for the better when it comes to the poor and average working people. Or, as the Republicans like to accuse Obama of, it was the Republicans who are guilty of "fundamentally transforming America" into what it is today, not Obama.
The top 1% hasn't suffered one iota from the Great Recession. As Mitt Romney said, "They're doing quite fine." The only way to restore prosperity to the middle-class is from the bottom up, by ONLY voting for Progressive Democrats (not regressive Republicans), starting from the local political offices, up to the state level, to congress, and finally, to the President of the United States...like Obama. It took the Republicans 40 years to destroy the middle-class, it will take longer than 4 years to fix the problem.
Read my other post: John Boehner lied: Government is the REAL 'Job Creator'